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Showing posts from October, 2016

31 Days: Only

The last day of 31 Days and I only missed posting daily 8 times. That's pretty good considering I work full time, I am learning something new at my part-time job, and I planned a fall carnival for my church.
In going back through my posts, I only gave myself about 7 areas to work on in my life to achieve my desire for change. Only 7, she says with a tinge of irony. That does seem a little daunting but not impossible.
At times I feel like this snail, moving very slowly out of  my sadness, sometimes trying to go back to where I was instead of going forward. I try not to be too hard on myself, I can only try my best. I declare it as progress that my days aren't only bad ones, which hasn't always been the case.
As long as I remember that I only have to be who God has made me to be, the way to change seems so much easier. And if I only look to Him for direction, no matter how slow my pace is, I will get to where I should be. It will only take time.

31 Days: Cut

Cut - as in cut the power to the inflatable. On Sunday my church had its annual fall carnival and this year, I was in charge of it. And I was terrified. Because our school system changed its policy on paper flyers, we relied on social media to get the word out. I was so worried that there wouldn't be anyone show up but my pastor estimated that we had about 120 kids enjoy our truck or treat, face painting, and free popcorn. We didn't run out of candy as we have in years past but I hope the fun was endless for these kids.

This morning, a friend sent a text relaying a story from the festivities. She said a mother thanked our church for having this carnival because her neighborhood wasn't safe for trick or treating. She was so glad to have a place where her kids to get some candy. And I wonder if this mom wasn't also happy to have a day where she could sit and talk to grownups while her kids had a safe place to play.
 As my pastor so wonderfully put it, it was the real fruit…

31 Days: Date

I had the best date on Saturday night - I went to the ballet with my mom and sister. We have had season tickets to a Broadway series for several years and this year, we got season tickets for the ballet. The show, Onegin, was beautiful. So many of the dances were breathtaking and seemed to defy what you thought the human body could do. 
If I'm honest, sometimes I am disappointed that I'm not spending Saturday night with a significant other. But what could be better than spending the evening with two people who have loved you unconditionally for over 50 year? I want to have more of these dates, to spend time doing things I love with people I love. Plays, concerts, museum exhibits, I want to fill my calendar with all kinds of dates. Whether I have company or I'm going solo, I want to stop having so many dates with my DVR and start experiencing the life waiting for me.

31 Days: Eat for Five Minute Friday

Five Minute Friday is a writing event that has writers spending five minutes writing on the same topic and then sharing them at http://katemotaung.com/five-minute-friday/. This week's word is Eat.

Eat, eat! How many times have we heard that? I've written before about how hard it is to cook for one person and how I want to change that with posts that tell people how to combine ingredients to cook several dishes. But I what I want is people to experiment in the kitchen and come up with their own favorite meals.

Above is Saturday Shrimp, something I came up with in the winter months to make Saturday special. I would cook this dish for myself, watch a movie, and spend an evening in doing what I loved.

When the weather got warm, I started experimenting with the grill. I don't think I will go on any cooking shows any time soon but I love making a fire and eating something I have cooked over an open flame. Call me weird but the smell of charcoal and hickory on my clothes on Satur…

31 Days: Bouquet

I love having flowers in my home. I love treating myself with a bouquet when I go to the grocery store. Fresh flowers seem to warm up a home. I wish that the new Trader Joe's in town was closer to my house so that I could really indulge this love of fresh flowers with inexpensive bouquets every week.

There have been times when I have felt indulgent when buying myself flowers. We are taught that bouquets are delivered by suitors and sweethearts. Who buys them for herself? This girl does! I love how they brighten the place up. And I love splurging on myself to bring that brightness into my home.

Why do we think that way - that we aren't worthy of a $10 bouquet of flowers?Why do we feel like we can't spend that money on something we enjoy? I didn't think twice when I took a bouquet of Trader Joe's flowers to my mother but felt extravagant when I bought the same bouquet for myself.

I'm going to start doing this more, treating myself to flowers. I deserve a vase of…

31 Days: Confront

I am working on a special project at work and the person I am working with is, how should I say this, a challenge. Today, I was confronted with the fact that this person and his disorganization and lack of communication skills is going to cost my company a large amount of money. I was also confronted with the fact that there is a good chance that this loss could have been prevented if someone had fought harder to move this project to another format that would have been profitable, even if that meant more work for them.

I felt like I should do something to confront this situation and fight for what I thought was right. I spent about an hour composing an email arguing my position. But when I was done and I was about to hit send, I was confronted with the feeling that I was doing this for all the wrong reasons. I wasn't confronting the disorganized person involved in the project, I was confronting the person who didn't fight for a change in the project. And I was confronted with…

31 Days: Sign

Ok, I'm going to cheat a little bit. I'm combining the word for yesterday with an experience from today.

Last night I went to book club. This evening is one of my favorite nights of the month. I love the women in the club. They are a diverse group of different ages but of the same faith and the same passion for fellowship. One of the women, a retired minister, talked about her experience of preaching at her cousin's funeral. She told how her cousin had a persistent spirit and we all recalled that the gospel lesson in a recent service at our church was the story in Luke about the widow who kept going to the judge for justice. Another woman in the club said she needed to find the exact verses of that story because she knew someone going through a difficult time who was searching for justice.

This morning when I got to work, I opened my email and discovered that my Upper Room devotional for the day was the story about the widow, That has to be a sign that I am supposed to ta…

31 Days: Global

I finished reading this book today and it was amazing but devastating. It is about two sisters and how World War II affects their lives in France. That is a very simplistic way to describe it but I am still in shock over the story that was told, a story that even though this is a work of fiction I am sure is much like many lives of people who lived through WWII.

This story is global in its scope because it starts in the United States where one of the sisters currently lives then crosses back and forth across the Atlantic to France as it tells of her life in the past and in the present.

I am amazed at how cruel people can be. This is not a world made up by a writer imaging a post-apocalyptic society, this is how life was for these people. This is how life was globally for all of the countries affected by this war.

I felt ashamed of myself as I grew cranky over my job today and neglected to realize just how lucky I am to live the life I live. I am embarrassed that I have ever worried a…

31 Days: Blowout

Blowout: a sudden rupture or malfunction of a part or an apparatus due to pressure


I did not do this post yesterday because I came home from a meeting feeling like the photo above. After weeks of asking for help with a fall carnival at church, I finally get some feedback a mere 6 days before the event. I was afraid the sudden rupture or malfunction of a part was going to be my brain exploding from the frustration. Someone was trying to tell me that direct mail that will hit mailboxes looking like junk mail would be an effective way to tell our neighbors about the carnival. A discussion ensued about other issues that I had already resolved with my pastor. Luckily he came to my aid and moved the topic along but not before I was worried the pressure in my brain would appear as steam coming out of my ears.

I know that I need to get better in those situations. I am very bad at taking criticism and I'm sure it showed on my face. I want to be able to accept new ideas or different ideas tha…

31 Days: Off

This is my favorite day of the week. It is almost always a day off. No work, no meetings, no leaving the house. I almost always get to sleep in, which does amazing things for my attitude. And because after 21 days of writing each day, my brain is tired, I am taking today off from the 31 Days challenge. I got nothing in my tank left.

I'll be back tomorrow refreshed and ready to write nonstop for five minutes.

31 Days: Park for Five Minute Friday

Five Minute Friday is a writing event that has writers spending five minutes writing on the same topic and then sharing them at http://katemotaung.com/five-minute-friday/. This week's word is Park.

This is Fort Williams Park in Cape Elizabeth, Maine. when I was in Portland for my friends' wedding, I really wanted to see the Portland Headlight but the person I was traveling with had been to Portland several times and had no desire to see it again and everyone else I knew at the wedding had left town already. So I did something out of character and called a cab, told the driver to take me to the park, and I found it myself. And I called the same driver, had him pick me up, and bought myself a nice lunch to celebrate.

That simple act of calling a cab and getting to a destination on my own was so empowering. Most of the time I would have just let the fact that no one wanting to go with me keep me from doing something. I would have just taken a safe walk in a straight line hoping to …

31 Days: Weekend

Today is actually the start of my weekend. I work a 9/80 schedule, which means I get every other Friday off. It is the favorite part of my job. Having every other week as a three-day weekend is magical. I can get so much done on that Friday off or I can get absolutely nothing done and recharge on my couch.

I don't even notice the extra hour I work every day to get this awesome benefit. Sometimes though, I'm in a panic on how to get everything done in a four-day work week. I want to start working smarter to alleviate that panic. The best way to do that would be to avoid the click holes I fall into while scanning my Facebook feed. The internet is a dangerous thing, you turn to your computer screen and before you know it, you look up and it's almost lunch time.

I could also gain hours in my day by getting to work on time. My day is supposed to start at 7:30am but it has been drifting closer to 8:00am lately. That is two hours of work time I am losing in a four-day week. That…

31 Days: Notice

I recently stayed at a wonderful hotel in Boulder, Colorado. The Hotel Boulderado opened in 1909 and it is still beautiful. I had been staying in this hotel for four days before I looked up and say this amazing stain glass skylight. I had always been so busy rushing to my room to change or grab something that I had never taken the time to look up and notice the beauty above me.

How often do we not notice the beauty around us because we don't look up? I try to remember to do this especially when I travel but even at home, I forget to do this. When I am in my downtown, I tend to look down at the sidewalk so that I don't trip or I'm looking around me at the traffic. But when I look up, I notice things like this beautiful sight:


And I am sad to say that one of the things I neglect to notice the most is what God can do for me if I will just look up. If I would quit hanging my head and worrying and simply look up, I will notice that God is above me taking care of me. He has put…

31 Days: Neighbor

This is why I'm a bad neighbor, the outside of my house. I feel so bad for the very nice guy that lives across the street from me. This is what he looks at every day. The awning shredded by hail and snow. The paint experiment that is the pea green shutter on one side but a brick red on the other side. The web worms that have taken over my whole city. And the overgrown nandina (which I just discovered when I googled it to make sure I was spelling it correctly is also called heavenly bamboo) that I can't bare to chop down because it grew in my grandma's yard. Oh, and there's the crepe myrtle that is taller than my house that showers my next door neighbors' cars every time that back out of their driveway.

The outside of my house was where I was going to start on my house projects before my income became uncertain. So I am taking photos of the outside of my house, publicly embarrassing myself, but documenting what it looks like so that when I do feel comfortable enoug…

31 Days: Study

This is my cookbook collection, It may seem weird to talk about studying cookbooks but I want to cook more for myself. I've talked in other posts about how hard it is to cook for one person. One of the ideas I have had for this blog was to help me and others learn to cut down the number of servings of recipes and match ingredients used for one recipe to another recipe so that cooking for one isn't all about fixing one dish on Monday and eating it for the next three nights. I don't know about you but I can't eat the same thing four days in a row.

So I want to study these cookbooks and find recipes that are similar but enough different that you can have variety in your diet. For example, find a recipe that calls for one can of tomatoes that you can be cut in half and then find another recipe for the next day that will use the rest of that can.

I have lived on frozen dinners for awhile. Even when I was married, if my husband and I were eating dinner at different times, I…

31 Days: Little

I am very lucky that little things can make me happy. This French hotdog is one of my favorite meals that I had in Paris. It was in a spot right across the street from Notre Dame and every once and awhile, my sister and I will look at each other as we talk about our trip and say, "I want a hot dog." I had steak tartare in one restaurant and that was the fanciest meal but it is this lunch that is one of my best memories of our trip.

On Sundays I go to my parents' house for the afternoon. We will go out to lunch, no place fancy, usually some place that my father has seen a commercial for that week, and then we go back to their house and watch tv. Sometimes I will be talking away and realize that everyone else in the room is fast asleep. It is these little things that are endearing about my family and even though we don't do anything big like sing songs around a piano or play games in front of the fire like tv families do, I wouldn't trade these little moments for …

31 Days: Move

Five years ago I had to decide whether to stay in my house and buy X's half or sell the house and move. Luckily I had six months to make the decisions and in that time I started to collect boxes in case I did decide to move. At times I feel like my house looks like this photo because even though I decided it made more economic sense for me to stay in my bungalow, I kept the boxes.

When I was a kid, every so often I would pack up everything in my room, move it out into the living room, rearrange my bedroom furniture, then move all of my stuff back in. It was a great way to change my outlook on my room and rethink where I put things. Since I have all of these boxes, I have been thinking about doing this, packing up everything I own as if I was going to move and start fresh. I have a friend who said moving herself was one of the best experiences she's had. It allowed her to get rid of duplicates of things and things she no longer used. In the past, she had always used movers to …

31 Days: Mail for Five Minute Friday

Five Minute Friday is a writing event that has writers spending five minutes writing on the same topic and then sharing them at http://katemotaung.com/five-minute-friday/. This week's word is Mail.

OK, I know that is a phone booth on a street in London but bear with me. Mail to me means staying in touch. I worked with a woman 15 years ago who would spend her lunch hour writing letters and cards to be put in the mail. I always thought that was such a lovely thing to do. To this day, she still sends out handmade cards each year at Christmas. It is such a personal way to stay in touch

I had lunch with a friend this week. We hadn't seen each other in what seemed like a year. Afterwards, we traded some messages about how we think about each other often but we needed to do better at seeing each other.  She has a very demanding job and some things in her personal life that make her a very busy person. I'm busy too but my big problem is I think, "If they wanted to see me, the…

31 Days: Aware

"Stop and smell the roses" was the first thing that came to mind when I started thinking about a post about Aware. I want to be aware of my surroundings, aware of the things that I have in my life instead of dwelling on the things I don't have.

I touched on this in my Thanks post. I need to be more aware of the blessings in my life. But I also need to be aware of the way I can be a blessing to others. I have been struggling this week with rather to continue being the chair of a committee at church. I had a phone conversation with my pastor and he told me that a lot of people look up to my leadership within the church. I was not aware that anyone was really noticing what I was doing in the life of my church. I get so bogged down in the intricacies of committee work that I had never stopped and thought about what I was bringing to others in the congregation.

I want to stop and smell the roses, in other words, stop and think about what I'm doing. Be aware of the things…

31 Days: Sky

Today the sky above me was gray and the temperature dropped 20 degrees in about 20 minutes so I chose a sky above Florence. I cannot wait to go back to this magical place. It was one of the surprises of my life. When my sister and I went to Europe three years ago, we went to Florence as a last minute addition and I am so glad we did. It was amazing. It is small and easy to navigate but with works of art like Brunelleschi's dome above and Michelangelo's David, it is definitely a place of beauty.

One of the things I want to do more of is travel. To see the sky in as many places as I can. Travel is what gives me hope. It is what I have filled my office with to remind me why I work. Travel is what breathes life into me. I want to see all of the amazing places this world has to offer.

I can't wait to see the sky in places like Ireland, Australia, and Argentina. I wanted to see the Aurora Borealis in the skies above Alaska or Canada. I want to see all that God has created in th…

31 Days: Thanks

Thanks is such a small word but it can change so much. When I give thanks for things both big and small, it puts a new perspective on things. And when you speak those words out loud, I think it gives God a new perspective on our love for him.

I give thanks that my parents are alive. So many people my age have lost their parents and I am so grateful that I can see mine whenever I want.

I give thanks that I still have a job. Twenty of my coworkers have lost theirs in the past year.

I give thanks that I have picked up more hours at my part-time job so that I can pay for things like homeowners' insurance and property taxes.

I give thanks that when my sister's car wouldn't start that it was in her driveway and not in a dark parking lot after a long day of school.

I give thanks that my car starts every time I turn the key.

I give thanks that I have found a faith community at my church that has welcomed me with open arms and helped me grow.

I give thanks that I have my health.

I…

31 Days: Unknown

This is an out-of-focus photo that I took a couple of weeks ago in Colorado but it feels like how I feel when I look into the future. Everything is so unknown. Will my company lay off more people? Will the new manager they hire be an asset or a pain in the... Will I be able to count on my second job? Will I find love again?

I hate that I don't do a better job of turning over the unknown to God. Why do I spend so much time trying to bring my view of the future into focus when there is absolutely no way I have control over any of it. Why can't I rest in the fact that God has this and his plan will be what's best for me.

Just like this photo, I so often concentrate on the wrong thing. There were things within the range of my camera that I could have been aiming for but I was trying to focus on, I don't even know what. I should have been taking in the big picture instead of trying to pinpoint one place on the horizon.

I do have things that are known in my life - the love …

31 Days: Post-It

Today would have been my 23rd wedding anniversary. It is hard to believe that it has been that long since I stood in the front of that church making vows that I thought would be forever.. I do feel a bit silly that I still mark this day, that it still has such an impact on me. When I told my friends at church today what the significance of today was they said, "Don't look back." Easier said than done.

This post-it is one that I have on my dresser mirror. I'm not sure who said these words, Joyce Meyer or Joel Osteen, but they resonated with me so that I put them on a post-it shaped like an arrow to remind myself to look up, that God had rejected my marriage and that I should let it go. So far, I haven't done such a great job of that. Maybe I need a bigger post-it.

I know that may sound weird to say that God rejected my marriage but I do believe that things happen for us and not to us. I still haven't figured out why my marriage ended. I have some theories but…

31 Days: Muddle

Muddle as a verb means bring into a disordered or confusing state. As a noun it means an untidy and disorganize state or collection. As applied to my life, it is the perfect description of how I live.

This is part of my backyard. Volunteer trees and weeds have taken over and created an untidy area where there used to be beautiful plants and pea gravel paths. The inside of my house is a bit of a mess as well with half-finished home improvement projects and piles of this-n-that I'm not sure what to do with.

My mind is muddled as well. Too many thoughts clutter my thinking - the struggle between how I live and how I want to live. The struggle of how I am with how I think people view me. The thought of how I view myself and what the Bible says about me.

I want to clear away the clutter, to stop leaving in a state of muddle. I want to quit rid of the things in my house that I don't need. I want to pull the weeds and cut down the volunteer trees to get back to a tranquil space in my…

31 Days: Test for Five Minute Friday

Five Minute Friday is a writing event that has writers spending five minutes writing on the same topic and then sharing them at http://katemotaung.com/five-minute-friday/. This week's word is Test.

Above are some of the books I have purchased to teach me things. Some come with online study guides and I feel like all of them come with tests. Will I learn the right things from them? Will they make a difference in my life? Will they be worth the money I spent?

The problem is, I won't answer any of those test questions right if I don't actually read them. Much like I learned from the first time I went to college right after high school, going to class and doing the work is the best way to learn. Unfortunately, I did not learn that lesson until 10-15 years later when I went to college a second time, but that's another blog post.

Anyway, I want to pass these tests. I want to delve into these books and learn things. I want to grow from the reading them and hopefully learn some o…

31 Days: You

Two tough words in a row. You is a word I need to get better at using. I'm very good at looking in the mirror and caring about what I see looking back at me but I'm not so good at seeing you. This photo is a perfect example of that. I was so absorbed in taking this photo of a huge mirror in a hotel in New Orleans that it wasn't until I had the photo developed that I noticed that my friend Nancy was reflected in the mirror.

I used to think that I would have been a terrible journalist because I don't think in questions. But now I think that I don't think in questions because I don't care enough to ask. I recently got back from a business trip where I spent time with people I didn't know very well. Aside from where they worked and what they do, I didn't know much of anything about them, other than what I could tell from their Facebook posts. When one of them would ask me what my hobbies are or how many siblings I had, I'd find myself thinking, "D…

31 Days: Silence

It is a little ironic that I forgot to do my 31 Days post when the word was "silence." I'd like to say that it was symbolic, that I chose to be silent on day 5 but it was not premeditated. But maybe it was subconscious.

I hate silence. The minute I walk into my house, I turn the tv on so that there is noise. When I am at work, I have headphones on to listen to music to avoid the silence of my office. I am a nervous talker, filling any silences with a barrage of trivia to keep the uncomfortable quiet at bay.

I often complain that I can not hear God. I have joked that I need a burning bush to let me know what I should do. I need something obvious, like a slap against the back of my head, NCIS' Gibbs style, to get my attention.

But what if my aversion to silence is what's keeping me from hearing God? What if I'm drowning him out with the tv chatter, music blaring in my ears, and jabbering blaring in others' ears. What if I could comfortable with the quiet. …

31 Days: Brew

I'm a coffee drinker. It's what kick starts my personality each day. One of the hardest parts of the downturn in the oil industry and the cutbacks at work because of it has been the discontinuation of the Keurig coffee service we immensely enjoyed and the return of the Bunn brewed coffee that we begrudgingly guzzled.

This has led me to reevaluate my morning routine. Do I start brewing a pot of coffee before I go to work and do my coworkers a favor and have my attitude adjustment before I get to work? Do I stop at a coffee shop along the way for my java fix? Do I choke down the bitter, free coffee at work?

After visiting the Celestial Seasonings plant in Boulder, Colorado on a recent business trip, I have actually been considering switching to tea. I love the low impact on the environment that this company has (the tea bags are compostable and 3.5 million pounds of waste is avoided because there are no tags, strings, staples, and individual wrappers) and I like the thought of …

31 Days: Wardrobe

Clothes make the man they say and I think you can apply that to me too. Five years ago, I lost 50 pounds in one year. It was the best feeling to achieve a goal like that and it was also a great feeling to buy new clothes for my new shape.

Unfortunately, that shape did not stay around for long and now I have a wardrobe that I love that I can no longer wear.

So one of the changes I want to make for a better life is to get back to the healthy eating habits that helped me lose those 50 pounds. I felt so much better when I weighed less, a feeling that was surpassed by the feeling of buying new clothes.

A wardrobe is one thing, but to feel like you look good in what you are wearing starts from the inside. I miss that feeling too - the confidence that came from being comfortable in my own skin. I think that confidence is still there, it's just buried under all of the fat.

That goal was set to lose 50 pounds by my 50th birthday. I tried to reach a similar goal and lose 55 pounds by my 55…

31 Days: Paint

One of the only projects I have tackled along in my house is painting. First I painted my tiny bathroom a vivid green. Next I painted my bedroom a wonderful shade of purple. Then I painted the awful paneling in my guest room a cozy color called warm muffin.
On particularly bad days at work, the paint chips remind me of why I work, to pay for that paint. I have found a variety of excuses for not continuing my painting but I want to get back to it. I have a boring white living room and dining room. I have a kitchen with outdated wallpaper with two more layers of outdated wallpaper under it.
The simple action of putting paint on a wall can change your view of your house. I want to paint my living room, which is the room I spend most of my time in, a bright yellow. In the gloomy days of winter, it will be like having sunshine on the walls. I want to paint my kitchen blue so that I feel like my walls are the color of the sky above.
Painting is something I can do myself. There are projects th…

31 Days: Walk

Walking is my favorite form of exercise. It is also my favorite way of seeing a place. When I went to Europe three years ago, my sister and I walked everywhere through London, Paris, Florence, Venice, and Rome. With the exception of subway rides, bus tours, and a magical trip through the canals of Venice, we saw the sights on our feet.
I love the line of Wild when Cheryl Strayed says, "I'm going to walk back to the woman my mother thought I was." Walking is healing. I am fascinated by those life-changing walks, like Pacific Crest Trail or Camino del Santiago in Spain. Someone I go to church with made this walk and told my book club all about her adventure. I went home and bought several books off of Amazon about it, adding it to my bucket list of things I want to do.
Walking is motion. It is moving from where you are to where you want to be. You can observe as you go, taking in the scenery along the way. Or you can stare at the ground concentrating on where you are going. …