Inspired By Houston

I am a chronic dreamer. For the past several years I have pined away about where I live. Each time I visit a new and scenic locale, I want to move. This sickness took hold of me and has ruled my life. Seeds of dissatisfaction were sown and all I could think about was what I didn’t have. Then, just as I worked to adjust my attitude, we would go someplace new and the cycle begins again.

Two weeks ago we were in Arkansas looking at property for just such a move. Several days into it I tapped my husband on the shoulder in the middle of the night and said, “Would you be mad if I said I wanted to stay at 2434?” Bleary eyed and confused, he said no and went back to sleep.

We spent days in beautiful locations and could envision this new life; however, in the stillness of the night, that small, still voice reminded of what I have rather than what I am missing.

Houston

Ask most people outside of Houston to give you a one word description of the fourth largest city in the United States and you will likely get answers such as, hot, humid, traffic, crowded, crime, more traffic, but then at the bottom of the list might be food, friendly people, and even more traffic. As of November 1, 2022 I have called the metro Houston area home for the past forty-three years. Despite dreams of moving somewhere with better weather and less traffic, I’m still here. Why? I’m not sure, but I am starting to get used to the idea that this is home.

June 1976

I graduated from high school on June 11, 1976 and within a week had boarded a plane bound for Houston. I was to spend the summer with my best friend in a suburb of Houston called Friendswood.

She and I had both lived in Harlingen, a town in the deep south Texas region known as The Lower Rio Grande Valley. After our sophmore year of high school, my parents decided to move back to California and her dad accepted a transfer to Houston. That last night before we left, she and I drove around in her car, cruising through Sonic among other hang out spots; we drove past homes of boys we thought were cute, all while listening to the radio, laughing, and finally and crying as we said goodbye.

We spent two years writing letters with only an occasional phone call to bridge the gap. This, after all, was in the days before computers, cell phones or the internet. Long distance phone calls were expensive leaving us to pour out our lives out to one another in letters that were several pages long. It was a different time…in many ways a sweeter time. I miss hand written letters.

I left California on a Continental jet from Los Angeles International Airport – LAX for short, and landed some three hours later at Houston Intercontinental Airport, now known as Bush Intercontinental. I looked out the window during takeoff and all I saw was buildings, concrete, freeways and cars. To me, this was a normal sight. Most of the lush greenery, orange groves, and other forms of natural beauty had long since succumbed to development. What I saw on approach to Houston was green. Green as far as the eye could see. I was absolutely enchanted. At that time the land around the airport in Houston was undeveloped heavily treed land. I thought I had landed in a magical forest.

When Kay and two of her friends greeted me at the gate, the first thing I gushed was “This place is so green!” She and her friends laughed, but I didn’t care; I was on my first grown up adventure and like Mary Tyler Moore, nothing was going to stop me now!

The rest of the details of the summer are inconsequential to my story about Houston. When I returned home in August, I had a Reader’s Digest article about Houston becoming the largest city in the country by the year 2000. It cited the oil industry, space program, the medical center among other economic factors as the reason for their prediction. I can still see my family walking through the long tiled hallway from the gate to the exit telling my them they were “lucky I came home” and that I was going live in Houston one day. Ahhh, the arrogance and attitude of eighteen year olds who have just tasted a bit of freedom. Never once did it dawn on me to be happy to see my family.

Three Years and Three Months Later

On November 1, 1979, my ex-husband and I left Brownsville, Texas and pulled into an apartment in a part of Houston known as Champions Village. An elite master planned community in far north Houston, we were surrounded by trees. I had arrived back to the Houston I had fallen in love with.

In the years since then I have lived in nearly every corner of the city. I am not sure whether Houston rubbed off on me or I was divinely inspired to live in this city because we are very similar.

Despite the bad publicity, Houston is a friendly and welcoming city. It is the most racially and ethnically diverse city in the country. Cost of living, an abundance of housing and job opportunities make this a very good city to live in. Houston’s identity is closely intertwined the identities of people from other cultures. We have always been a place where everyone can maintain their cultural heritage while being members of a larger group of Texan/Americans. We are a blue collar town. Folks work hard and they play hard. We may not be as sophisticated as that other big city to the north, but we will feed you, care for you and extend the hand of friendship. There is a sophisticated side to Houston as well. From theater to symphony and opera, museums, many colleges and universities, art galleries, and it has become known among foodies as must visit town.

I want to think that Houston has brought out the best in me. Living here has helped me see the plight of others in a way I never did in California. I learned tolerance and became curious about things that seemed foreign to me. I matured here. I came as a twenty-one year old naive young woman in an unhappy marriage. Living here brought people and experiences into my life which allowed me to grow and become someone who could stand up for herself; I found strength and determination where there was none. When the time was right, I remarried and built a life with a man who loves me despite the grimy, messy parts. My daughter, son-in-law, grandchildren are all here. I have a life here that matters. I’m friendly, creative, kind, and like to think I make room for everyone…just like Houston.

So, despite the traffic and the hot humid weather we endure six months out of the year, I am inspired by Houston. Houston is home.

Peace & Love,

Sheryl

Take It With You

We are so busy accumulating possessions that the storage business is BIG business. Even amid the minimalism movement, we still buy, store and buy some more. Don’t get me wrong, I love my stuff like everyone else. I particularly love my electronic devices, books as well as art and needlework supplies. The daily use of these things give me pleasure. But are they necessary? No. But they sure make life more fun.

Steaming hot coffee is one of my favorite things.

I am writing this blog post from a booth at a breakfast restaurant. Thanks to technology I can take a Bible with me everywhere I go. An app for my blogging platform allows me to snap a picture and write whenever the spirit moves me. This is a wonderful thing. I never know when God is going to move my heart and I don’t have to risk forgetting; I can share anytime, anywhere.

I know that God is with me always…but now I can spontaneously share where He leads and what He is teaching…and so can you!

Peace & Love,

Sheryl

A Life Well Lived

My husband constantly asks me, “What do you want me to _______?” Fill in the blank. I attribute this behavior to laziness; it is easier to ask me than it is to figure things out for himself. It drives me crazy, but after thirty three years I have given up. I answer the question then let him do whatever he wants. Most often he does the exact opposite of what I say. It is one of those funny behaviors that people who have been married a long time often do as a result of years of give and take.


But I do nothing without consulting the Father.

John 5:30a

This verse jumped out at me this morning as I asked God to show me what I was to write today. I opened my Bible to John and picked up where I left off. Jesus had healed the lame man and was then confronted by the religious leaders about breaking the rules. What happened next is what we in the south refer to as a “come to Jesus meeting.”

Jesus took the church leaders to task and in so doing said so many profound things including giving us a glimpse into the relationship between Father and Son. Jesus could have done everything he did on his own without consulting the Father. But he didn’t. He is our example, our guide, our teacher. Remember the WWJD (What Would Jesus Do) bracelets? Here is the answer. He would do nothing without consulting with the Father.

I fail at this most days. I get busy or distracted. I wonder how my life would look if I began my day, before I even get out of bed, thanking God for the new day and asking him what he wants of me that day. Do I expect an audible answer? No. But what I know is that in the course of the day something will jump out at me like this verse did, and when I do what is before me I will have done what God wanted of me that day.

At the end of the day, this is a life well lived.

Blessings to you…Sheryl

Out Of The Fog: What Happened To 2021?

I feel as though I have been living in a fog the past two weeks or so. The last thing I remember was researching and writing about Charles Schultz and the significance of A Charlie Brown Christmas. And now here we are, January 4, 2022. The simple story is that I got sick. Covid test was negative, I only took one; however, the symptoms were very much like a friend of mine who did test positive. In addition to the physical symptoms, I was in a mental fog. I just existed, interacted when needed but basically was not mentally with the program. I felt like I had hit a brick wall, both physically and mentally. Fortunately by Christmas Eve I felt well enough to host my family and then I collapsed for another week. And, that brings us to today.

Onwards Into 2022

I have the well deserved reputation for starting things but never finishing them. Call it short attention span or creativity run amuck, whatever causes this personality trait, I wish there was a vaccine for it that actually worked. Therefore, there are no big resolutions. I don’t need the baggage of failing yet again – said very tongue in cheek. I don’t really feel bad about quitting; I accepted this part of me many years ago and I avoid people who try to make me feel bad.

No, instead of resolutions I have a couple of things that I am calling my Focal Points for this year. No specific tasks or firm goals, just areas of my life to focus my heart, mind and body. We will look back at the end of the year to find how this focus shifts the quality of my life from so-so to rich and full.

God

Without God nothing makes sense. This is a complicated subject in many ways. My relationship with God is uniquely mine. I have written about my move away from organized religion. But I have not moved away from God, in fact that relationship is stronger than when I depended on an organization for the definition of my relationship. I feel a definite tug on my heart to give back and do more. Now that I know we are staying in this community I want to get involved somewhere – maybe even get to know my neighbors, most of whom are new. There is much I can do to move outside of myself and allow God to work through me. It just requires leaving the house occasionally.

Family

Family Fun

We are all born into a family and then we go into the world and make our own families. These days what is considered a family doesn’t look like it did when I was growing up. Friend circles, blended families, adopted families all fill the need we have to belong.

In June we made room for our oldest granddaughter to live with us. The details aren’t important. She needed a safe place to land and we are that place. In six months she is well on her way to creating her own life and learning what it means to be an adult. It is a joy to watch the transformation. This move caused some stress in other areas, but as the months rolled by, those things began to ease and it all culminated with the best Christmas we have spent together, maybe ever. Our daughter, son-in-law, and other two granddaughters joined the three of us for an evening of laughter, giving, eating and love. It was the perfect ending to a crazy year.

So, this year I will focus on my family – the one I chose. I married a man and received a daughter in the deal. These relationships deserve my time and attention and quite frankly, I love being the mom who sets the stage for family fun. Also, while we have our granddaughter here to care for the house and the dogs, we are going to do some of the traveling we have been unable to do in the past. Our lives together have always been focused on externals – parents, child, grandchildren, ex-spouses, etc. Our life has not been our own, but now it is our time. We have earned this, and will live out the motto, “If not now, when?” Neither of us are getting any older.

Home

Christmas at Stately Means Manor

We have vacillated for many years on whether this is where we would live forever. I wanted to move; he didn’t. Just when I got him to agree (despite little voices of doubt in my head), we moved heaven and earth to make room for a teenager. Shortly after that I realized that my home is here. I have bargained with God for years to let me live somewhere else. It has only taken me thirty three years to finally decide to settle down and stay put. So, I will now focus on making this house the home I have always wanted.

Kitchen Remodel

First comes a new kitchen. Other than new appliances and my attempts at DIY, this kitchen has not seen an upgrade since it was built in 1985. It is time. After the kitchen I will move outdoors. We have a large backyard that has never been used. That is going to change. My goal is less grass and more fun. I want this to be the home our family wants to gather to make more memories.

Continuous Threads

Textile collage: “Security”

I come from a long line of creative people and I must have a creative outlet. One day, as I looked at one of my grandmother’s quilts, the name Continuous Threads came to me and I knew I wanted to use it in some way. I saw myself and my desire to repair her quilt as a way to continue her life and story. I got nervous because I knew I didn’t have the skill set yet, so I set it aside. But, this will be the year I will patch, mend and sew to bring this cherished quilt back to life.

It has been a journey of a couple of years, but the vision is beginning to form. For now I am learning all I can about hand stitching and embroidery including reading books about the historical aspects of textiles and their relationship to us and our quality of life. The past seventeen years have been very much wool, hand spinning yarn and knitting focused, but now I am ready for something different. I am ready to create with needle, thread, fabric and assorted found objects that tell a story. I am ready to mend clothes and my grandmother’s quilt. I am ready to weave cloth for uses I haven’t even determined yet. I am ready to learn and share with a younger generation so that these skills continue to be valued and passed to along. Our history matters.

Textiles Tell Stories

If this subject interests you as well, I have an Instagram account, @continuousthreads as well as Continuous Threads, a separate website and blog for my textile adventures.

Onwards Into The Future

With my new focus this year I am not promising a posting schedule that life can erase in the blink of an eye. I would like to post once a week and have it be an informative and entertaining glimpse into my life. But, truthfully, from now on I write this for my family and a few close friends who care. I want to leave something behind. I have no biological legacy, but I have left a trail of Sheryl everywhere I have been in my life. For the most part I think the trail has been a good one but I’m working very hard to stop over thinking and analyzing. It is a worthless waste of time and emotion.

So, there you have it. Out of the fog of 2021 (how appropriate the year ended in a state of mental fog?) and into the light. It is going to be a good year despite what goes on in the world around us. By staying connected to God and focusing on living a life that is full of loving kindness to all who cross my path I can’t go wrong and the trail I leave in my wake will make the world a better place. What more can we ask for in life?

Until next time,

Let Go

Life is just one long exercise in letting go. Letting go of something requires change — and most of us resist change. Too frightening. Too unknown. No thank you. I’ll stay right here in my safe little world and hold on tight.

Letting go is an all encompassing fact of life which begins the moment we are thrust out of the nurturing womb of our mother’s body. From warm and safe to the cold, harsh reality of breathing on our own, our little body is forced to let go and learn independence. We crave the safety of the womb yet some unseen force pulls us forward; an internal drive to grow, change and break free. It is a life long battle.

I Don’t Want To

This is my first response anytime life seems to want me to let go of something or someone. Nope, I’m fine. I like the safety and security of my little world. And that is the key. Without letting go of something, our world just keeps getting smaller and smaller until one day we suffocate from the trap we have set for ourselves.

When toddlers begin discovering their independence, the first word they learn to use is “No!” And when that word does not yield the desired result they resort to crying, screaming and sometimes amazing displays of physical wailing and flailing. We really aren’t so different from a toddler, our bodies are just bigger and we get more sophisticated in our wailing and flailing skills. But, really, we often react with similar maturity when the change of letting go is knocking on our door.

The Letting Go Season

There are seasons of life that go hand in hand with letting go of something or someone. And, there are times when letting go is forced upon us unexpectedly. I am in a season of letting go and, in one case, I am hanging on for dear life.

Turning a child loose into the world is, without a doubt, the scariest letting go of all. First of all there is nothing to be done about it; it is inevitable and short of locking them up in a closet (for which a nice long stint in prison would be the likely outcome) there is nothing to do but stand by and wave goodbye. Hopefully when this moment comes the years of nurturing and teaching will pay off as they learn to make their own way in the world. We walked this path once but that doesn’t make this current season any easier on our hearts. What we do know is that there is life after letting go.

I am in a different kind of letting go season. This season seems to be a tsunami of letting goes. Some of them are small and seemingly insignificant, others, such as releasing a new adult into the world, are huge.

Letting Go To Grow

Life, as in nature, we must let go to grow. I am having a hard time letting go of certain possessions. Hanging on to them is making me anxious and yet I can’t let go. I’m just going to rip the bandaid off and do it. No looking back or second guessing. The what if you need this again voice will be ignored. But first, Thanksgiving.

I wish everyone a memorable Thanksgiving. Remember those that don’t have a home or family; that could be you one day. Invite them in, serve them a meal, and experience the blessings of the day.

Inspired By Dandelions

Life is an ever evolving cycle of change. Nothing stays the same no matter how hard we try or how desperately we wish to freeze frame a moment in time. To fight against change is to miss the beauty of this naturally cyclical thing we call life.

A dandelion’s life purpose is to sow seeds to the wind so that new little seedlings can be brought to life. This is how I see myself. Like a dandelion with a head full of little seeds ready to be set free.

Seasons of Life

Each season of life has its own purpose, tasks to accomplish before moving forward. It is a rich and complex subject that deserves time to properly digest and dissect. I am finally coming to grips with the fact that I am entering a new season of my life. I have actually been traveling this road for the past four years; now at the door I have the choice to stand and knock or open it and walk through to what waits for me on the other side. Standing motionless is safe but does nothing to help me or anyone else. So, I really have only one option – open the door and boldly walk into whatever it is God has for me on the other side.

Gathering and Dispersing

In the past few months something has been happening in my heart and mind. I am suddenly seeing things in the world through a new lens; a softer and gentler lens. I won’t delve too deeply into this today but I will say that it has taken me by surprise. As I have been open to these thoughts and allowed them to penetrate any barriers that rise due to the discomfort of new things, I am feeling my way along a new path. A path I believe God is leading me one step at a time.

This morning I read an excerpt from a book called “Falling Upward” by Fr Richard Rohr. In this book, Fr Rohr discusses the spiritual and life purposes in the two halves of life. I believe that I am in preparation for my second phase of life: the giving away or dispersing of what I have learned in the first phase. This book will arrive at my door tomorrow. Just when I swear off the immediate gratification of Amazon, something like this crosses my path.

Seedlings

Whatever it is I am to do with the wisdom I have gained is unknown. I am less worried about the what than the preparation. My heart is softening. I am reading and growing in knowledge. I will be (at age 63) attending college beginning in January. I am practicing spiritual disciplines to connect more deeply with God to be sure I am traveling on the best path for his purpose in my life.

I choose to think of my writings here as seedlings. Little bits of information that I send out into the world to take hold if and when they are needed. That is my hope and prayer for every post. Since seedlings represent growth and new life what you will find here are just little nuggets of wisdom and goodness designed to lift up and never tear down. There is enough pain and suffering in the world. My passion is to apply a soothing balm on a hurting humanity. I trust God to guide and direct the writing and the reading of everything on this little blog.

There will be talk of books, dogs, family and all the normal stuff of life. I love to crochet and make art with my yarn and hooks; it is another way for me to express beauty of the world around me. My husband and I will be traveling more so I will take many photos and will share those as well. Whatever is good, and right, kind and beautiful will all find its way here. There is also pain in life…I won’t shy away from that either. It is only in the journey through the pain that we find light once again.

If you have made it this far, thank you. If what I have said has spoken to you, then I hope you will follow along. Either way, thank you for reading.

~Sheryl

Textiles Make A Home

There is one singular item that transforms a hard square house into a soft, safe, and cozy home. No matter your decorating style, there are textiles to compliment and enhance that style.

Choosing Home Textiles

We have all wandered the isles of home decor and big box stores taking in the sights and smells of the season. Rows and rows of pillows, blankets, afghans (knit or crochet blanket), tea towels, curtains – window and shower, bedding, table linens, rugs, and the list goes on. And this is just the textiles; we are not going to talk about the rest of the home decor available. I have done my fair share of shopping at these places so this is not meant to impune these businesses. I just want to plant seeds for you to consider as you make choices about the items you bring into your home.

There is no doubt that the items available in the big stores are mass manufactured in countries that may or may not be ethical in their choice of materials, dyes, or how their employees are treated. While a sweeping generalization cannot be made on this subject, textile manufacturers around the world have historically been some of the worst polluters in the world. Fast fashion and fast, cheap home decor are contributing factors and I believe it is time to rethink the fabrics and items we surround ourselves with inside our homes.

There are so many things to consider when purchasing textiles for your home. How will you use it? How is it cared for? What is made of and where was it made? How much does it cost and will it have a long life span to make it worth the price? Each one of us must set our own priorities and make the purchases that fit our home, values, and budget.

Slow Home Fashion

The slow fashion movement has caused many to reconsider their clothing purchases. For many this has led them to sew their own clothes. There has been a huge renaissance in making clothes at home. Sewing for your home decor is a wonderful way to not only personalize your home but to also have total control over the products you and your family live with everyday.

Not crafty? Don’t have a desire to do any of the above, but you want to live in this kind of home environment? No worries, there are so many people out there doing amazing work. Do these items cost more? Initially, yes. But if you teach yourself to not buy into trends, but make investments in items that will bring you years of pleasure, then you too can curate a home that is beautiful as well as good for the environment, helps a small business, and is uniquely and completely you.

A Woolen Home

Part of my movement to a more selective and holistic home is by making and up-cycling as much as possible. Surprisingly wool is a fiber that is a wonderful and healthy choice for many home items, even some items that you wouldn’t expect. Having spent much of the past fifteen years in the yarn business, I am totally and passionately in love with wool. It is a fiber that is misunderstood but incredibly valuable. I will devote entire posts to in the future.

I had dreams of creating a business that sells handmade wool items for the home. There would be functional as well as decorative items. I adore Christmas decorating and love making unique and fanciful items for this season. After much planning I learned that I don’t like making multiples of anything and the process of selling just leaves me cold. Instead I have decided to be a champion of wool and all handmade items and the people who make them.

I believe there is room for wool in every room in the house. Come back or visit my Instagram account (@mycontinuousthread) to learn more about home textiles and get inspired to use wool in your home.

Until next week…Blessings to all

~Sheryl

Four More Weeks

Warning: Political opinion ahead. Since this is my blog it may be the last place my conservative opinion will be allowed to become public. I post this with trepidation. I do not do debate well. My brain freezes and any logical line of thinking evaporates like the morning dew and I am left staring, as if in a drunken stupor. In a country divided and dissent silenced, we are all still entitled to our personal opinions. So, read on if my opinion is of interest. If not, I’ll be back tomorrow with another life making post.

The Business of Politics

The philosophical divide in our country has, in my adult lifetime, never been wider. Politically we have had plenty of ups and downs and hatred spewed from both sides towards representatives of the opposing party; but never in all those years have the philosophies been more divergent. We are not voting for president we are voting for the political ideology that will rule this country for generations to come.

To be perfectly clear, I do not trust politicians from either party. Both are interested in money, power and keeping both for themselves. I believe most would sell their mothers down the river if it advanced them politically. Don’t let a kind word or civil demeanor lull you into thinking that someone asking for your vote really cares deeply about your personal well being. I think they go into politics for the right reasons and then must quickly decide to play the game or get out.

I came of age during Watergate. I vividly remember the trials and still to this day carry the image of Richard Nixon giving one last wave as he left the White House after resigning. I didn’t like what he was accused of doing, but at the same time I felt sorry for him and a little sorry for our country. I was just a young teen at the time and really had no true understanding of the situation. My parents had always voted for Democratic candidates, but something about this process bothered my young mind.

I voted in my first presidential election in 1976. We didn’t talk politics at home so I have no idea how my parents voted that year. I assume because of party affiliation they voted for Jimmy Carter, but I could be wrong. As I write this I am realizing that with that very first voting experience I made my own decision. I did not vote along party lines because that is what my parents taught me. I voted what I felt and believed. My vote that year what a vote against something rather than a staunch support for someone. I’m sure I couldn’t articulate it at the time, I might not be able to do it today, but it was a gut feeling and I went with it. I cast that ballot for Gerald Ford. There was something about Jimmy Carter that I couldn’t trust. He was and is a very kind, good person. His work with Habitat For Humanity and other organizations is beyond admirable and from a humanitarian standpoint I feel a kinship with his world view. I just didn’t feel that he was equipped to lead the United States. Sadly, I was right.

World Views and Life Philosophies

And that brings us to today. The election of our next president is a vote, not for the specific person, but rather for the ideology we desire for the United States going forward. This is not a contest to see who is the most patriotic as there are people on both sides who love this country with equal vigor. This is not a good vs evil, God fearing vs God denying, north vs south, east vs west, white vs everyone else, male vs female vs LGBTQI. No, very simply this is a fight to determine if we are going to continue being a country governing from the bottom up or aggressively from the top down.

Without using divisive political terminology, I simply believe in our country as founded. A country by the people for the people and of the people. Politicians are our employees we are not their subjects. The role of the federal government should simply live within the bounds of Article I Section 8 of the Constitution. And while the world is a much more complex place that it was on September 17, 1787, I do not believe that it is in the best interest of anyone to have power centralized in Washington DC.

In this polarized environment it is hard sometimes to discern truth from spin. To the best of my ability I have come to believe that the leaders of the modern Democratic Party seek to move this country farther away from its founding philosophies towards a centralized, socialistic style of government. That is incompatible with my core values and beliefs.

What I Am Voting For

1. Protection of our borders, language and culture while welcoming immigrants from other countries in a legal and humane manner. This requires major improvements in our existing immigration laws that will make it easier to navigate the system and encourage legal immigration.

2. As the legal immigration issue is handled, compassionate care for those seeking asylum in the United States will also be easier to accomplish for those truly in need. This is who we are as a country. We cannot, however, simply open the borders then adequately care for each and every person who comes in. Immigration must be in the best interest of the people who come as well as for those of us already here.

3. All life has value and is sacred. Black life, brown life, white life, old life, young life and life that has not been born. I am not calling for the outlawing of abortion; however, legal scholars much smarter than I have argued the merits of the decision, I simply believe it should be a state by state issue. The values of Texas are not the same as California and we should be able to make that determination for ourselves. For those who argue the availability of abortion on demand up to and including in the ninth month, I beg you to consider the millions of people who would choose to adopt and the difficulty of doing so because of the babies never born. As with all well intentioned ideas there is a slippery slope. A restrictive abortion rights act was passed which now has broadened its scope to allow the procedure to be done much farther into the pregnancy. I beg you to research the founding of Planned Parenthood. For all the health care it affords poor women, it was founded for one very specific purpose.

4. Freedom from a federal government who wants to control healthcare. As we have discovered during the COVID outbreak they believe it is their duty to protect us from ourselves and each other. If they are able to control healthcare isn’t it feasible then that they will move towards regulating what we eat, drink, wear, where we go and what we do all under the guise of “protection?” This could lead to governmental control over the food supply, businesses, manufacturing, and more.

5. America can no longer be at the mercy of foreign governments because our politicians have sold us out. This goes for both parties. Politicians have become rich and powerful by selling access and power. If an enemy of our country prefers one candidate over another I must ask myself why and evaluate my vote accordingly.In an era of ‘self care’ the United States must take care of itself or it will have no resources to aid the rest of the world.

6. I believe in equality of opportunity not equality of outcome. I am voting for the private sector. We are at our best when the innovation, compassion and hard work of the American people is allowed to flourish. Government can never do anything as effectively as people set free to dream, create and build.

7. I am voting for a Supreme Court that upholds the letter of the Constitution rather than having judges who are actively seeking to change the laws from the bench. Recent cases decided by “conservative” judges have not gone the way I would like. However, after listening to the reasons I see where they came down on the side of the law as written not the law as they believe it should be. THAT is the role of the highest court in the land.

8. Freedoms that we once took for granted are being stripped away from those of us with a conservative world view. Social media giants need to be regulated. As someone who typically rallies against big government, I see this as falling under commerce as well as free speech. Watch The Social Dilemma before Election Day and see if you believe there is something to be concerned about.

9. I am voting to bring troops home and shut down military bases overseas that no longer benefit the safety and security of the United States. I want the military industrial complex shut down.

10. Law and order – we simply cannot accept a country where looting and violence are acceptable and even encouraged. Prison reform must be a priority, but prison reform doesn’t mean opening the doors and allowing felons to walk free. Prison reform doesn’t mean elimination of bail so that more crimes can be committed while someone is awaiting trial. This is happening in Houston everyday of the week and I am sure it is happening where you live as well.

Those are my ten points with which I will be evaluating a candidate. You need no agree or disagree, I simply ask that each and every legally authorized voter take the time to think through what is important to you. Don’t make a decision because anyone tells you who to vote for; decide because you know what is important to you. Your vote matters.

~Sheryl

Finding The Joy In The Everyday

I’m not sure when I decided that October was to be my favorite month of the year. Thirty one years ago I got married in October. That could have been the beginning. Or maybe not. At what point in life do we mature to the point of not taking hours, days, much less months for granted?

I think back to my life in my twenties. It was not the most outstanding decade of my life. Married eleven days after turning twenty, I spent the next seven years growing up and realizing, though I loved my husband as a nineteen year old, the reality of building a life with someone takes more than I had to give. I was too immature to deal with the life issues required of such a relationship. By the time I realized how out of balance our relationship was, there was no recovery possible. So I left.

During those years and the few that followed I was caught up in working, paying bills, making a new marriage work, trying to be a step mom and grieving not being a biological mom. I burned out on one job only to move to another that, while providing me with wonderful opportunities, also caused me great personal stress. The stress of that job was then compounded by becoming a full time step mom to a sixteen year old grieving the death of her mother. I left the job to be home full time. There was only so much stress I could handle. I felt God calling me home to create a safe, nurturing environment for my daughter and husband. This was no easy task, but it was where I was supposed to be.

I still had not learned to relish the precious moments of life. I was still in survival mode. In fact, I feel as though much of my adult life has been spent there. Being the safety net for this broken girl to heal and grow as well as for her equally broken father, well, I think that was my calling from God at that moment in time. There are more details to our story. Details that, when viewed in retrospect, seem to point to me having been chosen for this family long before we said ‘I do.’

I stayed home for a couple of years. I love being home. But then I felt the pull to go back to work when I saw there was an opening for a receptionist at a local church. This again was the hand of God guiding me to where I needed to be at that moment in time. I was in the right place for the birth of our first granddaughter and the passing of my dad. It was a job that helped support our daughter so she could stay home for the first nine months of her daughter’s life, to bond and nurture her first born. Then it was my turn. I left the job and came home to spend a year filling the maternal emptiness inside me. And still I was so busy with the day to day of life that I don’t remember dwelling on the things I ponder today.

As many children do, ours left and returned several times before being ready to stand on her own. God has pressed into my heart that she would not permanently leave until she was mature enough and had found the man to spend her life with. A man who would love not only her but her three daughters. This process took many years. I was well into my fifties by the time I could rest knowing that she had indeed arrived at that place in her life.

So, here I am. I’m sixty two and spending most of my time relishing in the simple pleasures of a beautiful day, my husband, dogs and the various creative endeavors that bring me pleasure. I have finally let go of the constant need to produce, anticipate trends and stay ahead of anything and anyone. While I marvel at how young some people figure this out, I wonder…have they really got it all together or do they just know how to put up the facade on social media? Now, I make what I like, sell something here and there, or not. But it is all about the process and making the most of each day. And sometimes, making the most of the day means sitting outside soaking up the sun while listening to birds and swatting at flies.

Therefore, in retrospect, I think I have just now learned to treasure each moment of each day as I realize how fleeting these days really are. God has blessed me richly with the ability to be able to live this way and to Him goes all the credit for opening my eyes and heart as well as providing all the blessings I enjoy.

I pray that whatever season of life you are in right now, find simple ways to find the joy in each day. It might only be a moment, but I promise it is there. This is the true secret of making a life.

~Sheryl

The Fragility of Routine

I have a new routine. I don’t generally “do” routines as I rarely do the same thing the same way two days in a row. At least that is always what I thought. Then my brother said, “I bet you do and just don’t realize it.” Yeah, I think he is right.

I do wake up and drink coffee. Every. Single. Day. And now I have a routine of how I fix my refillable coffee pods each morning. I then take my morning coffee and checked Instagram, emails and text messages, which led to Pinterest, more Instagram, and maybe a game or two and then catch up on television. I am embarrassed to say that this routine ate up hours of my life.

My new routine is much like what I wrote about in Suburban Sunrise. Coffee with God, nature and no electronics. Sometimes I bring my Kindle out to read with my second cup of coffee. Now that the weather is delightfully autumnal, I will be spending much more time outside. Maybe even upping my vitamin D levels a bit in the process.

Routine Interrupted Then Found Again

I tell you all that to say that the reason I didn’t blog yesterday was because my routine got interrupted. Prior to this delightful weather, we had a day of overcast, wind and light rain. All that warm humidity bumping into cooler temperatures will do that. It was Monday and the man who mows our yard was due and I failed to get money to pay him which necessitated a third trip to the grocery store in three days. He comes early so I had to get started even earlier. Thus, no routine. Once home from the store I got busy doing other stuff and there went the day. It disturbs me how little it takes to throw me off kilter. Kind of like a top spinning round and round, the slightest nudge and it goes all wonky until it finally falls over. And that was my Monday.

Today my routine was intact. A brisk, breezy 54 degrees outside, I donned my flannel jammy bottoms, t-shirt, sweatshirt, and thick socks to sit outside. I love it. My blood is still summer thin and I’m not going to lie. I was shivering. Not teeth chattering, but just a little shiver. I contemplated more clothes, a hat or a blanket, but decided to guts it up and have “wild coffee” in my backyard. And wild it was.

While I was looking down I heard a tree branch moving wildly and thought a squirrel had jumped from it to the roof of my neighbor’s house. I didn’t see anything on the roof, but out of the corner of my eye I caught movement higher up in the tree. Sitting very still I watched that spot until I realized there was a huge red shouldered hawk up there. I got up and got my binoculars to get a better view. After several tries I aimed the binoculars just right and there he was, pecking, pulling and devouring whatever it was he just caught. By the looks of what was falling to the ground, it was a small bird. Fascinated, I watched him eat. Take a bite. Look around. Repeat. When my dogs inside the house began to bark at who know what, he hunkered down as much as possible before repeating the eat, look, eat cycle. I was mesmerized. When he was finished he spent a great deal of time rubbing the sides of his face on the tree limb, removing any residue and cleaning himself before moving on. Skillfully he jumped from one branch to the next, where he would have an open path out of the tree. After a moment of surveying the area he flew off.

Moral of The Story

There are several things that come to mind that can be learned from the past two days. First, if my routine gets blown out of the water, don’t despair. Pick up wherever I am and keep going. So, it didn’t happen in exactly the way I like it to. Three o’clock in the afternoon is a bit early to go back to bed in order to begin again. So, I had time with God later in the day, skipped the blogging and cooked an amazing meal. Oh, and I cleaned out my closet and added to my donation pile. Still a highly successful day. I learning to roll with the flow and still be productive.

It is so easy to live inside and miss this amazing show. I grumble about the weather, but I think if I just find the right time of day to be outside, everyday has something beautiful to offer. The warm humid days will allow me to appreciate these cool breezy days all the more. And, without a doubt, my body, mind and soul will be happier for just having been a witness to the joy found in nature.

Fall = Comfort Food

So, I planned on talking about food today. In anticipation of the weather, I had some comfort foods on my menu. I will write about that tomorrow.

While the weather is so outstanding I am going to make a drive to my favorite nursery. Maybe even buy something for the front porch. The yard isn’t ready for plants yet, but I can still decorate the patio and porch with living beauty.

Enjoy the day,

Sheryl