The Importance of Friends

I am finding it more and more challenging to uncover the lighter side of life these days, but that only makes me more determined. My mind has become a bit numb. I would wear a hat to warm it up and maybe get the blood circulating, but that is problematic for me due to the size of my head (plus, I don’t think it works that way). I used to be sensitive about my extra-large noggin, then I discovered that my friend, Moggie, has what she considers a small head. For entertainment we would go try on hats together. The hat that sat way on top of my head would slide down to her nose.

I have convinced myself that when you look at me you are not thinking, “wow, she has a huge head.” If Moggie and I stand next to each other, you wouldn’t be thinking about our heads. You would likely notice that I look like a giant next to her, but that’s okay. We have learned that the size of our heads or height of our bodies does not define us. We large headed folks can mingle with small headers quite nicely. That’s called diversity.

Moggie stopped by our house spur of the moment the other day. It was like medicine for my soul to see my friend.

There have been times, which had nothing to do with a pandemic or social distance mandate or masks, when I felt isolated in my life. One of those times was when Bob and I first moved to Orlando from Maryland back in the 70s. We were young and knew no one outside of my family. We had begun attending a mega church and that was not proving a successful means to friendship building. So many people and no new friends! It was a bit overwhelming for us.

We prayed that God would give us friends.

One night we bravely attended a church class for young married people. Since it was smaller in number, we thought we’d meet people. Alas, they all seemed very friendly – with each other. Little did we know that God had something different in mind. After our meeting was over, we were going to the main service, so we wandered out to the hall with another couple who were also first-timers. We sat together in the meeting and introduced ourselves. I remember whispering to Bob that maybe we could invite them over, but before we could act on that, they passed us a note with their address on it and a friendship was born.

That was over forty years ago. Since that time God has brought many more amazing friends into my life. Recently I have been attempting to refocus on friendships. It has been far too easy to live life isolated from the relationships God has blessed us with. I want to encourage you, in whatever state of pandemic safety you find yourself in, reach out to those you love. Friends are a gift – it’s important that they are present in your life.

I’ll leave you with this, if someone thought it important enough that their pets have friends, how much more should we humans cherish our friends.

According to the report, this was to fill the need of dogs feeling isolated during the pandemic. Wow!

CREATIVITY WEARS BOOTS (a blog post and a give-away)

MobiriseI have a friend named Robert Alexander Swanson. Rob makes me think about things I don’t usually think about. He pushes me to do more in my craft. He is also the publisher of my book, Always Look for the Magic, as well as the leader of my writers’ group. His latest challenge to me is summed up in the following question:

Have you ever thought about what it means to be creative?

Let’s get more personal. Do you think of yourself as creative?

We can either think too highly of ourselves, or worse, not confess to our true talents. I think the latter is more of a problem. The right and proper answer to “do you think of yourself as creative” is revealed in Rob’s new book, CREATIVITY WEARS BOOTS. It’s a brain thing. “This book explains why you’re creative and how art is the birthright of every human being.”[1]

Twenty years ago, if you asked me if I was creative, my answer would have been much different than it is today. Here’s my current answer:

I am creative. I even call myself an artist, though that still feels a little strange coming out of my mouth after decades of denial. I am learning what it really means to be creative and how important it is to view oneself in that way. You can learn all about it in CREATIVITY WEARS BOOTS. Plus, Rob has sprinkled the book with profiles of several interesting artists throughout the book, including me! (I thought you should know!)

Learn more about this wonderful book by clicking here. You can also order directly from Amazon.

To celebrate Rob’s new book, I am giving away a copy of it. There will be one winner. Here’s how to enter to win:

  • Share this blog post on social media. One entry per share. Be sure to let me know in the comments that you are sharing.
  • Comment on this post either directly on the post or on Facebook – one entry per comment
  • Are you new to my blog? Follow me and receive a dose of Life on the Lighter Side in your email inbox every week. You get an entry for being a new follower. Please comment that you are doing so. That gets you even closer to winning!

The contest will end at midnight on Tuesday, August 27. I will reveal the winner in my blog next Thursday. Thanks for entering.

*Of course, it should go without saying that my family is not eligible to win, but since Bob let it slip that he was scheming to flood my blog with comments to win, I thought maybe I should say it. My family is not eligible to win. There you go!

 

[1] Quoted from the back cover of CREATIVITY WEARS BOOTS.

Sunday Night at Home with a Movie

Today I’m taking my inspiration from my good friend Debi Walter and her wonderful blog The Romantic Vineyard. I’m not referring to Debi as my good blogging friend or Facebook friend. We literally have been friends for 40 years, and she is every bit as wonderful in day-to-day life as she is on her blog. Actually, she is more so.

In case you’re not familiar with The Romantic Vineyard, check it out here. It provides “a rich harvest of ideas to help your marriage grow.” It says so right at the top of the banner.

Debi and I are as alike as we are dissimilar. She writes a romance blog. I write a humor blog. Clearly that’s one way we’re similar. Okay, we both write. I’ll leave it at that.

When I read her Five Friday Favorites – At Home Meal and Movie Dates, I was inspired. I told Debi that I was wondering what I would serve for my home meal and movie date.  What would go with some of my favorite comedies? She told me to go for it, so here you are.

First, the disclaimer, Debi is a wonderful cook and she loves cooking. It is one of the ways she shows love. I view cooking as something that I have done more than enough, but I am willing to cook – if I have to. I’m even a pretty decent cook, but the thrill is gone. One of the ways people can show me that they love me is to cook for me. I’ll just put that out there in case anyone needs an idea. Already you can see why Debi and I have a well-suited friendship.

Favorite Comedies (not exhaustive, of course)

Movie #1 – RED with Bruce Willis – All this movie needs is a glass of red wine. That’s how I read the cover.

Movie #2 – Groundhog Day – This takes a little more planning. The night before, make a double batch of whatever you’re cooking and save enough to serve during the movie.

Movie #3 – The Help – I know this one is not a comedy, but it has its moments. It made Debi’s list, too. All you really need here is a big batch of chocolate cream pie served at just the right moment.

Movie #4 – Back to the Future – hamburgers, fries, and a Tab or something else without sugar in it.

Movie #5 – The Big Year – wings

Movie #6 – Fever Pitch – I try to watch this on Opening Day of Baseball Season. Hot dogs and beer with sides of peanuts and Cracker Jacks is perfect.

Movie #7 – The Court Jester – Perhaps my all-time favorite comedy. It doesn’t matter what drink you offer as long as it’s not served in the Chalice with the Palace. Try the Vessel with the Pestle instead, but be careful you don’t break it and have to use the Flagon with the Dragon.

 

Do you have any movie pairings you can add to the list? What are some of your favorite comedies?

 

This is Post #28 in the Ultimate Blog Challenge to post every day in April.

 

An Ounce of Prevention is Worth a Pound of Assumption

Last week was my friend, Kathy’s, birthday and I gave her a special gift. To say it was special doesn’t quite cover it. It was extra special because it was adorned with the face of Bob Ross. You may know him as the happy-little-trees painter, but we knew him as the friendly guy in our neighborhood who received injured squirrels from our kids.

Kathy was so excited to receive a mug with Bob Ross’ face on it. Building on that, as if that wasn’t enough, when you poured hot liquid into the mug, one of his paintings magically appeared. She couldn’t wait to show it off to her husband John and said this would become her morning coffee mug. We left our luncheon full of hope.

Bob Ross mug before

Kathy with her happy little mug

Bob Ross left us some great quotes:

  • “There’s nothing wrong with having a tree as a friend.”
  • “I believe talent is just a pursued interest.”
  • “We don’t make mistakes, just happy little accidents.”

Alas, a week passed and I received a text from Kathy. “Darn that John! He made Bob have a happy little accident!”

A happy accident or something more?

The irony of this was not lost on us. This never should have happened! The mug came with instructions. For instance, clearly printed on the underside of the mug were the words: USE OTHER SIDE. John assumed he knew how to use a mug. We so often get ourselves in trouble when we assume. If only he had taken the time to read the supplied instructions. They directed the new mug user: “Are you unfamiliar with mugs or their proper use? For a free refresher course, watch our inspiring and instruction video.”

 

 

Video courtesy of Unemployed Philosophers Guild.

As a woman who drives her husband crazy with her instruction reading, I can now point to this incident in defense of every useless instruction I have ever read. Now, you can, too.

 

This is Post #18 in the Ultimate Blog Challenge to post every day in April.

 

These are the Days of Our Lives

Like sand through an hourglass

“I WILL NOT BE WATCHING SOAP OPERAS – unless for comic relief.”

This is a quote from my dear and funny friend, Pam. One fine day, she made the mistake of leaving the room while watching the news at noon and when she came back through, the soaps were on.

Here’s a peek at our texting conversation.

Pam: I stopped for a moment to see what I was watching. Excellent acting, by the way – NOT!!! I cracked up laughing and changed the channel. I felt like I was in Another World.

Me: You weren’t in Another World, these are simply The Days of our Lives. Think about it, we used to be the Young and the Restless. Now we’re the Bold and the Beautiful. We’re older and wiser.

Pam: Look, right now I feel like I am in A Secret Storm and it’s not yet The Edge of Night. But, As the World Turns, so does my life.

Me: True. And you only have One Life to Live. At least that’s what I tell All My Children.

Somehow, in the midst of this deep conversation Pam and I had forgotten this was a group text. That is, until another voice was heard: You are casting Dark Shadows over our text stream.

Alas, we were. Such is the danger of group text.

Side note: Do you remember Dark Shadows? Pam’s mom wouldn’t allow her to watch it. Since I was allowed, we are now afraid that our childhood selves could never have been friends. It’s so sad to see a friendship between people who didn’t yet know each other be thwarted by a television show!

So, Now I’m Famous(er)

I am overwhelmed by the love and support I have received from you, my wonderful readers and friends. You shared my post about my new book over 20 times, and I have received an enormous amount of encouragement from you in my comments and on my Facebook feed. Thank you!

I have to say, I’m having the time of my life. This is a dream come true for me. It is made possible by my friend and writing mentor, Rob Swanson, who is the creator of Prevail Press, the micropublishing company that has walked me through the entire project to create this beautiful book (illustrated by Anna Kester). Rob has a vision to enable good writers to publish good books. He knows the challenges of traditional publishing and the time involved in that pursuit and realizes that it won’t work for everyone – actually it won’t work for most of us. I love his business plan. You can check it out here and see what is going on in these beginning stages of Prevail Press, as well as meet their other authors.

In addition to all of this, I am now a YouTube star! I know what you’re thinking – it was just a matter of time. Please check out my video explaining why I wrote the book. Filming it was one of the weirdest things I’ve ever done, but you have to give the public what they want!

https://youtu.be/NWygNFDc0BE

Thanks again and remember, just in case you haven’t ordered it already, ALWAYS LOOK FOR THE MAGIC is available through Prevail Press and on Amazon in both print and electronic versions.

Click here to order on Amazon.

 

I’m a Fairy Blog Mother – Meet my Blog Daughter

I recently became a fairy blog mother. That is to say, barely a fairy blog mother. I have a wonderfully funny friend named Roxanne who has been threatening to start a blog for some time now. She asked me if I would meet with her to help her get started. Yes, she is that funny – I laughed and laughed. Only she was serious.

Those of you who have followed me for a while know that all of my computer prowess is attributed to the wonderful man I married, Bob the Engineer. (Yes, that is part of our wedding vows. I must ascribe to him all tech glory.) It is only because of him that I have not thrown the computer out the window.

You might not be aware, since I have been doing this blogging thing for a while, that I have a fairy blog mother. Her name is Debi and she is one of my bestest friends. She writes a blog called The Romantic Vineyard. She had the painstaking job of getting me on WordPress. She is very patient.

Roxanne and I met one day to get her started. The first thing I wanted to establish is why in the world she would ask me for help. She said (and rightly so) we think alike. It will be fun.

2 Ibuprofen for the laughter headache

The first meeting would have been more fun if Roxanne had remembered to bring her computer, but still we plugged along. We met again, this time with her computer. We were definitely making progress. Not! I suggested we call Debi, who I keep on speed dial.

Debi came to the rescue. She planned a meeting with Roxanne on a day that God chose for me to have other plans. (He is a good God.) They got it together. Now, Debi is a fairy blog grandmother. It’s always nice to have a grandmother around, blogging or the regular type.

Roxanne just started her blog, Not That Big a Deal, last week. Please check her out. I know you will love her as much as I do. Click here to laugh along with Roxanne.

And, if you would like to check out Debi’s blog, which is all about inspiration for your marriage, you really should! It’s a great resource. Click here to be inspired by Debi.

Happy reading!

 

Is There a Time Machine in Your Future?

I love making new friends.  I’m not talking about facebook.  I am talking about real, flesh-and-blood, face-to-face humans that I can reach out and touch.

I have a fairly new friend from church and we are enjoying getting to know each other.  We are both writers so there is an instant bond there.  A bond which might cause us to assume things about each other.  And you know how that usually works out.  One thing she obviously assumed about me was how computer savvy I am, which is not much.  (Not that I didn’t appreciate her higher opinion of me.)  I discovered the error in her perception when I received the following email from her, which I read from my phone.  This was all that showed on the screen.

IMG_4831
Honestly, I thought her account had been hacked.  A time machine for her desktop?  Asking me for advice about backing up my computer?  Clearly we need to spend more time getting to know each other.

I asked my resident IT guy (yes, he resides with me; he’s my wonderful husband) about it and he quickly resolved my questions.

  1. She had not been hacked.
  2. There is such thing as a time machine. It is used to back up data.  No, it does not look like a British phone booth, but that would have been awesome.

This was a relief and a disappointment.  While I was relieved that she wasn’t hacked, I was hoping maybe she had traveled in time and met future me, the computer wiz.  That would have been amazing.

Birds of a Feather Flock Together for Lunch

Carolina Wren hiding in bushes

Carolina Wren hiding in bushes

One of the things that I miss from my old house is my backyard birds.  I had a feeding station set up just off my porch.  Watching the birds was one of my joys.  I guess you could say I’m a birder, but not one of those go-out-in-the-great-beyond birders who knows where and when different species migrate to add them to my life list.  I wait for them to come to me.  They are my perfect little pets.  (They never mess up my house.)

As the crow flies, I don’t live far from my old home.  It was suggested to me that I leave a trail of breadcrumbs so my feathered friends could find me.  If that would have worked, I probably would have done it; but I figured it was time for me to make some new feathered friends and let the new owners of my old house enjoy the regular visitors there. I guess you could say I’m branching out to a new birding environment.

So we set up the feeding station in our new backyard and waited.  I could hear the birds in the trees which surround my yard – hear them but not see them.  Days passed and I wondered what was preventing them.  I know there are hawks around.  Perhaps these birds weren’t willing to risk going out in the open.  At long last, the blue jays came.  I appreciated their loud cackle alerting me to their visit.  Eventually a titmouse popped in and soon returned with his whole family.

I was a happy girl…for a while.  Here’s an analogy that might help you understand my temporary happiness.  It is the reason why I shouldn’t open a large bag of M&Ms.  I can start out with a few and be content, but soon I want more.  I don’t have to see them.  I can hear them calling me from the pantry – just like the birds in the trees.

The sound of cardinals in the trees really bothered me.  What was it going to take to lure them in?  Sometimes I would see one on my fence, but he never stopped at the feeder. I also heard a sweet little bird called a Phoebe, whose call sounds like his name. I would hear him every day but never lay eyes on him.  Until today.  Phoebe stopped by.  He doesn’t spend much time at the feeder but he loves to perch on top of it and fly from perch to perch around the yard.  While I was looking at him, the cardinals stopped in.  (They usually travel in pairs.)  I caught a glimpse of the female leaving as the brilliant male made a pit stop.  This is happiness for me.  Watching the birds relaxes me and is one of the things God uses to still my anxious heart.

He uses my friends that way, too.  Today I had lunch with two such friends.  I’ll call them Phoebe and Cardinal.  I often hear how they’re doing on Facebook or receive a phone call or text, but I really need to see them.  Visit a feeder with them.  Spend time with them.  One of the things that I’m adjusting to is my access to my friends.  They are not as readily available, but I’m only 15 minutes away from that old neighborhood.  That is practically nothing.

Patience was what it took to see birds at my feeder.  Intentionality is what it takes to keep friendships near and dear.  Even if those friends are only fifteen minutes away.

Isn't he beautiful?

Isn’t he beautiful?