Recycling Christmas Cheer throughout the Coming New Year

Of the left-over items from the holiday season, CHRISTMAS CARDS may present the most perplexing puzzlement of all.


Christmas cards have become somewhat of a societal anomaly, after all. Where letters have transitioned into e-mails and passing thoughts get texted without enough thought, Christmas cards are one of the few remaining print expressions that actually still (most often) travel through snail mail – frequently from those who we’ve not truly heard from in ages past, despite potential social networking opportunities that often reveal very little beyond “it’s complicated.”

Perhaps because they’re a little more festive or maybe because we try to imagine the people opening their postal boxes, then opening our cards, we take a little more time in their preparation. After choosing a card (or making one) that conveys our personalities (or maybe our children’s growth), sometimes we buy fancy colored pens that glitter, or make a trip to the post office to buy season-appropriate stamps, or tuck a special thought or a little gift inside. Whatever the case, the recipient is left to understand that he/she was “special enough” to have been gifted with this extra effort.

Therein lies the quandary – what to do with this special endowment once the holiday season has passed. When the halls are no longer dutifully decked – and the house is no longer a jolly wreck…when everything around you appears sterile once more…what do you do with the remaining evidence of others’ thoughtful Christmas spirits? Do you just throw them into the trash – to be carried off and tossed onto a garbage heap? How very un-green (and red) of you!

Christmas Left-overs for Fun Recycling at our Home

Christmas Left-overs for Fun Recycling at our Home

How about some GREEN Christmas Card Re-Cycling Ideas that will continue to spread Christmas Cheer instead?

  1. Okay, here’s the most obvious “re-cycling” idea. Choose some of your favorite cards and cut out pieces to make your own homemade Christmas cards next year. Don’t do it on your own though – how does that spread any Christmas cheer? Have a little card-making party. If you want to wear silly sweaters and do it with your BFF’s, fine. But instead of setting yourself up to say, “I thought we’d never come back from that one” (yes, that was an eye roll)…What if you included some young, glue-sticky hands in your fun? Invite the creative energy of kids to join you (e.g., youth group, boy or girl scouts, children’s church, foster kids, mission trip kids – wherever you might be able to get involved). You may have to hold onto these cards for several months, but by fall, these children could be making cards to give to special people and brighten their days. Up the ante by having the kids send (or deliver) the cards to folks in an elderly residential home or to soldiers. Look beyond yourself and share the spirit from beginning to end.
  2. Re-cycle the blessing back to the individual(s) who originally blessed you. Place your pile of Christmas cards into a basket. Each night (or once a week – you can set your own reasonable time schedule), pull a card from the basket and resolve to pray for the name(s) on the card. Not only will you be blessing the sender of the card, you’ll be sneaking in another blessing for yourself once again. The card that keeps on giving…
  3. Take your re-cycling efforts a step further. Mail that card back to the original sender, letting that person know you prayed for him/her. (Or if you are not comfortable with that, then just follow my lead from here.) Enclose a special note to the person(s) whose name(s) is/are in that card, letting that person feel the special touch of Christmas at an unexpected moment. You may not even know what’s going on in that person’s life; but I’ll bet he/she could use a blessing. How’s that for spreading cheer throughout the year?
  4. Combine any of the above ideas for a whole new dimension of bless-ed fun! Help some kids cut out cards to make new seasonal cards. Can you imagine Santa saying “Hoppy Easter”? Or sending a partial card with a note to your friend, explaining the other parts of it were prayed over &  sent out with a special note to someone in the armed forces or in an elderly living facility?
  5. Create a collage of the fronts of Christmas card clip-outs onto a board and shellac it for a family member who either can’t be with you for the holidays or can’t be with you throughout the rest of the year. Send it to them as a writing/laptop board to remind them of your cheery love throughout the time you all are apart.

Come up with some new ideas of your own – and share them here for the rest of us to enjoy!

And may your year be full of Christmas blessings!

-just jody

When the world seems in shambles, that’s the time to Give Thanks

The holidays can, undoubtedly, bring out the worst in us sometimes (as evidenced by the increased sense of loss we often feel with the realization that loved ones are no longer with us; or the highly viewed Youtube Black Friday shopping debacles that get cast across the Internet). But they also remind of us of what’s still good about this world – with ‘thanks’ and ‘giving’ being abundantly displayed. 

I’m being a typical mom this week, with the important reminder:

Don’t forget to say thank-you.

It’s not just about showing appreciation for the kindness that someone has bestowed upon you. It’s just as much about reflecting who you truly are – and better yet, who you yet have the ability to be – because of filling your heart with gratitude. (Funny that, as we give thanks, we are the ones who also get filled.)

This past weekend, the man I knew as my pastor from my earliest childhood memories until my young adulthood retired. As I went to attend the reception in his honor, I revisited many early life memories, and I also saw the additional years on those who I remembered from there. It was clear that my dear, long-time pastor had earned his right to this time (probably even long before now – but pastors usually retire from the earth before they get to retire from ministry). I thought back to this time last year when I’d last been there and had witnessed him as he performed what I suppose was one of the toughest, and yet one of the most important, services of his life. As a matter of fact, I felt blessed to have made it back then, as I listened to him share how he and his wife met, how he courted her, how they began their lives together, and how they’d shared in ministry – until her time had come to depart for her heavenly home. She’d specified that he should be the one to lead the service; she simply reasoned that no one else knew her as well as he had, so it made the most sense. After being helped up the stairs that day, he gave us all the opportunity to journey with him back in time and catch a glimpse into the lives of two very young people I would have otherwise never known.

I was grateful to be a part of that sweet service. I was also relieved that I’d answered a nudge I’d received in my spirit a couple of weeks before that, when I’d decided to mail a Christmas card to my prior pastor and his wife, thanking them for the effect their ministry had ultimately had on me.

So, in celebration of their love for so many others in their ministry (who I’m sure weren’t always so lovable), I’d feel privileged to share with you the following words I sent out this time last year (I suppose on angels’ wings):


Dear Rev. and Mrs. G-

I pray this letter finds you in good spirits for the celebration time of our Lord’s birth. I wanted you to know that you are in my prayers for your personal lives and for your continued ministry. More than anything, I realize that I am many years overdue in sending out a thank you letter for the hugely positive impact that you both have had on my life.

Whenever I recall my fondest childhood, teenage and young adult memories, they always somehow relate back to our church and its people. I still hold many close relationships, to this day, with so many friends from there; and I know, without a doubt, whenever I’ve walked through those doors, before or since my time away, I have always felt welcomed. I can think of so many times in my life when other church bodies might have been less welcoming to my behaviors or my situations – but you all were the definition of I Corinthians 13 in your love towards me, most especially being patient and kind. The fruits of the Spirit were always as abundant as the ice cream and good cheer that flowed around our summers of Vacation Bible School or the many receptions taking place in our well-used fellowship hall.

From Christmas plays (with practices that brought our youth group so close together) to lock-ins (where Scavenger hunts took us to outreach opportunities within the neighborhood) to games on the softball field (where our church was so much a part of our larger community) to bible studies that ranged from Communicant’s class to catechisms (where I began proclaiming my own faith), and well beyond into my adulthood (when I finally got around to learning all the books of my bible), I’ve come to deeply realize how I was being prepared to become an everyday evangelist (even if I still don’t set the example I strive to follow). There are so many things I learned from Sunday School to VBS to Wednesday night classes that I never realized I was retaining until people asked me through the years, “How do you know this stuff?” Time and time again, it comes back to my early foundation, the biblical grounding I received at the church I will always call home.

My beliefs, to this day, were formed and shaped there. Whether it was you, boldly proclaiming, “To be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord,” or whether it was your ‘better half’, sweetly exhorting, “Jody, how could you think you wouldn’t become a teacher? It’s in your blood,” you have each shaped so much of the person I am (whether you’d prefer to take any credit for it or not!). You allowed me to grow up in a loving church environment that, rather than scolding me for questioning things I couldn’t comprehend in the Word or for sometimes just being downright disruptive and rebellious, I was abundantly nurtured. Each time I now stand up in front of the people of the Church to speak or to teach, I think back to those Sunday mornings, before the Sunday School hour, where we assembled and where I was not only allowed, but encouraged, as a youth to lead that opening worship service. I had absolutely no idea that God had me in training for something more for His Kingdom down the road.

I thank you from the bottom of my heart for the relationship I was blessed to have with your family, for my friendships with your sons, for the joy and laughter that went on among our youth who were like siblings, for the extended family I had in our congregation, for the many scriptural teachings learned, and for the ability to experiment with who I was going to become within the body of Christ (with all my messy mistakes included).

This side of heaven can quite often be difficult, trying to push us to give in when circumstances feel impossible. Through many trials and tribulations, I’ve come to learn to temper my emotions compared only to one thing, and that is the measure of those other words I’ve heard you proclaim, over and over, and have learned to yearn for one day in the presence of our Lord and Savior: “Well done, my good and faithful servant.” In all joy and assuredness, I have absolutely no doubt in my mind that you both will hear those precious words one day.

Thank you for giving to the Lord in my life and the lives of others. Please know how very much your gift is treasured.

With great  love and respect,



Maybe they never received it.
Perhaps it didn’t get read on time.
Even if so, it might not have held the same meaning as it did for me.
Nevertheless, I needed to take time to express my love, my admiration…
my gratitude.
It made a distinctive difference to – maybe even ‘in’ – me.

So to the rest of you, I urge:
“Please don’t forget to say Thank You.”

To this very day, Vacation Bible School is still one of my favorite weeks of the year.

To this very day, Vacation Bible School is still one of my favorite weeks of the year.

Taking the Edge Off of Plateauing Pounds

Our 5-woman campus fitness & weight loss team, the Rampaging Regionals, has finished our third week of logging our progress, registering in with:

1,950 minutes (32.63 hrs) this week   /or/   99.48 hours for the past 3 weeks


5.4 pounds weight loss this week    /or/    43 pounds lost for the past 3 weeks

We’re on the cutting edge of magnificence towards staying on track with our goals. But…

If you compare this week with the two prior ones, you might note that Week 3 doesn’t appear to be nearly as rewarding in weight loss, at least based upon the weight loss numbers. Some of us are dealing with stepping onto the scales of a plateau. Some us may even be feeling more like we’re stepping beyond that – onto a bleeding edge – covered in blood, sweat & tears from our efforts, while not cutting our anticipated weight. Somewhere along the way…

Plateaus generally come with rough edges.

You see, our bodies have been going through an adjustment period, with reduced caloric intake and increased or modified exercise. Our glycogen stores have now been released; our water weight retention has been diminished. Those things had to happen – and, boy, did they look good on the scales while they were taking place! Except now that we can’t count on a continuation of that same progressive rate, we’ve got to either be satisfied with slighter reductions in weight loss (or the dreaded plateauing), or we have to begin reworking our strategies (such as adding 15-30 minutes of exercise daily, even if we’ve maxed the “credit” we get as a team; or changing up our exercise routine to surprise our bodies).

Continuing forward can feel like a double-edged sword.

As we work through our 4th week at this point, our support systems may start getting a little shaky. Family members and friends are tired of us giving so much thought to food preparation (or maybe they’re tired of feeling guilty because they won’t play along). There aren’t as many big (numerical) victories to celebrate at our lunchroom table. Punching meals into my phone to calculate calories every day seems more like a monotonous hassle than it did the 3 weeks before. Yet…

Our team has to be determined to Stay on Track rather than Getting on Edge.

That’s a normal response. It’s what happens after a few weeks of reduced caloric intake, especially when it appears there’s not as much progress. Edginess creeps in, whispering in your ear where you can get a quick pick-me-up snack, throwing tummy tantrums as you try not to succumb to prior bad eating habits, screaming at your brain to either allow you to gnaw off a couple of your fingers or to bite someone else’s head off.

Stay calm. Step away from the edge.

Determine NOT to Edge out of Your Diet

The time you’ve determined to get back to fighting weight isn’t the time to throw in the towel from  the edge of your ring. Let me tell you a pet peeve that I don’t want to negatively impact you (or me!) – – I get a little irritated when looking for healthy diet ideas online, only to come across articles that advise me (and you) to “Stop Dieting!” That’s ridiculous advice! Why? Because the truth is – we’re ALL on some sort of diet. It’s just that some of our diets consist of some not-so-healthy food choices. People who read that tripe are tempted to throw their healthy dietary plan over the edge because some well-meaning “ex-pert” wanted to make what was perceived as a clever point using hyperbole. (That person obviously wasn’t standing on a plateau thinking of jumping over the edge!) If you’ve been working on a healthy diet plan, “ex” out that lame advice. Stick to your plan. Or check to see what revised tweaks may need to be made.

Are you skimping too much on calories to the point where you’re placing yourself in starvation mode? Then adjust with some healthy additional calories.

Are you eating larger meals, when spreading smaller snack-size portions throughout the day would better answer your body’s needs?

Have you had a health check-up with lab work lately to assure that your body is functioning at its maximum health capacity and metabolic rate?

Just remember – regardless of whether you toss out your current eating plan, you’re going to be left on a diet of some kind. Try to make those healthy diet calories maximally count towards enhanced edge-of-your-seat performance towards your well-being!

Supplement Your Edgy Cravings

Dieting is not meant to push you over the edge. First, take a look at your intake & assure it’s adequate. It’s not just about calories. It’s more about the types of food that you are placing into your body for nutritional use. Don’t allow yourself empty, sugary, junk food calories (even if you can stay within your daily caloric intake goal). Replace them with nature’s alternatives – lots of filling fruits & veggies. And be sure to get a protein with every meal, so you can continue to maintain muscle mass, rather than allowing nutrients to be stolen from your muscles. (Flabby may weigh less, but it doesn’t look nearly as attractive.)

Too many empty calories means you’ll be edging up a long, steep road without any fuel to back you – so you’ll soon be running out of gas (before your day’s journey ends)! Need an additional fuel boost?

Add Supplements to your diet – especially natural multi-vitamins & minerals. Take these with each of your meals to get an extra nutritional boost for body sustenance. This should help smooth those frayed edges.

Give Yourself a Financially Inexpensive but Emotionally Fulfilling Reward

Take the edge off by recycling your closet!  During those times when you’d like to be snacking, go to your closet & begin to prune the edges. (You heard what I did there, right?!)  Cull out your closet of all the clothes that no longer fit well because of the weight you’ve lost. If you haven’t worn them in awhile anyway, consider them outdated (for you) & send them to the Goodwill or some other charity for someone else to enjoy. Then celebrate with the fun part! Bring back to “front & center” the clothes that you haven’t been able to fit into for awhile. Find new ways to mix & match them with updated clothing items & accessories you’ve acquired since you last wore them. It’ll be like getting a new (or at least refreshed) wardrobe! (And trying on and sorting these clothes will keep your hands & mind busy – possibly for a couple of hours – as an added bonus, so you don’t feel like you have time to go get a snack.)

Make an Inexpensive Caloric Purchase when you’re feeling like a Spendthrift

Get off that slippery slope and go for an icy edge instead. (Please tell me you caught that one too.) Make yourself a low-calorie, but fulfilling, sweet treat.

skinny shakeI call this my Holy Skinny Cow! Shake (because there’s really no cow’s milk in it). It’s a much skinnier adaptation of a Wendy’s Frosty-type recipe that has been going around on Pinterest.

In a blender, combine:

1 cup unsweetened Almond Milk (I like to use the almond/coconut milk blend)
1/2 Tbs unsweetened Cocoa powder
1 tsp (or a little more) vanilla extract
2 tsp Stevia-in-the-raw
8-15 ice cubes, depending on how much you want to thin the chocolate)

See how you can gain some ground by taking the edge off?!

Calories = 50 or less!

(You could add some yogurt, a banana or protein to thicken & smoothen this, but you’ll also be adding calories, of course. How far you live on the edge is totally your call! No matter – it doesn’t really taste like a Wendy’s Frosty, but it can satisfy the sweet-tooth, chocolate craving, if that beast has been on your back.)

Smooth out those Spiritual Rough Edges

Fly off your Edge – not off the Deep End! Center yourself on spiritual issues, rather than physical demands. Take time for filling yourself with nourishment that comes from other places than food – e.g., meditation, devotion & prayer. You can learn to step out in faith & soar with the eagles, leaving your physical cravings behind. For me, this means spending interactive, meaningful time in God’s Word; talking earnestly with God in prayer; asking God to help me focus on kingdom issues, rather than the things I desire in this world (and don’t need, such as that Reese’s candy bar my son left as a temptation in my cupboard).

Remember, all plateaus have edges –

I’m hoping I can help make all of ours smoother.

At some point, we’ll be jumping off the edge of our scales (in celebration!) when these eventually break (the, um, plateaus – not the scales).  😉

Hoping I haven’t lost my edge,


Rampaging Regionals (Week 1) – Hoo-ah!!

The first official week of our campus FITNESS & WEIGHT LOSS Challenge has come to an end.

If you recall (or if you’re just reading it for the first time), one of our team members who is a die-hard competitor has named our group the Rampaging Regionals. That sets the tone for competition, doesn’t it?

I’m happy to report that our 5 member team had the following results to log from this past week (not including those successes of our 1 unofficial member who is walking with us):

  • 20 lbs. of weight loss since weigh-ins (~1-1/2 weeks prior);
  • 2,002 minutes (33.37 hours) of exercise this past week;
  • Various shared plans of determination to succeed; and
  • High fives all the way around!


My own personal plan consists of a reduction in calories for awhile with smaller meals and reducing from vigorous exercise multiple times per week to daily moderate exercise to accommodate both the caloric reduction & fat burning (as well as keeping my water intake around 1 gallon per day). I’m trying to trick my body into jump-starting my metabolism and will work my way back into my regular work-out routine with added calories after a few weeks of making this change.

Dieting Should Never Be Tasteless & Boring.
(That sets people up for failure.)

With that being said, I thought I’d share some of my low calorie recipes on the blog (for both my teammates and anyone else who might be interested). Trust me – I won’t post anything that I haven’t tried (and found suitable for) myself.

My formula for these recipes is simple:

  • Reduced calories (staying around or below 250 calories per meal)
  • Healthy inclusion of a protein, vegetable & fruit (with minimum inclusion of other carbs)
  • Small portions with caloric counts included, so the partaker can choose the number of portions based on calories, either by:
    • doubling the portion, or
    • using a single portion & spreading out more, smaller meals throughout the day to achieve personal calorie counts

EZ LO-CAL Roasted Shrimp & Broccoli


Stepped Ingredients & Directions

  • Lightly spray a stovetop non-stick pan with Pam Olive Oil spray. Stir the following ingredients together, then “stir fry” for 5-10 min on medium to medium-low heat:

 (2) 12 oz. pkg. broccoli florets
1 tsp coriander seeds (or ½ tsp. ground coriander)
1 tsp whole cumin seeds (or ½ tsp ground cumin)
1 tsp sea salt
½ tsp ground pepper
1/8 tsp hot chili powder

  • Heat oven to 425 F.
  •  In bowl with a lid, toss these next ingredients together:

(2) 12 oz. pkg. frozen cooked large/jumbo shrimp (shelled & deveined)
Lemon zest from one lemon
½ tsp sea salt
½ tsp ground pepper

  • Add shrimp ingredients into broccoli mix. Turn off stovetop and mix together.
  •  On a large, non-stick cookie sheet, spread ½ mixture into a single layer and pop into the oven for 10 minutes. (Will need to repeat this again with the other half or use a 2nd cookie sheet.)
  • Roast for 10 minutes at 425 F.

 Yields 6 servings (w/ approx. 5-6 jumbo shrimp each)

~140 calories per serving

(This is a “freezable” dinner. If eating alone, I make 1 immediate serving & freeze the other 5 in quart-size freezer bags for even quicker, easier upcoming meals.)


 Suggested Personal Dessert: 

Make-your-own Frozen Strawberry Yogurt


½ cup Greek plain, non-fat yogurt
¼ cup strawberries (crushed or pureed)
1 tsp (or to taste) Stevia-in-the-raw
½ tsp vanilla extract

  • “Smush” together in freezer baggie.
  • Freeze for as long as needed to preferred consistency (Smush around every 10 minutes or so).

Yields 1 serving

~85 calories


If you decide to try these out, feel free to leave me feedback on what you think or how you might have modified to make the recipe more suitable for your needs.

Here’s to your health! 🙂


How to Keep Your Friends by “Dumping” Them

What’s in the bag?”

“Little of this…little of that. All in all, some pretty useless stuff.”

“Now you’ve piqued my interest. What’ve you trapped in that silk prison on your arm?”

“ I used to carry items that I thought were important to my appearance there – a tube of lipstick, a compact for smoothing imperfections, a brush to freshen up, a credit card for purchasing any whims I fancied. Eventually, I came to grasp that accumulations were just weighing me down. That’s when I cleared all that stuff out to make room. Now this bag serves a much greater purpose.”

<Long, Uncomfortable Pause>

“I’m still waiting for an answer to my original question. What on earth are you carrying around in that pretty little bag swinging from your arm?”

“Don’t let its outer appearance fool you. Its contents aren’t all that impressive, truth be told.”

<Shorter, Terser Pause>

“Very well. If you absolutely must know…. It’s full of today’s mind clutter.”

“Pardon? Did you just say…?”

“Yes, I did, as a matter of fact.”

“Why in heaven’s name would you empty out your beautiful purse, only to fill it with…mind clutter?!”

“I’d rather contain it there for a time as have it swimming in my head, distracting my brain all day. At day’s end, I simply open it and dump this mess out, then begin fresh tomorrow.”

“Interesting concept. What happens if you mistake essential information and accidentally discard it too?”

“Have you been staying up early again?”

“Staying up early?! That’s the most ridiculous thing I’ve ever heard. No, you’re the most ridiculous thing I’ve ever heard – someone carrying a purse full of mind clutter.

Wait! What are you doing? Are you placing this memory of me in there?! How dare you!! Take it out this instant!”


“Trust me. By the time I dump this tonight, my mind will be emptied of all insults it tried to heap onto you in retaliation. Better this way. We can be friends again – come tomorrow.”

As I ended this post, I was reminded of this beautiful gift I received from a physician visiting the states from India, after spending the day working with him on imaging simulator demonstrations.

As I ended this post, I was reminded of this beautiful gift I received from a physician visiting the states from India, after spending the day working with him on imaging simulator demonstrations. Isn’t it marvelous?


I took the opportunity to provide this little moral life lesson through 2 fun writing prompts heaped upon me this week.

inmonsterbadge1The first was from BeKindRewrite’s Inspiration Monday prompts (in which I worked to use them all – because it’s more interesting to see how the story turns out that way). Stephanie likes to “tease” and say there are no rules, but since such a thought gives me a migraine, here are the rules-oriented prompts:

  • Silk Prison
  • Waiting for an Answer
  • Mind Clutter
  • What’s in the Bag
  • Staying up Early

Other non-rules “highly suggest” limiting between 200-500 words.

From there, I looked for the opportunity to incorporate this week’s Trifecta prompt, which slid right there in the midst of my ridiculous bag. So before I accidentally dump it as useless information, here’s the uncluttered word and definition that had to be used:

GRASP (verb) – 3rd definition

3 : to lay hold of with the mind : comprehend

– See more at:

By the way, Trifecta requires between 33-333 words. (My count came in at 333, which just so happens to land between 200 and 500 – how fortuitous!). By the way, this week’s entries are being community judged at Trifecta. So come one, come all! Come read, come vote, come enter!

Carpe Diem Haiku: (Instruction in) Tribulation

stop your wish, child, for

through trials and tribulations

patience only comes


Somewhere between teenage- and woman-hood, I once sat at my grandmother’s dining room table, impatiently pulling out poorly directed stitches. She leaned over my shoulder, adjusting her glasses for a better look at what the fuss was all about.

“I know, I know, ” I grumbled beneath my breath. “I just need to learn more patience.” It seemed reasonable to me to be the first to get the reprimand out in the open. Maybe it would have less sting that way.

My granny walked around the table and looked at me circumspectly. “If you thought I was going to say that, you’d be greatly mistaken. Whatever you do, don’t ever pray for patience, Jody.”

Old book from 1879 detailShe reached on the little cubby shelf behind her to retrieve her bible, again adjusting her glasses to help her flip to the appropriate page. She turned the Good Book as she laid it out in front of me, and tapped her finger a couple of times to direct my attention.

I began reading Romans 5:3, quickly arriving at: “…knowing that tribulation worketh patience…”

My grandmother had already walked away by the time the implication was sinking in. Looking back, I’m sure she had a smirk tucked across her lips.


For more haiku (or to submit your own), join me at Carpe Diem.

Proper Enemy Poisoning Procedure

  1. Poison your own mind against your target. Won’t achieve your goal.
  2. Poison others against your mark. Eventually fails too.
  3. Not until poisoning the person against himself will you succeed. Third time’s the charm.


Trifecta has offered the follow Trifextra weekend challenge:  This weekend we’re asking for 33 of your own words inspired by the idiom, third time’s the charm. – See more at:

Turn my little three-step procedure around and think on how many times you’ve allowed someone to use this recipe of disaster on you successfully, and how many times you’ve willingly swallowed the poison and let it process in your soul.

This recipe is exactly why we’re encouraged to guard our minds and our hearts, to take our thoughts and motivations captive.

I hope in providing you with this modus operandi, you are able to see beyond it to my true wish for you, my friend – that you will learn to use the antidote – to speak positives over your lives and over the lives of others.

Why Shakespeare did not oft put his but in my face – and why you shouldn’t either.


Oh, what disgrace!
Please remove your but from my face!
Though I don’t know if there’s a better place
for your but to be…

or not to be, you see.

Oh, behold you!
Please keep your but from blocking my view!
Though I’m not sure with it what you should do,

But…I’ve had enough of its poo.


Let’s just call it what it is — “But Smut.”



They belong in the classics.

But let me just say, if I was Julie Andrews (yeah, it’s a far stretch for me too)…neither of these would sit high enough on my list of  “a few of my favorite things” to have become soprano-ized. (Unless we’re talking about Tony in Jersey here.)

“I would have done that but…”

“I could have helped you out but…”

“You would look great today except…”  (that’s a sneaky but word)

Go ahead and liberally use that word, but…you’ll just look back one day and realize you’ve lived your life carrying a buttload bucketfuls of regrets and what ifs.

Buts come in different shapes, sizes, and forms. In one day at work alone, I was accosted with at least 3 different instances of “I feel bad about myself, but I’m going to transfer it over to someone else instead. You were looking too happy about life.”

  1. As I’m exiting a meeting, here’s a remark that’s made to me in the hallway: “Oh, I like that color of green on you..” (this would’ve been a good place to stop) “…[BUT] I personally can’t wear that shade. I end up looking that same color of green, and then people begin wondering if I should be transported to the hospital. It must look good on you because you have that same tint to your skin.”  Yep. Green skin. I’m using it right now because E.T. doesn’t need it anymore. He’s not at work with the mean girl. He’s gone home.
  2. As I enter my office building, I come around the corner and am confronted by another coworker: “Are those new shoes? I need a pair of those, BUT did you really need to get some with such high heels? Weren’t you already tall enough?” For the record, I went and measured them. 2-1/2″ at the highest point. I guess I could’ve responded with “See you at the pole,” BUT no self-respecting stripper would’ve been caught ‘clothes-less on the coroner’s table’ in those things!
  3. Later in the day, walking out of the lunchroom, another coworker looks down at my open-toed stripper shoes and comments: “Those are the brightest pink toes I’ve ever seen! BUT they’re okay, I guess…I like that shade better than the blue or orange you had on before that.” Why, I thought until that time I was the pink of the mode. I had a very Shakespearean moment, to say the least. Like Mercutio, I had to remind myself that I needed to be nay, the very pinke of curtesie. I bit my pink tongue — before it became a sword.

Why do we feel the need, I wonder, to litter our compliments with back-handed buts?

Can you imagine how Romeo & Juliet might have turned out, had Shakespeare decided his phrases rest atop a bunch of big, ugly buts? Okay, maybe they’d both still be alive, but…comon’, how would we have felt about it?!

Did my heart love till now? forswear it, sight!
For I ne’er saw true beauty till this night.

Well, except for the cute little barmaid, and the farrier’s daughter, and…

Wouldn’t have quite worked, would it?

Good night, good night! parting is such sweet sorrow, 
That I shall say good night
but will I see you again tomorrow?


My bounty is as boundless as the sea,
My love as deep;
but the more I give to thee,
The more thou takest, for both are infinitely exhausting.

Take Two Please!

My bounty is as boundless as the sea,
My love as deep; the more I give to thee,
The more I have, for both are infinite.

Ah, much better!

By grammatical definition, but is a conjunction. By formal definition, a conjunction is supposed to ‘join’ (not separate). 

So why is it that we like to use our buts to join in nothing more than malice?

That was good, I guess, but…you can do better.

I would like to spend some time with you, but…I’ve got better things to do.

I love you, but…I’m too busy fulfilling my own needs to think about yours.

How about we get our hands out from under our buts and get to working them out in a positive way?

I’ve been feeling really grumpy lately, but…I know if I take the focus off me and put it someplace else I’ll be happier.

I haven’t been feeling the same about you lately, but…I know we made a commitment to this relationship, so along with you, I intend to see it through.

So your bat swing isn’t the greatest in the world, but…we can work on that. Let’s go down to the field.

That outfit is gorgeous, but…did I mention it wouldn’t look nearly as good without you in it?

I hope I didn’t mislead you. Buts are not the actual problem, in and of themselves, but…I do think we should take a cue from Shakespeare and use them sparingly, making them fully count in contributing to a worthwhile message:

But, soft! what light through yonder window breaks?
It is the east, and Juliet is the sun.” 
― William ShakespeareRomeo and Juliet


But notice how Shakespeare didn’t moon us here?

A Tall Drink of Water

A young friend was distraught
because her boyfriend had suggested
she should run some extra laps.
I told her she should suggest
for him to swim a few –
while dispensing his advice.


Yes, I’m thinking of applying to have my own Advice Column – Endearing to Nobody.

However, this is a quick 33-word quip in response to this weekend’s Trifextra challenge:

We want you to give us thirty-three words of advice.  Your advice can be to anyone or about anything.  We only ask that you make it uniquely yours.  If you have time to kill, you can easily get lost in the advice of others here.


By the way, I spaced my words to look like they were being delivered in poetic verse (or maybe a column of advice! ha!) because of my NaPoWriMo 2013 commitment for the month of April.

It’s not a poem.
I was cheating.
That confession
didn’t feel the least bit
good for my soul

…And We Danced

I was meeting a group of friends after the class reunion because, even as an adult, I felt too awkward to attend. It had all started with that same group at a middle school dance (my only one, I might add). They had pushed me – I mean, literally – to ask this guy to dance.

His friends had snickered, while he looked around in discomfort. Then, in one long grimace (or was it one swift cut?), he shook his head and backed away. I spent the remainder of the night buried under my covers in tears, and the remainder of my school years buried behind my books in humiliation.

Here I am, years later, fearless international spokesperson for NASA’s space program; yet, too scared to attend my own local high school reunion. I negotiated, instead, to meet a handful of friends afterward.

I stumbled, coming through the door, upon catching his eye – one of two boring a hole into me. He stood and approached with his hand out, cuing me there was music playing in the background.

“I wanted to say yes back then,” he shrugged, “but I knew I’d look stupid because you were such a good dancer, and I…wasn’t.”

“Are you saying you’re better now?” My mouth engaged before my brain.

“At a lot of things, yes,” he grinned. “Care to find out?”

Steps from the dance floor,

Stages from a former dream.

Time stopped. And we danced.


I have to say that I greatly missed participating last week at Līgo Editions and hope for the opportunity to go back and read what I know were fantastic contributions there.

Just last week I also missed a high school reunion planning meeting due an already overbooked schedule, but this missed appointment did serve to give me the idea for this week’s haibun. The challenge prompt line was already so spectacular, I couldn’t have outdone it for my title either.

The Līgo Haībun Challenge ~ Prompt “And We Danced”

ligo-challenge2Haībun is Prosimetric writing. The haībun format here for the Līgo Haībun Challenge is as follows ~

paragraph (more than one paragraph is fine, or just a few sentences) in prose form of either

  • a descriptive passage , or excerpt from a story/or previously published post
  • an explanation 
  • a tale
  • a travelogue
  • a news item
  • a recipe


  • the haiku to close

The expression does not have to be used exactly as it is. Remember the word limit is normally if not formally 220 words, including the haiku, and more than 1 haiku is fine.