“How would you motivate (justify) your answer?” was apparently a test question written by a school teacher. One student’s answer was “Go, answer, go!”

What motivates you to get up in the morning? Having an appointment to make such as a dentist appointment might help. I don’t have an appointment lined up I may want to get a couple more winks of sleep. I might have my own personal reasons for getting up, such as wanting to make a french toast for my husband and me. Or trim my toe nails. Or organize the papers on my desk. Or I could practice my harp, banjo or viola. Or plan a day trip. Take a walk. Ride my bike. Add soil to some of my houseplants. The list is getting bigger . . . and could get much more bigger. I would feel good about accomplishing any of these tasks. It would give me satisfaction, the feeling of joy related to my success, and reduce the pain of thinking I should, the guilt of knowing I haven’t completed something on my to do list.

Growing pains. Sometimes we need to wade through frustrations, work on learning how to do something, before we get to celebrate an accomplishment. Why do we put up with some unpleasant experiences? I recently join a quartet, actually an octet because there are two of us on each part — first violin, second violin, viola and cello. Sometimes our practices can be unpleasant. I might feel bored, or frustrated, or tired. Usually the head violinist starts us off by counting a full measure of music such as, “One, two, . . .” then leads us in. At one practice, someone suggested the head violinist say “Ready, set, go!” to start our playing of a piece of music. “No! Don’t start that way!” I yelled. “We’re more intelligent then that!” I thought to myself. I like classical music and I have some musical ability. The knowledge I might learn something new or we might play better together in the future encourages me to stick it out. There is hope. If one decides to quit over one (or two) bad experiences that might be a mistake. You would never know what you may have missed.

Looking at things differently can be beneficial. Asking oneself, how can I make this situation better might be a good idea. I knew someone who would ask himself “What can I learn from him/her?” when meeting the other members of a toastmaster club. One day he said to me “I wasn’t sure what I could learn from you when you first joined the club. After hearing the speech you just gave, I . . . I can learn sincerity from you.”
We do the best we can. Our parents did the best they could. Our former teachers did the best they could. Our coaches nudge us in directions they believe are good for us.

Forgiveness. No one is perfect. We certainly won’t get very far believing we’re better than everyone else. There is no weakness in forgiveness.

Acceptance of others, of ourselves where we’re at, right now, but knowing we can grow into better persons. Not being so hard on ourselves. Working towards being worthy of our accomplishments. Of success. Of happiness.

“Yes, I found joy”, I told my neighbor who ask me if I had found joy yet. I had given a copy of “A Penguin Family . . . Finding a Joy” a week or two earlier. Well did you tell her to get her “bottom” back home? She better get her “bottom” back home.”

So what’s next? A book signing? A book reading? Entering book contests? A celebration? Yes, yes, yes, and yes.

To wrap this blog up, let me say I think the joy of an accomplishment, justifies the work it took to get there. Ready, set, . . .

Go, (Your Name), Go!

P.S. Joy is back home, now. Grounded in her room till she can learn how to fully appreciate what she has accomplished, till she can find the motivation to reach her other dreams.

I didn’t go to my two scheduled activities, first because I felt I had other things I needed to catch up with, and second, my husband was worried a storm with heavy rain and hail might brew up making it too dangerous to drive. I took time to take a stab at cleaning the shower curtain, a long overdue task. I cleaned it twice, sprayed it with Lysol cause I could still see mildew on it, then took almost everything out of one closet looking for my scrub brush without avail. When my husband came home, I Scrub Brushasked him if he had seen the scrub brush. He found one in our garage, brought it inside our house and placed it on top of the pile of stuff I had removed from the closet for me to get later. When I was ready to use it, I was disappointed it wasn’t “my” scrub brush, the one I used to use. I wrote “scrub brush” down on my grocery list thinking I would find one at the hardware store similar to the one I used to have. “Mine” was smaller and the bristles weren’t as worn. I thought I should try to make do with “his” for now. I set it on the bathroom sink ready to use later. Later turned into tomorrow. I liked the ice cream and enjoyed feeding the fish at Caesar’s Creek. I made my husband and I a tasty supper, washed dishes, then we watched a Netflix documentary about Naomi Osaka, a Japanese tennis player, who, by the way, got to light the torch at the opening ceremonies of the 2020 Olympics. In the documentary , I heard her say “You have to be happy with yourself when you’re not playing your best. That’s what a champion does.” Find something at which you want to be champion. Believe in yourself. And if you work (scrub) hard enough, you’ll get there (or you can always buy a new shower curtain . . . or rewrite your dream).

P.S. The storm did not come to our home, but a tornado was spotted a little North of here, and they got 4 inches of rain.

I will be remembering two fathers this Father’s Day. My first book, Flip, Flap, Try . . .A Cardinal’s Journey, was dedicated to my father, Ray White. My second book is dedicated to my father-in-law.  It will be launching soon.

Ray WSunday’s were special growing up at the “White” house. Even though Sunday was a day of rest, our dad had to work. He was a minister. He would review his sermon in the morning and leave for church a little earlier than my mom, me and my two sisters, to get ready for the church service. The church was close enough for my Dad to walk to. The rest of us rode in the family car. We attended Sunday School, then “church”. Our dad had various responsibilities, but the main one on Sunday, was preaching his sermon to the congregation. He was usually serious in his delivery, but occasionally included a side joke about something which happened in our family which somehow related to the message of his sermon. My dad would visit the sick in the hospital on other days of the week, something the church members told me he did really well. He was very compassionate. I assume he was also very helpful to the sick because he had a deep understanding of medical conditions/procedures. Other than being a minister, our dad was like most dads. He liked to tinker in his workshop, read Mechanics Illustrated, and watch John Wayne movies. He acted silly at times (not always on purpose), sang silly children’s songs, and told jokes/stories. Besides studying the Bible, Dad was an avid reader on a variety of topics all the way from the children’s book “The Glob” to “The Ascent of Man”. We both enjoyed reading the Cleveland Plain Dealer Sunday comics. (He read all the newspaper, me, just the comics.)

“My dad never spoke a bad word about anyone” Frank Kmy husband says of his father. He was someone he could trust and follow his example. “He was my dad.  I was his son. He was protector, humble, strong . . . strong faith. He liked growing a garden. Kind. Making bread (in a bread machine).” And he helped to raise six children. He drove a milk truck, loved ice cream. When milk trucks were no longer, he sold encyclopedias, then learned how to hang wallpaper. I am honored to dedicate my second book, “A Penguin Family . . . Finding Joy” in memory of my father-in-law, Frank Kassalen.

I’ve lost another brother-in-law. Both of my brother-in-laws died while undergoing chemotherapy. I never realized how difficult chemotherapy was before this. I wish things would have been different. The only blessing in my most recent brothers-in-laws death is he will have to suffer no more. I miss being able to hear him sing. I can hear his singing in my mind. At least I have that. I feel his presence in my heart. I have that, too.

Some things I’ll remember about my brother-in-law Michael:

IT troubleshooter, Mr. Electronic
Instructor, help desk coordinator

Musician, singer, tenor or bass
Tuning my harp with tuning app

T.V. speed race watcher, monster trucks
Action movies, Arnold Schwarzenegger “I’ll be back”

Paddling for Cancer Awareness website designer
Kentucky Thoroughbreasts dragon boat team supporter, race timer

Protector, safety minded
House complete with alarms, cameras, and cackling witch sounds

Mike on shedRoofer, truss lifter, shed builder
Mr. Know-It-all

Pinecone Home shop assistant
Building boxes for everyone
He made mine with a touch of color from orange and blue markers saying
joyous, gratitude, smile and blessed.
I can choose which word to display
Depending on how I am feeling on a particular day, Michael told me

Storyteller, story of night hunting for rattlesnakes with a crazy guy.
Wendy’s store manager, story of meeting Dave Thomas

Norwood Christian Church spaghetti dinners
Dishing out spaghetti expert

Steak griller, fire pit fires
Sharing outdoor movie night during COVID

Rescuing me when I was exhausted and stranded
On 100 mile bicycling event

Cheese lover
Diet pop

Taking my husband and I on
25th wedding anniversary boat ride

Dismetholic Christian
Faithful, sincere

Dinners with my sister’s familyMike at dinner
Johnny Appleseed song prayer led by Michael

Things he could not understand,
Being misunderstood

Cat lover
Tail puller

My Irish brother-in-law,
Say “Hi!” to my Polish brother-in-law Alan.
I miss you both

On December 8, 2015, I gave a speech at Seven Hills of Cincinnati Toastmasters club. It was entitled: The Penguin That Couldn’t Talk. I was at the part of my speech were the three penguin friends were lost. “Scooter and Scamper were wondering around aimlessly, not sure which direction to go. ‘Squeak, Squeak!’ (Stay put) ‘Squeak, Squeak!’ (Stay put) They stopped; formed a huddle, trying to stay warm in the frigid Antarctic weather. Snow started forming on their backs, making it harder for someone to find them, if someone was looking for them.” I could sense my audience feeling the gravity of the situation in which my three penguin characters were. I paused for a moment, happy my story was being well received, then went on and finished it. One of the members said something like “That was good.” Coming from him, someone who had been negatively critical of some of my previous speeches, it meant a lot. His positive reaction to my speech, helped to keep me believing in my story through all my struggles revamping the words.

On January 30, 2018, I sat down in a grassy park-like area near the bed and breakfast in Palm Springs, Florida, where my husband and I were staying at the time, and started working on my book. I had walked to the beach in the morning, by myself. (My husband was working.) It was 68 degrees Fahrenheit. I was relaxed. It was such a joy, imagining what my characters would say. I had lunch at Too Jay’s Deli near by. I signed up to work with my book coach a day or two later.

On March 27, 2018, I drew a “Happiness is a Choice” picture. I am not an artist by any measure of the word, but it meant a lot to me at the time. I posted it on Facebook.

In April 2018, we had new flooring put in most of our house. I gave a copy of my first book to both of the workers.

March 31st, I had my husband take a picture of me by a stuffed animal big yellow duck. Just an example of me being silly.

June 2, 2018, my husband helped me set up a yard sale in our front yard. It was the first yard sale I had ever had. Mostly give away stuff (to get rid of stuff), but it was a monumental experience for me. I even sold a customer a copy of my first book.

ACE Toastmasters, also in Cincinnati, was the first toastmaster club to whom I read an early version of my story. It wasn’t very well put together at that point, but one of the members said “I think your second book will be better than your first.” I didn’t believe her at first, and wouldn’t for quite some time. (I really loved my first book, “Flip Flap Try . . . A Cardinal’s Journey”.)

August 2, 2019 was the day I sold the 300th copy of my first book to someone, a good friend of my sister Brenda. August 8th, my husband and I saw the penguins at the Toledo Zoo. I had my husband take a picture of me by a stuffed animal gray hippo. August was around the time I finished working with my book coach.

Around June 2020, I did make some final (at the time) changes with the words of my second book and sent it on to the illustrator. My husband finished building the harp he made from scratch for me on June 12, 2020. A symbol of love and joy which we are working into a new logo for my business, Morrow Circle Publishing.

By the end of 2020, my second book had a title: “A Penguin Family . . . Finding Joy”. The finalizing of my book has spilt out into the first quarter of 2021. We will be celebrating World Penguin Day on April 24th. I hope to have my book ready for publishing real soon. I have learned many things in the process of it’s creation (the importance of relaxing, taking time for myself, and working with the challenges of unknown variables) and am thankful for everyone hanging in there till we figure it out and get it ready to share it with the world. It’s a great story and the illustrations are fantastic! We’ll get there!

Our parents lived through WWII and the Great Depression. We children have lived through one year of a pandemic and some other crazy stuff going on in our country.  I’m so glad our first day of spring was pleasant weather-wise and my day has been going well. Hope yours has also. Saw a group of bicyclists when I was out and about today. I looked at my bicycle when I was in our newly House Plantbuilt shed. Tires could use some air. Hoping my husband can help with inflating them. I envisioned myself driving to a park. At least that’s a start, like an athlete getting mentally prepared to run a race. I had a Toastmaster’s meeting this morning for which I had to mentally prepare myself. I was speaker number two. A newer member was speaker number one. It is courteous to let newer members speak first, so they can get it over sooner because they may be a tad more nervous. We evaluated each other’s speech. The newer guy said he couldn’t find anything wrong in my speech to tell me about. My ears heard him say “perfect”. Then he added, “I’m a new toastmaster,” like he might not be experienced enough to find something which needed improvement. The grammarian found plenty on which to report. I’ve become pretty lax in my older age, since not working outside the home. Like, you know, who cares, and ah . . . I mean, isn’t juggling the food in the refrigerator to keep something from going bad, more important? “You mean I left the plastic container of fresh fruit out all night?” I asked my husband who had just devoured a piece of cantaloupe from the same container. “I wouldn’t have known if you hadn’t said something,” he said. I guess it’s a good thing in my speech at Toastmasters I told everyone “I love my husband” twice, once at the beginning and again at the end of my speech.

It’s good, I feel silly, and witty, and bright . . . and I’m happy for the hope, amid caution, starting to seep out in our everyday vocabulary. Of course, I’m just a relatively new author . . . hoping my second children’s book will soon hit the shelves.

Joy. What is joy? (I hoped to write a blog about joy this month seeing February is the month we celebrate Valentines.) Joy is something you feel in your heart. You can choose joy. Joy is paying for a zoo membership, knowing you did a good thing. (Money from zoo ticket and membership sales helps support the care of zoo animals.) Joy is a blessing. I am blessed with a comfortable chair, a warm blanket, fuzzy slippers. I have the joy of washing dishes, dusting my house, whistling while I work, hearing the whistling call of a fairy blue bird from Asia from one of the cages in the World of Wonders exhibit at the Cincinnati Zoo.Asian Fairy Bluebird I got to see a penguin flapping his flippers in excitement as he led the penguin parade, like a majorette showing off his majestic skills with a silvery baton leading a band down a street lined with cheering crowds. How precious! Amazing penguins can keep their balance as they make their forward side steps on the pavement. Maybe penguins prefer waddling on ice, ‘cause if they fall, they can slide better on it, the ice breaking their fall more smoothly. Skaters on the ice, when they fall, scoot a bit. As a child I recall watching ice skating events at the Olympics on T.V. where the skaters just picked themselves up, brushed themselves off, and continued on with their routines as assuredly and gracefully as they could if they happened to fall during their routine. None of the penguins fell on their parade at the zoo when I saw them this past Friday, but I did see a penguin poop. “It happens every twenty minutes,” per one of the penguin caretakers. ‘No big deal’ is the feeling I got from the tone of her voice. The penguin just kept on walking. And we bystanders just continued enjoying the penguin parade.

Despite difficulties and hardships, we can chose to find joy in our lives. May you accomplish much this coming month while cherishing the small joys of life. Onward March.

 

Hello to my reading audience. This is my first blog of 2021. I just finished recording the highlights of my accomplishments for 2020 in my iPad. I usually record my accomplishments throughout the year under “Accomplishments” so I have something to boost my self esteem when it needs boosting. Everyone can use a little boosting in the thoughts we have of ourselves. Recently, I learned about self compassion, being kind to ourselves. I guess the chocolates I ate with my lunch could be considered being non-compassionate to myself, even the dark chocolate ones with crunches, even the ones with yummy tasting peanuts. I am allowing myself some relax time, some lying on the couch writing time. Writing is a way of recording my thoughts, a way of making sense with the world. I can sometimes be inspired to write; and vice versa. Sometimes my writing inspires me to be a better, happier me. Or releases tears. It helps me realize how much I care for something or someone.

SqueakyI am anxious for and close to my second children’s book to being published. I have worked, worried, and struggled over it for several years. For a long time I worried it wouldn’t be as good as my first book, “Flip, Flap, Try . . . A Cardinal’s Journey”. I made changes in the story to try to express it’s joy more fully, the joy of parents of a child with a speaking impediment hearing his/her first words. I wanted the reader to be able to feel this joy when reading my story. I want to encourage parents to be happy with each step in a child’s progression towards adulthood be it very small (as a little squeak) or as big as being a village hero (helping you and your friends be rescued after being lost on a hike). Children learning hiking safety tips which might actually help save their life someday is another wish I incorporated into the story. I also wanted to instill hope in the minds of children who may be lost, hope someone will find you (alas, the seek birds who travel the world looking for lost children).

I’ve never had a child of my own, but birthing this book may end up being the closest thing to it. The South Polar Fishy Soup recipe is an extra bonus stemming from my previous career as a dietitian. I give you, “A Penguin’s Family . . . Finding Joy”.

Why? A child’s favorite question is “WhWhy? on chalk board.y?”. Everything in the world is so new to them; there are so many things to understand. My dad was a pretty smart guy. I always thought he knew the answer to everything. He liked tinkering in his workshop and reading Mechanix Illustrated, a magazine (about the size of my sisters and my copy of Cat In the Hat). Like the Cat, my dad had plenty of tools to help him do his work; if he didn’t have one he needed, he made it. There was a vice secured to a work bench, across the room from the door of the workshop (and one step to your left). It got used a lot. My dad was always using it to tightly hold a metal pipe or such which needed sawing. I remember tightening the vice with its shiny, smooth lever with knobs on both ends so it wouldn’t fall out of the hole. Tightening a vice is a fun thing for a child to do. You get to use two hands, each pushing in opposite directions (as hard as your little arms and hands could). One quick knock with a dad’s sized hand is best for loosening the vice’s lever. Then a young child can easily twist the lever to open the vice’s jaw.

Memories from childhood are nice to have. Thank goodness we are blest with brains to recall the past, function in the present, and dream about the future. Thank goodness for the smart scientists hunting for and finding solutions to help fight the grip the 2020 virus has had on our and all the countries of the world. It has been hard to understand all that has happened this past year. The children are not the only ones asking “Why?” Helping each other has to be part of the answer for where to go from here. There is a joke out there about 2021 winning. My not recalling exactly how it goes is immaterial. I just want to end by saying, I wish all of you will receive happiness, health, safety and a caring hand in 2021.

I made it to Puerto Rica to be with my husband for pelicanThanksgiving since he is working there. Sun is shining, cotton ball shaped clouds highlight a royal blue sky. A row of palm trees are near the beach with fingering branches, some green, some brown, with golden yellow spines. Coconuts can be spied. We can hear the roar of the massive grayish blue ocean dabbled with white foamy cresting waves. Vavoom! Wisshh! Powerful tumbling, turning into white sprays. Cloudy white waters retreating back away from the shore. Three brown pelicans. wings with trims of black, and long pointy noses leading their way, mockingly flew by reminding us this is their home, not ours. Variant repetitious waves calling out “I’m here!” Crash! Swish! Crescendos. Crashing over rocks. Bellowing their arrival. Diminuendos of retreating waves saying, “Till we meet again.” Overall, a constant relentless roar. An occasional squeak from a bird. Waves washing against, over, and through some of the rocks of the shore. The sounds of the ocean filling our ears, our minds. The clouds near the horizon were graced by a fading in and out rainbow earlier this morning. We tried taking some pictures. Relaxing, engulfing, inspiring sights and sounds. Ours for the taking if we so choose.

Though we have been through many challenges this year, probably most of us have amazing things for which to be thankful this 2020 Thanksgiving Day.  Feel free to share what you are thankful for with me. If I’m lucky, I will be able to give the world a new gift this year — my second book entitled, “A Penguin Family . . . Finding Joy”.