Living proof that the Universe has a sense of humor.

Today I am grateful for a whole bunch of people. And for my toilet.

Posted November 25, 2014 | Cats, Daily Gratitude, OCD, Photos & Photo Galleries, Products Mentions & Reviews, Random Observations, Today I'm Grateful for..., Welcome to My Life | One Comment

Plumber's Crack

Image credit: play.google.com

In the summer of 2013 my kitchen drain started to back up. A plumber, complete with plumber’s crack, came and snaked it out.

I didn’t know until three months later, when I moved the furniture in the adjacent bedroom, that he had punctured the Y-joint and created a leak. (The black mold in the bedroom carpet was my first clue.)

I got the carpet cleaned and the y-joint repaired and thought everything was fine…until a couple of month ago when I noticed spots in the vinyl on my kitchen floors getting darker and darker. Yes, it can take that long for water to seep under vinyl and darken the backing. And I found out it wasn’t a problem I could solve from the top down, so I called my Wonderful Apartment Manager. She said they would replace the tile in the kitchen once I renewed my lease, which was due very soon.

OCD much?

I am not obsessive.

Image credit: psychdigest.com

However, being just a little bit (major understatement) OCD about my living space, I wanted all the vinyl to match. (Silly me.) Bless her heart, my Wonderful Apartment Manager got the supplier to inspect the vinyl in my apartment. He declared it “defective” and agreed to replace all the vinyl (entryway, kitchen, bathroom, and utility room), charging the property only with installation. And, bless its little heart, the property management company agreed to pay the installation costs.

The installation was scheduled for last Friday, but at the last minute it was canceled because the vinyl cutting machine broke. I had moved everything out of the kitchen, bathroom, and utility room and didn’t want to leave it that way since I wasn’t sure when the installation would be rescheduled, so I moved all that stuff back. (OCD, remember?)

Tile: Before

This is what vinyl looks like when water seeps up under it and darkens the backing. Yuck.

I am not a morning person.

You know that moment when you wake up in the morning and you're full of energy? Yeah, me neither.

Photo credit: Pinterest.

On Monday at 8:00 AM I got a call from my Wonderful Apartment Manager telling me that the vinyl, with installation crew, was there, and that the maintenance guys needed to come over ASAP to take out the toilet and move the refrigerator and stove before the installation.

No, I wasn’t up and dressed at 8:00 AM. I had consumed only one cup of coffee and was barely functional. You can imagine me in my pjs, in an under-caffeinated state, emptying the kitchen, utility room, and bathroom as fast as I could so I could get dressed before the maintenance guys arrived. I’m sure it was comical, but by 9:00 AM everything was moved, I was presentable, if not decorative, and the maintenance crew came and removed the toilet and moved the appliances. At 9:30, three Spanish-speaking guys with pre-cut vinyl descended upon my apartment.

The Universe intervenes.

I had made arrangements with a friend to be at his house when the installation was done, but there wasn’t time for that on such short notice. However, as is the way of the Universe, it worked out well since the installers weren’t sure they were supposed to replace all the vinyl (three rooms and the “foyer”). Somehow I was able to convey this to them in English without having to use Google Translate to figure out how to say it in Spanish.

Plus, the smell of glue was awful, so since I was there and the weather was pleasant, I was able to open the windows to keep Stripey from being asphyxiated by the fumes from the glue. By noon I had new tile. By 12:30 I had a toilet again.

Tile: After

New tile. Nice color, nice pattern, no stains!

So today I am grateful for:

My Wonderful Apartment Manager, for the vinyl suppliers, for the management company, for the maintenance crew, for my friend with the kind offer, for the nice weather, and for my attractive new, unstained tile. And for toilets.

Definitely for toilets.

Catawba Hospital Operation Santa Claus 2014

Posted November 9, 2014 | Cool Stuff, Holidays, Lessons I've Learned, My Family - Past & Present, Products Mentions & Reviews, Welcome to My Life | Leave a Comment

Catawba Hospital Operation Santa Claus 2014At Christmas, it’s easy to donate to charities for children, pets, and the homeless. Catawba Hospital’s Operation Santa Claus program is an opportunity for you to open your heart and give outside the typical stereotype: to elderly psychiatric patients living a state hospital because they have nowhere else to be and no one who can take them in.

As long as I’ve been writing this blog, I’ve written an annual post about the Operation Santa Claus program at Catawba Hospital:

If you read even one of the posts above, you’ll learn why this program is so important to me and why I publicize it here every year.

The Bottom Line

Donations to Operation Santa Claus or performances for the patients at Catawba Hospital are, in many cases, the only ways that the elderly psychiatric patients have to experience Christmas.

Please download one of the brochures below and give what you can. Donations of presents (needed items are specified in the brochure), money, or talent (visits, concerts) are all appreciated – not only by the patients, but also by the staff who take care of the people that no one else will.

Catawba Hospital Operation Santa Claus 2014 Brochure, Page 1

Operation Santa Claus

From the bottom of my heart, I thank you for any help you can give.

Best wishes from me and my family
to you and yours
for a loving holiday season.

Two “work at home” life hacks for a happier day

Posted November 8, 2014 | Having Your Own Business, Lessons I've Learned, Welcome to My Brain, Welcome to My Life, What Someone Else Said, What Someone Else Said, Working at Home | 3 Comments

Too Many AppsI read a lot of time management tips, and I’ve tried any number of time and project management applications. I store that advice in the reference section of my brain, where it does absolutely zip to help me manage my time better.

It’s not until I clearly identify what my problem area is, how what I read applies to it, and plan what I will do differently that I can make a change. That doesn’t happen very often, but recently the light bulb came on, and I made two changes to my day that have made a huge difference in both my behavior and my state of mind at beginning and end of the day.

The Problem(s)

Email OverloadI used to check my email inbox first thing in the morning. I might have sat down at the computer with a task or goal in mind, but once I got into my inbox, one email could derail whatever plans I had.

I was letting my priorities and activities be driven by other people. By the end of the day I might have gotten a lot of stuff done, but because I hadn’t accomplished – or even worked toward – my goal, I felt dissatisfied, uneasy, and resentful. Not good feelings to have when I’m working with my clients.

The Solution(s)

Ready, set, go!
Before I go to bed at night, I identify one thing that it’s important to me to accomplish the next day.

When I sit down to work the next day, I work on that one thing before I check my email.

The Results

CheckmarkAt the end of the day, I have a feeling of satisfaction.
I got at least one thing accomplished that I wanted to accomplish. Maybe I didn’t get through my entire to do list, but having gotten that one thing done, I feel much better when I do dive into my email box and respond to other people’s requests.

Occasionally I don’t check my email until the afternoon.
This may annoy some people, and I may miss an opportunity that I may or may not have wanted, but I’ve trained most of the people with whom I interact with regularly to message or call me if they have something they need me to do first thing.

And I trust that if there is something in my inbox that is important, that the Universe will do something to make me see it. That may sound a little la-la, but if you ask the Universe to make you aware of what you need to know when you need to know it and trust that it will, it’ll happen. Really.

Your life vs. someone else’s plans

Posted October 27, 2014 | Web Wisdom, What Someone Else Said | 2 Comments

If you don't design your own life plan, chances are you'll fall into someone else's plan. And guess what they have planned for you? Not much. - Jim Rohn

Color personality quiz results: Silver?!??!?

Posted October 16, 2014 | Personality Tests, Random Observations, Welcome to My Brain | 2 Comments

I love PlayBuzz quizzes. Today I took What Color is Your Personality? by Benjamin Birely.

I’ve taken color quizzes before, and usually I come out blue. This time I got silver.

If you know me, you might find this kind of amusing. I certainly did! [I put my comments in bold italics.]


Photo credit: Benjamin Birely via PlayBuzz.


You belong to the silver family! The color psychology quiz tells us that you subconsciously most relate to those silvers, whites, and greys.

First off, feel very unique! This is a rare color family to belong to, and it means that you’re super special and, obviously, super interesting. [Obviously!]

This group of colors is frequently associated with purity and spirituality. You exist on a higher plane than most of us [probably this one] and you’re deeply connected to spirituality. This can manifest itself in many ways. Maybe you’re religious, maybe you love philosophy, maybe Zen meditation is your thing, or perhaps you simply enjoy a clean, simple and drama-free life. [I do when I can find one!]

Regardless of which category fits you, you’re above a lot of the messy things in life and you seek balance and peace. You’re a rare breed. [And we can all be grateful for that!]

Whatcha think?

Today I am grateful that I “just whelmed.”

Posted October 4, 2014 | Beloved Spouse, Daily Gratitude, Lessons I've Learned, Today I'm Grateful for..., Welcome to My Brain, Welcome to My Life | 2 Comments

Until now, I hadn’t posted anything on my blog for 12 days.

JugglerIt’s not that I haven’t said my daily thank yous to the Universe; I just haven’t been posting them. Blog posts take time, and as I once wrote, “Time is not elastic, and I’m not a very good juggler.”

For many years I felt crushed with the weight of my to do list, and overwhelmed by the multitude of demands coming my way. “This has got to stop,” I’d tell myself, but I was the one that had to stop it, and I couldn’t seem to figure out how.

I felt, “over-born,” which my beloved spouse suggests is the adjective describing how one is victimized by an overbearing person feels afterward. Except I was the one who had written “Welcome” on my forehead, and I was the one not making the decisions that needed to be made. I was the one who, when someone said, “You need to take time off to have some fun,” would reply, “Oh, thank you! One more thing to put on my @#$% to do list!”

Time is not elastic, but something clicked in my head recently. I truly accepted its limitations and started to prioritize how I spend it: on my work, on walking, on strengthening my relationships with my friends and family, on reading, on relaxing, on taking the alone time that is essential to my well-being. I write when I want to, but I don’t worry if I choose to do other things.

I don't have time to have the nervous breakdown I deserve.

Photo credit: SnarkEcards.com

I saw this cartoon on Facebook the other day and almost, out of habit, shared it on my timeline. I knew something in had changed when I chose not to post it, thinking, “But that’s not me anymore.

These last 12 days have been spent practicing new skills that allow me to feel at peace with myself and my day-to-day life.

I don’t feel overwhelmed anymore. I don’t feel underwhelmed, either. Am I, then, just whelmed?

I wasn’t sure, so I asked Google.

Google Search: define:whelmed

whelm – Verb. Archaic. Literary

past tense: whelmed; past participle: whelmed

engulf, submerge, or bury (someone or something).
flow or heap up abundantly.

Origin – Middle English: representing an Old English form parallel to hwelfan ‘overturn (a vessel).”

Yes! Finally! I flow! My life is abundant! Not with fear, anxiety, anger, and irritation, but instead with quiet, peace, enjoyment, companionship, productive activity, and plenty of time.

I am just whelmed, and I am very, very grateful for that.

INFJ boundary issues? INFJ:BelowtheRadar-AbovetheSystem video provides real help.

Posted September 23, 2014 | Cool Stuff, INFJs, Lessons I've Learned, Random Observations, Welcome to My Brain, Welcome to My Life | Leave a Comment

INFJ:BelowTheRadar-AboveTheSystemIn a previous post I wrote about discovering the INFJ:BelowtheRadar-AbovetheSystem page on Facebook.

I’ve also taken the seven day email course and purchased and read – well, devoured – the ebook (both are available on the website, belowtheradar-abovethesystem.com), and I’ve been following its channel on YouTube.

All the information I’ve gotten from this wonderful system has been helpful, but the most recent video, INFJs and setting boundaries is exemplary.

The video not only details why INFJs (like me) relate to people either by distancing themselves from them or by trying to “understand” and “help” them – often to our own detriment, but it also gives practical, actionable advice on:

  • strengthening personal boundaries,
  • recognizing and respecting others’ boundaries, and
  • avoiding being used or consumed by people who don’t have the same need to understand and connect that INFJs have.

While my INFJ behavioral traits have allowed me to be compassionate and helpful to many people, they have also caused me – and a number of people with whom I have “related” – a great deal of distress. If you’re an INFJ, or you’ve ever been annoyed by one, watch this video. It may change your life – or at least give you a new perspective.

I wish I’d seen it 40 years ago, but way back then we didn’t have Facebook or YouTube :-)

P.S. You can follow INFJ:BelowtheRadar-AbovetheSystem on Twitter and Google+, too!

Today I am grateful for the cross I have to bear.

Posted September 17, 2014 | Daily Gratitude, Lessons I've Learned, Notes to Self, Today I'm Grateful for..., Welcome to My Brain, Welcome to My Life | Leave a Comment

Carrying Your Cross
This is one of my favorite stories. I first heard it many years ago. For some reason it popped into my head today.

Carrying a Cross

By Paulo Coelho. Source: spiritual-short-stories.com

“In a certain village in Umbria (Italy), there lived a man who was always bewailing his lot. He was a Christian, and found the weight of his cross too heavy to bear.

“One night, before going to sleep, he begged God to let him change his burden.

“That night he had a dream; the Lord led him to a warehouse. “Go ahead and change it,” he said. The man saw crosses of all sizes and shapes, with the names of their owners. He picked an average size cross – but when he saw the name of an old friend written on it, he left it aside.

“Finally, as God had permitted, he chose the smallest cross he could find.

“To his surprise, he saw his own name written on it.”

I am convinced that we are each uniquely equipped to handle the challenges we face. We have the crosses we are meant to bear.

I was messaging a friend with some medication-resistant health issues. I asked her how one of them was going, and she replied, “It’ll always be shitty.”

I responded: “I don’t know what to say except I’m hoping that one day things WILL be better for you.”

She replied, “I’m built for chaos. Might as well go with it.”

I’m grateful that I’m “built” for the challenges in my life. However much easier or better I may perceive someone else’s life to be, I know that if I went into that warehouse that the cross I’d choose would have my name on it, too.

Today I am grateful that I was able to help a friend see her great-great-grandfather’s picture for the first time.

Posted September 16, 2014 | Daily Gratitude, Photos & Photo Galleries, Today I'm Grateful for..., Welcome to My Life | 2 Comments

SerendipityMy gratitude post yesterday was about learning to read and how a book I found at my grandparent’s house got me interested in Roanoke history.

In addition to write about it here, I posted photos of it on Facebook. I got a comment on the album from Linda Goin, who I consider to be a friend even though we’ve never met. She told me that her great-great-grandfather had been on the Roanoke Police Department. She’d mentioned to me some time back that she wanted to visit the Roanoke courthouse see what she could find out about that side of her family.

I took a couple of minutes this evening, flipped through the book, and found a photo of William Charles Adams Allen, “W.C. Allen, Jailer.” I scanned it and sent it to her.

W.C. Allen, Jailer, Roanoke, VA Police Department, 1916.

William Charles Adams Allen
Jailer, Roanoke Police Dept., 1916.

Linda was delighted. She’d never seen a photo of him before!

I was able to help someone see what her great-great-grandfather looked like. That’s pretty amazing, and all because I happened to think about this book when I was writing my gratitude post about reading, took some photos, and published a post about it here and on Facebook.

Now how cool is that?

Today I am grateful I can read – and how I discovered that history happened to “real” people

Posted September 15, 2014 | Cool Stuff, Daily Gratitude, My Family - Past & Present, Products Mentions & Reviews, Today I'm Grateful for..., Welcome to My Life | Leave a Comment

1916 History of the Roanoke City Police Department

History Roanoke Police Dept.
Roanoke, Virginia

Today I am grateful that I can read. I don’t remember not being able to read or who taught me, but it isn’t something I take for granted. My life is a much better place because of it.

When I visited with my grandparents’ house in Roanoke, I used to pull a book out of the shelves and read it. In the attic was a collection of original Nancy Drew books from the 1920s when she had titian hair, ate luncheon, and drove a coupe.

I found a love of Roanoke history when I found an old book, The History of the Roanoke City Police Department, published in 1916 and signed by my great-grandfather, John Wilder Cure. The book is fascinating not just for the pictures or the events described, but also for the language used and the biases and stereotypes of the time. It wasn’t until then that I realized that history happened to “real” people.

1916 History of the Roanoke City Police Department

1916 History of the Roanoke City Police Department

Jno. W. Cure

My great-grandfather’s inscription – Jno. W. Cure

I’ve never seen another copy, although I imagine there’s one in the Virginia Room at the main Roanoke City Library, but I’ll bet it doesn’t have the chocolate smudges on it from when my 12-year-old self read it while eating the Hershey’s Miniatures my grandmother kept as snacks for us.

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