Memorial Day

Anything military always makes me teary-eyed. I love watching the videos of American soldiers coming home after being deployed. It’s heartwarming to see them reunite with their families. I love watching the motorcycle rides parading down the highway to honor those who have served our country. Yesterday, we pulled to the side of the road to allow them to pass and to show our support.

It’s amazing what these vets have done for our country. I think about my uncles, my dad, and my brother who have passed on. They were proud to have served our country. And I think about my son who has been deployed three times, putting himself in danger and making sacrifices along the way.

And not to forgot all others who have served and continue to serve…I thank you for your service. My heart goes out to the parents who have had sons or daughters who did not come home. One in particular that I’m thinking about today is an EOD who served with my son. He will never be forgotten.

Vandenberg Memorial

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Happy New Year

Happy new year to all. For me, this is the official start of the year. I give myself the first day of the year to reflect, transition, and then open the door into the new year.

Last year was rough. Not long into the year, my mom went into hospice care. She steadily declined, becoming weaker in mind and body due to breaking her leg/hip, dementia, and the stroke she had six years previous. It’s not easy seeing someone you love become so lifeless. She died at the end of October and passed peacefully. I still quietly mourn her.

Yesterday was spent at home. Mike and I enjoyed waking up with our grandson’s bright smile and playing dinosaurs and Legos with him. We did small things around the house, spent time together, and watched a movie. No big fanfare, which was nice. We had time to think and simply enjoy the day.

Today is about starting the year with recharged energy. I’m looking forward to what each day brings. My challenges this year will be balancing life and work. I’m ready to take both on, spending quality time with family, friends, and co-workers/writers. I’ve also been editing the second book in The Calling trilogy, which I’m geared to publish this spring.

Let’s make this a great year.

Beth M James

The Calling

Gitana – Life Plan

Lessons Learned: 2014 Brain Scramble

The first morning of 2014, I was in somewhat of a brain scramble. Mike and I stood in the kitchen drinking our coffee. I had two cups before I could even move, and I didn’t even drink the night before! Instead my goals had overcome me.

Since the beginning of December, I thought about and worked on my goals for 2014. I always get excited about goal setting because I’m a forward thinker (which is also a downfall because I have to remind myself to live for the day). I believe that the New Year brings a fresh look on life and a chance to revitalize what you want to accomplish. Three of my personal goals for the New Year include:

Goal 1: Respecting my body. I know that my body is changing, and I’m not as flexible as I used to be. Not that I’m succumbing to it, but I need to readjust my thinking. Instead of military-style exercises, I need to go for gentler exercises that help balance and strengthen my body. Besides exercising, I need to eat less. Again that age thing. Now is a good time to stay healthy inside and out.

Goal 2: Stop worrying so much. I worry about family and life. I want the best for my children and it’s hard to see them struggle. I want my parents to be comfortable. It’s hard to see them when their bodies and minds start to fail them. I dream up scenarios that make me worry even more, and I have to stop that habit. I believe everyone has their destiny marked. Things happen for a reason. Instead of worrying, I need to enjoy each day and feel blessed to know those who are in my life. I also have to remember that when I was younger and just starting out, I had to struggle and find my own way. By doing so, I became stronger.

Goal 3: Write. I love to write but my time lately has been spent on promoting and other duties related to writing. This winter will be a good time to write the next story, especially when the weather is minus 30 degrees Fahrenheit (like this morning).

And now I’ll circle back to the first sentence in my blog. After deciding on my goals for the New Year (like the ones above), I woke up on January 1, 2014, wanting to run full speed ahead to accomplish my goals. Only my goals weren’t like tasks to accomplish in a day. So that morning I stayed in a brain scramble as my mind spun wanting to do everything at once. My body finally said, “Relax, it’s a holiday.”

January 2, the day after the New Year, I began my goals for 2014.

Lessions Learned: Five Decades Strong

Families are important and the older you get the more you appreciate having your siblings around. I’m fortunate because I’m close to both my sisters, and I love spending time with them when I can. I’ll usually spend time with one or the other but not both (since one sister lives out state). On Sunday, the three of us were able to spend the day together.

Debbie is eight years older than me. Pam is four years older than me. When we get together, we have discussions on who we take after (mom or dad), on women stuff, on families, and parents. We love to do many of the same things which includes reading, puzzles, and most of all cards. We play a game that our mom invented and we enhanced. We call it “Damn It” because we can’t help but say the word (or other explicit words) as we play. It’s a fast-pace game that involves a version of solitaire and six decks of cards (two decks each). You either love or hate playing the game and the three of us never get tired of it. The last time we played Damn It, we played for ten hours with a break in between to eat lunch. Sunday, we played for almost eight hours but with a longer break in between since Debbie and I drove an hour to get there.

During our break to go out to eat, we decided to take a short drive around the area to see the farmhouse where our mom grew up. Funny, I don’t remember the house being so close to the road. We also went to the small cemetery where our maternal grandparents, Gust and Anna Peterson, are buried. I’ve never seen so many Gusts, Annas, Petersons, Carlsons, and Johnsons in one cemetery. We then drove past my uncle’s place, a pig farm that has seen better days, all animals long gone. Near his place is the pond where Randy, his son, drowned when saving a father and son visiting from Germany. His ashes were spread across the pond. A portion of my brother’s ashes were spread there too. And last we drove past my grandma’s cottage where we used to visit every Sunday and have pancakes or dupe for a late breakfast.
As the three of us drove around, we shared stories, remembered past pig roasts, Randy and Mike, and mowing the grass at the cottage with a manual push mower. Those times are over, but we were able to bring them back for a little while during that drive and then when we played cards again.

I had a great day with my sisters as we reflected on five decades of memories. Oh yes, and as usual Pam won at Damn It, I came in second, and Debbie third.

Lessons Learned: The Celebration – Not the Gift

When I was in kindergarten, I made a candleholder as a gift for my dad. I was so proud of my blue aerosol cap creation. I decorated the outside with glitter, and I poured the plaster into the inside of the cap to help hold the tapered candle. On the day I was supposed to bring my candleholder home, I was sick and had to stay home from school. The next day, I looked for my candleholder but couldn’t find it. Only a few remained on the table and those had names on them. I had to take home one of the candleholders that remained. I was devastated. I cried when I got home. I cried in the bathroom right before I gave “the replacement” to my dad. “I didn’t see it! Honest!” My dad said and tried reasoning with me, thinking that I was crying because he had seen the gift before I gave it to him. I finally had to give him the gift, but it wasn’t the same.

I laugh now when I think about that uneventful day. How that little gift meant so much to me. Life is so different when you’re a child. It was all about the gift. Now, I’m just thankful that I can spend time with my dad. I didn’t give him a candleholder this year. I gave him something he’d enjoy more – a 12-pack of Coors Light.

I hope you all had a chance to celebrate Father’s Day. Whether it’s with your real dad, someone you admire, or with your own child. I hope your day was great.

Lessons Learned: The Good and Bad on Turning 50 Part 2

Here is the second part to my blog from January 7th. Yes, we’ve come to the good. My experience on turning 50 so far has been more positive than negative.

Good #1: I like the fact that I can plan the second half of my life different from the first half. I’m no longer building myself into “somebody” because I know who I am. I’m comfortable in my skin, and I don’t have to try to impress. I can take the classes that I want, I can enjoy my kids at a different level now that they are adults, and I can enjoy weekend nights at home and confess that I like it.

Good #2: I’ve enjoyed building a strong list of firsts (see my blog “Put down Your Guard, Lift up Your Shirt” from October 29th) to start 50 right. I lifted my shirt to a catered 50th birthday party, I had boudoir pictures taken to give to my husband for Christmas, and I enjoyed taking a pole dance class. I did all three with my best friend, which is funny because my husband had wanted me to get those pictures taken and try pole dancing, but I wrinkled my nose at him. My friend, however, asked and I was right on it. She didn’t have to twist my arm.

Note One: Going with friends to share the experience is better than going alone.

Note Two: My daughter, after hearing about the two events, told me that I couldn’t hang out with my friend anymore!

Good #3: I’m wiser. Being at the hump or maybe on the downward slide, I think more about life and what it means. I understand that each person is here on earth for a reason. I have to respect what happens and know that there is a purpose to the events that take place…whether good or bad. I have to take every day as it comes, learn from it, and appreciate it.

Overall, I’m looking forward to what the new year brings with being 50. I’m excited for my book to be published, I can’t wait to travel, and I can wear my wrinkles with pride. I’ve earned them.

Lesson Learned: The Good and Bad on Turning 50 Part 1

Now that we’re in the year 2013 and I’ve experienced being 50 for a few months, I thought I’d share some insight to what I’ve learned so far. I have both good and bad to blog about so I tossed a coin to see which one I’d write first. Heads, I’d write about the good; tails, I’d write about the bad. Tails won. Today I’ll write about the negative aspects of turning 50 – my perspective. On a note, I will put some positive insight into the blog as well. Next week will be the good.

Bad #1: My body parts aren’t the same. Should I say more? I notice the wrinkles and the saggy skin. I hear and feel my bones snap when I exercise or when I get up after sitting too long. And hot flashes are a common occurrence. Yippee skippee.

Bad #2: I just had an aunt who passed away on Thursday. Jeanette was a vibrant woman who looked after those she cared about. She learned a few months ago that she had leukemia and started chemotherapy. I talked to her after the first two treatments in November and she seemed fine. In fact, my aunt said she felt great and that she was going to play 500 (cards) with her friends in the afternoon. In a matter of days from our conversation, she turned from a busy and happy person to bedridden and sick. Her death came as a surprise.

With her death, I wonder how many more unfortunate surprises will strike me now that I’m 50. An old high school classmate died last month of cancer. A friend just learned she has cancer and this is her second round of it. My co-workers have parents and spouses battling cancer. I keep wondering WTF? Why am I hearing the word “cancer” so much?

I then wonder when will it be my turn? Will I battle cancer, a stroke, or heart failure? Will I be lucky and stay strong, keep my wits, and live to be 100? I wish that I didn’t have to think about it, but that’s not the case. Now that I’m “up there” in age, I continue to hear more and more of friends, relatives, and acquaintances dying. I’m not looking forward to losing people in my life. And I think of my parents, how their entire circle of friends and relatives are slipping away. I’m sure they wonder why they’re the ones staying on (especially with their health issues). Grim thoughts, huh?

As I continue on, I know that I can’t give up or wait for disease to happen. I know how important it is to stay positive and appreciate life more than I have before. My outlook has changed as I realize how life is precious. I will move ahead and continue to achieve the goals and dreams that I want. I will change or make new goals. I will continue to grow (in wisdom not weight). And I will appreciate those I know and care about. I will value spending time with family and friends. Laugh, love, hope, wisdom, goals, dream, and wrinkle cream are all good words to live by as the second half of my century begins.