Saturday, May 25, 2024

Everything is going to be ok... by Scott Johnson

Scott Johnson wrote this  years ago, when he retired from teaching. He's never really retired, you understand--people still learn from him all the time. A lot of teachers are like that, aren't they? They just kind of walk around with an invisible classroom. He said I could use this, so here it is, the Window's occasional gift to graduates, compliments of Scott Johnson, renaissance man extraordinaire. I used this one a few years ago and am pleased to  use it again. Congratulations, Class of 2024. We are so proud of you. Go forth and be smart and funny and all the other things your parents and grandparents have always known you were. 

I have been sitting here in front of this blank screen for quite a while now. It's a nice evening so I don't really mind, but I have been trying to find some way of telling you all just what I have learned about life since my career began. I thought I would be able to sum it all up in one grand and deep sentence but my mind is clouded with memories and so I can't really see that clearly now.  

There are lots of little lessons that I would like to share and you can choose to think about them if you wish but I have long ago given up the idea that I could influence people to do what they really don't want to do. Ignore all this nonsense if you want to.

I learned that with us humans, we have to strive to give another person what they need rather than simply giving to them what we want them to need.

I learned that most of the time when fights and arguments happen, they have very little to do with what injury someone else has done to us, but rather what injury our own self esteem has done to us.

I learned that at one time or another, everyone needs to be told that everything is going to be ok.

I learned that we have to do what makes us happy and be who makes us happy because human nature cannot be fooled.

I learned that being kind to others without expecting anything in return is the best way to make ourselves complete.

I learned that some rules must to be broken but others should never be.

I learned that imagination is the most important thing to be nurtured.

I learned that reading and thinking are skills and like any skills, need to be practiced.

I learned that taking on challenges that other people provide but never challenging yourself has no worth.

I learned that we all have the power to make those around us feel good about who they are and this is the most powerful thing in the world. This power should never be withheld and the opposite of this...making those around us feel bad about who they are...should never be used.

I learned that when you have to correct a person, always let them save face by laughing with them immediately after.

I learned that karma is a real thing.  

I could probably write down lots more of these little lessons but these will do for now. When I look over this list, I find there I have failed to quote one single educational standard that might appear on a standardized test sometime. I guess this is why it is time for me to go.

I am going to borrow a line from a song that I heard today to finish this off.

Never give up

Never slow down

Never grow old

Never ever die young. 

Thank you all for everything you have done. I am sorry for many things. I will miss you and I will always be there to tell you...everything is going to be ok. -  Johnson


Thanks once again to Scott, for his heart and his words. Have a great week. Hold someone tight. Be nice to somebody.

Wednesday, May 22, 2024

Finding Inspiration in my Windshield View by Kyra Jacobs

Happy May, everyone!

I’m popping by today to talk about finding inspiration in the ordinary. The everyday. Liz does a wonderful job of providing insightful thoughts from her window view. For me, as the single momma of two former travel soccer kids, there was a long spell that involved LOTS of windshield time. Driving to soccer practices. Driving home from soccer practices. Driving to games, to tournaments, to pre- and post-season gatherings…

Yeah, we had a lot going on.

But rather than bemoan the fact that we were in the car yet again, I tried to do what my friend and mentor Shirley Jump always encouraged – find the time to write anywhere you can. So, during practices I was typing on my laptop, and when I was driving, I allowed myself to enjoy the views and watch for inspiration along the way.

Cute house with a white picket fence sitting beside a yellowing soybean field? That’s going in a book.

Small community with one main road winding through it? Intriguing.

Cool town name on a highway sign? Yes, please.

That’s how Bourbon Falls came to be, by the way. We had soccer over in Warsaw and beyond on several occasions, and I remember driving west down US 30 trying to come up with a location for a new romance series I was developing. Low and behold, a road sign came into view listing the town of Bourbon ahead. I mentally chewed on that for several miles and made plans to hop on Google Earth when we got back home—there was no stopping that day, not with our tight schedule.

Once I Googled Bourbon, Indiana, I knew it was the one. And since it wasn’t too far from Fort Wayne, I talked my mom into a road trip to explore the town on foot.

What a lovely adventure that was! We toured the town, taking pictures of buildings I planned to use in my story. The bookstore that would come to be known as Brooks Books and drive the Bourbon Falls series. The original train depot, where a secret kiss happens in book one. The parking lot that would be home to a Christmas tree lot in book two. The fire house, which hosted a substantial portion of book three.

It was magical, and it was all right there, just outside my car’s windshield.

Also, if you’re in the area, I recommend you stop by Bourbon Street Pizza – excellent ‘za, and very cool historic pictures on the walls.

Yes, I’ve written a few fantasy books, and yes, I love to create imaginary worlds and supernatural characters, but when I’m writing my contemporary romances and mysteries, I love to find inspiration in the here and now. Usually, it’s waiting right outside the window…or windshield.

What inspiration is across the glass from you today?

Have a wonderful summer, everyone!

About the Author:

Kyra Jacobs is an extroverted introvert who’s always called Indiana home. Growing up in the Midwest means she’s well-versed in fickle weather, pork tenderloins that don’t fit on a bun, and sarcasm. Putting her Indiana University degrees in Public Management to good use by day means Kyra does the bulk of her writing late into the night. Fueled by caffeine and funny memes, she weaves humor and chaos into her stories, which range from sweet romance to mysteries and even paranormal/fantasy.

When this Hoosier native isn’t at a keyboard, daydreaming through her fingertips, she's likely outside, elbow-deep in snapdragons or spending quality time with her sports-loving family. Kyra also loves to bowl, tries to golf, and is an avid college football fan. Be sure to stop by to learn more about her novels and ways to connect with Kyra on social media.

Saturday, May 18, 2024

It's Saturday Morning... by Liz Flaherty

Yes, it is Saturday morning. Mist is lying soft on the ground and the fields are wearing their springtime clothes. It's been a good week. I've had time with friends, time with kids, working time, and time with the guy in the other recliner. Last week, I even had a 13-hour day as a poll worker, working with people I'd either not known before or seldom see. 

I've been to church, waved at my family's plot in the cemetery, run the weed-eater and trimmed the cats in short time increments that didn't do much for either situation I was trying to improve. I baked a pan of brownies that came out hard as the proverbial rock for no discernible reason other than I used my grandmother's pan and as I remember it, she didn't like to bake. 

I have realized, not for the first time, how lucky I am to never be bored. And I've realized something else, that even though days go way too fast in retirement, time is its most precious commodity. I complain sometimes, when the week starts, that I have to be somewhere or do something every single day, and then I have a great time with both the going and the doing. Maybe the only bad part of it is my complaining. Hmm...

Grandkids grow up overnight, and loss is an unavoidable part of things as we go on, but, oh, the good things that happen in this time! Have you seen the pictures of graduates in caps and gowns, the busloads of younger ones on end-of-year field trips, felt the energy of May altogether? The baseball parks are alive with crowds of people who share the love not only of "America's pastime," but love of the ones on the field and in the dugout. Have you seen--or joined--the lines at the ice cream stand windows?

Have you thought, in these times of undeniable strife and division, not of how you can get through another day of it, but how you can make things better?


My new publisher, Annessa Ink, posted a what do you think? choice of covers for Pieces of Blue, my next book, on Facebook. I know what my opinion is, but I'd like to hear yours. Which of the three posted below do you like best? Even better, why do you like it? Please leave your answer in comments or let me know however you like. I'm looking forward to seeing what you think. 

Thanks for voting and for reading. Have a good week--enjoy your time. Be nice to somebody.

Saturday, May 11, 2024

Being Brought to Your Knees by Liz Flaherty

I have always thought of marriage as being the most complicated of relationships because...well, it is.

But not compared to motherhood. Because that's the thing that brings you to your knees and keeps you there.

I have been privileged in my life to have a great mom and a great mother-in-law, a sister and sister-in-law who filled in empty spaces sometimes, and mothers of friends whom I have loved. 

I've been even more privileged to have kids, kids-in-law, grandkids, and friends of kids to have chances to try and fail and try again to be someone good in their lives. 

I mention try and fail because I think...sometimes...I've been a pretty good mother, and other times I have just sucked at it. The list of people in the paragraph above have given credit for the former and forgiven the latter. 

Parent and child relationships give birth to more emotions than I ever could have imagined, ones that go deeper, are more painful, and are more wonderful than the human imagination can encompass. 

I've tried for years now, and I've never been able to accomplish a good Mother's Day column yet. This one is no exception. And it is always for the same reason.

It is because every day you love a child from the very deepest part of your heart, whether it's your child or not, is Mother's Day. 

I wish you a happy day tomorrow, and a good week. Be nice to somebody. 

Saturday, May 4, 2024

Sharing the Pew by Liz Flaherty

"Family is family, whether it’s the one you start out with, the one you end up with, or the family you gain along the way." — Unknown

I love my family. Duane, the kids we had and the ones they brought home to us, the grandkids, my sisters-in-law, my brother. Nieces and nephews who fill in so many places. I love the memories of those I've lost. The losses still hurt. A lot. 

But family goes so much deeper than its description, doesn't it? Sometimes family comes in the form of hospice nurses and hospital chaplains and healthcare workers who share your pain during loss. It's neighbors who wave, a dusty baker, high school friends you don't have to explain things to because they were there. They remember. They care. Family is your kids' friends, the cat that followed them home, the person who sits with you when you're scared and alone. 

Family is the other people in the pew at church where you sit, because...I don't know why it is...but maybe God won't know you're there if you don't sit in the same pew every time. You recognize when the person just down from you is too quiet, or pale, or...worse...not there two weeks in a row. 

I have best friends. Not just one, but a few, and they are more than friends. I'm not even sure what gives a relationship that particular designation, but I know when it's there. Best friendship is where secrets go to live and only come out when you feel you have to talk about them or go crazy in the silence. It's where you start talking as if you'd never left off even if you haven't seen them for years. Best friendship is family. If it is lost, you mourn, and the scar tissue on your heart thickens.

Sometimes family is hard. Politics not only makes strange bedfellows, it creates cavernous divides between people whose connections are deep and--to me--less complicated than ones that don't go so deep. Although you wish people you consider family shared your political feelings, chances are some of them don't. Likewise, it would be nice if you shared core religious beliefs, but chances are you won't always. 

My own siblings and I have been known to look at each other and ask, "Where did you grow up?" Because none of us grew up in the same house. While our memories were born in the same place, they took different routes into the stories we told. 

There are divisions in family. There is anger. There is injustice, sometimes untruth, sometimes more bitterness than can be gotten past. But if family is a church, you still sit in the same pew. You pass the box of tissues around, shake with laughter together at things no one else finds funny, and hold each other's little ones in your lap because they're yours, too. Your shoulders will remain stiff and almost not touching. Almost. 

It's the almost that saves us. One of my brothers and I were so divergent in every possible way. We didn't see each other often, he hung up on me, I had no patience with him. We had a history of rolling our eyes at things the other one said. But I am grateful that the last words I said to him were that I loved him. That his last words to me were that he loved me, too. 

One of my best friends has dementia. I haven't seen her in years, although I still send cards sometimes. Presents occasionally. She doesn't respond, but her daughter sends pictures and I still see her smile. 

Family isn't perfect. It's not always constant or kind. But, again, if it was a church--and it is indeed a gathering of souls, although sometimes a bumpy, grouchy one--our shoulders are still touching in the same pew. I'm so grateful.

Have a good week. Call your mother. Be nice to somebody.