All posts by Rhonda

I'm a 51 year old lover of life, family, friends, and creative writing (amongst numerous other activities, people, animals, big ideas, and things). I am a native Minnesotan transplanted to the Denver metro area from Wisconsin due to a job transfer for my fabulous husband. We are empty nesters, with two terrific adult children living their own lives, one in Indianapolis and the other near Green Bay, WI. I am and always have been in my heart of hearts, a writer. I was a case manager/social worker for many years in Wisconsin and am now ready for my new chapter in life as a writer. I enjoy writing about day to day (mis)adventures I experience in my new Colorado environment, the people I love and those that inspire me, places I've traveled to, music that makes my world go 'round, politics and current affairs, and general observations and ideas about life and ideas on how it could be improved. My hope is that my blog will be interactive, collaborative, and inspiring.

Quick post about my mom

Back when I was a freshman in college, when I was busy learning how to share a dorm room with strangers, how to properly do my own laundry, and who my real friends were, my parents decided to take a trip to Europe. England was their first destination, on account of having people to actually visit there (our AFS student, Lisa, and her family).

My mom (aka the local celebrity) has always had a spontaneous nature. She couldn’t help but imagine herself going to England and having tea with the Prime Minister. So she decided to write a letter to Margaret Thatcher to request a meeting.

I like that she did this. It falls into the category of “what’s the worst that could happen?” Ms. Thatcher says no, I’ve got dignitaries to meet and butlers to order around. At least mom could say she tried.

Within a month or so (I’m totally guessing here), she received a letter in the mail. Straight from 10 Downing Street. The Prime Minister was unfortunately unavailable to meet with Bonnie from northern Minnesota. Mom framed it and it continues to be hanging on the wall in the home I grew up in.

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At the time my mom did this, I thought it ridiculous. And really, it was.

However, the take-away here is important: you don’t know what is possible unless you try. And if things don’t pan out the way you wish them to, you might just have a good story to tell about it later.

Thanks for that, Mom.

 

 

My just in case post

This could just as well be called the “Where I’m at” post.

This is the post I’m writing just in case I don’t manage to get my act together and create a new post to publish on Wednesday centered on one specific topic.

Because I have company coming soon.

The company that is coming is my dear sister in law, my husband’s one and only sister.

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Miss Mary and I on her last visit to Colorado

Because I’m also working this week (one only gets so much paid vacation as a part timer) and I’m determined to make my sister in law’s Colorado vacay as awesome as can be, I’ve been in a bit of a mad rush these last couple of days planning meals and activities for us to enjoy together this week.

Bottom line-publishing a blog post is not quite as high on my list of priorities at this particular moment in time. 

Please know that I am not complaining. This planning and hosting people we love coming from hither and yon in our empty nest is totally my jam.

I’ve got a ton of draft posts started, which have largely been inspired by interacting in my new bloggers group on Facebook (shout out to Gin and Lemonade blogger’s group!). One is a movie review. Another is about food. Another is a funny anecdote about my mom. It’s a toss up as to what I will actually publish next.

But truthfully, you probably won’t see any of these posts this week. Because I will be too busy enjoying catching up with Miss Mary, showing her the sites (likely many of which neither Hubs or I have not yet seen), and of course, working.

Beauty in Song Form

Anyone who has been following this blog even for a little while gets that I am obsessed with music. And that I love to write about it. For reference, I blogged about my  appreciation for music here, here, and here.

True confession: I’ve always fantasized about being a writer for Rolling Stone magazine. That just might be the coolest job ever, in my opinion. Oh, the people I’d meet! The things I’d learn! The music I’d be exposed to!

I am also a huge fan of creating Google playlists. One of the many I have created is my “Beautiful Songs” playlist. This is the one utilized during those times when I feel the need for self care.  When I’m feeling contemplative. It is composed of songs that I want to hear when I’m by myself during a long drive. Or when I’m home alone, cooking a good meal to enjoy when Hubs comes in from work (a rare occasion, these days, and admittedly very traditional, in a Leave it to Beaver sort of way). These are the songs that I will stop whatever it is I am doing (unless of course I’m behind the wheel) and pause to enjoy until the last sweet notes.

My Beautiful Song playlist is a *WIP, just like me  (no, I am not finished with acronyms quite yet). Actually, all my playlists are WIP’s. That’s what makes them so much fun for me to create. They can be customized to my own personal moods and tastes.

Here’s a sampling of what you can find on my Beautiful Songs playlist, and why they belong there:

Wildflower, by Skylark: I’m pretty darn sure that Skylark was one of those one-hit wonder kind of bands. If they were destined to fall into the category of one hit wonder bands, they should be quite proud that this was that one hit, right? The lyrics bring tears to my eyes, as they remind me of someone I love very much who is struggling to find her strength as a young woman in this world.

Sunshine On My Shoulders, by John Denver:  When I hear the first few lines of this on the acoustic guitar, my heart fills up and my eyes begin to well up. Pure auditory beauty.

Nobody Does it Better, by Carly Simon: The melody and musicality of this one, accompanied by Ms. Simon’s powerful vocals blows me away every time I hear it.

Wonderful Tonight, by Eric Clapton: The first time I heard this song, it was at my Aunt Connie’s house. She was always a huge fan of music and frequently would insist we all shut up and listen to her favorite new song (think we share some genes? ha!). This was one of them. At her funeral (stupid fricking cancer), just a year ago now, once everyone was seated for the service, this song was played. There wasn’t a dry eye in the house.

This One’s For You-Barry Manilow: Yes, I will admit that I am a lifetime fan of Barry Manilow. I recognize that this statement is unlikely to entice anyone from Rolling Stone to come a’knocking on my door to offer me an opportunity to write for them. The first concert I ever went to was Barry Manilow. I went with my mom, my aunt, my cousin and a couple of other family friends.  My cousin Brett and I were totally over the moon (being the “hip” 12 and 14 year old children of the 80’s that we were) about seeing Barry live. We even created a big sign that was emblazoned with the words “We Love you, Barry”. This particular song of his may be the one I find the most beautiful. It is quite likely I’ll be adding more Barry Manilow songs to this playlist (remember it’s a WIP!).

Here we go again, performed by Ray Charles and Norah Jones: Okay, people. If you are still reading this stop and listen to this song. It’s smooth and sultry, like a fine wine for your ears. Trust me, it’s simply gorgeous. You can thank me later.

Goodbye Yellow Brick Road-Elton John: I gotta say, I’m a bit particular when it comes to Elton John. I dislike much of the music he put out from about 1985 to the present. But man, he really had some awesome songs before that. This one is probably my favorite, with the beautiful piano start and the questions: When are you going to come down? When are you going to land? Wow.

Harvest Moon by Neil Young: I think Neil Young is one of those artists, much like Bob Dylan, who people either really love or really dislike, voice-wise. Personally, I love his voice. I love that it’s not perfect. I love the way this song starts, with the simple ba-da, da-da-da-da-da and the percussion (you know that little brush they use on a drum).  And the harmonica then the trombone towards the end make it extra special, like the cherry on top. It’s just such a sweet tune to me. My sister and I recently enjoyed a performance of this song by a two man band while sipping craft beer at an outdoor patio in Duluth, Minnesota. I know now that I’ll always think of this moment with her when I hear this song again.

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So, fellow music fans:  What songs would you have on your own personal “Beautiful Song” playlist?

*WIP: Work in progress.

 

 

 

AFA: AKA-Appreciation for Acronyms

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As a person who delights in the English language, I particularly enjoy a good acronym. With the exception of the times when I’ve begun a new job. Co-workers fling acronyms around like our President lies, and until I’m there for a decent chunk of time, I’ve no idea what they mean.

Just for fun, here’s my commentary on my acronyms:

NOAA: Someone I know and love very much works for NOAA (clue: he’s a scientist). He has been known to refer to this acronym as the “National Organization for the Advancement of Acronyms”. Because of course in his field, acronyms abound.

MIAT: This one was created by the great comedic writer, Sarah Silverman. It stands for “Make it a Treat”. I know from personal experience, however, that this one can be overused, especially when the “treats” are the edible kind. I truly need to utilize this one sparsely. Or perhaps I ought to create myself a list of what qualifies under the MIAT acronym that doesn’t involve food.

FEPP: Focused. Engaged. Patient. Positive. This one is my own creation and I pull it out whenever I feel like my brain is all over the place. Like now.

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AF: I learned what this one meant shortly after I began using Twitter. It seemed to punctuate so many tweets and I was simply clueless as to what it meant. So I asked other folks in Twitterland what it meant. I eventually got the correct answer: As Fuck. I believe some of my fellow tweeters enjoyed my naivete as the first response (from the Bloggess, no less) was Air Force.

FYI and ETA: these are ones I commonly use, especially via text. FYI is an attention grabber; it emphasizes the importance of the forthcoming information to the textee. ETA is straightforward and requires a specific response, which is especially appreciated if the texter is anxiously awaiting your arrival.

YOLO: While admittedly overused in our society, this remains a favorite of mine. It speaks the truth: that at least as far as we all know, you only live once. So make it an interesting ride by saying yes to adventure in the here and now.

KISS: A very versatile acronym/mantra I use very liberally. I wrote about it here.

FML: This is actually one I despise,  because it’s typically used in the context of someone complaining about a first world problem. It’s negative and hopeless. A total downer.  I am so turned off when people use this one on Facebook.

WIP: What does it mean? This one was used by another blogger in a comment she made on a recent post of mine. I asked her what it meant and I am honestly still awaiting a response. Perhaps she thought it a dumb question, unworthy of an answer. If that’s the case, so be it. I suspect it is one of those special acronyms specific to the blogging world. But I like to think it means “Work in Progress”. Seems appropriate, right?

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My new favorite acronym!

 

Que Sera, Sera

I’ve got an earworm these days. This is thanks to our receptionist at work who continually has the 60’s station playing on Pandora or Spotify or whatever the hell audio service she uses. I commented to her that I remember my mom singing this song to me when I was growing up.

Now, mind you, my mom cannot carry a tune. In fact, I recall a story she often told about her youth. It goes something like this: when she was in high school, back in the early 50’s, she desperately yearned to be a member of the choir. However, she was self aware enough to know she did not possess the ability to carry a tune. So her mother, one of my two Grandma Pearls (ironically enough), despite the fact that she and Grandpa were by all accounts quite poor, attempted to bribe the choir director with cold hard cash to get mom into the choir.
Unfortunately, for my mom, this plan didn’t work. She was still rejected.
As a kid, I couldn’t care less that mom lacked any singing talent. Her voice singing Que Sera, Sera, among other songs I can still vividly recall, was full of love and tenderness for me. That is all that mattered.
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Now, back to the song. The line that especially sticks with me is “Whatever will be, will be. The future’s not ours to see, Que Sera, Sera”. Repeating this to myself brings on a sense of calm. It compels me to focus not on the future, which none of us have control of, but on the present. On the now.
And in the now, I will be traveling to Minnesota to spend time with my mom.

Writing Neurosis

True confession: I have been beating myself up for the past week because I didn’t publish a post per my usual schedule, on Wednesday.

Let me go through the reasons why excuses why this post did not materialize.

  1. I had 13 different blog post drafts that I had started in the past, say 3 months or so, and while I made some progress on a few of them since the last post I published, I wasn’t gung-ho about publishing any of them. AKA, I was feeling indecisive. Not an unfamiliar feeling for me.
  2. Life interrupted my trains of thought. Hearing news about my mom’s declining health and the subsequent worrying that has followed (magnified by feelings of guilt for not living closer to her).  Lending an ear to others in my life who are struggling through some major changes. Having a busier-than-usual social calendar.
  3. It was our youngest spawn’s 25th birthday and it didn’t feel right to focus on myself that day (that damn mother’s guilt).

I’m guessing that there are other bloggers who can relate, right?

One story I tell myself when I fail to publish on Wednesdays is that in the scheme of things, it doesn’t matter. I likely don’t have any followers that will be crying into their coffee or adult beverage of choice because they didn’t see a post from me that day. They aren’t going to send out a search party or anything because I’m temporarily MIA. I will check my site and see that I still have 92 followers after it’s been 2 weeks since my last post. My world and the blogoshpere will keep spinning.

What a cop-out, right?

Now, while this story I sometimes tell myself is more fact than fiction, where on earth does it get me? Nowhere, that’s where. It puts me in a place, at least in my mind, of self-pity. Poor, poor, pitiful me-right?

What needs to happen here is I need to get off my self-imposed pity train and make writing a bigger priority in my life. Maybe instead of checking off my “to do” lists on Tuesday mornings (which is my most perfect time of the whole entire week to actually put my thoughts and feelings into words on this blog of mine), leaving me mere minutes for any writing before I have to call an Uber and get my ass to work (aka self-sabotage), I ought to do my writing first. Like I am today. That’s a start.

Maybe instead of publishing posts about my wishful thinking (btw, we still haven’t adopted a dog), I should spend my time and energy on improving my writing and my blog; search for new ways to express and improve myself in the blogging realm.

I recently read a great post by a favorite blogger of mine. She shared some great advice about blogging, some of which I am already doing, a portion of that I could be doing even better, and one particularly special nugget that I know I must act on: joining a blogger’s group online. Not that I haven’t already done this; it’s just that I’m not entirely certain the one I joined months ago is my bag. She suggested two of them. So I put in a request on Facebook to join one of them. They accepted my request yesterday. Yay!

I’ve got a truth bomb: I really really really really really really want to see more comments on my blog. I get why readers often don’t comment on other blogger’s posts: it is simply easier to click the like button instead. I mean, our time is valuable, right? We’ve got other blog posts we want to read, our own blog posts to write, and lives to live. However, to me, comments are golden. They make me feel heard, understood, appreciated. Isn’t that the main reason we are all here, blogging into the ether? It’s about community, camaraderie, and improving as writers and as people.

How about we make a pact? I will commit to more frequently commenting on your blog posts if you will commit to more frequently comment on my blog posts. I know that’s pretty forward of me, but I feel we will all benefit.

Now that my neurotic diatribe about blogging/writing is over, I have one question for my fellow bloggers:

Do we have a deal?

Dear Choice Books

This spring, Hubs and I attended a church fundraiser where I “won” a self-care basket in a silent auction.  It included lots of lovely items, such as a various sugar scrubs, a gift card for Starbucks, a cd of piano music. It also included a little book entitled “Letting Go and Trusting God”, with 180 devotions for “Life’s Tough Decisions”. As a Christian, I thought this would be a comforting, uplifting read. This turned out to be mostly true.

However. 

The other night, I hopped into bed and grabbed this little book of mine with the intention of reading a passage or two before I conked out. Here is the passage I chose that night:

But first: the following was written by the female author, who will remain nameless in this post as my commentary, after I share this with you, may put me in jeopardy of being sued.

I’ll pretend you don’t know how to use Google.

Side note: on the back of this book, the publisher, Choice Books, states “We Welcome Your Response”. Well,  I think I will take you up on that offer, kind sirs. 

I will highlight in red the parts that infuriated me the most, for reference. 

“One Small Decision”

One day, Dinah, the daughter of Jacob and Leah, went to visit some of the young women who lived in the area. But when the local prince, Shechem son of Hamor the Hivite, saw Dinah, he seized her and raped her. 

Genesis 34:1-2 NLT

No question about it, the bulk of the blame for Dinah’s rape falls on Shechem and his unbridled passions. He looked, liked, and acted on impulse, with no thought for the consequences. Certainly he never cared what this would do to Dinah’s life. He made an awful choice with terrible results for Dinah, himself, and his people.

But that awful decision would never have happened had Dinah also not made a bad decision. Here she was in a strange place, and she went out alone. You might compare it to a lone woman going out in a less-than-savory neighborhood today. 

Though Dinah’s mistake doesn’t remove the blame that can be placed on Shechem, it did open her up to the rape. Savviness about dangers is something both genders need to have, but women just have to look out for themselves in ways that men don’t. It’s not fair but it’s the way things are. 

One small decision had an impact on Dinah’s life. It’s the same with us. Are we careful about the places we go, always considering how they could affect us physically or morally? Do we use good judgment about the people we spend a lot of time with? Those small choices can impact our lives, though perhaps differently from Dinah’s.

Okay, now for my commentary. 

First off, the “bulk of the blame” falls on Shechem Phleghm? For real? This “insight” from the author was written in the current times. This book was published in 2016, for fuck’s sake. Excuse me, but the “blame” is 100% on Phlegm, not Dinah. And his “unbridled passions”? From my view, “passion” is not a part of this or any rape situation. It’s more like “unbridled evil, anger, and hatred for women”.

Can I get an “Amen”, brothers and sisters?

Then there’s that “awful decision” that jackwad Phleghm made that would “never had happened had Dinah also not made a bad decision”. So, a gal decides to go and see her girlfriends in an unfamiliar place so that means she asked for it? Blame the victim much?

“It’s not fair but it’s the way things are”. Oh. My. God. You bet it’s not fair, sugar, but does that mean we as women are to accept it? It is what it is, you say? I don’t accept that notion. I refuse to. Instead, I will do what I can as a grandmother to my 4 year old grandson to instill in him respect for women and ensure he comprehends that “no” means “no”, no matter the environment, the circumstance, or the way the woman is dressed. My hope is that all mothers, grandmothers, aunts and other females that have boys in their lives will do the same so we can turn this shit around.

Sometimes the Bible sucks. Yes, I said it. But what sucks even more is people’s small-minded, backwards, idiotic, misogynistic interpretations of passages such as this.

Anyone want to join me for a book burning party? And I’m not referring to the Bible here, just for clarification. I am a Christian, after all.