09/2018 baseline fitness measurement.
indo board, forearm plank and wall squat.

I turned 54 three days ago – another birthday without consistent daily fitness, so I thought I’d find out how far I’ve regressed by taking an indo board lunch break and videotaping it (below).

It had been a few months since I’d been on it. Pretty easy up. Then I needed to find out how long I could STAY up.

While reading. (Not kidding – if I look down, I lose my balance. And reading keeps me from getting bored. results posted below the video)

#GoodStewardofthisBody #fitnessaccountability

First Try:
7 minutes up – serious regression. try again.
4 minutes up – now I was ticked off. try again.
10 minutes up – drifted the board into furniture. try again.
16.25 minutes up – meh. try again LATER.
21 minutes up – acceptable. for now.

of course, then I had to find out:
my current forearm plank time (90 seconds) and
my current wall squat time (1 minute) #iIHATEWallSquats

I need to keep this up.

Did I mention that #iHATEwallsquats?

follow my fitness log HERE

satan hates potential.
if you've got it, he's going to try and sabotage you.

Memo to me: Satan hates potential.

If you find yourself under spiritual attack or facing problems that derail or discourage you from following God’s will and direction for your life, remember two things:

(1) Satan has no need to attack someone who’s not following God. They’re already where he wants them. Comfortably ineffective and stagnant in their faith.

(2) if you have entered into a relationship with Jesus, the Holy Spirit lives IN you and you are equipped by His power.

I’m praying for strength and determination and perseverance and encouragement today. And if you’re reading this, I’m praying the same for you.

(book quote from “the Necessity of an Enemy” by Ron Carpenter Jr.)

my wish for you.

54. today. Little introspective, gotta admit. With all the birthday wishes, combined with the fact that today is the closing show of my daughter’s most professional role to date, I told her, “I wish so many good things for every person in the cast. SO many good things.” and I realized, I wish that for you too. No matter our relationship or how long it’s been since we’ve spoken, I wish GOOD, GOOD things for you. And I found myself thinking of this video I made a few years ago.

I wish you an ABUNDANT LIFE. And I pray you know – or come to know – in the deepest, profoundest way, God LOVES you – I mean jealously, unconditionally, holding nothing back LOVES you – NO. MATTER. WHAT. you’ve done or said or think or…He LOVES. Unlike some of his children who may have hurt you. So. My birthday wish? I wish GOOD things for you.

If you don’t feel like watching, here’s the gist of the video:

Looking back over my life, I gotta say. I’m thankful I haven’t always gotten what would make me “happy.” In some cases, that immediate and temporal happiness would have been a dead end. Because – for me – the disappointment, heartbreak or discontent that’s resulted from turned backs, closed doors and unfulfilled dreams has often been the foundation of motivation and inspiration to look beyond the dream I had for myself and discover God had something greater in mind, and His “greater” hasn’t always been wrapped in a big bow of happiness. Sometimes, in the middle of disappointment, it’s hard to remember is that rejection is redirection, that God is sovereign, that He loves me more than I do and that He has promised to work all things together for good. He’s promised to transform me – to help me see people and circumstances from HIS infinite perspective rather than from my own skewed and limited vantage point, where I am the center of me.

So, my 54 year old birthday wish for you?

Don’t settle for what makes you happy.

Instead, relentlessly pursue your next best step, even if you can’t see where the path you are on ends.

If you are a man or women of faith, pray.

Dig into God’s word – learn what the words originally meant before you apply subjective meaning to your life and circumstance.

Find wise counsel – other men and women of faith – and hold each other accountable.

If you love Jesus, then when you look for your “purpose” in life, remember, smack in the trenches of whatever circumstance, relationship, vocation or ministry, your purpose is to:

Love God. Love Others. Make Disciples.

#seepeople #edify because everybody is #justadifferentkindofbroken

“I didn’t go to religion to make me happy. I always knew a bottle of Port would do that. If you want a religion to make you feel really comfortable, I certainly don’t recommend Christianity.”
C.S. Lewis

It Doesn’t Matter if You CAN. It matters if you DO.


Lots of people CAN do something. Not everyone does. There’s opportunity in that.

If you have a talent, be a good steward of it. Find a teacher. or teachers. Work consistently. Be humble. Be brave. Seek developmental feedback and accept wise instruction. Remind yourself that talent alone isn’t enough. Pray for opportunities to share your talent and be prepared for them.

Luck Favors the Prepared.” Edna Mode

Risk failure. Tell fear to shut up and sit down because it’s YOUR turn.

and remember what Jimmy Dugan said:

“It’s supposed to be hard. If it wasn’t hard, everyone would do it. The hard is what makes it great.”

Who Sent the Stronger Message at the 2018 Tony Awards? De Niro? Orin Wolf? or the Audience?

Some might say De Niro sent the strongest message. From the looks of the internet on June 11th, he got more attention than ANYTHING else that happened at the 2018 Tony Awards the night before.

If you searched “Tonys” on Monday morning, google auto suggested “Tonys De Niro” and if you clicked on google images you were deluged with scowls and fists in the air.

Of course, the images immediately flooded my mind with childhood memories of Burgermeister Meisterburger.
(in the words of Dr. Raymond Stantz, “I couldn’t help it. It just popped in there.”)

De Niro’s words were bleeped in many of the videos and redacted in print,
but I was watching live and I knew what he said the moment he said it:

“Me. Me Me Me Me. ME!!”

Never mind who won a Tony.
Never mind the multiple phenomenal performances by the nominees.
Never mind the talent or music of Bruce Springsteen, whose performance De Niro was on stage to introduce.
Not a single award or performance garnered more internet real estate than Robert De Niro on the the morning of June 11, 2018.

You can’t buy that kind of publicity.

But there were two other messages from the Tony Awards that hit home for me.

It’s been a week and I’m still thinking about

the juxtaposition of this…

The Acceptance Speech by Orin Wolf, Producer of The Band’s Visit
(2018 Tony Award Winner for Best Musical):

“Music gives people hope and makes borders disappear. Although the characters are strangers to each other with great political divides, our show offers a message of unity in a world that more and more seems bent on amplifying our differences. In the end, we are far more alike than different and I’m so proud to be part of a community that chooses to support that message.” [emphasis added]

The response of the audience? 6 Seconds of Spattering Applause

and this:

Robet De Niro, (who was on stage to introduce Bruce Springsteen singing a poignant rendition of My Hometown):

“I’m going to say one thing, F— Trump,” with his fists in the air. “It’s no longer ‘Down with Trump.’ It’s f— Trump.”

The response of the audience? 28 Seconds of applause, cheering, whistling and a sustained standing ovation by nearly every audience member from multiple camera angles.

Maybe I’m wrong, but I’m thinkin Orin Wolf didn’t hurriedly scribble his acceptance speech in his seat as a response to De Niro hijacking the microphone. I believe Wolf thoughtfully prepared that speech and intentionally wrote those words to express what he believed to be true.

For the most part, the 2018 Tony Awards were a short and welcome reprieve from the bludgeoning of “a world that more and more seems bent on amplifying our differences.” Hosts Josh Groban and Sara Bareilles were clearly focused on honoring excellence in Broadway theatre:

“…our job throughout the night is…to celebrate all the people in that room, who put in all their effort eight times a week and deserve to be there for all the right reasons. We’re focusing on that positive energy and all the ways that theater can bring people together.” Josh Groban

And it appeared they were succeeding.

Until.

What happened in that span of 28 seconds?
Did the applause and cheering of hundreds of people turn Wolf’s gracious words into a crumbled facade and him into a naive idealist patronized by frauds?
or did he expose their duplicity and momentarily shame them into silence?

Both of those possibilities are awful.

I’m thankful for the 1% rule of internet culture and pray that Monday morning’s tsunami of De Niro praising came from the loudest of the 1% and not the remaining 99%. I pray that the majority was silent because words failed them after witnessing people who seemed so gracious and accepting moments before, instantly pivot on a single word of vulgarity and belie their true thoughts and feelings while smiling. and cheering. and whistling. and applauding. on their feet. in support of a hateful polemic.

De Niro’s message was a selfish expression of hate. And it was loud.
Orin Wolf’s message was a call to unity, encouraging us to bridge “great political divides.”

But the message of that 28 second reveal stripped the audience of their credibility like a wizard behind a curtain.

It leaves me wondering who in the Tony’s audience that night is genuinely “part of a community that chooses to support that message” of unity?

and who is just acting?

Cheesy Sausage Pasta (with an Optional Kick)

This has become one of my son’s favorite dishes and I’ve taught him how to make it so I thought I’d document the process with photos for when he wants to make it again on his own. I’m thinking he might actually do it because besides the fact it’s one of his favorite meals, it only took him about a half an hour from start to finish, including gathering the ingredients, prepping them and actually cooking. (I apologize for the quality of the photos, I took them with my phone.)

I’ve broken this post up into four sections:
(click a link below to jump to each section)
1. Ingredients
2. My personal twists on the ingredients.
3. Personal notes to my son about the prep.
4. The cooking instructions.

Here are the Ingredients for those who Prefer Precise Measurements:

(this is for a double recipe because when I made a single recipe there were no leftovers and plenty of sadness)
2 tablespoons olive oil
½ chopped medium onion
2 tablespoons minced garlic
2 (13oz) packages of turkey sausage
4 cups chicken broth
2 (14 oz) cans diced tomatoes (undrained)
1 cup milk
2 (8oz) boxes of dry uncooked pasta
1 teaspoon pepper
salt to taste
1-2 cups water
8oz shredded cheese (cheddar, cheddar jack, Mexican mix, or your favorite)
¼-½ tsp of Red Pepper Flakes

Now here’s that list again, with my personal twists in parenthesis:
(If you want to skip right to the cooking directions click HERE)

olive oil (a few circles in the pan)

½ chopped medium onion
(I grab a bag of chopped onions from the freezer because I chop them in bulk and flash freeze them,
as shown in my post “5 minute onions in a flash freeze“)

2 tablespoons minced garlic
(We like us some garlic and we buy minced garlic in a jar,
so we tend to just plop a few heaping spoonfuls in,
regardless of what any recipe calls for. We actually ran out
of garlic the last time so we substituted garlic powder.)

2 (13oz) packages of turkey sausage
(I use precooked. Hillshire or Butterball, whatever is BOGO,
sliced lengthwise and then crosswise to make it go further
and be more evenly distributed throughout the dish.)

4 cups chicken broth
(Chicken broth can get expensive, so most of the time, I substitute
1 chicken bullion cube in one cup of water for one cup of chicken broth.)

2 (14 oz) cans diced tomatoes
(We go for no salt added because the sausage and the broth have plenty.
And we get petite diced, because we’ve discovered that
tomatoes are eaten much more often in this house when they are tiny.)

1 cup milk
(We use skim milk.
and Note to My Son: please use the same measuring cup
for the milk as you used for the chicken broth.)

2 (8oz) boxes of dry pasta
(We like bowtie or penne the best for this recipe
and we stock up on the BOGOs)

1 teaspoon pepper

salt to taste
(we don’t add any extra salt – again, because the chicken broth and sausage add enough.)

1-2 cups water
(I add just enough to cover the pasta because the liquid from the broth, tomatoes and milk isn’t usually enough.)

8oz shredded cheese
(8oz is a bag of shredded cheese and I’ve never used the entire bag.
We’ve used cheddar, cheddar jack, a blended Mexican mix – use your favorite)

Optional Kick – ¼-½ teaspoon of Red Pepper Flakes
(You don’t have to add this at all, but this is probably what makes this dish one of my son’s favorites.
I’ve added an entire teaspoon before, and while my husband and son liked it, the kick was a bit too much for me.

This next section contains Notes to My Son, so feel free to skip it and move on to the directions.

– Do yourself a favor. Gather and prep before you start cooking, it makes things much easier and faster.

– Take the onions out of the freezer so they can begin to thaw out. If we’re out of freezer
onions, use dried minced onions on the rack on the door of the pantry. Or you could actually chop a real onion. (insert Zak and Cody laugh here.)

– Open and crumble 4 bullion cubes in 2 cups of water and let them start melting, you can add the extra two cups of water to the pot later.

– If we’re out of garlic, use garlic powder – and don’t be stingy with it.

– Slice all the sausage. Don’t forget to bend your knuckle so you won’t cut your finger. Love, mom.

– Open the tomatoes before you start cooking. And then let the cat smell the lid when he comes running to prove to him you didn’t actually open a can of tuna.

– Don’t forget to cover the pan (with the correct lid) while it simmers.

Directions:

1. Heat the pan to medium high and swirl it with a few circles of olive oil.
2. Add onions and garlic and saute for about 2 minutes, stirring a few times.
3. Add the sausage and cook for about 3 to 4 minutes, stirring a few times (longer if you use uncooked sausage).
4. Add the 4 cups of chicken broth, 2 cans of tomatoes, 1 cup of milk, 1 teaspoon of pepper and the preferred amount red pepper flakes. Stir to mix everything up.
5. Add both boxes of pasta and stir to mix everything up.

After adding enough water to cover pasta.
Not enough liquid to cover pasta.
6. Add only as much water as needed to cover the pasta.
7. Bring to a boil.
8. Reduce heat, COVER and simmer for about 15 minutes or until pasta is cooked. Stir a few times because the pasta tends to stick to the bottom of the pan.
9. Turn off the heat and take the lid off, letting it sit for a few minutes.
10. Add about half the bag of cheese and stir to mix and melt, then add additional cheese to taste.

Enjoy!

A shout out to BudgetSavvyDiva.com for the original recipe that inspired this adaptation! I thank you and my son thanks you!

duplicity. duplicity everywhere.
whenever words and actions conflict, the actions carry the stronger – truer – message.

Buzz Lightyear and Woody Duplicity Everywhere

The following excerpt came to me via private message a few weeks before the 2016 presidential election:

“I enjoy a political discussion with someone who actually thinks, explores, and discusses – regardless of where we may agree or not. Although I couldn’t be more against Trump, I’ve invested in listening to him, tried to understand his positions, and tried to understand why his supporters can be so passionate.”

Mind you, this is just an excerpt – from which I gathered that the underlying assumption of this person was that I both supported Trump and that I was passionate about it. As I continued reading the rest of the message, I remembered something I saw in my facebook feed just a few days before I received this message. A quick click to their facebook wall. A few taps of the PgDn button on my keyboard and I found it.

A video meme with the caption: “REPUBLICANS RUSH TO CAST THEIR VOTES FOR DONALD TRUMP” and the looped video shows a big black hole in the middle of a vast field – with people speed walking straight toward it from all directions, their arms straight down by their sides to indicate a hypnotized zombie-like state. All the Trump voters were speed walking straight into a big black pit. You choose the message:
Are they sleepwalking?
Are they mindless and not paying attention?
Are they too blind to see the pit?
Are they just too stupid to avoid falling into it?
Or are they all insane because they are intentionally pit-bound?
(I won’t promote the video on my blog by embedding it. Here’s the link: if you want to add to the 3.1+ million views.)

As I watched the video on this person’s facebook wall loop over and over again and tried to reconcile it with the sentiment expressed in their private message, I suddenly heard Valerie’s voice yelling at Miracle Max:

See, I learned years ago that

whenever words and actions conflict, the actions carry the stronger – truer – message.

let me say that again.

whenever words and actions conflict, the actions carry the stronger – truer – message.

In this particular instance, the action of taking time and effort to post that video – and the mindset and motivation that led to posting that video – sent a stronger message than the seemingly patronizing invitation to be listened to with an attempt to “understand.”

#backtoyouValerie

And that video meme/private message dichotomy was NOT the only duplicity I was inundated with at that time – or since that time. Over the last year, there have been countless – and I sincerely mean COUNTless – posts by friends and family members mocking and deriding those who hold a different opinion than they do – on many issues. But IRL (in-real-life) conversations have been completely devoid of any acknowledgement that they hold strong negative opinions about people or that they expressed those opinions online by attacking “those people” with sarcasm, ridicule and outright contempt.

Not all who posted were 100% duplicitous. Some, (again assuming I was a “passionate Trump supporter”) actually blocked and/or unfriended me online while continuing (albeit awkward, Stepford and insincere) civil interactions with me in real life.

For instance, a family member posted:

“don’t give a f#&% who you are -friend, family, colleague – if you supported this man, unfriend me. Now. You have no place in my life.”

the day before taking the initiative to blatantly unfriend me, assuming I “supported” DT because I had the audacity to express an opinion that was intolerable by commenting that:

“talking about the character of HC and DT was like playing #GlobalThermonuclearWar.”

How that comment branded me a Trump supporter, I still don’t know.

It wasn’t the first time I’ve been shunned by a family member because of an unfounded assumption and I only see this person once a year at most so the biggest impact of this particular online unfriending was the significant reduction of the overused and one-size-fits-all adjective “f#&%ing” in my facebook news feed.

Of course, duplicity was the unacknowledged elephant in the room when the internet-infused courage of this person deflated like a day old birthday balloon during real life interactions: what happens online, stays online.

Except, it doesn’t.

We do not have compartmentalized lives: online and IRL. Everything we post online is an expression of who we are, what we believe, how we think and how we feel. Online attacks aren’t excused or diminished by someone saying they were “just upset when they posted that.”

Our words and actions, regardless of whether they are online or IRL, reveal something of our true beliefs and our character:

“…surely what a man does when he is taken off his guard is the best evidence for what sort of a man he is? Surely what pops out before the man has time to put on a disguise is the truth? If there are rats in a cellar you are most likely to see them if you go in very suddenly. But the suddenness does not create the rats: it only prevents them from hiding. In the same way the suddenness of the provocation does not make me an ill-tempered man: it only shows me what an ill-tempered man I am. The rats are always there in the cellar, but if you go in shouting and noisily they will have taken cover before you switch on the light.” [emphasis added] #IreadthereforeIquote
C. S. Lewis

People talking without speaking. People hearing without listening.
Why would anyone want to engage in conversation with someone who thinks they are stupid?

January 20th [2017].

I should NOT have gone on facebook.

So. much. hate.

contemptuous mocking. sarcasm. ridicule.

Not just for DT, but for everyone who doesn’t overtly hate him.

My facebook feed was toxic, repelling me away.

Post after meme after video after tweet after comment,
reiterating again and again and again and again and again
how stupid and intolerable anyone is if they don’t hate
DT – AND everyone who “supports” him.

I think I’ve actually been grieving. genuinely, profoundly sad.

not because DT is the president.

The long term impact (positive and/or negative) of these next four years is yet to be evidenced.

not because people think I’m [insert contemptuous label here] because I don’t hate the same people they do.

I’ve been hated and shunned for being different before. It’s no fun, but it’s nothing new.

I’m grieving because I can’t un-know what I’ve learned about so many people I genuinely liked and respected:

That they have the capacity to be so callously and unflinchingly VICIOUS towards people who believe differently than they do. And not just because of differences – the actual differences aren’t even being acknowledged, much less discussed. It’s the relentless derisive personal attacks on the character of people who believe differently.

This is the one that finally drove me away:

fbh8te

Burn in Hell? Seriously? Burn in HELL?

This person is saying this to their own facebook friends. People they know personally – and supposedly like. This is not the only post like this from this particular person, much less the only post like this from a number of other people in my facebook feed. and I only have about 300 friends. If I actually unfriended every person who demanded that “unfriend them right now!!” if I don’t hate DT or anyone who voted for him, that number would be even lower. I imagine my facebook feed is not the only one contaminated with this virulent stream of bigotry.

All this blatant cruelty leaves me with these nagging thoughts:

When someone mocks, ridicules or derisively condemns a group of people,

Do they not realize there’s a strong chance they have a personal relationship with someone they would identify as belonging to that group?

And if they do recognize that some of their friends are “those people,” do they not make the connection that they are mocking and ridiculing and condemning their friend? or family member?

Maybe they themselves didn’t mock anyone. Maybe they just liked or commented or shared a post that does.

Do they not realize that the action of liking, commenting and sharing validates the attack?

That it aligns them with the attacker?

stop-hate-peace-signDo they not realize it’s evidence that their “no H8te” duct tape selfie and the “STOP HATE” peace sign they posted are dishonest and betray their true beliefs?

And that despite the safety pin they wore or posted online, a percentage of their friends know that the only reason they are safe from outright attack from the safety pin bearer is that they’ve remained silent. under the radar. out of line of sight.

Not that silence keeps anyone safe from judgment and ostracization. Because lack of commiseration makes you suspect. The solidarity of those who hate DT is stronger than a red rover line of linebackers who just picked their nose. Nobody wants to risk going near that. Better to stay away. where it’s REALLY safe.

As a result, many of my facebook friends have been missing. Silent. For months.

I completely understand.

Why would anyone want to engage in conversation with someone who thinks they are stupid?
Why would anyone make themselves vulnerable to attack by someone who’s evidenced that they prefer to talk ABOUT them as an enemy than WITH them as a friend?

so. What have I’ve been grieving?

The loss of authentic friendships? or the loss of the illusion of those friendships?

The loss of my naivety? or the discovery that I didn’t know people as well as I thought I did.

Maybe people had misrepresented themselves and I only knew the persona they wanted me to know.

Whatever the reason, the breadth and cruelty – and tenacity – of these expressions of hatred and intolerance have genuinely shocked me.

I’m trying to tell myself that, in the long run, it’s better that I know the truth, not only about what some of my friends are capable of, but also what they think of me.

Right now, it doesn’t feel like it’s better.

All that interpersonal destruction aside, the question that comes back to me again and again is this:

When someone attacks, mocks, ridicules or derisively condemns, why is it that the validation of their opinions and beliefs seem to require and thrive on the ridicule of people who hold to different opinions and beliefs? Are the opinions and beliefs not strong enough to stand on their own merit?

“But there ain’t no point in talking when there’s nobody listening so we just ran away.”

It was facebook’s “On This Day” feature that prompted me.

Browsing through all my facebook posts on January 16th from 2010 through 2017 got me thinking. What had I posted on my blog on that date over the past few years?

One click on the drop down arrow of the archive list on my blog led me to the image above.

At first glance, it appeared I had only published posts during April, May and September of 2017. When I looked the listing of all my posts in chronological order, I realized I actually only published THREE POSTS in total last year.

But then I noticed this:

133 drafts. Admittedly, not all dated 2017. I didn’t do much writing last year. I scrolled back through the list, looking for the first unpublished post from 2017.

It was entitled “People talking without speaking, People hearing without listening.”

I read the post. I checked at the original creation date.

January 20, 2017.

I knew why I hadn’t clicked publish because I could hear Rod Stewart’s voice in my head:

“But there ain’t no point in talking when there’s nobody listening so we just ran away.”

Tomorrow is January 20th, one year later. I’m thinking this time next year there will be at least two posts listed in my blog archive for January 2018.

Chain Breaker (unmixed cover by Julie Stiles Mills)

It’s the day after a 12 hour/3 song recording session and I realize I haven’t posted any of the covers I’ve recorded in a while. Here’s one recorded June 30, 2017

“If you’ve got pain, He’s a pain taker. If you feel lost, He’s a way maker.
If you need freedom or saving, He’s a prison-shaking Savior.
If you’ve got chains, He’s a chain breaker”