Weekend Coffee Share: Friendship, Mickey Mouse, Flash Fiction & Waistlines

Hi everyone! Another weekend, and here I am, writing a Weekend Coffee Share and connecting with all of my blogger friends. How was your week? Please feel free to share. Here’s a link (here) for anyone who wants to join us on the Weekend Coffee Share (hosted by Nerd in the Brain).

This will be a relatively short weekend update as I am now officially on holiday for threeCheering weeks! Strike up the band and let the chorus cheer: YAAYYYYYY!

Who doesn’t love a holiday?

As my faithful followers will know, my dear friend from Great Britain is flying to the US to meet up with Mr. Loveton and I. We anticipate spending several days at America’s Mecca (aka Disney World and Universal Studios, Orlando, Florida) and then back to my home in Pennsylvania. I will then subject Ms. Britannia to several days of American history and meeting with various members of Ms. Loveton’s family. If the weather is nice, we will walk around Gettysburg, which was the premier battleround of the American Civil War. Most of all, we shall enjoy spirits (ahem… lots of spirits – and I don’t mean of the ghostly kind), good food and most of all, good friendship.

Needless to say, I am very excited!

I am also very busy with getting ready for our big visit. I hope to regale you with highlights from The Big Visit after Ms. Britannia departs these Yankee shores for those of Olde England. For those who don’t know, Ms. Britannia is my (and Mr. Loveton’s) wonderful friend, Belinda, and this is her second visit to the US to see us.

Life is strange. I met Belinda via an online writing group about five years ago. Despite a difference in age, culture and geography, we IMMEDIATELY clicked. Thousands of emails and many, many skype sessions later, here we are: getting ready to meet up for a second time. I love the sweet surprises Life unexpectedly sends our way.

MickeyWhile I am on holiday for the next several weeks, I have played with the idea of re-posting some of my favorite pieces of flash fiction that I’ve written over the past few years. I won’t have much time to blog in the coming weeks (Mickey Mouse is VERY demanding), so I thought re-posting a few flash fictions might keep my blog alive and keep your interest (hopefully). The pieces I will post are not overly long, but they are among my favorites. I hope you will read them and – please – if you enjoy them, let me know. Many thanks!

Now for a little good news: I have never entered a writing contest. To be honest, I tend to dismiss my fiction as mediocre and just a fun hobby. But on a lark, I ran across a post by Hey Look A Writer Fella (here) announcing the First Annual Sully Award. Interested participants were encouraged to write a 200 word flash fiction piece to enter the contest. I love flash fiction, and so I entered. To my very great surprise, I won the contest. With no false humility, I will tell you that I was flabbergasted and thrilled and happy. I am so impressed with the writing of others whose blogs I follow. I never would have thought I’d win any sort of award. It was a BIG boost to my confidence to win this award, and I walked around with a HUGE smile on my face all week. If you read the entries from the various writers who participated in the contest, you will understand why. Some great writers entered the content, and I’m not kidding when I tell you I was surprised (and humbled) to win. So, that was the highlight of this past week.

A few of you who have followed me over the past few years know that I struggle with my weight. Now, to be honest, I am fifteen pounds overweight. I was a person who was always thin until I reached my fifties. I could eat ANYTHING I wished, and never gain an ounce. No more. Now I have to watch what I eat and (dreaded words) EXERCISE DAILY to keep the weight off.

I’m a foodie. I love going out to eat. Eating is a SOCIAL occasion for me. I love to sit at the bar and talk to people, have a glass of wine or two, and try various delectables on the menu. I also love to go to gourmet restaurants and eat wonderful, elaborate, multi-course meals with wine pairings. Alas, my waistline refuses to get in line with my desires.

corset11I was moaning to Mr. Loveton that I’m not as thin as I used to be, but I hate dieting and it is hard to fit exercise into every day. Mr. Loveton, being a man and NEVER gaining weight, doesn’t get this. Seriously, the man NEVER gains weight. Even so, he looked at me and said, “I think you look fine. You look good – healthy and pretty and you enjoy life.” (I think I’ve mentioned in my last weekend coffee share that Mr. Loveton’s eyesight should be checked – but in this instance, I’m willing to let it slide…).

I get more disgusted about my weight issues than those around me do. They think I look fine. I’m not a super model. I’m so hyper critical of myself. Can any of you relate?

The reason I bring this up is that a good friend of mine has been walking in a dark valley lately. Her mom is only in her fifties, but last year was diagnosed with an aggressive form of cancer. Along with pain, she is unable to eat and is steadily losing weight. She exists on medically approved, vitamin enriched ‘milk shakes’ in a hopeless quest to gain weight.

Talking with my friend, it occurred to me how ridiculous (and ungrateful) I am to complain about my inability to lose fifteen pounds. Truth is, I could cut calories drastically, exercise fiendishly, and I could lose the weight. But to what avail? Where would the conviviality and enjoyment I get in sharing a meal and a glass of wine with loved ones and friends go? At the end of my life, will those fifteen pounds matter? I don’t think so. I think I will be remembering the joy of shared meals and social occasions. I will never be as thin as I was 20 years ago. So what? I would much rather be a bit overweight than struggling to gain weight due to illness. That will come to all of us at some point. I intend to enjoy life while I can.

getty_rm_photo_of_friends_drinking_wine_at_dinnerI hope all of you enjoy your life, too. Society, culture, television, movies: they try to seduce us into believing that if we look a certain way, then we will have value. The truth is that value lies in our relationship with others, our joy in the moments we live, in the memories we make. Have that glass of wine, enjoy that dessert. Practice moderation, but don’t beat yourself up. At the end of your life, will anyone care about your waistline? And if they do, were they worthy of your care or attention? I don’t think so. Hopefully, you don’t either.

Please come visit my blog while I’m on holiday. I hope you enjoy the flash fictions I am going to re-post. And while you’re reading, if you want to have a piece of chocolate or a dish of ice cream, Kate says it’s okay! Life is awfully short – and chocolate is good.  Very good!

©2017 All Rights Reserved Kate Loveton, Odyssey of a Novice Writer

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Coffee

 

Posted in #Weekend Coffee Share, About Me, Challenges & Contests, Friendship, My Fiction, My Life, My Writing Odyssey, Writing | Tagged , | 7 Comments

The Sully Award Winner!

I won an award! I am shocked, humbled and thrilled! I have never competed in a contest before and this was such a boost to me. This is the first Annual Sully Award.

Please check out the other fine writers who participated. I think you will enjoy their entries! 😃

heylookawriterfellow

First things first: I owe everyone an apology.

I was supposed to announce the winner of The Sully Award for Excellence in Writerishness last week, but the days got away from me.

The reason: Easter Week.

For many, many years I have avoided hosting holiday family gatherings. This is primarily because my home is “Entertaining Hostile.” That is to say the rooms are small and have no flow, there isn’t enough seating, and I own only one, small TV.

Another reason for never hosting  family gatherings is because, well, I didn’t wanna.

Things tend to break and get messy when people come over. And the more people who come over, the messier and break-ier things get.

Allegra holiday family gatherings average about 13 people. That’s a potentially huge amount of messiness and breakiness.

Normally the Easter Saturday gathering is the responsibility of my aunt and uncle (who owned a huge house and approximately 92…

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Posted in My Fiction, My Writing Odyssey, Writing | 23 Comments

Weekend Coffee Share: Sore Throats, Blindness & Dumping the ‘Shoulds’

Like an uneasy thief bungling in the dark, plundering goodies belonging to another, I find myself surreptitiously stealing a weekend just for me.  I am ‘chilling,’ as they say. Filling my weekend hours with self-indulgence and reckless, heedless nothingness.

Truth be told, I find it just a little exhausting.  I have trouble drowning out my internal list of ‘shoulds’ any time  I attempt to steal a few moments for things that don’t line up with what I feel I need to accomplish during those two days of grace.

I’m guessing most working women feel this tug of war between our need for a little self-gratification versus what we think we must get done during the weekend.  We know that if we put off doing what must be done, we will pay for it during the week.  Sometimes, though, you really need to take some time for yourself.

sore-throat-got-me-like-5958847I learned that this week when I ended up with a vicious sore throat that put me out of action for four or five days.  Have you ever had one of those sore throats that feels like someone has stuck an ice pick into the side of your throat – and left it there?  As our President might say, it was ‘bigly’ bad!  I found myself unable to swallow, to sleep, to concentrate.  And it wasn’t until a visit to the doctor and some meds that I finally began to feel better toward the end of the week.

Until then, I’d been running about much like the proverbial chicken minus his head, trying to do all things and be all things.  My body finally said, “Whoa! Get a grip, woman!  Take some time, or I’m gonna make you take it!”

So, I’m gifting myself with a ‘Me Weekend’ before the beginning of the new work week.  I figure it is my last opportunity to decompress before the biggest stressor ever created by Modern Man take place:  The Vacation.

That’s right – The Vacation.  In three weeks time, I will be on holiday.  I am greatly looking forward to a break of several weeks from the office.  There’s just one catch.

Every year right before The Vacation, I go into overdrive.  Because I know I will be on holiday for several weeks, I work like a fiend at my place of employment.  I try not only to get the work at hand completed, but also any work that may come up during my absence.  It involves alerting (warning?) people that I’ll be out of the office so if they wish to have something accomplished during that time that would normally involve me, they’d better plan ahead and let me know now.

frank-modell-i-suppose-you-know-you-re-spoiling-that-dog-new-yorker-cartoonBecause we have two dogs and my husband is adverse to the idea of putting them into even a ‘country club’ kennel, we have someone stay at our home during the weeks we are away.  We are lucky – we have a lovely couple who stay with our two dachshunds and treat them in the lordly manner to which they have grown accustomed.  Nice idea. However, this creates extra work for me.  Now I feel the need to go into a cleaning frenzy and get the house organized for the people who will be living, sleeping and eating there.

My husband doesn’t get my need to reorganize our closets, pantry, utensil drawers, and on and on.  He gets slightly irritated with me as I’m vacuuming the carpets as we’re trying to head out the door to drive to the airport.  I try to explain that he’s walked on the carpet, leaving footprints in the nap, and thus I must vacuum away the evidence of his existence so that everything looks pristine and untouched.

He thinks I’m nuts.

I envy his lack of concern about housekeeping.  Adopting his easygoing attitude would certainly make my mental and physical life a lot easier.  Sometimes I wonder if it is just his attitude – or if it comes down to gender.  Right or wrong, I often think that women are more harshly judged on the state of a house’s neatness than a man.  People tend to let men off the hook when it comes to a state of ‘casual messiness.’  Women are still viewed as THE HOMEMAKERS.  If the house is not neat and organized, what’s up with the wife?  Is she lazy?  (Couldn’t she put the darned book down long enough to clean out the spice drawer?)

The heck with Equal Pay!  I want society to judge men with the same yardstick as a woman when it comes to a neat and well dusted, vacuumed house.  When was the last time you watched a man dust the window sills?  Tell me something, when you visit a couple’s house and you can write the baseball score on the coffee table by twirling your index finger through the accumulated dust – is your first thought to blame the husband?  Nah – it’s his lazy wife.  (Um… that would be me, sitting by the window, reading Jeffrey Archer’s latest novel… .)

Ah, well, that’s life.

You know, I wasn’t always quite so relaxed about housekeeping.  Aside from the pre-vacation frenzy I throw myself into, I have become a lot more casual in my week-to-week housekeeping.  Part of this is because I’m usually pretty done-in from the week at work and the daily highway wars.  The other part of it is marriage.

It wears ya down!

Before meeting Mr. Loveton, I was extremely organized.  There was a place for everything – and you can bet the farm that everything was in its place.  I used to wipe out the sink with a paper towel every time I turned on the tap for a glass of water.  There were so many sealed containers of Tupperware in my refrigerator (labeled by food item and expiration date, of course) that you might have assumed I had stock in the company that manufactured those plastic icons of the seventies.  My crowning achievement was the spice drawer, where all bottles of spices were lined up alphabetically.  I found that very comforting for some reason.  Color me neurotic.spicedrawer

And then I married Mr. Loveton.

A man who had no respect for my alphabetization of herbs and spices, who laughed at my beloved spice drawer, and who would often whisk a bottle of cinnamon into the refrigerator when haphazardly clearing away the breakfast meal.  A man who brought dogs (and dog fur) and stray outdoor cats into my life.  A man who unconsciously  trails birdseed from the backyard porch to the bird feeders.  A man who leaves towels hanging over the shower rod, and then smiles sheepishly when I explain that is what towel racks are for.  As if he didn’t know!

Men and women.  Viva la difference?

I say all this with tongue planted firmly in cheek.  Mr. Loveton has also brought a lot of joy and laughter into my life.  I just wish he liked my alphabet system a little more.  And respected my spice drawer.

I also wish he’d get his eyes checked.  I think he may have a vision problem.

I have keen eyesight.

daschund_oversized_glassesAs soon as I enter one of the rooms in our house, I can immediately notice: cracks in the drywall; doggy ‘snoot juice’ on the lower panes of the French doors; windows that need cleaning; dust on window sills; splatters on the splashguard above the stove.

Mr. Loveton sees none of these things.

I am definitely scheduling his eye exam for next week.  I don’t quite understand how a man so blind can continue to drive a car.

Anyway, I’m adding that to the list of ‘shoulds’ that I need to take care of before The Vacation.

Which reminds me of a related matter.  My friend from the UK is also vacationing with us – and then coming back to stay at our house for several days before returning to England.  I was telling Mr. Loveton of the many things we should do to have her room nice and to get the house in good order.

He says everything is fine.  Everything ‘looks’ good to him.  (Note to self:  schedule Mr. Loveton’s eye exam for first thing Monday morning.  Do not wait!)

He says that our friend is here to ‘see’ us, not judge our housekeeping skills.

Ouch.

My heart – reasoned and working soundly – knows this is so.  And I’m thankful that I do indeed know it.

I just need to remember it!

Many of us wear ourselves out with our to-do lists.  We get a headache listening to the ‘shoulds’ constantly ringing in our ears.  Instead of enjoying the moment, people like me are often spending it worrying about the unimportant stuff.  How clean does a house have to be?  How organized?  Maybe being comfortable is more important than a little snoot juice on the bottom pane of the French Doors?  Maybe warmth and love is a little nicer than worrying that the saffron is where the cinnamon should be?  And maybe (this is a BIGLY one for me) it isn’t necessary to vacuum just as we’re heading out the door for the airport.

Maybe it’s about relationship and not organization.

mary-and-marthaI think Christ was trying to explain that to Martha and Mary when he visited their home.  Martha was all in a tizzy, trying to cook the meal, clean the house, tidy up and organize everything just so.  Meanwhile, her sister, Mary, was in the living room, sitting back and shooting the breeze with Jesus, instead of helping her frazzled sister.  Martha finally blew up and said to Jesus, “Hey, why don’t you tell her to get off her butt and come help me in the kitchen?!”  (This is the Kate Loveton translation, folks – you won’t find this in your KJV.)

I always sympathized with Martha each time I read this story.  It seemed to me that Martha was doing all the work to make everything nice, and Mary was sort of sitting back, chatting and drinking a diet Coke.  Or white wine spritzer.

But Jesus doesn’t see it that way.  He actually said Mary understood what was important, and that Martha should chill out and maybe smell the roses a bit.  (Again this is the Kate Loveton translation.)

No one could ever accuse Jesus of having poor eyesight.  He saw things pretty darned clearly.  He saw life is about relationship – and that our ‘shoulds’ and ‘to-dos’ must always take a backseat to what is important: love and friendship.

Like granny used to say, “Five minutes after you’re dead, the floor will still need another scrubbing, so let’s just sit ourselves down, have glass of sweet tea and visit for a while.”

Granny never wore glasses either.

Guess I won’t make that eye exam appointment for Mr. Loveton.  Maybe his vision isn’t so bad.

Have a nice week, everyone.  And when you’re looking around you this week, make sure you see what’s important.  Take a little time to chill and enjoy a glass or two of sweet tea with someone you love.

©2017 All Rights Reserved Kate Loveton, Odyssey of a Novice Writer

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Please join the fun at the Weekend Coffee Share, hosted by Nerd in the Brain (here).  Let us know what’s happening with you!

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Posted in #Weekend Coffee Share, About Me, Family, Friendship, Love, My Life | Tagged , , , , | 10 Comments

Weekend Coffee Share: Dance!

Do you like to dance?ballet2

I must admit, my senses love it, but my uncoordinated body seldom cooperates with the cool vision in my head. In the depths of my soul, a driving rhythm calls me out onto the dance floor. My heart and mind quicken, and I feel an overwhelming desire to move to the music, to give myself to it. To celebrate being alive!

Alas, I am one of the unlucky few born without the ability to follow a musical beat. I hear the beat, but my toes, fingers and arms refuse to keep time. It makes for interesting viewing for those watching from the sidelines.

As for this poor dancer, my clumsy body’s inability to join in the dance and celebrate in a manner both appealing and appropriate is a source of continuing embarrassment.

I think dancing must be one of the most human ways in which we celebrate being alive. It may be one of the earliest responses we have to joy.

I try to hold onto that thought when I am about two beats behind everyone else on the dance floor.

I was thinking about humanity’s love of dancing today while working on a piece of Bible journaling. Psalm 30:11 says, “You have turned my mourning into dancing.” I like this verse. How often in life do we cry? We cry out while enduring personal loss. We cry in sympathy as those we love experience hard times. We continually cry out against injustice.

Whatever the reason, we cry. We mourn.

And then, like a sunny morning after too many days of dark, lashing raindrops, we suddenly experience joy. Not merely a calmness of spirit, but unexpected and deep, pulsating joy. The kind of joy that makes us want to leap up in unrestrained, ecstatic movement! We want to laugh! We want to love!

We want to join the dance of life again.

One of the stories of the Old Testament that has always struck me with its authenticity is that of King David and his joyful, undignified dance before the Lord when he rescued the Ark of God and carried it into Jerusalem.

For several decades, the Ark had been in enemy hands, and the people of Israel deeply mourned its loss. You see, the Ark signified to Israel God’s presence in their midst. Without it, they felt anchorless – they felt as though they were orphans.

With the Ark restored to Israel, both David and the people rejoiced. It was a great occasion, full of pageantry and celebration. Giving in to his joy, David put aside both crown and royal garb, and publicly danced before the Lord clad only in lowly linen. His wife, watching from a window, was appalled at his lack of dignity, and it was the end of their marriage.

There are always those who will frown when you dance with joy.

You know what? I rather like the idea of David leaping and prancing with happy the_joy_of_the_redeemed_king_david_dancing_2abandon before his God. The spontaneity of it, the utter joy of the moment encourages me. It reminds me that no matter how undignified my own body’s movements, the expression of joy is what matters. It is the heart’s physical expression of exaltation that’s important, not the judgment of those who sit on the sidelines and make censorious comments.

This evening, I finished watching the Stephen King miniseries, ’11.22.63.’ It was an engaging show, but not one that really tugged at my heart until the very end. At the conclusion of the last episode, one of the main characters recited a poem:

We did not ask for this room or this music; we were invited in.
Therefore, because the dark surrounds us,
Let us turn our faces toward the light.
Let us endure hardship to be grateful for plenty.
We have been given pain to be astounded by joy.
We have been given life to deny death.
We did not ask for this room or this music.
But because we are here, let us dance.

I loved this! The party, arranged long before any of us were born, awaits us. We have the invitation. Will we dance? Or will we be wallflowers, sitting in lonely chairs, watching and passing judgment on those who kick up their heels and dance to a tune that would call us in – if only we would let it. If only we could drop our awareness of ‘self’ just long enough to give in to the joy of life, the actual gift of ‘being.’

With Easter season upon us, I remember a song a wonderful man used to sing with those of us who attended his church in our youth. This man, our now departed pastor, always encouraged us to let our hearts and souls dance. He reminded us that someone greater than us also had to contend with harsh judgment and restrictions that others sought to place upon Him.

I danced in the morning when the world was begun
I danced in the Moon, and the stars, and the Sun
I came down from Heaven and I danced on Earth
At Bethlehem I had my birth.

I danced for the scribe and the Pharisee
They would not dance, they wouldn’t follow me
So I danced for the fishermen James and John
They came with me and the Dance went on.

I danced on the Sabbath and cured the lame
The holy people, they said it was a shame!
They whipped and stripped and then hung me high
Left me there on a cross to die!

I danced on a Friday when the sky turned black
It’s hard to dance with the devil on your back
They buried my body and they thought I’d gone
But I am the Lord of the Dance and I still go on!

Dance then, wherever you may be
For I am the Lord of the Dance, said he!
I’ll lead you all, wherever you may be
And I’ll lead you all in the dance, said he!

Dancing is the purest expression of joy, I think. I hope you find laughter and joy during the coming week – and most of all, I hope you kick up your heels and dance a little. You may feel like you weren’t invited to the dance, but the party awaits you. Dance like no one is watching! Laugh! Bubble over with joy!

jitterbugdancers

The dance goes on. You are here but for a brief moment. Spend as much of it as you can in your own unique and crazy, joyful dance.

©2017 All Rights Reserved Kate Loveton, Odyssey of a Novice Writer

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Please join the fun at the Weekend Coffee Share, hosted by Nerd in the Brain (here).  Let us know what’s happening with you!

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Square Dancing and Captain Kirk

Coffee

Well, Weekend Writing Warriors, here I am again! As usual, I am chiming in at the last minute with my Weekend Coffee Share. I hope you will forgive me for the lateness of the hour. Truth is, I worked several twelve-hour days this week, and then had to catch up with chores and everything else under the sun these past two days. I’m sure those of you who cram your writing into a few free hours on Saturdays and Sundays will understand and forgive me. I know my faithful followers will also forgive me if I am running a bit behind in reading your blogs and catching up. I promise to catch up this week and appreciate your forbearance.

So, what can I tell you about this past week? It was full, but to put it down in writing makes it seem less interesting than it was.

The reality is that life is made up of a lot of seemingly mundane moments. Yet it is in those moments that a lifetime is made. Thus, while what I have to say won’t be earth shattering, I’m sure many of my more thoughtful readers will relate.

One very nice thing occurred last night. Mr. Loveton and I finally managed to friendship-word-written-two-pieces-puzzle-34477808keep a dinner date with friends of some twenty-five years standing. We hadn’t seen this couple in about four years. My fault, I must admit. With my mom’s declining health and all the things I feel I must accomplish in a weekend, I was remiss in catching up with these lovely people. Very bad of me – as I admitted to them. It’s a wonderful thing that I have very good taste in friends: they didn’t hold it against me, but warmly welcomed us back ‘into the fold’ and we had a lovely dinner with wine and accompanying courses at our favorite restaurant.

Our conversation was heartening and affectionate. We caught up on what had been happening to the four of us, and then we exchanged lots of memories about the various trips we’d shared and there was much laughter about happy moments from the past.

In the midst of our conversation, I realized that life is good. It is also fleeting. Perhaps the very rapidity with which these moments pass makes them all the more precious. All I can say is that at the end of the evening,  Mr. Loveton and I left our friends, and felt enriched, loved and very blessed. We also set a date to get together again in June – no more the passing of years before catching up with dear friends. Life is too short – and there will always be some reason or excuse that keeps us from sharing our lives with those we love. The trick is in realizing this and not giving in to the weariness or the challenges that prevent us from sharing our lives.

I have thought a lot about relationships this past week. Perhaps I have been in a philosophical mood. Or perhaps the realization that a long time friend of mine is moving to another state has made me reflect on what friendship means. Whatever the reason, I’ve been thinking about friendship a lot.

What struck me is that relationships are rather like engaging in the old fashioned American square dance.

In a square dance, partners start out together, and then weave in and out of the dance with other partners, all to the lyrical instructions of the dance’s ‘caller.’  In the end, diligent partners end up together as the dance concludes its final steps. Those not quite as observant (or rhythmic!) end up searching for their partners.

american-square-dance

Isn’t that sort of like our lives? We begin friendships with people, sure that we are destined to be friends for life… but then the dance begins and we switch partners and perhaps never again see those we started out with.

I have friends who occasionally check in with me. It’s a very brief ‘kiss kiss’ thing in text or on Facebook. Yet they never ask about my mom or how I’m doing. They don’t share the everydayness of my life. When I attempt to check in with them, I receive a brief return text, but nothing meaningful. Why? Because good intentions aside, life is busy.

Well, life is too busy, I guess. I’m so glad that my husband and I were able to slow down our lives for a moment and meet up with our friends for an evening. I am glad we set a date for June to see them again.

You see, sometimes, you have to look for your original partner in the square dance. Otherwise, you may lose them forever. Don’t lose your friends forever. If there was ever something meaningful there, remember it – and reach out.

Life is too short to be too busy.

Thinking about friendships this week, I got to thinking about my friend in the UK. She and I have been close for about four or five years now. We live an ocean apart – yet our friendship is as if she lived down the street. Why do you think that is?

1046439-Royalty-Free-RF-Clip-Art-Illustration-Of-Cartoon-Friends-Talking-Over-Coffee

It’s because we share the ups and downs of our lives. She knows what is going on every day of my life. I know the same about her. We write each other daily. We skype every other week – imagine virtual online coffee gab sessions!   We are intimately involved in the details of one another’s lives. We support one another, we share joy and tears. We share ‘relationship.’

So, it is not distance that cools friendships. I guess it is just life, a lack of time – and eventually, a lack of caring.

The square dance caller sings out, “Change your partners, round and round you go,” and we weave in and out of the dance, changing partners just as we do relationships. It’s the dance of life. And at the conclusion of the dance, I suppose we end up with the partners we were paying attention to during the busyness of life.

Lately, I have gotten involved in something called ‘Bible journaling.’ I have always read the Bible, and I have always been a lover of anything having to do with crafts: drawing, quilting, cross-stitch, rug making, painting. You name it, and you will find evidence of it in my craft room. Mr. Loveton just smiles at whichever craft overtakes me at any given moment.

This week, I attempted to make a drawing from one of my favorite Bible verses. The results are here.

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Let’s be honest: I am not particularly compassionate, kind or humble. These are virtues I place great value on, but which I do not possess in fullness.

I was thinking about this the other day as I was attempting to express this particular verse in art . I am a pretty snarly, bossy and aggressive person most days of the week. Okay, okay… every day of the week! So, the words convict me. (We won’t even touch on my moodiness!)

Then I got to thinking about an episode from the original Star Trek series. For those of you who are not ‘Trekkies’ like this old broad, I will tell you that in this particular episode, Captain James Kirk was beaming up in the transporter room and somehow his personality was split into two. The gentle side of Kirk morphed into one physical being, and the gritty, aggressive side of Kirk morphed into another.

What Kirk and the crew of the Enterprise soon realized is that Kirk needed to be put back together. The gritty side of him needed the softer, more compassionate part of his nature; and the gentler side was too meek without the more aggressive and self-seeking aspect of his personality.

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I think there was a lot of wisdom in that episode. I think to function as a full human being we need to embrace both the kinder aspects of our nature as well as that part of us which makes us uncomfortable. I leave it to our brains to govern both sides and figure out when best to let either side have control.

When I read the Old Testament, I see that Jacob, Moses and David were strong, loving men. They were capable of great compassion, friendship, loyalty. They loved God greatly. They were also capable of trickery, and taking advantage of a situation for their own purposes. So, what was their saving grace? I think it was their love of God and willingness to accurately gauge their behavior, even if after the fact. They could learn from their mistakes.

I would like to be more compassionate, kind and humble. I keep trying. But you know what? I also embrace the coarser aspects of who I am. I need both my gentle nature and the one I often abhor to be an authentic human being. I need to govern both halves of my personality, not give full rein to either. God wants me to be good and kind, but He doesn’t want me to be a patsy. Read the Old Testament. Heck, read the New Testament. I guess if a rough fisherman like Peter, who denied Christ three times, who often spoke rashly and ignorantly, and who was jealously concerned about his place in the Kingdom… well, I guess if he is acceptable, so am I. God likes strong people. Maybe true humility is just realizing we are fully human, but not accepting that as an excuse for horrific behavior.

And I guess that takes me back to the square dance. We weave in and out of situations and the mundanity of daily life. We are always who we are. We change partners, but seldom do we change fundamentally who we are.

But we can! And that is the beauty of being human. We embrace both halves of our nature… but we try – oh yes we try! – to strive toward something just a bit higher.

And, on that note, I wish all of you a good week. As you engage in your own personal square dance, I wish you warm friendship, that you be at peace with who you are, and that you experience joy in the everydayness of your lives.

©2017 All Rights Reserved Kate Loveton, Odyssey of a Novice Writer

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Please join the fun at the Weekend Coffee Share, hosted by Nerd in the Brain (here).  It’s great fun – and we’d love to know what is happening with you!

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Alphabet Soup Stories: G is for George

coffin

“What’s with the dog?” asked James, settling into the folding chair near his brother.

Stuart brushed the lapel of his Brooks Brothers coat before answering. “I haven’t a clue. He was lying next to the casket when I arrived. Fitting, though – just the sort of mutt George might have latched onto. Since when are dogs allowed in funeral homes?”

The dog stared at the brothers. His milky, tea-colored eyes were sorrowful.

“Speaking of mutts,” said James, “did you notice the character in the back of the room?”

“Rather hard to miss since he’s the only one here besides you, me and the dog.”

“Think he’s one of George’s converts?”

“More likely one of his AA pals. Those people do hang on.”

The brothers were silent, thinking of George’s plunge from businessman to drunk and then sidewalk preacher.

“Wonder what Father would make of this,” mused James.

“He’d give thanks that the old boy’s death ends a sorry family chapter.”

“George was a good man,” muttered the man from the back of the room.

James rose. “Let’s go, Stuart. We’ve stayed long enough to pay our respects.”

The dog never raised his head as they walked past the casket.

©2017 All Rights Reserved Kate Loveton, Odyssey of a Novice Writer

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This 199 word flash fiction is written in response to the Sully Award Competition hosted by Mike Allegra of ‘Hey Look a Writer Fellow.’  The competition can be found here.

This story will be continued in the next Alphabet Soup Stories, tentatively titled “H is for Hope.”  I had to cut the story short for the 200 word limit for the Sully contest, but there is a lot more to come.

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Weekend Coffee Share: Groundhogs, Girl Scouts & Stephen King

Coffee

Can it really be the weekend already?  Seems like I just posted last weekend’s coffee share.  Time goes by much too quickly for my liking.

Having said that, I’ll now backtrack.  When it comes to winter, time cannot pass quickly enough for this Pennsylvanian!

Seduced by a virtually snowless January and February, and caressed by temperatures in the balmy seventies several times throughout the winter, I was convinced that Punxsutawney Phil, the world’s most devious groundhog, was smoking some really good stuff when he prognosticated six more weeks of winter. I mean, seriously, folks: I was getting ready to dust off my bathing suit and declare winter DEAD. But nooooo – on February 2nd, that fat little rodent’s body cast its shadow, and subjected me to six more weeks of winter slop and malaise.

PhilI hate groundhogs, especially those from Punxsutawney.

I’m a rational woman and I live in the 21st century, so how much credence should I place in a furry old woodchuck’s weather prediction?  NONE!

Well… that is what I was saying to myself last Monday afternoon when there was a definite feeling of spring in the air.

But that damned rodent was correct.  In the wee hours of Tuesday morning, we got hammered by a nor’easter that brought significant sleet and snowfall – and plunged us back into the frigid depths of WINTER.  From spring-like temperatures we went to well below freezing. How is that possible? It’s more than crazy; it’s an affront to God and all that is holy!

The Corporation I work for closed its offices in advance of the storm. They apparently trusted Phil more than I did. Because the roads were so icy once the snow stopped falling, I spent an additional day at home, cursing all groundhogs and working on my laptop.

Which brings me to the topic of working from home.  I’m not a fan of it.

Maxine

Why?  Because I work too hard when I’m at home!  This means that when I say I’m going to work, I work. I don’t pop laundry into the dryer; I don’t paint my fingernails; I don’t watch soap operas. I really do work.

And that’s the problem. When I’m at the office, I enjoy the camaraderie of my colleagues, the coffee breaks, the people who stop by my desk to chat. At home, it’s me and the computer. Mano a mano, we are locked in a fierce battle to accomplish the day’s objectives, with me fully cognizant that at any given minute a work colleague may send me an email. What if I step away and miss it? Will they think I’m slacking off?  Oh, no!  Not me!

While in the office, I don’t feel this burning need to immediately answer every email I receive but when working from home, it is different.  My ‘good girl’ nature takes over.

girl scout salutingI blame Sally Groves’ mother for this. Sally was a neighborhood pal whose mother was our Girl Scouts’ leader. That woman drummed into my impressionable head that it was our duty to God and country to never lie, to be productive citizens and to help other people at all times. Whenever I am tempted to slack off or do something seemingly harmless, I hear Mrs. Groves’ high pitched voice telling me what my duty is to God and country – and the world at large.

St. Francis Xavier said, “Give me the child until he is seven and I’ll give you the man.”

I think Mrs. Groves subscribed to this credo. I am the woman she fashioned me to be from a young child:  a drudge.

I was happy to get back to the office on Thursday – I needed the rest.

What other similarly fascinating things can I share with you from the past week?

As you know, I am trying to write fiction in my off hours, not that there are many of them. It is a continuing challenge to find the time and the energy to write after a full day of work and fighting the highway wars. You know what I mean by highway wars, right? The constant maneuvering around other cars and 18-wheelers to get to one’s destination before the hair turns gray? Sitting in traffic has become a pastime for me. I spend a lot of time in my car. If it had a shower and kitchenette, I could probably live in it.

I have latched on to a new author – sort of. I am reading Robert Galbraith’s detectiveIMG_3875[441] novel, ‘The Cuckoo’s Calling.’ I had never heard of Galbraith but I love detective novels, so when my pal, Belinda, mentioned I should give his books a try, I was all in.  This one has a strong central character with a good back story, and I’m greatly enjoying the novel. Imagine my surprise to learn that Mr. Galbraith is in fact a female writer, and a famous one at that. Galbraith is the pseudonym used by J.K. Rowling for her detective novels.

I had read the first Harry Potter novel by Rowling, and I enjoyed it. I didn’t feel a compelling urgency to read the others, however. I may have to remedy that.  Maybe.

Since we’re chatting about authors, I will share with you that Mr. Loveton and I are watching the miniseries adapted from Stephen King’s novel, ‘11.23.63,’ about a high school teacher who travels back in time to prevent JFK’s assassination. I love time travel stories. I love Stephen King stories. I love JFK. This is definitely a win-win scenario for me. The miniseries is on Hulu in the US, and we discovered it Friday night. While we have only watched two episodes, the series is a big hit with Mr. Loveton. I like it too.

But, Gentle Readers, tell me:  what is up with Stephen King’s need to write in a vomit scene in every book that he writes?  I have learned NOT to read Stephen King’s novels while eating lunch.  If I should, there is no guarantee my lunch will stay down.

King

Reading one of his vomit scenes?

So, of course, there was the obligatory vomit scene in the TV miniseries, ‘11.23.63.’  Seriouly, friends, I really don’t need to see TV stars vomit on television shows.  Heck, I don’t even like to see my dogs vomit.  So, note to the very talented Mr. King:  Could you maybe, pretty please, write some stuff where people don’t upchuck all over the place?  Thank you, your slightly green fan, Kate Loveton.

And that, Gentle Readers, wraps up this weekend’s coffee share. I hope your week was a good one, and that the coming one will be even better. Until next time, be good to yourself – and to others! If you can find the time, join the weekend coffee share generously hosted by Nerd in the Brain  (here).  We’d love to know what’s going on with you.

© 2017 All Rights Reserved Kate Loveton, Odyssey of a Novice Writer

 

Posted in #Weekend Coffee Share, My Life | Tagged , , , | 19 Comments