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Uncategorized Archives - Kiki Reflects

Kiki Reflects

one woman's struggle to answer her calling

Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

About Me

I was trying to decide what to write for this week’s post.  For inspiration, I headed over to my friend’s blog.  I liked her “About Me” section and thought it might be fun to do something similar.  Here goes.

Name: Kiki.  It all started when I was talking to my sister on the phone.  She told her son, (who was not even two years old at the time),”Say Hi to Aunt Kristy… Can you say Aunt Kristy…  Aunt Kristy…”

“Kiki!” he blurted out.  Well, the name stuck.  For a while, I was Kiki, then I became Aunt Kiki, once my nephew got a bit older.  Now, all of my nieces and nephews call me Aunt Kiki.  Some kids who aren’t my nieces or nephews also call me Aunt Kiki.  I don’t mind at all.

How to get in touch with me: leave a comment (pretty please?!) Or email me at admin@kikireflects.com

Food: chocolate, hands down.  My current favorite meal is artichoke risotto (it sounds a lot fancier than it is!).  I make an easy version of this in my slow cooker.  It’s vegan, gluten-free, and delicious.  It’s definitely Kristy-proof.  I’m not very domestic, but I’m learning.

Movie: I love Casablanca, Fools Rush In, The Princess Bride, Definitely Maybe.  I grew up watching When Harry Met Sally and Sleepless in Seattle.  Apparently I love rom coms.

TV show: Dr. Phil (hey, don’t judge), Once Upon a Time, Doctor Who, X-Files, Downton Abbey, Game of Thrones.  My husband and I binge-watch shows on Netflix.

Book: To Kill a Mockingbird, The Giver, Harry Potter series, Twilight series, Hunger Games series.  For a while there, I didn’t read much for pleasure.  But I’m starting to again.

Color: Purple is my favorite, followed by blue, then green.  In that order.

Band: I usually get tired of listening to one sound for too long a period of time.  Back when people used to listen to cds, I would switch out a cd long before it ended.  Some bands/artists I could stand for more than three songs in a row: Sam Cooke, UB40, Beyonce/Destiny’s Child, Norah Jones, Fleetwood Mac, Pink, Elvis

Season: Summer.  To me, there are two seasons.  Summer and Not Summer.  That said, I do enjoy the small window in the fall when the air is slightly brisk and the leaves are changing.  That lasts maybe a couple of weeks around here though.  I also love a good snowfall.  However, where I live, we usually only get maybe three good snowfalls a year.

Animal: I love most animals, but cats of all varieties are probably my favorite.  Wild and domesticated.

Soda: ginger ale.  I just love ginger ale.  Added bonus: it’s caffeine-free!

City: Aw man, I can’t pick just one!  I love San Diego, Stuttgart (Germany), Paris, Barcelona, Berlin…  I lived in Stuttgart for three years.  At least once a month, I would travel to a different European city.

Flower: Lilies – the white ones that smell amazing.  Once, I was in a hallway in a government building, when I smelled fresh lilies.  I saw someone in the hallway and I said to him, “I swear I smell lilies… is that weird?”  He motioned for me to follow him.  He then opened a huge steel door behind him.  Inside, there was a HUGE bouquet of beautiful lilies.  I mean, there were at least two dozen lilies in there.  The folks in the office said that someone had sent lilies to their coworker, but no one knew knew who they were from.  A mystery!

Recent major life change: I recently left the Navy after 12 years so I could stay home with my son.  I am now in the Reserves.

Guilty pleasure: fashion.  I love watching fashion and beauty videos on YouTube.  I also looove getting comments on my blog.


My New Life

Man, does my life look different nowadays.

A year and a half ago, I married my husband.  I instantly became stepmother to my now 12-year-old stepson.  In February 2016, I gave birth to my son.  I’ve been on maternity leave since.  Next month, I’ll be leaving the Navy (and transitioning into the Reserves).  So, I went from being a naval officer to a stay-at-home mom in a couple of years’ time.

A friend asked me how I like staying home with the baby.  To which I replied, “Sometimes I feel like I’m going out of my mind, but I’m really glad I won’t miss any milestones.”  (I love my son dearly, but he doesn’t talk.)  My new life feels strange sometimes.  Some days it feels like I’ll be going back to work soon, and other days I just don’t know what to do next.  Play with the baby?  Clean the house?  Meet a friend for lunch?  Write in my blog?  I’ve never had this much say (or lack of structure) in my own time before.  And it feels weird.

Don’t get me wrong, it’s exactly what I wanted.  But that doesn’t make it any less of an adjustment.  When people ask me what I do, I still say, “I’m in the Navy” (which is technically true until the end of next month).  Which leads to a discussion about going back to work.

I’m not sure exactly why I want others to know I’m a naval officer.  Maybe it’s because I’m proud of my accomplishment.  Or because it took some time and effort to become one.  Or because I dedicated 12 years of my life to being one.  And it seems as though I’m dismissing that effort just in how I answer one question.

I can’t seem to stay, “I stay home with my son” as my first (and only) answer.  Being a mother is much harder, and more rewarding, than my career in the Navy has been.  There is also no set hours, time off, breaks, or holidays.  I should be proud of “just” being a stay at home mom.  Yet I feel the need to elaborate.

Maybe as I settle into this new role, I’ll answer the question of “What do you do?” a bit better. Until then, maybe I’ll learn not to care so much about what other people think.


Overwhelmed by Baby Supplies

Nursery

My husband and I are expecting our first baby together (due in about two weeks-eek!), and we are super excited.

Earlier in my pregnancy, my husband and I were in the mall one day, and we happened to see a Buy Buy Baby.  We thought, “let’s just go in and check it out.”  Well, as soon as we walked in, I looked around at all of the baby stuff, and it felt like it went on for miles.  Clothes, diapers, furniture, bath items, toys, gadgets…  Every spare inch of the store was covered, and my, were those walls high!  I immediately felt overwhelmed.  I almost cried.  In fact, I believe there were a couple of tears.

I thought to myself, all of this stuff exists just for babies?!  How in the world are we ever going to get ready in time?  How am I going to decide what we need to have versus what would just be nice to have?  Are we going to have enough room in our two-bedroom apartment?  And, finally, how are we going to be able to afford all of this stuff?

We walked around the nursery displays, which were oh-so-cute, but expensive.  Finally, we left, and I felt… defeated.  I realized I had my work cut out for me.

In the days and weeks that followed, well-intended friends and family started asking questions like, “Have you finished your registry for your baby shower?” or “Is your nursery all ready?”  Baby websites I had signed up for sent daily emails with seemingly never-ending To Do lists.

I turned to Google.  I looked up just what the baby really needed.  I found Lucie’s List, which turned out to be a big help.  I used the recommendations from Lucie’s List to build our registry.  I talked to my husband for his input.  Once we made progress on the registry, I began to feel better.

I also searched YouTube for “nursery on a budget.”  I was particularly interested in nurseries in small spaces.  I watched several videos, and I liked this one and this one.  Seeing those videos made me think, “I can do this.”  I also built a nursery board on Pinterest to start collecting ideas.

Over time, we received a lot of baby gifts from friends and family.  We also received barely used items from friends with toddlers, happy to be rid of some of the baby stuff that was now cluttering their homes.  Because of this generosity, my husband and I found that we didn’t have to spend nearly as much money as I thought we did.

Over time, we slowly built our baby stuff inventory.  For a while, we stored it in the spare bedroom.  Then we transformed it into the nursery.

Sometimes, I ask my husband, “What did people do before all of this baby stuff was invented?”  I mean, do people really need all of this stuff?

Is anyone else out there feeling overwhelmed by the sheer amount of baby supplies out there?  What did you do that helped?


The Moment I Found Out I Was Pregnant

Our Little Announcement

Our Little Announcement

I’m 15 weeks pregnant and my expected delivery date is 29 January 2016.  My husband and I are super excited!  I’ve been meaning to write a post announcing our pregnancy for a while now.  However, in my first trimester (from just shy of six weeks onward), I felt pretty miserable most of the time.  Nausea.  Acid Reflux.  Fatigue.  Ugh.  Even the sight of food made me feel sick.

Now those symptoms appear to be waning.  My food aversions aren’t quite as strong too.

Believe it or not, back in the spring, I actually felt myself getting pregnant.  Shortly after ovulating, I got a mild cramping I had never felt before.  My breasts also became tender, and the tenderness never went away.  I was a bit moody too.  Plus, my instincts were telling me I was pregnant.  I had this strange, subtle feeling I was.

Then, one Monday after I took my Navy physical training test at work, I took one of those early detection pregnancy tests that’s supposed to tell if you’re pregnant several days before your period.  It read, in evil, mocking letters, “Not Pregnant.”

I was crushed.

I thought for sure I was pregnant.  Not only was I unhappy I wasn’t pregnant, I was upset that my instincts were wrong.  When preparing dinner, I opened the fridge and saw the high end bottle of red wine (yes, we keep red wine in the fridge) my friend had given us as a wedding gift.  “Well,” I said to myself, “since I’m not pregnant, I might as well enjoy this wine.”  I poured myself and my husband, Brett, a glass.  It was exquisite.  The best glass of wine I had ever had.  Between the two of us, we finished the bottle over two nights.  We savored each sip.

The following weekend was Memorial Day.  Brett and I drove down to North Carolina to spend  the weekend with my stepson and in-laws at the beach.  Brett and I stayed in Brett’s Aunt’s trailer not far from the water.  I carried feminine products with me because I was expecting to get my period while on that trip.

My period never came.

So, on 24 May, Brett and I stopped at CVS and bought (another) pregnancy test.  I had mixed emotions about it.  My breast tenderness and moodiness hadn’t gone away.  But that negative test still lingered in the back of my mind.  We brought the test to the trailer and I took it.  First off, it took the longest to process of any pregnancy test I had taken before.  From the angle I was at, it looked like it was flashing between “Pregnant” and “Not Pregnant.”  “How could it torture me like this?!  Just put me out of my misery!”  I angrily thought to myself.

Then, the test settled on “Pregnant,” but it still had an hourglass next to it.  “What the heck?!  Does that mean it’s still thinking?”  The seconds/minutes I waited seemed to stretch on forever.  Finally, the hourglass disappeared, and in it’s place was a weeks estimator.  It read “1-2.”

As in, I was 1-2 weeks pregnant!!  It turns out the earlier test was a false negative!

“Brett!”  I shouted, holding the pregnancy test, as though it were some sort of magic wand.  “Brett!  Brett!”  It took me a few moments to figure out he was outside the trailer.  I tried opening the trailer door, but somehow, I couldn’t unlock it.  It was as though my brain had stopped working.  I kept trying to open the door when Brett walked in through the other door, a sliding glass door.

I walked over to him, my eyes full of hope and joy.  “I’m pregnant!”  I said, holding up the test as proof I wasn’t making it up.

Brett smiled in that understated way of his (a nice contrast to my usual melodrama), hugged me close, and said “I love you.”

“I love you too,” I told him.  A few minutes afterwards, Brett was so excited and loved how happy I was that he started filming me on his cell phone.  I think he wanted to capture the moment forever.  You can watch it here .

Later, I wrote in my journal:

I can’t believe it.  It’s like I’m in the middle of a great dream and don’t want to wake up.  I’m so happy.  I’ve been wanting to be a mother for a very long time.  To find myself here, married to an incredible guy, and expecting  a baby… I am beside myself with joy.  Sheer joy.


The Moment I Realized I Didn’t Need to Be Busy Anymore

I was working long hours at the Pentagon (including nights and weekends), finishing my Master’s degree, and teaching a couple of yoga classes.  I was an Arbonne Independent Consultant, and pretty active at the time.  The little free time I had was devoted to my boyfriend (now husband) and his son, who lives several hours away in another state.

Whenever someone asked me how I was doing, my response was always, “Busy.”  My friends stopped inviting me out because I was almost always too busy to go.  I stopped traveling to visit family (except for my future stepson) because I no longer had the time.  I didn’t read books for fun because it seemed as though I was always behind in reading for school.  I felt as though I had no control over my life or my time.  The most I could concentrate on was what my very next thing or assignment was.

My now-husband told me I was “overbooking” myself.  Overbooking — this was a concept I had never considered before.

It was shortly after that conversation that I came across this article by Joshua Becker called A Helpful Guide to Becoming Unbusy.  At first, becoming “unbusy” seemed like a luxury I couldn’t afford.  Surely, this article didn’t apply to someone who was finishing their degree?!

Man, did unbusy sound wonderful though!  As I looked around at my life, at everything that was going on, the concept started to sink in.  I realized my husband and Mr. Becker were right.

It was that moment I knew I needed change.  I decided to devote the next year to becoming unbusy.  I stripped away the elements of my life that caused the most stress.  First was when I transferred to a less hectic position outside of the Pentagon.  Next, I put the Arbonne consulting on an indefinite pause.  That helped a lot.

Then, on Christmas day in 2013, my then-boyfriend proposed.  Yay!!  Now, I really had to prioritize!  I knew planning on upcoming wedding was going to keep me busy, but not having the time I wanted to devote to it would be worse.  I made the difficult decision to stop teaching yoga for a while.

In early Spring 2014, I finally finished my Master’s degree.  Now that I had additional free time, I was able to devote it to my fiancee (at the time), his son, and planning our wedding together.  Although I wasn’t quite unbusy yet, I felt a lot better.  I no longer felt as though I was scrambling.  I had rearranged my priorities with the things I wanted most at the top.

My husband and I were married in late 2014, with my 11-year-old stepson as our Best Man.  In the months that followed, we were able to enjoy ourselves and live with much less stress.

For the first time in years, I’m able to look around my life and decide where I want it to go. From here, we have made several huge life changes, including paying off our debt.

Now, I am slowly starting add more things I enjoy back into my life.  I’m reading for fun, (Hello, 50 Shades!), teaching yoga, and traveling again.  As I do, I’m trying to shape my life into what I want it look, instead of allowing my mismanaged priorities to shape me.  Life is too short to spend it shuffling from one thing to the next without enjoying yourself.

 


How Do I Answer the Question of “What Will You Do After the Military?”

Word of my upcoming separation from active duty naval service is making its way through my friends and family.  Inevitably, the next question I get is something along the lines of, “What will you do next?”

I’m not sure I can answer this question myself yet.  From moment to moment, I daydream about myself as the following:

a) A stay-at-home wonder mom and homemaker, taking care of my 11-year-old stepson and new baby’s (disclaimer: I would need to get pregant first!) every need, reading stories, preparing delicious vegan gluten-free meals, and doing all of the “home stuff,” like cleaning and doing laundry.  Images of me and my family smiling at each other.  A lot.  And doing homemade crafts and bicycling outside.

b) An ueber peaceful, meditative yoga teacher.  A lot of zen.  And enlightenment.  And cool yoga clothes.  And midday meetups with fellow yoga teachers and students at my favorite vegan restaurants in the Washington DC area (Hello, Busboys n’ Poets and The Loving Hut!).  (Disclaimer: I teach one yoga class per week now, which at the end of May, will increase to three classes per week, so this could totally happen.  Yeah.)

c) Building this blog so much that I could actually call it my profession.  In public.   At the very least, I would need to figure out how to add a Facebook and Twitter buttons to my blog postings.  And finish signing up for a Twitter account.  Would definitely need better graphics too.  And a cleaner layout.  And more material.  Note to self: look up more YouTube videos on how to make my blog prettier.

d) Finally writing that book about my late dad.  Long, peaceful afternoons typing away on my Mac, pausing to call my mom every once in a while to let her know how much progress I’m making and how great the book is going.  Fame and success once the book gets published.  Instant New York Times bestseller.  People recognizing me in the streets as “that awesome writer.”  Yeah, that could happen.

e) Going back to school with the goal of becoming a psychologist.  School appears in my head the way I see it on tv nowadays: perfect weather, hip clothes and shoes, engaging discussions with cool fellow students and teachers, and homework that always gets itself done without too much trouble.  In the future, I become like Dr. Phil, but without the tv show.  Yeah, that would be awesome.  I could do that.

In all seriousness, I don’t think the list above is necessarily mutually exclusive.  Could I look forward to a dream that incorporates several (or maybe all?) of the items listed above?  In what order do I go about trying to achieve them?  How do I accomplish these things, and still be an awesome wife to my incredible husband?

In Jeff Goins’ the “Art of Work,” he talks about the “portfolio life.”  This concept applies when your life is not made up of merely one vocation, but several.  Goins is not just a writer, just a public speaker, or just a blogger.  He’s a combination of all of these things.  Maybe that could be in the cards for me in my future?


Feeling Trapped

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Photo Credit

Several years ago, I felt called to a higher purpose; however, I wasn’t sure what that meant.  One thing I was sure of: I wanted to leave my job and do something else, like writing, counseling, or teaching yoga.  However, I couldn’t leave because I felt trapped, like a caged animal.

There were several reasons I felt this, the main reason being finances.  I had student loans to pay back, as well as a hefty car payment.  I quickly realized that, to have more freedom, meant I needed to be financially free first.

Therefore, I started paying down my debt.  While my husband and I were dating, he started paying down his debt too.  Just taking steps towards financial freedom made the daily rat race of going to work bearable again.

Then, after we got married, we attacked our debt together.  Now, we are proud to say we are debt-free!

Paying off our debt gave me the confidence to submit my resignation letter from active duty naval service.  It as though a weight has been lifted and I find myself freer and more peaceful.

Now, I ask you, are you in a job/career that is leaving you feeling less-than-fulfilled?  If so, what is keeping you there?  And what can you do about it?

 


The Loss of My Aunt Marie

Cloudy Sky

Photo Credit

Last week, we lost a dear family member, my precious Aunt Marie.

The family is still reeling from the colossal loss.

Aunt Marie was a sweet and special aunt to me, and a loving mother to her four boys, all grown now with wives/fiancees and children of their own.

Aunt Marie started off as one of four sisters.  She was the eldest, followed by my mother, then Aunt Louise, with Aunt Fran being the baby.  I never got to to know Aunt Louise – she was mentally ill, diagnosed with schizophrenia at a young age, and died when I was a teenager.  The other three ladies, however, became my guides and my lifeblood.

Mom, Aunt Marie, and Aunt Fran made the perfect complement to each other.  Aunt Marie was kind, soft-spoken, and non-judgmental.  She dearly loved those around her, and they loved her back.  She loved being around all of her boys and their families, with all the loud joking, horseplay, and sports talk.  Aunt Marie loved to talk to family and friends on the phone, offering a kind word or a gentle joke.  If you need someone to just listen and not judge you or offer unsolicited advice, or even someone to watch Grey’s Anatomy with, you knew to call Aunt Marie.

Aunt Marie’s only downfall was that she always put herself last.  In spite of the fact that she had diabetes and heart problems, we still couldn’t get her to eat right or stay hydrated, no matter how much we admonished her.  She would rather suffer quietly in pain that assertively ask the doctor to do something about it.

Aunt Fran is on the other end of the spectrum.  As opposed to Aunt Marie, who loved being in a room full of people, Aunt Fran prefers to be by herself or with a good friend, curled up with her blanket and her cat, watching some good TV.  She is assertive and has a strong sense of what she wants in life.  One of the things I love about Aunt Fran is that you know exactly where you stand with her.  If you need someone to give you some tough love and tell you the advice you know you should be taking, you call Aunt Fran.

There are a lot of people Aunt Fran doesn’t like; if she does like you, consider yourself VERY lucky.  Some folks never see past Aunt Fran’s somewhat spiky exterior.  But that’s where they’re wrong.  Underneath it all, Aunt Fran is one of the kindest and strongest people I know.  She would do almost anything for the people closest to her.  She also feels things very deeply and worries about her family and friends.  She thinks of them and carries them with her through her daily life.  I consider myself blessed to know her.

In between these two ladies is my mom, Phyllis.  My entire life, she has been my guiding light and my compass.  Outgoing and charismatic like Aunt Marie, she loves and is loved by many.  She herself has a lot of opinions, but she usually keeps them to herself, unless you know her well enough.  I like to think I’m her best friend, because she certainly is mine.    My mom taught me how to be a good person and I can’t imagine my life without her.

With Mom, you have to be careful because you can easily hurt her feelings.  She wears her feelings on her sleeve and her many, many friends love her for it.  At the same time, she is the most emotionally strong person I know.  When we lost my dad, she was the only person in the room with him.  When Aunt Marie’s time was near, Mom kept pushing on, never leaving her side (except once to go to the bathroom).

If I want advice on how to follow my heart and see the absolute best in people, I call my mom.  If I’m going through something devastating and need someone to be there for me, I call my mom.

You see, these three women perfectly complement each other.  They leaned on each other throughout their lives, sharing experiences, joys, laughter, and pain.  They celebrated each other’s triumphs and mourned each other’s losses.  They were always there for each other, no matter how annoyed they got with each other.

Now, it makes me most sad to think of my mom and my Aunt Fran without my Aunt Marie.  It’s like a triangle with a missing, vital side.  It’s hard for me to imagine that it’s just Mom and Aunt Fran now.  It seems wrong, somehow.  Now they have to learn how to navigate life without one of the people they turned to most for support.  I know they’re lost and I’m lost for them.

I pray that love and faith will see them (and me) through this.  I have some comfort in the fact that Aunt Marie is not in pain anymore, and that she’s watching over us from heaven, as our guardian angel.  Telling us to not be so hard on ourselves, to indulge our sweet tooth, and to cuddle our pets every chance we get.  And to remind us that time with our loved ones is precious, and we never know when it’s going to run out.

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Triangles Coming Together to Make an Abstract Rose, Photo Credit


Family Memory – Dad Teaches Me About Faith

One of my main reasons for wanting to blog was so I could preserve precious family memories.  Here’s my favorite memory about my Dad.  He passed away in 2009 from cancer, so these moments hold extra special meaning for me.

I was around ten years old and annoyingly inquisitive.  I constantly asked questions of everything going on around me.

It was probably summertime, because my dad and I were up late watching a movie, while my mom and sister were upstairs asleep. We were the night owls of the family.  Dad used to love historical movies, as well as movies about biblical scenes. We were probably watching the latter.

Dad was sitting in his old easy chair with it all the way leaned back – one of his favorite spots in the house.  He told me it was time for bed. As going to sleep was one of my least favorite things to do, I begrudgingly walked over to give him a hug and kiss good night.

When I stood next to him, I asked him a question–quite possibly in a ploy to stall my going upstairs to bed. I said, “Dad… how do you know there is a God…you know, that he exists?” I shifted akwardly and looked down at my hands.  Dad looked at me earnestly for a moment.  For a split second, I thought he might be mad at me.  Then he said:

“You know how Moses led his people away from the Egyptians?”  I nodded yes.  He continued, “well, the Bible says he parted the Red Sea and that’s how he escaped.

“Now, some scientists and historians have studied the area and offered other explanations for Moses’ escape. Some of them believe the tide was low as Moses and his people crossed the Red Sea, and so when the Egyptians tried to cross, they didn’t make it because the tide came in and washed them away.

“Others believe that Moses and his people were traveling on foot, whereas the Egyptians chasing them were mostly on chariots – you know, they were traveling on wheels. Those people believe that Moses and his followers were able to walk or swim to the other side of the Red Sea, whereas the Egyptians’ wheels got stuck in the mud.”

My brow furrowed and I looked away for a second, trying to grasp what Dad was telling me.  This was not what I was expecting at all.  Normally Dad had some scientific explanation for why things were the way they were.  Usually, he would answer my questions and everything would make sense again.  But this didn’t make sense at all.  Why would he tell me of other ways to believe? How does this prove there is a God?  At my weekly Catholic school class, the instructors never gave other explanations or points of view for biblical events. Not only that, but both of Dad’s alternative explanations for Moses’ escape seemed perfectly reasonable to me. In my perplexity, I looked back at Dad and stammered, “Um… okay… so what… do you think happened…?”

Dad replied, “I believe the Bible. I choose to believe that Moses parted the Red Sea.  And believing in God is the same way.  I choose to believe in God.  I choose to believe that He exists.”

I didn’t realize it at the time, but Dad taught me a valuable lesson of faith.  I will always treasure this lesson.

I also value how he reasoned with me and didn’t talk down to me, even at my young age. And now, years later, I choose to believe that God exists, and Moses did indeed part the Red Sea.


57 Whole People Looked At My Blog!

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 Photo taken from Free Images

Today, I checked Google Analytics for the first time.  I discovered that 57 whole people looked at my blog yesterday!  That’s up from 12 people the day before.  Wow.  And I thought NO ONE was looking.  Hopefully someone will actually leave a real comment!

I hope this serves as a reminder that we all have to start somewhere.  And start small.  Sometimes, when I’m jogging, I catch myself saying, “Man I’m slow… I bet some people could walk faster than this.”  But then, I say, “Well, I’m faster than the people not out here.”

At least I’m honoring the calling I received several years ago – to write.  I’m trying.  Here goes nothing.