Monday, September 30, 2013

Hooray for the Blogger App!

Just before leaving the house this morning, I downloaded the Blogger App and joked that I can use it if I get stuck by a train. Yep! There's my mother's damn train. 

Enjoy today's thought of the day! 

Tomorrow, we FINALLY get our new mattress delivered!!! 

Sunday, September 29, 2013

The Journey by Mary Oliver - Poem Review

Dream WorkDream Work by Mary Oliver
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

To be fair, I haven't finished this book yet. I've only read one poem. It's five stars just based on The Journey.

Boy... the second I read it, then read it again, then read it out loud... and even then, closed my eyes and just let it sink in... and let the tears come... wow.

Especially towards the end.

... "and there was a new voice, which you slowly recognized as your own, that kept you company as you strode deeper and deeper into the world, determined to do the only thing you could do - determined to save the only life you could save."

I can only begin to describe the feelings it brought to the surface...

Purposefulness... it definitely gave me that.
Validation... for being different and choosing to follow my own path.
Strength... to trust my instincts and follow where they lead me, despite the naysayers.
Permission... to take care of myself, first and foremost.

I cut the reprint out of O Magazine (April 2011) and it's been on my vision board ever since.

Friday, September 27, 2013

The Stockyard

Today, I thought I would switch gears and share an old photo that I inherited. Of course, it's not labeled... so I have no idea when or where it is... or if any of my people are in it. I've tagged it as a Mystery (click to see the rest of my mystery photos!).

Last year on Election Day, I mentioned this photo to Holly. She said that there used to be a stockyard in Ruby! Judging by the age of this photo, which I think may be about 1905-1915... maybe this is it? I've sent the photo off to her to see if she recognizes anyone.

The Stockyard
(click photo to enlarge it)

Obviously this photo is all about the cows! You can clearly make out their faces! Sadly, the people are all way back there in the background. 

Men 1-2:

Men 3-6

Men 7-10
I suspect the boy might be my grandfather Roy (1902-1967)? That would date this photo to ca1906 or 1907? He has the look of my Dad at that age (and Justin, and Skylar). I'll have to do a "Wait Baby" post so you can see what I mean.

Men 11-12

Man 13

Men 14-16
I half-suspect that this might be William & Fred Wait. Father & Son. Wouldn't it be nice if they were paying attention? 

Please leave a comment if any of these men look familiar, or if you have a different photo of this! Everyone looks like they wore their Sunday best, so I would hope that they took more than just one photo! Let's put names to faces! 

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Book of Me #3 - Part 1 - My Physical Self

This entry is going to be a doozy! 

The prompt for Week 3 of the Book of Me is... drumroll... 

Prompt 3: Your Physical Self

  • Your size – clothes size
  • Scars
  • Eye colour
  • Draw your hands
  • Finger Prints
Here's my reaction when I read that:
Followed shortly thereafter by a small voice from somewhere deep inside me...
Am I? 
When I reestablished this blog just three short weeks ago, I promised myself that I would be completely open and honest and would stop skirting the issue at hand. Say what I mean, and mean what I say! Dig Deeper!! I just didn't realize that my new-found sense of purpose would bite me in the ass so soon! I have the distinct feeling that I'm being tested.

So I did what any normal person would do. I read the instructions, thought for a minute, watched the video, thought some more, and then decided that this would require even more thought. Could I really do this? I should meditate on what I want to write about. Ya. That's it. And then I procrastinated while the whole thing sunk in.

I got this wild hair and decided that it was time to post about last year's trip to California, so I hunted down the pictures... lingered over the swimsuit photo that I posed for (hiding behind my boogie board, of course). I thought I was Brave-with-a-capital-B for posting this on Facebook during our trip! I wasn't feeling that great about myself, physically. I'd been working 60+ hours a week for a year at my desk job and let myself go in the process. Not that I was "fit" before that, but at least I was eating better and exercising before I started there. Even considering the broken ankle fiasco. By the time this photo was taken, I was worn out. Physically, mentally, emotionally. This was taken towards the end of our trip, so I was feeling more relaxed and myself than I'd felt all year. (that's not saying much)

So there I was, feeling all empowered because I posted a photo in my swimsuit... and my Cousin called me out! She even said I was a coward!! Who me?! Um, ya. Now that I think of it, it wasn't as brave as I thought at the time.

Even so, this photo portrays how I almost handled this prompt. Smiling and happy on the outside and all, like, "Hang Loose!". But in reality, I was afraid of showing who I really am. Afraid of being seen.

I spent the rest of the week pondering all of that... I finished Harold Fry for my book club and blogged about that. THEN, I finished Fangirl and blogged about that, too! 

By now, another prompt had come and gone... it's an easy one, too! But I don't want to "cheat" and do that one first because it's easier. Although this group is a go-at-your-own-pace kind of thing, I want to stay on schedule and complete the prompts in order. By the time I'm done with this, writing Week 4's entry is going to be like a little reward for making it through Week 3. 

I've been going over and over it in my head looking for a loophole. Something that would "count", yet not reveal my true self. I thought about skirting the topic and writing about the family history behind my features (blonde hair from Dad, brown eyes from Mom, etc). I even pitched the idea to someone and got a "that's a good start!" reply. But it feels like a cop-out.

Last night, I finally decided to just start writing a truthful description of myself starting from the top and working my way down. Of course, digging deeper means that I have a lot to say about any given body part. I ended up writing a whole entry just about the history of my hair and started fishing out old photos to help tell the story and everything! That entry is now a draft for Part 2 of this prompt. My hair is definitely it's own story. But it led me to this.

As I started digging out 35mm photos of myself to tell my hair story, I tried to get a good cross section of various times in my life. Of course, I started with my favorite photos that I had set aside of me during my "prime" back in my early 20s... nights out on the town with friends, family photos standing in front of the house on A Street with Grandma... 


There SHE was! 

The elusive SUPERKATHY!! Young, thin, tan, visible collarbone, bare midriff, long legs, white shorts, hot pink stretchy tanktop with no bra, wearing a huge smile! Smaller in most ways, but somehow appeared larger than life! A Spring Chicken! She was just getting started out in life! Carefree, Optimistic, FUN!! She was 21 and was irrepressible! She was a Size 5 and weighed 125 pounds. She went dancing practically every night with her friends. She once took an aerobics class (her first), but got there too early so she rode a stationary bike for half an hour and THEN took the hour long aerobics class without breaking a sweat. She could leap tall buildings with a single bound! She had her CAKE and would EAT IT, too!! 

This girl is an endangered species.

Years of ups and downs, poor choices, and broken hearts nearly destroyed her. About a year after this photo was taken, she gave her heart to the first nice guy who asked for it. Nice guy, but not THE ONE. A "friend"... one who didn't make her heart race. Not realizing this, she married him and lived unhappily ever after for the next 5 years. She gained weight. She morphed into someone who Stayed Home and Cross-Stitched. She tried to lift weights once when he was at work, but instead... she jacked herself in the mouth with the end of the barbell and lost her two front teeth. She gave up. Then gained more weight. She was crushed and defeated. and then she was RELIEVED when the relationship finally ended. She had cut herself off from her lifeline... her friends... and she lost her zest for life. She literally wasted the best years of her life, when she should have been out there experiencing LIFE and becoming even More Kathy! 

So she started over.

She whacked her hair off (a pattern that will show itself every time she has major upheaval in her life). She went to Travel School. She went to Graceland!

Elvis, Elvis
We Miss Your Pelvis

She got her groove back.

She got a Real Job that led her to wonderful New Friends! She even got a LIFE! Travel! Excitement! She completed a half marathon! She played on a volleyball team for several summers. She lost weight! She felt like she was ready for a bigger pond. She finally left Lincoln for Omaha... not a big enough step. Then she finally left Nebraska for Chicago!! Huge Step!! Things were looking good! New beginnings!! She was training for a Marathon!

A few months later, her Dad got cancer and died. 

That led to more poor choices and a lot of denial and anger and sadness. She gained weight again. More, this time. Eventually, things started picking up again and the hurt didn't hurt as much. She even joined a social group and made more new friends! Then she LED the social group! She tried new things! Went new places! She went out practically every night for a year, even! SuperKathy was on the horizon! She was in the Zone! She bought a Condo near the lake! 

She CLIMBED the STAIRS of the John Hancock Building! All the way to the top!

SHE was EVEN in a PARADE (on TV!)! 

She was Burned. Out. Running on fumes. She commuted 3 hours a day round trip for 3 years. She needed something New. She looked high and low for a job in the city. She applied. She wasn't even called in for an interview. 

She went to Life Coaching School. She healed old wounds. She learned to listen and how to share. She changed. She made even more new friends! Things started falling apart with her old friends. I don't think they liked the new CoachingKathy.

Her dreaded Desk Job took a toll on her health. She sprained her ankle at a freaking parade. On St Patty's Day. She limped. Then she healed. Then one day a month later, she went to start her car and something popped in her back. She couldn't breathe. Her ribs had literally popped off her spine in 3 places between her shoulder blades. She was flat on her back (everything else hurt too bad). She was done. She took it as a sign and leaped!

After the chiropractor popped her back into place, she left her Desk Job, cashed out her retirement, and took a year off work to recharge. 

She got a DOG! (Isn't he cute?)

Together, they walked! Things were looking up! She slimmed down a little and breathed a lot! She tried Coaching full time, but failed. And then panicked. Now what? She met a guy, another wrong one. Great friend, but not THE ONE. She was out of money. She gained weight. Her car was reposessed (she "gave it up" as far as anyone else knows). Her Condo was foreclosed. He helped keep her somewhat sane and then helped her clear the place out.

She moved back home to Mom's house in Nebraska. Mom moved to her small town place. Eventually, the Guy followed and they tried again to make a life together. But it was doomed from the beginning. They just weren't right for each other. They tried. He Kathy-ized her Mom's house so it would feel like hers. She gained more weight. She got a job decorating donuts, which morphed into full time management of a deli and bakery. (What?) She worked 70+ hours a week. Exactly what she said she would never do to herself again.

She burned out. Again.

She got a Retail Job! She had a discount! She worked too hard. Who knew that cashiering was such back-breaking work?! She quit.

She got a job at a Bookstore! She sold e-readers all day long. Great people, great work environment, but boy did her feet hurt at the end of the day. Standing. Just standing. And talking. And more standing. She lost her voice from all of the talking. 

The Helpful Guy went back home to where he came from after their relationship fizzled. So she got a second job at the horse track selling beer. That was fun! Still just standing and talking, but boy did she make money! She was outside in the fresh air with the horses! She met a Man! They didn't connect, but he reminded her of everything she wanted in a man. She she decided to Try Again. 

She started walking! And even running! She ate right! She lost weight! She sprained her ankle. Again. It's hard to stand all day... at two jobs... when you're wearing a Boot. The summer job ended and it was back to one paycheck. 

She started to feel like a loser. Setbacks upon setbacks upon setbacks. Start and stop. She started to feel like she'd given up and sold herself short. All her friends had "real jobs" and she worked Retail. But she had Experience! She used to make Real Money! She should try again! 

She got another Travel Desk Job. This time, with Groups! She planned! She sold! She Traveled!! She got paid to go to football games! After 11 years as a Travel Agent, she finally got her Passport! She went to Germany!! 

That summer, she went back to the horse track! This time, they DID Connect!! Laser Beam Eyes! They rollerskated! They talked! They spent time outdoors! They fell in Love. He was THE ONE. (and he still is!)

She still worked. More and more. She worked her butt off (figuratively, obviously). She took a big corporate group to PARIS! She sent video of the twinkling lights of the Eiffel Tower to THE ONE. He sent her pictures of the giant fish he caught in MN. She worked and worked and worked! Then she worked some more! She gained and gained and gained again. She worked at this job for one year. By the time their California trip rolled around...

She looked like this.

That was a year ago. 

Then I was fired from my job (because I wasn't "happy").

And I started over.


I cried a lot, but this time Dane was there to help me pick up the pieces. He believed in me even when I didn't believe in myself. We spent a lot of time outside together over the past year and that helped me heal the recent wounds that had formed over years and years of old scars. The starting and failing and starting over time after time after time. I feel that I've lived MANY lives. I'm ready to live just this one now. Seriously.

Dane took this picture as I was about to get pummeled by a wave. He's not a Documenter like I am. He only takes pictures of Really Special Events. In that moment in time... I Was Happy. I was also FORTY-FOUR. I weighed nearly 190 pounds (not my highest) and was a Size 16. Barely. I WAS (and still am) FAT. The only thing that I still have in common with SuperKathy is that I still wear a Size 7 1/2 shoe and my ring size is still a 4 1/2. And I can still encircle my wrist with my thumb and ring finger and they still touch. Small miracles.

I showed him the SuperKathy photo last night and he was in shock! But he saw ME in that photo. But he also thinks that I'm BEAUTIFUL just the way I am. Now that he's seen SuperKathy, he tells me that he can see her still. She's hiding in there, waiting to come out again. I feel safe now. I'm tired of this. I'm tired of hiding and cropping. Tired of sticking my chin out when people take my picture so you can see my jawline and not just my big underchin. I'm tired of feeling like SHE's not ME. I see glimpses of her every now and then, so I know she's still in there somewhere. She's not Extinct yet... just Endangered. I need to dig her out. Get some sun on that girl! Let her inner light shine through!!

I think that FINALLY, I'm in the right place at the right time to do that.

I'm FORTY-FIVE now! If not now, then when?

I'm back at the Bookstore. I walk around. All. Day. I lift weights in the form of Books! I do a million squats a day in the way of shelving books on the bottom row. I use my brain AND my brawn. I'm getting stronger! There are actual Muscles underneath all of the layers of beer, ice cream, and takeout that I've had over the past 23 years. 

I ate real food! I started losing weight again! I even bought a new swimsuit for the first time in 15 years! The black one in the photo was well past it's prime, so I retired it in favor of a new blue hibiscus one with a skirt! That was a HUGE step! 

Then I started stressing out about money. Stopped grocery shopping. Ate at work. Started drinking pop again. I gained weight. Again.

Last week, I hurt my back again. This time, it went out in my lower back.

It's the pattern. I'm aware of it.

Start Over.
Eat Right.
Lose Weight.

Something Happens. Spin the Wheel of Pitfalls! What will it be this time? Injury, Stress, Work, Family, Money, or just plain Boredom.

Engage Coping Strategies! Depression, Fast Food, TV, Couch Potato-itis! Self-Sabotage underway! Pity party in full swing! Thankfully, I gave up other bad coping strategies somewhere along the way.

Gain Weight.

Start Over.

I know that this is a really long post that mostly doesn't have anything to do with My Physical Self, but really... it has everything to do with it. I have to understand what road I took to get here. To where I am today. So I don't take another wrong turn. Being physically fit and healthy is not independent of being emotionally fit and healthy. There are internal and external factors that have everything to do with if/when you lose/gain weight. 

It's more than "Just eat right and exercise!"

The thing is... when you're tired and disappointed and overworked and broken and riding an emotional rollercoaster all day, it takes up all the available energy you have. There's no energy left to make dinner or exercise or step away from the ice cream. It's even been scientifically proven that stress makes you gain weight! It may take a while to burn this off, but I will. 

That's why I know that if someone on The Biggest Loser has a mental breakdown and cries and is counselled by Bob or Jillian... I know that's their turning point. That's where they double their efforts. That's when Real Change starts to happen. 

What will help? Forgiving myself for becoming... THIS. That's a good start! I've beat myself up for way too long.

I have a good support system in place. Checks and balances. 

I just got a promotion at work, so that helps financially as well as balancing out my schedule so I can get some kind of system going.

I have my blog up and running again, too! Like I've said, I work things out better in writing than just being all jumbled up in my head. It wasn't until I started writing about my Ups and Downs tonight that I realized the frequency of my peaks and valleys. Man! I'm ready for things to even out! It's almost chartable... happiness down, weight up, hair shorter. Happiness UP, weight down, hair longer! Like clockwork.

Over the years, I've discovered what works for me and what doesn't. I've educated myself about proper nutrition. I know what to do. I just stop doing it. I let myself get derailed. Note to self: Stop. Doing. That.

The thing that I think will make the biggest difference is that over the years, I've done a lot of soul searching and self improvement in the quest to understand myself and what makes me tick. Discovering that I identify as being a Scanner will make all the difference! Now I won't have to beat myself up for not being able to stick with a strict regime. I know going into this that I crave change!! Variety!! That will definitely make things easier on me.

Finally, the most cathartic part of all of this has been that it's all out in the open now. No more hiding. No more fear of being seen. I've beat myself up a LOT over the years for "letting myself go". Now, the only thing I need to let go is my shame and disappointment and disgust. It'll come in time.

Until then, I can't wait for the day when I can finally say THIS!!

Thanks for sticking with me if you're still reading! The important thing is that I still am. Reading and Re-Reading. And anytime I feel like falling off the horse, I can come back here and find my Center again. 

NOW do you know why I couldn't start with my hair and work my way down? It goes much deeper than just my outward appearance. Down to the very Core of my Being. That takes time. And a whole lot of words. 

Most importantly... Patience, Understanding, and Love.


ps - On my way to bed last night after writing for 6 hours, I noticed that this was the thought of the day on my Louise Hay Calendar. Is that fitting, or what?

pps - I can't wait to do this again next year.

pps - Posting Now! Before I chicken out.

Monday, September 23, 2013

Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell - Book Review

FangirlFangirl by Rainbow Rowell
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Let me preface this by saying that Rainbow Rowell's Eleanor & Park is probably my favorite book right now. It woke me up to reading again and renewed my faith in writers to make me feel something deep and meaningful. So I had pretty high expectations when Fangirl was finally released.

That being said, I was a little disappointed in it at first. I read it steadily, but didn't devour it like I did E&P. I actually set it aside for a week while I read The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry for my new Book Club and didn't even miss it. I didn't really identify with the characters at first. I'm not a twin. I didn't go to UNL (or any other university). And I wasn't frenzied over the cult of Harry Potter, which is similar to the Simon Snow books that Cath and her sister are into.

But the more I read, the more I wanted to. Once I got past the things that I couldn't identify with, the more I identified with Cath as a person. She's smart! And she's a writer! And she waits until she's written her piece before reading what anyone else has to say about it. I'm in a writing group where we all write about the same topic, but I always wait until I've written mine before reading anyone else's for fear of their words clouding my own. I really loved the scenes with Cath's writing professor and wish I had one of those in my back pocket!

I also loved Levi's character... he reminds me of Dane in a way. Easygoing, Ag major, perfect gentleman.

I always like the local references that Rainbow adds to her books, although the East Campus bars are pretty nonexistent as far as I know. I've made the trip from Lincoln to Omaha more times than I can remember, and the Sapp's Coffee Pot is a local landmark! The Hi-Way Diner used to be one of our haunts back in the day as well. It's also timely that the book came out around 9/11, since that plays a role in the storyline. My own 9/11 story has some similarities to Cath's, so it was satisfying to see part of my own experience in print.

All in all, 4 stars!

View all my reviews

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry - Book Review

The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold FryThe Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry by Rachel Joyce
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is an extended review, going beyond what I wrote on Goodreads. Maybe not so much a "book review" as a "here's-what-it-made-me-think-about review". 

As my friend/coworker Eric says, THAR BE SPOILERS AHEAD!! Proceed at your own risk!

This book caught my eye when it came in and I mentally added it to my "to read" list. Then it was nominated and finally selected as the One Book, One Lincoln book and the review started coming in. They were mixed! Some people loved it, some didn't, some didn't really have an opinion one way or another (which I think is worse). That made me a little wary. But my fellow booksellers started a new book club and I wanted to join in, so I took the plunge.

I have to say that I really loved the first third of it and highlighted several passages that really rang true for me... I liked the 2nd third of the book, but I was getting a little annoyed with Harold... the final third I was pretty irritated with him, and just wanted to finish it so I could see if he finally saw Queenie. I was satisfied with the ending, though.

This was the first passage that really stuck with me. I read it, and re-read it, and wrote it down, and highlighted it. It's during a conversation with one of the characters that Harold meets as he's trekking across England.
"You'd think walking should be the simplest thing," she said at last. "Just a question of putting one foot in front of the other. But it never ceases to amaze me how difficult the things that are supposed to be instinctive really are."
Isn't that the truth?! I want to walk. Get out, get some exercise, enjoy the fresh air, experience my neighborhood, but I don't. Not on a regular basis. I know I should, but it's always one of those things that gets put off because it's too early or too late or too hot or too cold or it just seems like too much of a bother. My dad's cousin Gwenny walks. She's motivated and slim and has a healthy glow about her. A few years ago at our pre-reunion-reunion (long story), she went out for a walk in the park we were staying at and was gone for quite a while. My sister and I stayed at the cabin and talked and ate. I think about that day a lot. Maybe if I try to focus on the instinct part and less on the "I should" part? Hm.

and then later on...

Beginnings could happen more than once, or in different ways. You could think you were starting something afresh, when actually what you were doing was carrying on as before.
For me, this describes my struggle to Move More and Eat Real Food. I can't tell you how many times I've decided that I'm really going to stick with it this time. But something happens along the way and I find myself back in the same place I started. Was I really starting over? Or are certain habits so ingrained that it's really just me going on as usual, chasing my tail, ending up where I began. New beginnings deserve new thought patterns and new habits... why is it so hard to break the old ones? "They" say that it takes 21 days to create a new habit... ya right. It's a daily struggle. Every choice, big and small, contributes to that. I know that already, yet I still don't walk and end up hitting the drive thru or eating at the cafe at work more often than I care to admit.. Knowledge does not equal Action. 

To be fair, I do move a lot more in my current position than I have in years. I walk from one corner of the store to the other. I do about a thousand squats a day and "lift weights" in the form of hardcover books as I shelve. I can feel myself getting stronger. But I still sabotage myself and get lazy about my food and just want to put my feet up when I get home. I really don't know what it takes to make a permanent change like that... and what happens to your quality of life when you pass up chocolate cupcakes? Where is the balance? If I could just crack that code, the world would be a lot healthier and my pocketbook would be obese! I'm pretty sure I'm not going to figure it out tonight, though.

Back to the book. A few pages later...
The world was made up of people putting one foot in front of the other; and a life might appear ordinary simply because the person living it had been doing so for a long time. Harold could no longer pass a stranger without acknowledging the truth that everyone was the same, and also unique; and that this was the dilemma of being human. 
He walked so surely it was as if all his life he had been waiting to get up from his chair.
There's truth in that... and wouldn't the world be a better place if everyone realized that we're all the same, but different. Also, I have been waiting all my life to get up out of this chair. Maybe tomorrow. ;-) (the Universe is just messing with me now... a lady and her cute white dog just walked by and they have Max in a tizzy.)

Still later...
He needed the very famous actor to know that you could be ordinary and attempt something extraordinary, without being able to explain it in a logical way.
Logic has very little to do with fearlessness or success. As Neil Gaiman said, "If you don't know it's impossible, it's easier to do."

and finally...
In talking to strangers, and listening, he feared he had created a need in them to be carried and he hadn't the strength for that anymore.
This, to me, is about following your own path and being selfish with your time and energy. This can happen with strangers, or even those you love. If you're going to create the life that YOU want, you can't deplete your inner resources trying to keep someone else above water. Sooner or later, they'll have to learn to swim or they'll pull you under with them. It may sound harsh, but you really do have to make yourself your number one priority. Especially if you have creative endeavors!

I believe that the Act of Creation requires that all of the positive forces in the universe swirl together and then funnel themselves through your unique being, allowing you to bring life to this new and exotic Object. Whether it's a painting or sculpture or manuscript or anything else that you consider to be your Work of Art. It's a Miracle of Creation. Uniquely yours to give. The world will really be missing out on something special if you give someone else's dream (or nightmare) the power to gobble up the energy that you require for Your Creation.

Selflessness comes naturally to certain people and that is their path. But don't let that guilt you into ignoring your gut instinct and keep you from creating what's deep inside you just waiting to come out. Don't carry others because people expect it of you. Do it because you can't imagine doing anything else. The world needs Balance to keep spinning. Do what comes naturally to You.

Harold had been carrying people his entire life... see where that got him?

To me, The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry is not only about him walking towards Queenie. It's about him running away from his life and everyone else's expectations of him. Of stepping outside of the Bog of Disappointment that he had been living in and trying to escape. I can almost see him as my favorite character Erica Strange... saying "I am suffocating under the weight of your collective disapproval!" and flouncing out of the room. Only he's too timid and mousy for that, so he just stands up and... leaves. Without telling anyone where he's going or why. Queenie is just an excuse to leave home. Which is the big reason that I didn't give this book 5-stars. He lets people walk all over him and doesn't stand up for himself. What a doormat. I didn't respect Harold at all. He was weak and then sponged off the entire countryside to complete his "pilgrimage". That broke my cardinal rule of carrying your own weight and not being a burden. Oh, Harold. Why couldn't you man up? You let life beat you to a pulp.

All in all, I give it 4-stars because it really made me think and ponder and look inside myself. (obviously, right?) It also made for excellent conversation at our Book Club last night.

PS - Gasp!! Being Erica used to be on Hulu and on YouTube... no longer... Oh, the Humanity!! If you ever get a chance to watch it, then do!!

Saturday, September 14, 2013

California Trip - Sept 2012

I had high hopes for today's Nebraska Cornhusker Football game against UCLA! Dane and I took a tour group out to Pasadena to see the game last year and came home with a loss. 36-30. So we were hoping to even the score today here in Lincoln... ya... not so much... they beat us 41-21. I had to work today, so I didn't have to witness it firsthand. Dane is a little worse for the wear, though. But not as bad off as our tour group after enjoying the pre-game party and then watching our team get beat, to be followed by a harrowing walk back to the tour bus when we realized that the driver tried to park in the wrong lot and had to park off-site. We walked a mile to the bus. Literally. A Mile. In the dark, under the freeway, and in the street after the sidewalk ended. It was not pretty. Here's the route that we affectionately call "The Death March". Although, thankfully, we all lived to tell about it.

Today's doomed match-up put me in the mood to post a slideshow from our trip last year! I "only" took 179 photos and took 26 videos with my iPhone but I pared them down to just 45 photos here in this slideshow for your viewing pleasure! 

Dane and I were both born in California, so it's in our blood. We could just feel it the minute we stepped outside. We went to the beach every chance we got, went body boarding, and got up close and personal with some of the local creatures.

It was the first time I had actually met my cousin Brenda and she graciously let us stay at her house while we were there. Brenda's daughter Janeen and her boyfriend Sam let us stay with them for a night, too! It was so nice hanging out at the beach and then on the deck at their apartment in Huntington Beach. Kindred spirits!

The highlight of our trip was our visit to see Aunt Deanna and Uncle Bill! I hadn't seen Uncle Bill since my Dad passed away in 2004 and I cried like a baby when I hugged him hello. I didn't want to let go... and we couldn't bring ourselves to leave. We spent the day with them hanging out and talking and watching live car chases on TV, then ended up staying to have Chinese food for dinner, and then stayed overnight and left around noon the next day. It was way longer than we planned on staying, but I'm glad we didn't rush off. Uncle Bill passed away just two months later. I'm so grateful that we had that time with them and that Dane was able to meet him... and that Uncle Bill was able to meet Dane. 

I have a video here that I took of him sneaking a photo of us with his iPad while Aunt Deanna was telling us a story about their fish. =)  He said later that he liked candid pictures better than posed ones, so hopefully he would approve that I snuck a candid video of him when he was going for his candid photo of us. ;-) The video was really compressed by Blogger so it's a bit blurry. 

As an extra bonus, I got to stay an extra day and spend some time with my friend Troy that I used to commute with in Chicago. He lives in West Hollywood with his partner, Tom, and I stayed with them the night before my flight home! We were best best friends in Chicago and I hadn't seen him since I moved back to Nebraska in 2008, so we were long overdue for a visit! The nice thing about true friends is that no matter how long you go without talking or seeing each other, you can still pick up where you left off and it seems that not a day has passed since you used to point out 6:14 on the clock in the car every day for 2 years and say "It's my birthday!" because your birthday is June 14th. (hee hee...) And to think that he remembers that fondly! =)

And now, without further ado... the vacation photos that you've all been waiting for. It goes pretty fast, so I suggest pausing it as you go if you want time to read the captions. =)

Friday, September 13, 2013

Kathy's Book of Me #2 - My Birth

Writing Prompt  #2 from The Book of Me, Written by You:

Your Birth

Do you have any baby photos?

Where were you born?
Who was present at your birth?
What day was it? Time?
Did you have hair? Eye colour?

And so begins...

My first impression of this writing prompt was... meh. It really didn't grab me at all like the first one did and it didn't take me long to figure out why. 

I don't remember my birth!

I had the basics down, my birth certificate in hand, and my Mom is still around to fill me in on the details... but it still felt like homework. Especially since I went back to work this week after having a week off and my energy is totally depleted. I couldn't even work myself up to a Wordless Wednesday post. In the end, I learned a lot and am really glad that I looked into it! Thanks, Julie!

First, let me set the stage...

Vietnam, the assassinations of Martin Luther King & Robert F Kennedy, Civil Rights movement, Rosemary's Baby... The Love Bug, the Beatles found Apple Records, Hair debuts on Broadway, Rowan & Martin's Laugh-In, Simon & Garfunkel... War and Conflict in one hand, Peace and Love in the other. 

Gas was 36 cents a gallon, a first class postage stamp was 6 cents.

Sunny California in the 60s... 

Although I have always imagined them being older, Mom was 32 and Dad was 37. He was a Crib Clerk at Ford Motor Company, she was a housewife. She's half German and half "Scots, Irish, Dutch, Yankee"... he was English, Irish, Scottish with a dash of Welsh that he probably didn't know about.

Mom was admitted to O'Connor Hospital in San Jose, California the night before my birth at around 10pm. I wasn't her firstborn, but it had been 12 years since my brother Tony way born, so they were taking precautions. Times were different back then. People didn't have have babies in their hospital room and no one was allowed in. According to Mom, my Dad couldn't stand it in there anyway and had to leave. He was a softie.

I was born on Friday June 14th, 1968 at 1:45 in the afternoon. Flag Day! Mom says that she still has one of my birth announcements somewhere. I'm sure that has information regarding my weight and dimensions. I'll have to post that at another time.

Mom stayed the hospital for about a week and since Dad had such good insurance with Ford, it only cost them $250 out of pocket (Karen's bill was $320, 3 1/2 years later). They made Mom take home pain pills that cost about $2 at the time, but she didn't take more than a couple. She's like that.

It wasn't until I really studied my birth certificate this week that I discovered that the house on Orlando Drive wasn't my first home! That would be this house at 418 South Temple St, Milpitas CA. (Thanks, Google Maps!) Now that I see it, I swear that I've seen this house in photos but thought it was someone else's. I think the color is pretty close, too! I'll have to ask Mom about the house in Milpitas and see what kind of photos I can dig up.

When they brought me home from the hospital, Grandma Freda (Dad's Mom) came to stay for 4 or 5 days along with Uncle Bill & Aunt Deanna. Mom says they were a big help to her. Grandma bought her a couple of housedresses that would be easy to nurse in. One was yellow with blue polka dots... I think I may have seen a picture of that dress somewhere along the line as well! 

Here's my first photo with Grandma Wait! This is the earliest photo that I have here at my house. Maybe the earliest photo, period! Grandma made that blue blanket on the back of the couch and it moved from house to house with us as I grew up. It was always there... 

The kitchen in the background is definitely my mother's! Red checked tablecloth and probably strawberry decor just out of view. 

I was raised in a loving, fun-loving family and couldn't have asked for better parents. 

And here's where the story of my birth ends... 

Interesting factoids:

  • I share a birthday with Donald Trump, Che Guevera, Burl Ives, Harriet Beecher Stowe, and Boy George! How's that for diversity?
  • I'm a Gemini and according to the book The Secret Language of Birthdays, was born on The Day of Gutsy Confrontation!
  • My Life Path Number is 8. (established by adding up all of the numbers in my birthday 6+1+4+1+9+6+8 = 35 / 3+5=8). 8's are known as The Executive, and my life lesson is to establish financial security.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Kathy's Potential - Merge Complete!

I merged in another one of my blogs this morning, called Kathy's Potential. See? I've always worried about not living up to it. While I was in here, I fixed some of the Labels so the right margin isn't so crazy. I'll work on it here and there as I can spare bits of time. For now, I need to get ready for work! It's my first day back after being off for a whole week! 

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

My Name is Kathy, and I Am a Scanner

Welcome to Curiosity Fueled the Kat!

You may have noticed that I spent some time today revamping my blog... again. It's a sign of the times for me, and although it doesn't look exactly like I want it to yet, it's getting there! Like me, it's a work in progress! The most important change is that I've decided to incorporate more areas of my life into it at long last! 

You see, I have a confession to make. I Am A Scanner. You can learn more about what exactly a scanner is by clicking the I Am A Scanner link back there or at the top of my page. It's an excerpt from one of my favorite books, Refuse to Choose!

I can't even begin to tell you how relieved and validated I felt when I read this book in 2010 (right after I stopped blogging). This book describes me to a "T"!! Since then, I've made an effort to improve my focusing skills, but for the most part... this is me. If you're a stranger coming to my page for the first time or even one of my friends or loved ones wondering what makes me tick, start there! 

It might also interest you to read this weekend's post about the Book of Me. You'll see what I meant when I said that I identified with the label Scanner. I'm all over the place.

When I started this blog, I did a really good job at posting genealogy entries for about 5 months. Then there was a 6 month gap, and then I posted intermittently for about 5 months. Then there was the hiatus between July 2009 to July 2010... See how my mind works. In cycles. Fits and spurts, you might say.

During a career change in 2007-2008, I had a Life Coaching blog. That went on for less than a year, but was during my phase where I was feeling very insightful and would post observations about the world I lived in. Chicago, at that time. I should dig that one up and merge into this one! Why not.

In 2004, I kept a blog during my Dad's cancer treatment to keep friends and loved ones informed on his condition. Sadly, that only lasted for a month until the time when we had to let him go. It's all in there. Along with some of my unfinished thoughts and reflections. I was trying to edit my thoughts so I wouldn't offend anyone, and actually ended up with quite a few emails asking what I was going to say. By then, it had completely escaped me and eludes me still. 

Then there are my journals that I've kept for most of my adult life... which will NOT be posted here... Well, unless I go back through them and want to relive and share some of my breakthroughs or life events. That's not out of the question, I guess, but I literally just thought of it! 

My point is that one of the very few constants in my life has been writing! No matter what I was into, or where I was, or what I've gone through... through successes and epic failures... in good times and in bad... I've written about it. I've always been a better communicator on paper than in real life. The problem was that it felt all chopped up because I was trying to "specialize"... talk to one type of reader so they could stay engaged... carve out a niche... stay "on topic"... But that's just not me! Not here, anyway.

So here I am at the ripe old age of 45 and I've finally decided to just go with it. I'm embracing my Scanner tendencies!! I'll climb every mountain... chase the shadows of relatives long gone... get my hands dirty... and if you're lucky enough, you'll get to read all about it! 

Like my wavy-but-not-curly dishwater-blonde-ish hair, I'm just going to let nature take it's course and stop fighting it! No straightening, no perm-ing, no highlights, no lowlights, and for crying out loud, no boxed haircolor! It is what it is. No amount of interference from me is going to make it any better than it is naturally.

I am what I am! (and that's all that I'yam) So I'm going to stop fighting it! No more pandering. No more mincing words. No more walking on eggshells. Enough with the blog-dentity crisis! That just eats up my valuable resources... Time and Money!

From now on, here's how it's going to go: I'm going to write what I feel!!

If I want to post a picture of what I had for dinner, I'm going to do it. I don't care what people think. If it was something that we really enjoyed, then I want to share it so you can try it, too! Surprise, surprise, but I get really bored with food so I make it a point to try cooking something entirely different every now and then. (btw - I made THIS for dinner tonight and it was AWESOME! Just double the sauce if you're going to have pasta with it. We have enough for leftovers! Bonus!)

Ditto for anything that's up in the new header up there... it says: 

"Genealogy, Travel, Music, History, Photography, Books, Gardening, Food, and who knows what else." 

... and that's exactly what you're going to get. Me! Right along with my weekly Book of Me posts so I can share MY story for once.


Are you ready?? 


Sunday, September 1, 2013

Kathy's Book of Me #1 - Who Am I?

About the Book of Me:

The Book of Me is part of a Facebook project to write my memories and eventually create a book of them to pass along to further generations. Since it's highly unlikely that I will have future generations of my own, it's especially important for me to not just end up as a tree stump with no one caring who I was because I'm not someone's direct ancestor. What I write here may be an edited version safe for public viewing. I'm keeping a separate private journal where I may go into greater detail. Or not... =)

Who Am I?

1. I am an on-again-off-again-currently-journaling-journaler, haphazard blogger, and wannabe writer.

2. I am a lover of books that make me laugh or can teach me something.

3. I am an Information Junkie... an eternal student in the school of life... a work in progress.

4. I am a family historian and history buff, but only when it has to do with my heritage. 

5. I am selfish and protective of who and what I let into my life, my mind, my consciousness, and my heart. 

6. I am a loving, caring, and proud dog mommy (and had to let said dog out three times during the time it took for me to finish this).

7. I am a girlfriend again after all these years and possible future fiance, which I never thought would happen. Half of the whole... a kindred spirit... a soulmate.

8. I am a daughter dreading the time when her aging Mom starts to lose her strength and independence. Those are the qualities that I feel define who she is. And who I am.

9. I am a perpetually grieving half-orphan who misses her fast driving, joking prankster, big ol' softie Dad practically every day.

10. I am a beloved, fun aunt and now great-aunt who feels a little guilty for not being around more.

11. I am a loving, mostly honest, mostly supportive sister.

12. I am a salesperson when I believe that what I'm selling will improve someone's life.

13. I am an extrovert and love to meet new people, go new places, and try new things.

14. I am a social media junkie and recovering over-sharer. 

15. I am an American Girl, a product of the melting pot, a mutt. Only four of my immigrant ancestors came over in the past 150 years... most of the rest are from the Revolutionary War and beyond. I've never felt "ethnic". 

16. I am a California native with the sun and surf coursing through my veins.

17. I am a Nebraska girl... open, giving, accepting, polite, and helpful.

18. I am a former Chicagoan... thriving on constant stimulation, the energy of big cities, and street festivals to fill every weekend.

19. I am a tryer of new things, just to say "I did it."... conqueror of the Hancock Tower's stairs, half marathon walk-jogger, archery enthusiast, daring girl on the flying trapeze, and intrepid orienteering woods walker.

20. I am a traveler at heart and love to experience new places... to test my ability to thrive in new situations with new languages and new maps.

21. I am always barely prepared for big trips and shut down mentally until the day before I leave at which time, I magically pull things together. I generally pack in the middle of the night right before I have to catch my flight.

22. I am an over-preparer and think things to death then berate myself for being so anal and then back off and end up being barely prepared (see #21).

23. I am one of the luckiest people I know, previously THE luckiest, until the day I met my boyfriend.

24. I am a skeptic and don't believe in heaven and hell, the bible and it's quotesorganized religion, or the personification of God and Jesus.

25. I am a believer that there's a higher power, of signs from above, the power of the universe, nature and nurture, and the mystical and magical and unexplained.

26. I am a realistic optimist, believe in "putting out the vibe", and that thoughts become things.

27. I am a coat of many colors, a patchwork quilt made up of the ancestors that have come before me, and a study of opposites.

28. I am a Gemini, through and through.

29. I am a gardener and lover of the birds and the bees and the flowers and trees and the moon up above... and a huge fan of owls and butterflies!

30. I am a music lover, former concert choir vocalist, occasional karaoke-er, easily pick up melodies and get songs stuck in my head practically every day (you're welcome for #29).

31. I am a Rock Boater.

32. I am afraid of not living up to my potential and of having goals beyond my reach. 

33. I am a perfectionist and from what I hear, too hard on myself. (I am pretty sure that my expectations for others are too high as well.)

34. I am wondering if too many of these entries are about "what" I am instead of "who" I am. Am I supposed to give myself labels? 

35. I am bothered by the change in margin between #9 and #10 because the "I Am"s are not lined up exactly.

36. I am a little OCD at times. Linear. Like things in 3s, too. I like that this list is numbers and not just bulletpoints. 

37. I am a "Scanner" like Barbara Sher talks about in her books. Jack of all trades, master of none... Easily distracted, always looking for the next shiny object. Oh look! A bunny! 

38. I am so much more than Who I Am on this page. I am not so easily contained.

39. I am someone who would be really bothered at ending this on an odd number.

40. I am so relieved that I didn't have to stop at 39.