Coronavirus · Life Lessons · My Thoughts

During This Pandemic, Are You Zoomin’?

Photo by Marcus Aurelius from Pexels

The coronavirus pandemic changed so much: shelter-in-place and no more face-to-face meetings. At the beginning, we had no idea how long the pandemic and the restrictions would last, but here we are six months later with limited access. So, early on, Zoom leapt to our collective consciousness as the answer.

            I had attended a couple of Zoom meetings before the pandemic for training for my book promotions, but now I feel like a pro having attended several meetings and hosted some. Here’s my experience with the amazing Zoom app and its connectivity to the world!

            Early in our isolation, the recovery communities jumped onboard and started zoomin’. So, this provided the opportunity to attend meetings all over the world any time of the day—truly taking advantage of technology.

            On April 3 – 5, I attended a Zoom recovery retreat with 450 participants, the first major recovery event during the pandemic for me. The organizers dealt with a few glitches, but what a boost that was! The attendees came from all over the world! Monthly recovery retreats have kept many people connected through Zoom, and I’m attending another one next weekend.

            Weekly I have attended two recovery meetings. I have so enjoyed seeing friends I haven’t seen for months and staying active in my recovery.

            Some of my regular meetings chose to do phone conferencing, but I didn’t like that as well as Zoom. It seemed people talked over each other more, and I liked seeing attendees. I do understand not everyone has internet at their homes, and I think that was reason for this choice.

            As a service for the Albuquerque Square Dance Center, I have hosted monthly board meetings since April. I provided a tutorial for the first meeting for many first-timers, but I still felt some reluctance. So, I scheduled a practice session and several attended, getting their feet wet! Since then, those fearful first-timers show up easily and participate.

Just Another Square Dance Caller book cover

            In the midst of the cancellation of all of our dance events, I faced doing a virtual book launch for my new book, Just Another Square Dance Caller: Authorized Biography of Marshall Flippo. At first, I thought I’d use Facebook Live for this event, but after research, I realized I could have a problem. We don’t have a reliable internet connection at our house, and that might cause an issue. Also, I wanted to interact with the attendees, and you can’t do that on Facebook Live.

            So, I decided to Zoom instead. What a memorable evening we had! About thirty-five people attended, and I relished their participation and stories! We had people from all over the United States and one from Japan.

            Because of the coronavirus pandemic, we canceled our annual square dance festival, Hot August Nights. To keep our supporters connected, I hosted a Hot August Nights Zoom Party. Again, we had great attendance. My husband, Lin, and I were on from 7:00 PM until 10:00 with people dropping by, visiting and then more would come. Many appreciated seeing so many dancer friends.

            Virtual square dances have taken the square dance world by storm during this crazy time. Lin and I attended a benefit dance for a caller who has been deathly sick. We hadn’t danced in six months and had never virtual square danced. We had to pretend we were dancing with another couple. At first, we struggled but improved over the evening.

Here’s a link to see a virtual square dance: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LnRY_x_89FM&list=PLpOrf4KvYkjDwwsu0saQoJoYmvgbRDKnR

            Again, we saw dancers from all over the USA and the world. Dancers attended from Australia, China, Japan and England.

A Zoom Meeting
Photo by Anna Shvets from Pexels

            There are so many possibilities with Zoom. I reconnected with a roommate who I haven’t seen in thirty years with a Zoom meeting. Then we added another friend we used to hang out with, and we laughed and talked non-stop last Sunday. I had to cut us off after a couple hours to write my weekly blog. After such a successful time, we’ve decided to meet monthly during this crazy time.

            I made another connection with a cousin who contacted me after I did my DNA on ancestry.com last year. We had talked about a face-to-face family reunion in Arizona this summer, but that went by the wayside with all the restrictions.

            So, my cousin invited me to a Zoom Family Reunion last month. Only four attended that meeting, but I loved seeing my cousins. The cousin who organized this fun event entertained us with stories of our heritage, sharing maps and other documents via Zoom with us.

With it being so much fun, we scheduled another session for yesterday, and I invited my cousins and my 92-year-old aunt to participate. We ended up with nine participants this time. I could see how much my aunt enjoyed this celebration of her mother’s side of our family, and she repeated a couple times how much my mom would have enjoyed this. During the 70s, my mom researched both sides of our family’s genealogy—she would have thoroughly loved all the new information and connections to add to her data!

In the future, I have more Zoom meetings planned—I so much more enjoy seeing people’s face instead of being on a joint phone call. If you have any reservations about doing a Zoom meeting, don’t!

To prepare for a Zoom meeting, download the app to your desktop, laptop, iPad or Smart Phone. Then when you receive the invitation for the meeting from the host, it includes all the connection information you need. You have two choices to connect on a computer: the easiest connection is a URL, so click on it and it activates the website and the app. The second option is a Meeting ID and password you input on the Zoom website after you select “Join a Meeting” on the menu bar.

If you’re using a phone, the invitation provides several phone numbers to access Zoom.

Once you arrive in a meeting, you can use the video showing you and your surroundings or you can choose not to show the video but you can still participate.

One caveat when you’ve entered the meeting is muting or unmuting yourself. There’s a button on your window or down on the left of the menu bar at the bottom of the computer’s screen.

I enjoy another Zoom feature, a Chat window where you can type in communication to everyone at the meeting or select individuals.

As you can see—it’s straight-forward. After a couple Zoom meetings, celebrate your newfound skills and partiicipate!

Have you zoomed yet? If so, how do you feel about zoomin’?


Cover of Just Another Square Dance Caller

~HAVE YOU ORDERED A PERSONALLY AUTOGRAPHED COPY OF THE FLIPPO BIOGRAPHY?   AVAILABLE NOW! Go to the homepage on my website and pay for it there: https://www.laradasbooks.com

ALL FOUR E-BOOK FORMATS OF FLIPPO’S BIOGRAPHY AVAILABLE NOW:

~Visit my web site for all the information you need about me and my books:  https://www.laradasbooks.com

~On Wednesday, August 12, 2020 I wrote my 200th blog post. Be sure and check it out here: 200th blog post

Coronavirus · Life Lessons · My Thoughts · poetry

Coronavirus Reflection: Bitter or Better?

Bitter or better? Life hands us a curve ball every once and a while. Then we have the option of how we respond. I have had several of those opportunities in my life, and sometimes I grew bitter, but more often than not I became better because of the difficulty.

Bitter over when it ends

The coronavirus’ impact continues to affect our lives six months later. Normal life activities came to a screeching halt. Yes, it’s been horrible for those 193,000+ who have lost their lives or families who have lost loved one. Also, people have lost jobs, and businesses have suffered extreme losses. For many, it’s been a psychological affront causing depression and anxiety. I have been one of the fortunate ones, not experiencing the extremes of the pandemic.

But many, like me, who have not experienced the dire side of this catastrophe have been impacted in our own ways. It seems people have reacted in two ways.

Some have become bitter over mandated requirements like social distancing and/or masks. People dubbed as “Karens” or “Kens” have violently erupted at various store clerks asking compliance to safety measures.

Bitter about wearing a mask

Many worldwide bitter rebels have actively protested like one organized event on September 15, “World Antimask Protest.” Others continue to believe this is a hoax and vehemently denounce the virus and any of the safety requests.

Others have decided to look at this respite as a time to stop the crazy pace of a busy 21st century life, slow down and go deeper on a spiritual quest. That’s what I decided to do early on. Because I was fearful and anxious, I processed my feelings through poetry. I became proficient at Zoom and participated in and hosted a multitude of Zoom meetings which helped ease the isolation.

As the pandemic has lingered, I’ve written more and more poetry, and a friend specifically asked me to address the positive outcome this slow-down provided for me, so here it is:

Reflections on Coronavirus
Coronavirus Reflection: Bitter or Better?

September 5, 2020

For six months
            The coronavirus rages
                        Ebbs and flows
Never have I faced
            Anything like this!
I remember
            The polio-scare
                        As a child
                                    But nothing like this.
 
Quarantined
            Deaths
                        Shelter-in-place
                                    Fear
                                                Confusion
Who do you believe?
 
My life style drastically altered
            NO dancing
                        NO traveling
                                    NO interaction
                                                With people
But the good news:
            I’ve stayed healthy
                        My family has, too!
 
It’s reflection time
            Has this focused time
                        Made me
                                    Bitter
                                                Or better?
 
Stripped
            Of normal life
                        And activity,
I sat quietly
            Listened
                        Breathed
 
I watched my husband
            Gather his strength
                        In his garden
                                    Working with his hands
                                                            His mind
                                                                        His soul 

Lin and I shared Cribbage games
            Numerous TV nights
                        Watching mysteries
                                    Each trying to solve them
                                                           Comparing our suspects
I celebrate this man
            Who I was quarantined with.
 
I focused on
            The Flippo biography
                        Which helped alter the horrible state
                                    Of our world
 
I gathered strength
            In words
                        Working with my hands
                                                            My mind
                                                                        My soul
 
In this forced respite
            I reconnected with
                        My God
                                    In a time of needed solace
                        Myself
                                    Exploring reactions and feelings
                                                To this fearful situation.
 
                        My husband
                                    A good person to
                                                Be quarantined with
 
I cleaned out age old belongings
            I connected with people on Zoom
                        I wrote poetry
                                    Diving deep!
                        I had weekly phone dates
                                    With hurting friends
 
Yes, I missed
            Monthly visits to our ranch
                        And my brother
            Family gatherings
            Square and round dances
            Travel
            Friends
 
But today, I relish all of those much more
            Hungry for their return
I savor what they
            Brought into my life,
                        How they enriched me.
 
I had moments of bitterness
            Hot August Nights weekend canceled
                        So, I scheduled a Zoom party
            Labor Day square dance weekend
                        So, I scheduled a Zoom meeting
                                    With long time friends.
I have flirted with bitterness
            The vile taste of bitterness
                        Discourages
                                    My lingering there long.
  
When this time of trial is over,
            I will step up and say
                        It made me better!
                                    And that feels good!
 
I savor this capsule of time
            That I used to benefit
                        My growth
Bitter or better
            The choice is yours!

Yes, I do have a choice anytime life deals me a blow—will the experience make me bitter, resentful and angry? Or will I take advantage of the opportunity present and plunge into a deeper relationship with myself and my God?

I choose better!

Here’s a poem to end on that is light, frivolous and courts with a genre of literature I love, magical realism, “. . .a style of fiction and literary genre that paints a realistic view of the modern world while also adding magical elements.”

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Magic_realism

Salmon-Colored Rose in Lin's Garden
I Sunbathed in the Roses

September 5, 2020
 
A petal floated on the breeze
            Slowly
                        Settling on my forehead
Another landed on my stomach
            Bright red in color
                        Matching my sunburned skin
 
A plush cushion of white rose petals
            Gathered as my supple pillow.
Ivory-colored roses climbed
            The trellis
                        Near my feet
                                    And tickled my toes.
 
Salmon-colored roses
            Guarded my heart
                        And created a
                                    Vibrant crown for my brow!
 
Bright golden ones kissed
            The sun
                        As their next-of-kin
                                    And brushed my cheek
                                                With their satiny lips.
 
Peach roses danced
            In the gentle wind
                        A soft waltz
                                    In a lavish gown
 
To sunbathe
            In the midst of roses
                        Soothes
                                    Every ache
                                                Every pain
                                                            A galaxy of color
 
These flower friends lift me
            To the heavens
                        A multi-colored celebration
                                    Of life and love
                                                Surround me by a deep connection
 
Hummingbirds dive bomb my head
            Enchanted with the color
                        And the nectar
                                    I’ve invaded their sanctuary.
 
Lay still!
            I can’t!
                        I feel the prick of. . .
Yes, thorns
            Slightly
Careful where I lay
            But one foot strays
                        A little
                                    And I jerk it back
 
A reminder
            Sometimes pain hides in beauty
                        But mostly
                                    A restful soul
                                    A quiet spirit
                                                Surrounded by
                                                            A circle of roses
                                                                        My friends!

Did you giggle? Absurd—sunbathing in a rose garden! Let loose and laugh!

I hope I leave you better today for the reading of this than when you came!


~HAVE YOU ORDERED A PERSONALLY AUTOGRAPHED COPY OF THE FLIPPO BIOGRAPHY?   AVAILABLE NOW! Go to the homepage on my website and pay for it there: https://www.laradasbooks.com

ALL FOUR E-BOOK FORMATS OF FLIPPO’S BIOGRAPHY AVAILABLE NOW:

~Visit my web site for all the information you need about me and my books:  https://www.laradasbooks.com

~On Wednesday, August 12, 2020 I wrote my 200th blog post. Be sure and check it out here: 200th blog post

Age · Coronavirus · family · Life Lessons · My Thoughts

How Do We Age? How Did I Get Here?

How do we age? How did I get here? This last week, a phrase haunted me, “Age crept up on me.” I turned 67 years old this summer—not old in today’s world, but. . .. So, naturally, I wrote a poem.

Shadows of age

As I look back over my life, I remember my mom and dad in their late 60s, and I was in my 40s and 50s when they were my current age. They were active and full of life but appeared much older than I feel today—interesting.

Going back another generation to my grandparents when they were in their 60s, they seemed ancient. So, it’s all perspective, I guess.

I do know today, I have arthritic aches and pains and troubles with my stomach, but I don’t feel 67. So that begs to ask, what does 67 feel like?

I’ve seen 6 decades plus come and go—a multitude of advances. The TV was just coming in when I was a child, so I’ve always had a TV. We didn’t get a phone in our home until I was about ten years old, so I’ve had some sort of phone for most of my life. I touched my first computer in 1981 when I was a student at Colorado State University and have had access to one ever since—39 years!

And that phrase, “Age crept up on me” caused me lots of wandering through my life.

Shadow of age
Photo by Nadi Lindsay from Pexels

Here’s my poem that came out of this week’s musings:

Age Crept Up on Me!

August 12, 2020

Only yesterday, I was 16
            It seems
 
You may laugh
            My age shows
                        In wrinkles
                        Years lived
                        Dyed red hair to hide the grey
                                    With white
                                                Escaping near my eyes
 
Something happened!
            An acceleration
                        Of time
                                    Of minutes
                                                Of years
                                                            Recently
 
Is it a side effect of the coronavirus?
            Too much time on my hands?
                        Pondering my existence
                                    In uncertain times?
 
I remember 18
            High school graduation
                        Four students in my graduating class
                                    Started kindergarten together
            Trinidad State Junior College
                        Fifty miles from home
            Anxious about my future
                        And how my dreams
                                    Would play out
 
I remember 20
            Newly married
                        With life and dreams
                                    Spread out before me.
                                                Hopeful and positive
 
I remember 30
            Divorced and devastated
            At the university as a student       
                        And
                                    Starting over
                                                With dreams of being a teacher
 
I remember 40
            In sexual trauma treatment
                        For incest
                                    Uncovering and recovering from
                                                Childhood pain
                                                            And dashed dreams
 
I remember 50
            Celebrated at
                        The National Square Dance Convention
                                    In Oklahoma City
            Serenaded at our After Party by
                        Jerry Junck
                                    Mike Hogan
                                                Lanny Weaklend
            Still dreaming
                        About possibilities
 
I remember 60
            Mom had just died
                        A feeble celebration in Branson
                                    With Bub, Lin and Jackie
            My dreams diminished by the pain
                                    The loss
 
Yes, you see
            I’m not 16
                        But 67!
 
I look in the mirror
            And recently
                        Somehow
                                    Age crept up on me
 
In that reflection
            I see years
                        Life
                                    Experiences
 
Received no warning,
            No alarm,
                        I see an older woman,
                                    A matured lady,
                                                A seasoned Larada
 
Where did the years go?
            Fast living
                        A rich life
                                    A multitude of adventures
 
Yes, age crept up!
            Quickly
                        Relentlessly
                                    Quietly
                                                Without warning
 
So be aware
            It can and will
                        Happen to you!
Photo by Edu Carvalho from Pexels

My hope and prayer is that I continue to age gracefully and with spunk! I hope to redefine any concepts you may have about older adults.

What are you thoughts on aging? Has it crept up on you, too? How do you handle it?


Flippo's biography

~HAVE YOU ORDERED A PERSONALLY AUTOGRAPHED COPY OF THE FLIPPO BIOGRAPHY?   AVAILABLE NOW! Go to the homepage on my website and pay for it there: https://www.laradasbooks.com

ALL FOUR E-BOOK FORMATS OF FLIPPO’S BIOGRAPHY AVAILABLE NOW.

~Visit my web site for all the information you need about me and my books:  https://www.laradasbooks.com

~On Wednesday, I wrote my 200th blog post. Be sure and check it out here: 200th blog post

Dancing · Life Lessons · My Thoughts · square dance

The Roller Coaster Ride of Last Week!

SORRY: Another side trip away from our British Isles Cruise. I will resume it next week with Day 5: Kirkwall in Orkney Islands, Scotland!

We just returned from a square and round dance vacation week at Fun Valley RV park at South Fork, CO, and the week was an emotional roller coaster ride for me!

Lin with 4 scoops of ice cream and a brownie!

The weekend started off with dinner Saturday night with a group of 25 dancers at the Firehouse restaurant in South Fork. We connected and reconnected with friends anticipating a great week. Lin had his traditional oversized ice cream treat!

Sunday morning started off with our annual potluck brunch—another gathering of friends, giving us time to visit. I talked with a friend I’ve known for years but really didn’t know her history—it was a precious sharing time.

Sunday evening dinner started the official week’s activities. After dinner, Lin and I sought out a Colorado couple we had invited to this week. I signed up with the enthusiastic wife of this couple to do the horseback trail ride on Monday morning at 11:00. Ever since I had heard the horses would be there this year, I had been so excited. In previous years, the horses were already gone when we arrived because we’re the last week of the season at this RV park.

We dressed casually for Sunday night’s dance, laughed and twirled. I squealed often as I saw friends from Utah, Colorado and Texas who I hadn’t seen in a year. A great evening of square dancing to Gary Shoemake and Jerry Gilbreath and round dancing to the cues of Steve Harris with his lovely wife, Lori, supporting him on the sidelines.

Monday morning, I ate breakfast and donned my boots for the ride. Lin drove me to the stables, and my friend was there with her husband. They had 5 horses saddled and ready after they finished the 10:00 ride, and this ride was going to be a blast because I knew all the riders.

I had wondered if I could even get up on the horse—I haven’t ridden in 20 years! I was so proud of myself that I did, with a little struggle for sure!

The ride was glorious—clear blue Colorado sky, the Rio Grande beside us and aspen trees still dressed in green leaves. I kept taking pictures with my iPhone as we rode–which confused my horse because I kept drawing his head over to the right! It was perfect—until that moment happened. First behind me, one horse kicked another which caused the kicked horse to buck and its rider hit the ground. Then the loose horse galloped past all of us which stirred our horses up. One rider galloped off to try to catch the loose horse, then my friend’s horse jumped into a gallop like a bullet, and she was gone.

I realized I had about 5 – 10 seconds before my horse jumped in with the other horses running back to the barn. His ears went straight up, and his eyes focused on the three racing horses; quickly, I turned him in the opposite direction. He jumped up and down, revving up to take off, but I kept him turned the other way and kept his head tight, then I circled him and circled him, and he calmed down.

When my friend’s horse took off, I thought, “Wow, she’s a good rider,” but she lost her stirrup when she was startled, and she fell off and was severely hurt. I applaud the care and concern the EMT’s showed her—they gently worked with her to move her into the ambulance. The wrangler and I stayed with her, then I rode to Del Norte in the ambulance with her.

When I got out of the ambulance, her husband was already there, so we went to the emergency room waiting room, and I filled him in on all the facts of the accident. We spent a lot of the afternoon there with her being x-rayed and tested. When we were finally brought back to her room, her sense of humor prevailed. She held up her mangled, bruised left hand and said, “Oh, Larada! I broke a nail!” Lin joined us at the emergency room to support our dear friends during this stressful time.

I was able to offer objective suggestions to my friend’s husband because, thinking back now, he was in shock! At first, he was going to drive back to Denver and they were going to airlift her; I strongly suggested his wife needed him with her in the plane, and we would take care of their car and possessions in their room.

So, they were flown to a Denver area airport and transported to a hospital. Lin drove their car back to Fun Valley, and I drove our car. I called my brother for assurance after such a horrible day, and his supported helped me. Lin and I packed up their room and got their car to another Denver dancer to drive home on Saturday.

Finally, when we were alone, I cried—so heart broke for my friend’s severe injuries! We didn’t square dance that night, but I did one round dance with tears in my eyes, and Gary Shoemake helped me out!

Needless to say, this incident affected me the rest of the week. Tuesday is blur to me—we did some of the activities, but our attention was on our phones and any messages from my friend’s husband. Her diagnosis dribbled in—cracked ribs and some dislocated which punctured a lung, a concussion and fractured vertebrae.

Tuesday afternoon, we did participate in a practice session for the skits our group would put on at the Wednesday night After Party. The highlight of Tuesday night was the skit the calling/cuing staff did at the After Party. The five of them danced to “Pretty Woman” in a unique manner. Check out my video below! This video has been blocked because of Copyright infringements, so I had to mute the song. Sorry viewers!

“Pretty Woman” Skit

Wednesday was a free day and many of the dancers traveled to Creede, CO to square dance in the unique fire house cut out of the side of a mountain, but we stayed at the RV. Lin had volunteered to make 2 batches of homemade ice cream, and my stomach problems flared up, so I spent the afternoon in bed—I couldn’t shake the tragedy or the stomach pain! The ice cream social was a new addition and it was a smashing success—four dancers made different recipes and all were delicious!

Wednesday night I came out of the funk some. It was theme night, “Pajama party,” so we participated. I enjoyed the skits put on by other dancers at the After Party, then we did our skit. I should have known that Lin would do something to shock me, and he did! He changed the punch line and totally caught me off guard—the audience loved the affect it had on me!

Daily, we got updates about our injured friend and it was up and down!

By Thursday, I felt better and enjoyed the dancing. The week’s schedule provided lots of round dance teaches and square dance workshops all day, then we had a dance each evening.

One of my favorite parts of this week is the horse racing Thursday afternoon where people buy a horse, choose a jockey for their wooden horse and the race is on. This year we had a hilarious addition—a Utah dancer dressed up in a pony costume and did the first race! With lots of laughter and fun, friendly competition prevailed.

Every year at the Thursday night dance callers and cuers in attendance are invited to call a square dance tip or cue a round dance. Lori Harris talked to me last year about cuing, but we ran out of time to practice. This year I practiced a favorite, “Could I Have This Dance?” a couple times with Steve’s professional advice and encouragement. Steve and Lori danced it while I cued and continued to give me helpful hints about this new endeavor. I was really nervous and wanted to get it over quickly, so I did the first round of the night—what an experience! It went well, and what a thrill to be able to stay ahead of the dancers, stay on beat, and see dancers smiling! It was fantastic! I plan to continue this new activity when I finish the Marshall Flippo biography.

Thursday’s theme was “Country and Western night,” so dancers donned jeans, hats and boots. This festive night ended with Jerry Gilbreath singing many good ole country tunes we all love and us two-stepping the night away.

Friday was the famous “Miniature Golf Tournament.” Lin was asked again to be a caddy, and he did a exceptional job because of his exuberance and sense of humor. All the caddies successfully fulfilled their task: distracting the other golfers with their zany costumes and make-shift drums (pot lids and spoons). The caddies for the women golfers outdid themselves, as you can see!

Part of the 2020 NMSRDA State Festival Committee

The dance week ended Friday night with a festive evening of dancing and trophies given out to the winners of the different competitions. Our group from Albuquerque dressed in our 2020 state festival outfits—colorful and delightful!

Yes, the start of the week broke my heart, but I was able to regroup and first participated and then enjoyed the rest of the week. I rose to the occasion to help in the emergency room and kept calm and collected. Getting myself out of a funk isn’t easy, but I knew that my injured friend and her husband would want me to! Life certainly contains both tragedy and joy–it’s important how we handle both!

How do you handle tragedies? What’s your success secret? Do you have a horse story?


Check out my web site at https://www.laradasbooks.com

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Whitey & Gladys Puerling were playful friends of Flippo’s who created a Fan Club. I thought it would be fun to recreate this group. Would you like to join the Marshall Flippo Fan Club Facebook page? Read interesting posts about Flippo’s life. https://www.facebook.com/groups/328325644382769/

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Life Lessons · Marshall Flippo · My Thoughts · Ranching

What Should I Write About This Week?

Sorry, readers, I’m changing horses mid-stream! I’m in the midst of writing a travelogue of our British Isles cruise, but these last couple weeks have been full. I don’t know what the word “bored” means! So. . . here we go! The trip will have to wait a week.

Flippo and Me at CALLERLAB in Albuquerque, 2018

First and foremost—Monday, September 2 is Marshall Flippo’s birthday. He would have 92-years-old this year! Two years ago, Lin and I were with him in Paris, Texas at the annual Chaparral square and round dance weekend, and he was calling for the last time. Flip had called at this event for years! He was on his “Farewell to the Road” tour which would end up in Abilene, Texas to finish up his successful career where he started at the Wagon Wheel Square Dance Center. What a memorable time that was for sure!

I’m writing Flippo’s biography, and I had hoped to have him here to see the finished product, and he so wanted to do that! What a joy this project has been! If you knew Flip, you know he was a storyteller supreme, so I’ve had to drastically cut out some of his stories from the 37 interviews I did.

They are not lost though! I plan to put them on my website for people who buy his book to read, so stay tuned!

Happy birthday, Flippo! We miss your raspy voice, loving heart and quick wit!


On that same vein, yesterday I attended the funeral of John Clark, a dear 98-year-old neighbor, who lived across the street from me in Branson, Colorado. I witnessed my rich heritage in being a part of a loving ranching community that remembers and honors its own.

Yes, 98-years-old is quite elderly, and John had seen the world change unbelievably, but he was ready “to go”—to be with his Lord and loving wife, Betty who passed a couple years ago!

The gathering at his memorial touched my heart. Being a Navy veteran of World War II, two sailors in dress whites unfurled the flag ceremoniously, then refolded it and handed it to John’s youngest daughter with admiration and respect for John’s service to his country. Attendees listened as one of the sailor’s played taps on a bugle which brought tears to my eyes and many sitting around me.

John’s four daughters and their children celebrated his life with many friends from the surrounding ranching communities. I saw mostly cowboy hats held in hands or stashed under chairs and boots, cleaned up and proper to show respect for John.

During an open time to share memories of John, I heard platitudes about his rich, full life. One friend shared one specific story about John almost getting killed during the war if he had been standing where he normally was!

Others told humorous tales. Many honored the work he did for many ranchers in the area—John ran a bulldozer, fixing roads through dangerous canyons and moving miles of dirt from reservoirs. My Dad said watching him work was like poetry in motion!

Grandchildren, great grandchildren and nieces shared memories of a man who stood center in this fun-loving family. They talked of regular game nights when they were together in Branson; John didn’t participate but sat in his chair close by and enjoyed the activity, laughter and love that surrounded him.

It was a privilege to be present to see a man weep as he shared about his relationship with John–honest emotion that validated his loss.

After the service, I visited with friends I hadn’t seen for years—a great time to reconnect and remember.

What a heritage I have where I can hear a 91-year-old woman who went to school with my Mom tell an 89-year-old woman, “Say hello to my younger friend!” Laughter exploded at this statement, but it made me think about the reality here! A celebration of age and longevity!

I drove home, marveling at the spirit of unity and love present at John’s service. After Dad died, John and Betty helped Mom. When Mom died, they did the same for me. At night when I locked the front door and saw the light in their bedroom, I always felt safe and secure and knew help was close.


One last musing—my brother, my husband and I attended the 6th Annual Cimarron Cowboy Music and Poetry Gathering in Cimarron, New Mexico August 22 – 25. We have only missed the first year!

We love this event hosted at Philmont Boy Scout Ranch, a beautiful venue. Again, the poets and musicians entertained us Friday night, all day Saturday and Saturday night. We laughed; we cried. We enjoyed those we had seen before and celebrated new comers who brought a refreshing new flavor to the event.

There’s no way I can list all of my favorite singers/poets—I tried, and I was typing everyone’s names! One new entertainer I enjoyed was Barry Ward, who spoke to my heart with his song, “That Old Barn.”

It’s a relaxing weekend in a slow-paced community. On Friday before the Gathering started, we drove to Eagle Nest to the Flea Market and had a blast shopping and listening to music! They had a one-man entertainer there singing old time songs, so we sat and enjoyed the beautiful Moreno valley scenery and the live music.

Look at a couple photos taken at past Gatherings:

Here’s the website for the Cimarron gathering in case you’d be interested next year: https://www.cimarroncowboygathering.com/

So, you can see—I have a rich, full life where I witness and celebrate life where I can which can be in the midst of death and loss. My country blood rages through my veins, directing me to slow down and enjoy this moment, these people, and this place.

Join me on the front porch!

So, join me on the front porch with a glass of ice tea for a chat! I would love to talk!


Check out my web site at https://www.laradasbooks.com

Curl up with one of my books–either paperback or ebook format! 20% discount on all 4 of my book bundles until September 22, 2019. Visit my Etsy Shop for all my booksLarada’s Reading Loft

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Life Lessons · My Thoughts · Sexual Abuse

I Confess . . .

I confess—I am a workaholic, and I’ve dealt with it for years. I just kept moving, busy, busy, busy and thought that was normal.

Here’s a definition in case you’re wondering:

workaholic is a person who works compulsively. While the term generally implies that the person enjoys their work, it can also alternately imply that they simply feel compelled to do it. There is no generally accepted medical definition of such a condition,

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Workaholic

It all started in 1982 when I went back to Colorado State University to get my BA degree in English, my minor in Spanish with an Education concentration. Sounds pretty normal—four-year goal to finish it! Sounds reasonable!

But I was 28 years old, recently divorced and working full time as a beautician. I did get financial aid in the form of grants and loans, but I worked part time at the beauty salon to supplement my income the first year. I did try to do some babysitting that year, but having never had children, parents thought I should know what to do with their babies, and I didn’t, so that fizzled out quickly, thank God!

At the end of my freshman year, Dr. Smith who became my favorite English professor, asked me if I’d be interested in being a mentor in the English department computer lab. I was asked because of my grade point average. I had never touched a computer before in my life. The interview went well–we had a lot in common, both had rural backgrounds—me ranching and him farming. So, I got the job!

So, for rest of my three years at the CSU, I went to school full-time, worked at the beauty salon three days a week and as a mentor in the computer lab, except for my last semester when I did my student teaching, I only worked at the beauty salon on Saturday’s that semester and I stopped the mentoring position.  Wow!! And the semester I carried 18 credit hours, I had a 4.0 grade average!

It all started then—working all the time became natural.

Then as a new teacher in Denver, Colorado and then Raton, New Mexico, it was easy for me to continue this lifestyle: I taught English and regularly worked until 10:00 each night, grading papers and preparing for class the next day.

Then as the years unfolded in Raton, I became the cheerleading sponsor which demanded I attend basketball and football games after work. I also was the Student Council sponsor which required more after school meetings and my time.

When I moved to Albuquerque, I chaired the Technology committee for five years at the first school. This was the time that local area networks were coming in and we did the work ourselves. Often, I was teased that my committee was the hardest working one.

At another school, I had a computer club after school. At this time, I got really active in square dancing and volunteered whenever asked.

Over the last twenty-eight years in Albuquerque, my volunteerism in the square dance world rocketed: chairman of a national convention, published a quarterly newsletter, published a booklet of national square dance events, chaired two square dance festivals off-and-on, a board member for the Albuquerque Square Dance Center, ad nauseum!

In 1992, I volunteered to be on the committee that ran the yearly reunion for the small school I attended in southeastern Colorado and continued to do it.

The point is I’ve overdone it for years! For several years now, I have lamented regularly to friends that I was a workaholic and didn’t know how to stop! I didn’t want to quit any of my pet projects—I loved them all equally. So, I just kept going—I didn’t know how to quit.

But last year, I finally realized I needed to quit some of my obligations, so I let the reunion committee know that this year would be my last. Many of my friends at home don’t believe I’m really quitting, but I am!

With that resignation, I realized something: I could do it. All I needed to do was do it.

Since then, I have given up the chairmanship of one square dance festivals, so I’m whittling away the list.

What helped me finally face the reason for my constant activity was a revelation. I am an incest survivor, and my little girl believed if I kept moving, no one could get me again—that’s pretty amazing! The hypervigilant constant frenzy felt comfortable and safe in the midst of the chaos it created in my life.

 As I let go of these commitments, today I celebrate all the work I did. Workaholics are the type of people you want on any committee you’re on—we love to do our work and yours too! I met wonderful people all over the United States doing what I did, but today I want to be able to say, “I’m a relax-aholic instead!”

I’m afraid my current health issues may be the result of the many years of stress I’ve placed on myself. I’ve had a stomach problem since March, and I’ve had to step back and say, “No!” often. We’ve missed several family functions and dance events, and I hate that! I’m so used to going, going, going, but I can’t right now!

 The results of that have been many nights at home with my dear husband, Lin, watching TV, soaking in our hot tub and not doing much—in some ways it feels so foreign, yet we’ve gotten into a routine and even my old cat, Jesse, loves it. In the evening after our hot tub time, Jesse perches up on the arm of the loveseat on my side, ready for the TV to go on and the two of us to sit there all evening with him! Usually we dance three to four times a week. We’ve been lucky to do one night currently.

I hope this information helps you if you share my concern about this problem. Here’s a list of seven criteria to assess the likelihood that an individual possesses a work addiction from Forbes:

1. You think of how you can free up more time to work.
2. You spend much more time working than initially intended.
3. You work in order to reduce feelings of guilt, anxiety, helplessness and/or depression.
4. You have been told by others to cut down on work without listening to them.
5. You become stressed if you are prohibited from working.
6. You deprioritize hobbies, leisure activities, and/or exercise because of your work.
7. You work so much that it has negatively influenced your health.
If you answered with “often” or “always” to any of these points, you may be a workaholic. The study concluded that about 8.3% of the Norwegian workforce is addicted to work – other studies have suggested about 10% of the average population in other countries are workaholics.

https://www.forbes.com/sites/amymorin/2014/09/18/7-signs-you-may-be-a-workaholic/

            Forbes also shared:

People identified as workaholics often ranked high in terms of these three personality traits:
Agreeableness – Workaholics are more likely to be altruistic, compliant and modest.
Neuroticism – Workaholics tend to be nervous, hostile, and impulsive.
Intellect/imagination –Workaholics are generally inventive and action oriented.

https://www.forbes.com/sites/amymorin/2014/09/18/7-signs-you-may-be-a-workaholic/

My parents taught me to work hard, but even my Mom worried about my excessive commitments. Don’t wait until you’re 65 to get this right! Start today, and I’d love to hear your comments.

*******************************

Check out my web site at https://www.laradasbooks.com

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family · Grief · Life Lessons · Memoirs · Mom · My Thoughts · poetry

Does Your Heart Break on Mother’s Day?

Here it is six years after my Mom’s death and Mother’s Day smacks me in the face with fresh grief—I miss buying Mom a card and flowers and calling her up. I miss her infectious laughter and her practical jokes. The pain never goes away.

Many people face grief on this celebratory day—the graphic above shows those affected most. For many years before Mom died, I dreaded this day. Why? Because I am not a mother, and that hole in my heart pulsated to an overwhelming size on this annual day of remembrance.

I remember going to church one Mother’s Day many years ago (not to my present church for sure), and they had all the mothers present stand and gave them a flower. Again, I stifled tears being reminded of my lack.

Today my church gave every woman present a chrysanthemum and said a prayer for “Mothers, Potential Mothers, and Women Who ‘Mother’ in Any Way.” Today I stood, satisfied for sure.

Yes, I have mothered many people’s children. I was a middle school teacher for twenty years. My brother and his wife knew my deep longing for a child—I had a miscarriage about the time they got pregnant with the first of their three children. They share their children with me in a deep meaningful way, and I am close to them and their children.

After the miscarriage, my first husband and I sought help from a fertility specialist in Denver, Colorado—the famous Dr. Bradley who pioneered a natural child method. We started with fertility tests with my husband and went no further because he had aspermia, a disease of weak sperm.

So we thought about artificial insemination. The thought thrilled me because finally I could get pregnant, but my husband didn’t agree. So we planned to adopt a child and were within six months of getting our baby. I had knitted booties, baby blankets and put together a nursery. We went through Lutheran Social Services in Denver, Colorado, and they did the work-up on the couple a few months before placement instead of at the beginning. They felt if a couple lasted the four year wait; they were a sure bet. We had waited our four years to get our baby, but as the great day drew near, the tension in our marriage increased and he walked out. I later found out he had unsavory skeletons in his closet, and I was heartbroken in my double losses!

My mother especially grieved with me over the loss of a child—I had been raised to get married, live happily ever after and have 2.4 children. The Horner’s celebrated children and grandchildren. After my divorce, Mom talked about artificial insemination—she even offered to help me pay the hefty price of $10,000 for it! (Remember, this was in the early 1980s.)

The battle raged inside me—I could finally have the baby I always wanted, but I labored over the fact of being a single Mom. In the end, I chose not to do it which looking back; I realized was a wise decision for me.

The next few years I drank away, numbing my broken heart and acting out! God’s mercy won in the choice I made. I would have injured a child with my crazy lifestyle at that time.

The years have healed that profound ache, and I am satisfied with my childless life today, but I will always be indebted to my Mom and her undying support of the need she knew I had!

Here are two poems I wrote in 1996 and 2005 while I was still lamenting the lack of a child in my life:

Childless – 1996

The pain of being without a child!  Eternally alone!
No child has burst forth from my womb
nor sucked at my breast.
Barren cavity deep inside waiting to be filled with life.
Waiting, waiting, waiting!

I have no child to pass my stories on to, my history, our history,
how Grandad created our ranch,
how special Branson Christmas trees are
because we cut them down from our ranch, our land,
how to do the Jessie polka and waltz,
how I was almost named Jessie.

My name, Larada, that should pass on to my granddaughter,
like my grandmother passed it on to me, 
every other generation for 7 generations.

Cheated, robbed, failed!

Not woman, not mom, nothing!  Does a child define woman? 
Does the lack of them define me?

Names and faces dance in circles in my mind
Lael Marie
Patrick Lawrence
Curly blond hair, blue inquisitive eyes.
Bright red hair, changeable hazel eyes.
A mixture of him and me.

I have no daughter that has my smile nor a son with my Dad’s red hair.
No one to call me, “Mommy.”

The empty cavity waiting to be filled has grown larger
no longer just my womb,
but now my whole being,
my every thought,
ME!

Aching, lonely, pulsating to the beat of life
missing what never was!

****************

Childless at 51 – 2005

I am childless
51
single!
Reality hit yesterday as life in
My 50’s sheds light on my life’s fact.

Who will carry on the stories I have –
A lifetime full of
Traditions?

Who will recall that
Grandma Horner demanded
I have a set of sheets
With yellow roses?
Her mark of innocence for me, her namesake.

Who will name their child Larada?
Will that meaningful name
Die with me?

Who will remember that Dad
Called me Shorty?
Who will share my travel escapades?
My love for the Mayas!

Who will know the story behind
Each Christmas decoration
Hanging on my tree?

Who will understand the
Spiritual voyage I took
By looking through my
Personal library of life?
Will you be able to stitch together
The words that formed the
Frame that I draped
My life over?

That gave me closure to
The search through
The pages, the beliefs,
The heart-wrenching self
That examined herself
Through various beliefs
and concepts.

Who will look at all
My belongings
And be able to define
The complex mystery
Of Larada?
No one, but me!


Are you sad this Mother’s Day? If so, tell me your pain so I can share it and lessen your burden.


Check out my web site at https://www.laradasbooks.com

MOTHER’S DAY SPECIAL UNTIL MAY 14, 2019: 25% off of A Time to Grow Up: A Daughter’s Grief Memoir—digital & paper copies. Visit my Etsy Shop, Larada‘s Reading Loft, to purchase my books.

Would you like to join the Marshall Flippo Fan Club Facebook page? Interesting posts about Flippo’s life. https://www.facebook.com/groups/328325644382769/

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Life Lessons · My Thoughts

I Have Stomach Pain! An Anti-Depressant?

After my Mom died in 2013, I got terribly sick, losing weight and having severe stomach pain. I was diagnosed with Celiac Compression Disorder—an artery to my stomach is compressed by 70%.

Since then, I have had some reoccurrences but nothing like what I’ve experienced in the last three weeks. On Monday, March 4, 2019, I was at a square dance promoting a festival we’re having in May, and the cramps started at about 7:00 PM on the drive to the dance hall. I kept thinking they’d go away, but they intensified. I hadn’t had a full-blown stomach problem for several years.

It only worsened during the evening, and I had to leave abruptly in the middle of making a promotional announcement about our dance. I had an eighteen-mile drive home and prayed the whole way, hoping the diarrhea would hold off until I got home. The cramps increased. Sweat beaded on my brow; I turned off the radio so I could concentrate on breathing and not exploding.

I called my husband, Lin, as I turned down our lane, and he had the garage door open. I turned off the car, jumped out and ran to the bathroom, and the diarrhea hit. It relieved the pain for a while, but the cramps/spasms came back with a vengeance until 3:00 AM. At one point, I thought I was dying the pain was so intense.

Tuesday morning I called my GI doctor and luckily scheduled an appointment for the next day with a Nurse Practitioner because my doctor was not available. To my surprise, my doctor followed the Nurse Practitioner in the exam room and was a part of the discussion. I shared the questions I had written out and they answered them, as best they could. We scheduled a CT Angiogram scan for that Friday. Again, I was able to get this much quicker than I thought possible.

The scan was done easily in the morning, and I received the results that afternoon on MyChart, the medical portal I have access to through Presbyterian insurance. I read the results, not understanding the findings. It all sounded good, but I wasn’t sure. I needed a doctor’s interpretation.

I had a long weekend, not feeling good and wondering about the results.

On Monday, a nurse called me from the GI office with the results, but still I wasn’t clear about the results and next steps, so I asked to have the Nurse Practitioner call me. She did call back on Tuesday, but my phone was upstairs and I was downstairs, so I didn’t make it. She never did call back.

I kept wondering—what are the next steps then? And I felt lousy!

On Thursday morning, I had another stomach attack that hit suddenly. I called the GI office, and they counseled me to go to the emergency room. Lin and I decided not to do that, so we spent the afternoon researching on the Internet—what could this be?

We both came up with an ulcer and the need for an endoscopy.

I spent most of Friday and Saturday in bed, but Saturday afternoon, I joined Lin downstairs to watch some TV, and it hit again. The pain doubled me over into the fetal position. This was different—two episodes in a few days. That had never happened before.

I spent the rest of the weekend in bed, miserable with the pain and fear of what was going on.

On Monday, again I called the GI doctor for another appointment, and I was able to see her on Tuesday. Lin accompanied me. We walked in, armed with a list of questions, and we requested an endoscopy, so she scheduled one. I was afraid it would take a while, but there was an opening on Friday—again, my God intervened.

Our conversation took a strange twist during this appointment. The Nurse Practitioner asked if I had any stress in my life which I could understand with stomach pain. I answered yes, and she asked me how I handle it. I told her I write. Then she told me that many people come to their office with stomach pain, do the testing and end up with normal test results. She suggested I see a therapist for stress management at their Behavioral Science department, and she prescribed an anti-depressant, Amitriptyline.

I was so sick that day, I filled the prescription without thinking—Medicare and my supplemental insurance didn’t cover it, but it was inexpensive. I brought it back to the car and read the warnings to Lin. We both gasped at “Suicide, depression, etc.”

Here’s what shocked me even more when I researched this drug on the Internet:

This drug has a black box warning. This is the most serious warning from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). A black box warning alerts doctors and patients about drug effects that may be dangerous.
Amitriptyline can increase the risk of suicidal thoughts and behavior, especially in children, adolescents, and young adults. People of all ages who are started on antidepressant therapy should be watched closely for signs of changes in behavior or worsening depression.

https://www.healthline.com/health/amitriptyline-oral-tablet#warnings

The Nurse Practitioner called me after I filled the prescription and said to not start it until I got an EKG because I didn’t have one on file. I think that was my God intervening here to stop the process.

When I got home, I received a call from the stress management office; they have no openings and put me on a waiting list.

I did the endoscopy on Friday, and the doctor there was really concerned about the compressed celiac artery, saying it could be causing all the problems. We’re waiting for the biopsy results.

I’m having the EKG tomorrow, Monday, March 25, but I’m not going to start the anti-depressants. I know what depression feels like—been there, done that; I am not depressed. Lin said she didn’t prescribe it for depression; she prescribed it for pain. Why not use Tylenol?

Besides its alternative use as sleep aid, amitriptyline is also used to treat pain associated with a wide array of medical conditions.

https://www.insomnia.net/medications/amitriptyline/

I still don’t understand the prescription of this medicine. Is this how the opioid crisis happened in America? She took a sidetrack with me that day trying to prepare me for no new diagnosis for my severe stomach pain, forgetting about the 2013 diagnosis I received.

The doctor that did the endoscopy said the compressed artery could cause the severe stomach pain and could be fixed surgically by removing scar tissue. That seems like a solution—the anti-depressant doesn’t!

Have you ever had an experience like this? What did you do?

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Christmas · family · Life Lessons · Mom · My Thoughts

Why Knit?

A skein of colorful yarn, two needles and a knitting pattern–life is good! Yes, I’ve been a knitter since I was about 10 or 11 years old. I saw a friend knitting and was mesmerized, so I asked my 4-H leader to teach me and the rest is history!

My Mom and maternal grandmother both crocheted, but I fell in love with knitting. I’ve made a variety of items. I started with slippers, and I remember the pride I felt with the first pair I made. Then my whole family wanted a pair!

I graduated to sweaters, ponchos, vests, socks, afghans, dish rags, dresses, and Christmas stockings. It was my habit to knit when I was watching TV growing up, and I have continued this habit. I loved giving a knitted gift to a family member or friend because spent the whole time I was knitting thinking about that person. I filled it up with good vibes!

Often, my Dad would tease me, saying the sofa bounced with the rhythm of my knitting needles. He used to chide me when I ripped out a huge chunk that had taken hours to complete, thinking I was a perfectionist. In reality, with an intricate knitting pattern, a mistake threw the whole design off, so I had no choice but to rip. This taught me ripping was a part of the process.

When I was in high school, I knitted my dream sweater for my last 4-H project. The project required more than one color and carrying the different colored yarn on the underside of the garment. I made my Dad a sweater with a Hereford bull on the back and his brand on the front. It was the most ambitious project I’d ever done. When I finished his, Mom wanted me.

My Dad’s Sweater

After high school, my life had gotten complicated—I was off to college and busy with my fun-filled college life, so I played a trick on Mom. The first Christmas, I gave her the back and two fronts because that’s all I had completed. The next Christmas, I gave her the sleeves. We enjoyed the craziness of that, and she loved it when I finished it and wore it proudly.

I took an evening class for advance knitting at Trinidad State Junior College and learned some amazing skills that took my knitting to a new level.

I took a break from knitting for several years after I was diagnosed with arthritis in all three thumb joints of both hands. The doctor put me in hand splints to save the joints, but they limited anything I did with my hands. I gave up on them and returned to knitting, and I have had less thumb pain now than then. The movement has helped my arthritic hands, not hurt them!

In 2013 after my Mom died, I returned to the hobby I love and made dish rags, a simple lovely pattern I could make without thinking. The rhythmic motion of the needles soothed my broken heart, and I ended up making more than 40 dish rags in the year after she died. I know it had a meditative quality for me with the repetition. It quieted in my mind and soothed my soul, and family and friends benefited from work.

Last year I had three family and friends having babies, so I made each one a baby afghan. Then for Christmas, I made them each a Christmas stocking with his name knitted into the stocking.

Recently I heard something that confirmed my belief that knitting has healing qualities. I listen to Dr. Bob Martin’s radio show driving to church each Sunday. On this one Sunday, he listed 10 ways to reduce stress and knitting was on the list. I chuckled as I heard him laud the hobby that had been a part of my life for over 50 years—what confirmation for me!

“According to new research by Knit For Peace, knitting could actually improve your health. The U.K. nonprofit organization published findings on the benefits of knitting based on extensive past research, as well as their own — and there are quite a few reasons to start stitching.
 
Health benefits were both physical and mental, and included lower blood pressure, reduced depression and anxiety, delayed onset of dementia. Knitting was deemed as relaxing as yoga, the researchers noted.”


https://www.huffingtonpost.ca/2018/03/14/knitting-health-benefits_a_23385911/

One of the three sweaters I have knitted & I will use this pattern next!

My next project will be a rainbow-colored sweater made out of lamb’s wool and a fashionable pattern I’ve already made three times. I’ve had the yarn for a few years, and I’m anxious to get started!

After that—I bought several skeins of beige Aran yarn in Ireland at the Irish Store in Blarney two years ago, so I will be making an Aran sweater with all of its complexity! I love the history I found about the Aran sweater.

“From its origins, the Aran sweater has been intimately linked to clans and their identities. The many combinations of stitches seen on the garment are not incidental, far from it. They can impart vast amounts of information to those who know how to interpret them. Aran sweaters were, and remain, a reflection of the lives of the knitters, and their families. On the Aran islands, sweater patterns were zealously guarded, kept within the same clan throughout generations. These Aran sweaters were often used to help identify bodies of fishermen washed up on the beach following an accident at sea. An official register of these historic patterns has been compiled, and can be seen in the Aran Sweater Market on the Aran Islands.”


https://www.aransweatermarket.com/history-of-aran-sweaters

“As a craft, the Aran Sweater continues to fascinate audiences around the world. A finished Aran sweater contains approximately 100,000 carefully constructed stitches, and can take the knitter up to sixty days to complete. It can contain any combination of stitches, depending on the particular clan pattern being followed. Many of the stitches used in the Aran Sweater are reflective of Celtic Art, and comparisons have been drawn between the stitches and patterns found at Neolithic burial sites such as Newgrange in Co. Meath.
Each stitch carries its own unique meaning, a historic legacy from the lives of the Island community many years ago. The Cable Stitch is a depiction of the fisherman’s ropes, and represents a wish for a fruitful day at sea. The Diamond Stitch reflects the small fields of the islands. These diamonds are sometimes filled with Irish moss stitch, depicting the seaweed that was used to fertilise the barren fields and produce a good harvest. Hence the diamond stitch is a wish for success and wealth. The Zig Zag Stitch, a half diamond, is often used in the Aran Sweaters, and popularly represents the twisting cliff paths on the islands. The Tree of Life is one of the original stitches, and is unique to the earliest examples of the Aran knitwear. It again reflects the importance of the clan, and is an expression of a desire for clan unity, with long-lived parents and strong children.


https://www.aransweatermarket.com/history-of-aran-sweaters

I will finish my lamb’s wool sweater first. I have admired the Aran patterns for years but never attempted to make one because I knew it was a complicated pattern to knit. So, as you can see, the Aran sweater will take me a while to make, but I look forward to the day when I get to wear my two new creations!

Are you a knitter? What have you made? How do you feel when you knit?

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Goals · Life Lessons · My Thoughts

Time Flies! What Happened to January?

Here it is January 30 and where did the month go? Have you accomplished all you hoped for these past thirty days?

When I look at January on the calendar, I annually feel like cleaning out disheveled drawers, closets and file cabinets. I want to clear the clutter on my desk and get the year off to a good start.

I want to get tax preparation finished before it becomes a burden that haunts me in the wee hours. I yearn for organization, structure and clarity.

The sad news is life gets in the way, and here it is January 30, and very little of those desires have been achieved.

I have done a few things that I feel great about:

  • I did the tax preparation for our ranch.
  • I started my personal and business tax preparation.
  • I set an appointment to do a living will (that’s been on my To Do List for years!).
  • I created a weekly organizational sheet that has directed me on daily and weekly goals for my personal and writing life.

Last year, I would get a brainstorm and create a reminder on my iPad app to do some brilliant action for my book business. So often then, they went undone because I just clicked the alert off when it appeared, got distracted and didn’t do it.

With my weekly organizational sheet, I have check boxes for key areas and have more accountability right in front of me. To really use it effectively, on Saturday I review what I did the past week and notice what I didn’t do, and prioritize that for the next week.

I’m a checklist-type person. I’ve used several checklists to organize my current writing project, the authorized biography of Marshall Flippo, world-famous square dance caller. I have 37 recorded interviews, 4 steno-note pads full of notes from the interviews, 100’s of pictures, and 6 photo albums/scrapbooks to keep track. Checklists have helped me organize and cross-reference all the support material for specific chapters in the book.

Facing this part of my life, the key words are MINDFULNESS & ORGANIZATION! Routinely I get busy with what is at hand instead of being mindful for the day and have specific activities to do. Being retired plays into that, too. It seems I used to get so much more accomplished when I was working and had to manage my free time. My organizational sheet helps me with that, especially when I start the day with a review of what’s pending for the day.

My husband is very organized; his desk is free of clutter. I’m organized in an unorganized fashion with clutter everywhere, so here’s a goal for me for the month of February:

A DESK THAT LOOKS LIKE THIS!

Yes, January puts me in the mindset of clearing out and starting fresh–the newness of a new year. Here’s to your new year and your new ways of being mindful and organized.

Are you organized? Do you have clutter? How do you deal with it? Let me know!

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