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Introspective Sojourner

The journey inward following Christ’s path to that person I was uniquely created to be.

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Friendship

Sequel to Shades of Blues Available Now

The Light and Dark of It; A Journey Back

The Sequel to Shades of Blues; Into a Fractured Mind

Available Now on Amazon.com and Kindle.

How do you convince others you’re mentally stable, when you can’t trust your own mind?

Eloise and Grant desperately want their fairytale life back. When Eloise returns home from North Warren they are filled with hope – and a little anxious. Treatments, meant to cure, have damaged her mind, and her mental stability is constantly in question.

If she’s not careful she may find herself back in the hell of North Warren. Except now there is no dying child, no sympathetic story and no one at North Warren who cares enough to save her.

 

THE LIGHT AND DARK OF IT; A Journey Back delves deep into the challenges faced once someone is released from institutional care. Set in the 1950’s, THE LIGHT AND DARK OF IT; A Journey Back is the thought-provoking, heartbreaking and heartwarming conclusion of SHADES OF BLUES; Into A Fractured Mind that will leave you cheering Eloise on as you fall in love with the small town of Titusville, Pennsylvania.

 

Don’t have your Shades of Blues copy yet? Order Now.

 

110%: Too Narrow a View?

“I need you to give 110%!”  I just cringe when I hear that.  Even people who are not good at math have most likely been told that you can’t have more than 100%.  Percent makes it “of the whole”.  You can’t have more than a whole pie of a pie.  You can however have too narrow a view.  Perhaps you are really only considering a slice of the pie.  If you give 110% effort at work, or at a sport, what was the cost to the other pieces of your pie?  Did you give less at home, perhaps to a spouse or your children?  That will cost you in the health of your relationship slice of pie.  Did you negate your need for sleep or exercise?  Those things will eventually cost you in your health slice of pie.  Burnout is right around the corner if you ignore those.  Did you skip picking up, doing the dishes, or laundry, or other household functions?  Those will eventually catch up with you, so your ability to give 110% to whatever you are focusing on, is time limited.  Did you cut out your quiet time with God or your spirituality as a whole?  That will affect… well pretty much everything else in your life.  Somehow it’s usually the first thing we cut out, isn’t it?  Yet it’s kind of the crust to our pie. It’s what everything is built upon.

You could have been thinking about the other valid way to get 110%, though that is still an incorrect way of describing your level of effort.  You could be comparing your effort to an expectation level that is actually too low.  Did you compare your full effort to someone else’s full effort and determine you gave significantly more than they did?  The way that they slice their pie does not change how you sliced yours.  Did you expect to be able to do less and surprise yourself?  Therefore you feel like your effort was more than your ability to give?  I’m guessing you see the issue with the this immediately.  Your ability to do more than you thought you could, is either that you underestimated your time and talents, or you took from a different slice of your pie to be able to focus more fully on the task requiring your effort, thus putting it back into our “too narrow a view” idea.

Looking more closely at the estimation of our ability, that we often compare our actual effort against, can easily go both ways.  On some occasions we are proud of our selves for achieving more than we thought possible.  It was obviously possible, so our theory that it wasn’t was incorrect.  Nonetheless, we also berate ourselves when we don’t complete our self-assigned lists, or complete them to a lower standard than self-assigned as a perfect score.  My supposition is that often the second one is another piece of the pie catching up with us.  It needed our attention previously, but we stole from that piece of the pie temporarily, and now the piper needs to be paid.  Frequently the piper that shows up is the ones we can’t ignore such as poor health or need for rest.

The Bible gives us a great example where God clearly expects us to get enough rest and take care of our own needs in the story of Elijah.  Elijah had just killed all of those prophets of Baal.  He had been on the mountain top in his career, and here comes Jezebel and she’s out for blood.  She wants Elijah dead, and she’s the queen.  Being hated by those in charge, even feeling like you are disliked, is completely draining.  Elijah ran away and hid.  Good plan! I think.  God sends an angel and tells him to get up and eat, and then go rest.  A second time God sent an angel to instruct him to eat and rest.  Finally God tells him that he really needs to eat because the journey is too far.  This is where most of us think the story starts.  This is where Elijah listens for the Lord but the Lord is not in the wind, or the earthquake, but in the gentle whisper.  Elijah had to really be listening to hear him.

I often fail here because I was too busy being a storm of my own to stop and listen.  I’m also a regular steal-er from the health and rest pies, when I’m completing a different task.  It always catches up to me and then I berate myself for not meeting my own standards.

What’s your point already?  Right!

My point is we need that balanced life.  God designed us to need a balanced life.  He then made sure to give us examples in his word where He shows that He values our need to balance our lives.  We innately know that we need a balanced life, that’s not news to us.  But our need to take pride in our effort is the root of the problem.  We get unbalanced when we try to give 110%.  When we stretch ourselves in one area of our life and neglect another, we eventually pay the price.  Sometimes there can be long term consequences such as divorce or estrangement, or long term health issues that can not be resolved or can’t be resolved quickly.

I believe this pride issue, that gets us out of wack, starts with our thought process.  That need to be proud of ourselves or gain the approval of others by giving more than expected is the catalyst.  That desire to overachieve in one area of our life, without looking at the whole pie, is the first harmful action.  Comparing your slice of pie to how someone else slices their pie, on the other hand, only breeds apathy and disdain.  It is even less healthy.  Both are a battle in our minds.  Changing our thoughts to be kinder to ourselves and others is at least part of the answer.  Stopping the internal slave driver, who is fine with you skipping your exercise routine, but forces you to stay late at work.  Stopping that internal comparison to others which keeps you driven to be the best you can be, until the other parts of your pie come crashing in around you, never works out the way we want.  Instead of expecting 110% from yourself, or that you must always get an A, do your best without stealing from the rest of your pie.  Take the whole whole of your life into consideration.

You can’t sleep when you’re dead.  You need to do it now and you need to stop beating yourself up for needing to do it now.  You can’t have the best relationship with your friends and family if you neglect them now, not without taking from another slice of pie to restore it later.  So next time you feel the need to give 110%, acknowledge where you are stealing from.  Acknowledge that you are cutting into another needed piece of your life.  If you are honest with yourself about that and you choose to do that for a season, then give more.  Otherwise look at the whole whole and stop expecting someone else to divide their pie the way you do.  Then most importantly, start with your crust.  Start by listening to God.  Spending time with Him and in His word.  Look at your pie the way He does.  He’s the recipe holder after all.  Who else knows how to make your pie the best it can be?

 

By Vicki L. Pugliese

Anatomy of a Non-Hugger

There is a hidden group within our midst, the non-hugger.  I can count myself in their numbers.  We have a different anatomy than most.  You see non-huggers have a bubble.  You can’t see it unless you are very perceptive towards our body language.  Ok, that’s a lie.  Everyone notices our body language, they just respond to it differently.  You can peg a person with a bubble, or personal space issue quickly when you go to hug them.  We have our coping skills, the pup tent hug, the side hug, the three second, pat your back and let go hug, or occasionally we get a handshake in to block the hug.  If you get a wave, or the slight backup movement, sorry, that’s a defense mechanism.  We like to hide out amongst the extreme introverts and germaphobes.  They don’t want to hug either, for their own reasons.  Introverts who are huggers do exist, they just won’t hug you unless you are in their inner circle of people.  I am not in their numbers.  The germaphobe has to make a choice between touching hands or hugging, neither of which is comfortable for them.  They also can be mistaken for the non-hugger, bubble people, as they do have a bubble but their mindset is different and I can’t begin to speak to it.

Being a person with an extra sensitive bubble and need for personal space, who is not an introvert, and is very compassionate, I have had to do some soul searching on this issue.  I’m from a great small town, very safe, and very friendly.  I talk to strangers, much to my family’s dismay.  I have been a Stephen Minister at our church.  This lay person’s job is to come along side someone in a crisis and support them, for as long as they need.  You could consider it a one on one deacon.  My point being that I am compassionate, empathetic and caring.  I can be warm and bubbly, not to be confused with my personal space bubble.  Nonetheless, I am NOT a hugger.  I come from a long line of undemonstrative people, some of which are also very personable and loving.  I can’t say my personal space issue is a result of environment or just how I am designed.  I have not lived in that small town since I was a child, and there are an awful lot of huggers out here.  My intuition tells me that my bubble issue is more of a design thing.  I only call it an issue because this is a hugger’s world.  I am not broken.

First, I have to describe the hugger to the best of my observations.  The hugger shows their compassion, love and any other host of emotions via their hug.  “I haven’t seen you in a whole week”, I should hug you.  “You are upset over an event”, I should hug you.  “You just got a new job”, I should hug you.  “I just flat out love you”, I should hug you.  It’s the obligatory “passing of the peace” or “I should hug you” time in church, so I should hug you.  Additionally, huggers get their needs met via their hugs as well.  “I’m excited about something God has blessed me with”, I need to be hugged.  “I’m upset about a trying or sad event”, I need a hug.  “We just heard a horribly emotional story”, I need a hug.  “You shared with me and let yourself be vulnerable about a situation in your life which touches my heart”, I need to hug you to show you I understand and care.  “I haven’t seen you in a whole week and I love you”, I need to hug you to show you that love.  “I’m feeling a little needy or vulnerable myself”, I need a hug to know your acceptance and to receive the gift of your love and compassion.  You see, huggers freely give the gift they have in abundance, the gift behind the hugs.  Those gifts include love, compassion, empathy, acceptance and acknowledgment of an inner circle of friends.  Huggers receive those same gifts from giving a hug, it is a two-way delivery system for them.

Huggers receive energy from a hug.  It is a positive exchange for them.  It fills their tank.  That tank can become empty, and require hugs to be filled.  Hugs initiated by others, gives more energy than those initiated by themselves but most of the time they don’t realize they beat you to the punch anyway.  You even have your super huggers who hold you so tight and for so long until that gift they are giving you is fully received and returned.  It’s a super power much like Superman’s gift of flight, or Captain America’s inability to age.  The super huggers receive healing with their super powers, and are positive you will as well, if you just fully embrace the hug.  They can fill their tanks quickly but prefer a tank that is overflowing so that they can give to others freely.  We avoid you, unless you are in our inner circle. 

There are a lot of huggers in this world, or at least in America, as I have barely left this country in my lifetime.  At very least there are a lot of huggers, who hug those who are at least in their inner circles.  The degree of circle to hug intensity is often relational.  Since introverts can also be huggers, that leaves the non-huggers in the very large minority.

Let me describe the non-hugger now.  The non-hugger requires you to use your imagination to understand.  The non-hugger has a bubble of personal space that they maintain at all times.  Keeping the bubble intact requires the least amount of energy.  It’s a little like the old moat around a castle.  A non-hugger has to expend energy to allow you into their bubble.  The draw bridge has to be lowered.  It acknowledges that you are accepted or loved.  Just lowering the bubble, is a gift from the non-hugger, as well as a drain on our energy.  It does not refill our tank to hug you.  Let me repeat that, we do not get energy from hugging you.  We do receive the gift of love, compassion and empathy.  What appears to be the biggest difference from my point of view, is that we do not receive energy from it.  Much like the introvert who goes to a party and comes home drained.  They may have even had a great time, but they are exhausted, it does not build up their stores. 

The non-hugger is offering you the olive branch by simply lowering the bubble.  The longer the bubble remains down, the more energy the non-hugger has to expend.  It is a choice that we make because we live in a hugger world.  We know that huggers take the side hug, or the handshake move offensively.  We know that you can tell we hug you stiffly.  We may need that pup-tent space to keep from being completely drained.  We may only have three seconds of energy to give.  Our worst moments are when we care for someone so very dearly, who only wants to comfort us, but we do not have enough energy in our tanks to lower the bubble.  We feel your pain.  We know that you also have a need to hug us.  We have experienced this hugger world our entire life.  We are perceptive enough to know that our lack of energy feels like rejection to you.  It is not.  It is self-care.   We simply may not have the energy needed to give to you what you need.  We are used to being the giver.  That may shock you. 

It has been expected of us to choose to let down our bubble because of your needs.  We face that forced choice regularly.  No one would force a child with autism to hug them.  We understand that you are hurting that child not helping them or loving them.  We understand that to love that child, you meet them how they can receive.  Non-huggers do not get this understanding.  We get looks of hurt, judgement and dismissal when we make the choice to not expend our energy.  That choice may have nothing to do with our relationship with you, though it often takes far more energy to lower the bubble for those outside our inner circles.  Yet, the responses we get, regularly reinforces, that to make that choice we will offend you.  If we have chosen that, it was most likely not lightly.  We don’t like the judgement either.  We are perceptive enough to know, unlike the child with autism.  If we care about you, it hurts us even more.  That is a sign!  If you are in our inner circle of friends and family, and we are incapable of lowering our bubble, our tank is flat empty.  We have nothing to give you.  We will not receive the love, empathy or compassion that you are trying to give us to fill up our tanks, because we don’t have enough energy to maintain the bubble’s integrity.  It is not a positive exchange any longer for us.  That has nothing to do with our relationship with you, but with our own energy stores within our very spirit.

The East Coast has a tradition of torturing grieving families, called “Visitation Hours”.  This terrible tradition lines a grieving family up so that you can share in their grief and support them.  Which may work wonderfully for huggers, but is a lot like a nightmare for a non-hugger.  My dad was a very loved man in the small town I grew up in.  It’s a much larger town when you are forced to be in the receiving line at visitation hours.  Approximately 500 people came through those receiving lines.  Each with stories of how they knew my dad, and loved him.  Each with the offering, the gift of their shared grief in our loss; most of them huggers.  After the first ten or so people, my tank was beyond empty.  There was no longer any room for my own grief.  Luckily my oldest son arrived half way through, he was able to be light hearted and perhaps inappropriately silly with me.  I had nothing left to give those who came by that time.  It was a lot like immersion therapy.  It changed me.  My bubble was irreparably damaged, not necessarily a bad thing.  While the night itself was the worst thing I can imagine doing to a non-hugger, it has opened up an ability to receive the gift huggers have long been extending to me.  I have been known to initiate a hug since that night!  It’s quite the transformation, but only for my inner circle.  If I have hugged you, initiated the hug, that was a gift.  Not only did I lower the bubble, which still exists, but has changed, but I extended and received the gift of love, compassion and empathy that huggers intend.  Now if you aren’t in my inner circle, sorry that part of my bubble regenerated. 

So, my advice for huggers is to not immediately be offended by the pup tent hug, the side hug, the three second hug or the stiff hug.  You can go ahead and be slightly offended by the quick handshake or wave.  Instead if you know the person well, especially if you are in their inner circle, look for a deeper reason.  Maybe this person is a non-hugger.  Maybe this person’s tank is running empty for circumstances you are unaware of.  Understanding our emptiness with that overflowing compassion you can tap into, is greatly appreciated.  We know in those instances, it’s harder for you not to hug.  Choosing to help us maintain our energy stores, our depleted tank, is more loving.  Instead offer a prayer, or a simple touch on our arm or shoulder.  We will receive the intended hug.  We will appreciate, if not immediately, it will occur to us when our tank is replenished, that you respected our needs.  You see, it doesn’t happen often, so even if we are too drained to notice immediately, we will remember.  But most importantly appreciate the choice we make to show you how much we love you, when we do hug you.  You are special to us, worthy of our energy stores.  You are worthy to be given to, without a return for us.  The reasons for our bubble can be numerous.  Our anatomy remains much the same, it’s just that you can’t see part of it.  That bubble, and the energy store required to maintain it are just as real as our tears, our limbs, or our heart.  It excludes us, we wouldn’t keep it if we had a real choice.  We would choose to receive what you receive with a hug if we could.  Yet, we are not broken, we are designed differently.  We only ask for understanding and acceptance, like everyone else.  Dismissing, or making fun of our bubble is the opposite of what we would prefer, even if we acknowledge and make fun of it ourselves.  So, continue to offer us hugs.  Hug us as long as we allow, and as hard as we can return.  Nonetheless, do not take offense, we have offered all we can.

 

Signed

The Non-Hugger.

 

By Vicki L. Pugliese

The “Hat Lady” – my friend

We knew her first as the “hat lady”. She was a breath of high society at our little Presbyterian church.  She wore a different and fabulous hat with amazing coordinating earrings every weekend to earn herself such a title from my family!  She came every week with her granddaughter Stephanie, who was beautiful, well behaved and a quiet child.

Margaret later joined the choir and we became fast friends even though there’s an age gap. It was quite a sacrifice for her to give up her hats but she loved to sing.  I enjoyed immensely her marvelous snarky sense of humor.  Margaret always had a smile on her face.  It was clear as well that she adored her granddaughter Stephanie.  Where ever one went the other went as well.  Although Stephanie never joined the choir, that was her grandmother’s thing.  Nonetheless they did attend services together through-out the years.

Margaret volunteered in many ways over the years. She was even our children’s choir director until an accident nearly “did her in”.  She tripped over a stray child, who wasn’t where they were supposed to be.  I don’t believe she was ever truly sturdy again, although she never complained.  Only she could make a cane a true fashion accessory!

In this last year or so Margaret has not been able to attend our church and yet we have become closer than ever via Facebook. As was her nature, she quickly volunteered to assist me in editing my blog.  My family had had about enough of forced reading of things I had written.  They were tired of missing commas, run on sentences, and inappropriate lead in words.  Margaret was ever diligent at reading and editing my work.  She always had a cheerful demeanor and was gentle in her corrections.  Once I even sent an email late at night, assuming she would find it in the morning.  She was still up. She stayed up to finish editing before calling it quits for the night.  She had been an executive secretary.  Some habits die hard.  She amazed me always.

She would privately message me stories about her beloved husband and some of their adventures. She always spoke kindly of her family and adoringly of her granddaughter.  I stole… **&^%*^^^^  ooops I fell off my brag box from her, with her permission of course.  She took great pleasure in me using her ideas and phrases.  She was an excellent editor.

Mostly Margaret was a dear and sweet friend that I will treasure forever. I know my blogs will be plagued with missing commas, run on sentences and other grammar and punctuation issues.  More importantly I know she is with our Savior right now demanding better hats with more unique accessories!  She was one of a kind.  She was inspiring.  She was my friend.  Rest in Peace Margaret Ascue.  You were loved.  Save me a spot at the good table!

 

By Vicki L. Pugliese

Grampa, Her World

“You’re not Papa!” she exclaimed, melting down into a heap on the floor. A not quite two year old’s favorite person in the world is no joking matter.  I’m not chopped liver but today she had been waiting for him to arrive home for what seemed like a very long time, and everyone that walked through that door except Grampa was getting the same treatment.

“Sorry.”, her mom said with a half a smile, as she retrieved the tiny distraught body from the ground, heading back out to the kitchen. “It’s been a hard day.”

Even her own father had gotten the “Not the Papa” treatment today. We were all used to it actually.

There was a special bond between them. We had encouraged my son and his family to move back to California after my own Dad had passed away.  Perhaps we all could have done things in a better, more planned way.  My guess is that they would still be “planning” on moving out “someday” if we had.  Our grandchildren were growing up too fast and there was too much country between us.  Life was too short and precious.  This little girl, not quite two years old now, had only been two months old when they arrived.  She was so tiny and fragile then.  She is full of life and her own opinions now!

They had packed up all they had left after garage sales and Craig’s List ads and packed anything that would fit in and around their three children and two large dogs into just two cars. They made that enormous trek across the country in just four days.  After all, they had cooped up two large dogs, and three kids, one of which was an infant.  We anxiously waited on the other end of the country, for them to arrive.  Dani had been so very little and cuddly.  Our older grandchildren had spent years apart from us. We had some catching up to do.

That was a year and a half ago. A bad economy and horrible renters market in our area, coupled with their difficult requirements of such a large family and two large dogs had been grossly underestimated by all of us.  We had underestimated the extent of the bad economy in this area and how long it would take to find work, although he found work almost immediately.  We underestimated how hard it would be to find an apartment or home to rent in their budget that would take such a large family and dogs.  Time passed.

Over the months this little bond had grown. Grampa didn’t go against Mom’s and Dad’s wishes, per se.  Grampa was good at misdirection and offering different choices that sound much less like a “no” than what other people offer her.  She much prefers his methods to my method of, “Your mom said, No”.   I really don’t mind.  I don’t mince words and for that, I’m not her favorite.  It’s ok, I love seeing their bond.

When Grampa walks through that door, her face lights up like a noonday sunshine, warm and bright.   Her arms fly straight up in to the air, and as fast as her little feet can take her she runs to the door.  He obliges immediately by picking her up before he has even put his things down.  He listens to her not quite two year old babble about who knows what.  He and her mom catch several words here and there. Smiles fill the room.  She has the ability to brighten everyone’s day. She is captivating already.

It’s a beautiful thing to watch. We love all of our four grandchildren.  They all have their personality niche and their close relationships.  The older two are very close to their maternal grandmother.  But this not quite two year old has a new baby brother now, and I could be in the running to be his favorite person, only time will tell.  I may get bumped down a rung or two on “the favorite person in the world” ladder when he  realizes I back Mom up, but that’s how I roll.  This bond between our not quite two year old and Grampa, though, is beyond heartwarming.  It’s why they moved west.  It’s why we all work to get along with so many people and pets in one house.  Family matters.  Family matters to all of us. It is the best part of all that life has to offer.

These relationships and memories will remain long after Grampa and I are gone. This one little almost two year old will remember Papa, her favorite person in the whole world and this special time in her life.  It will shape who she becomes because she was loved so much, because someone always dropped everything just for her.  We may not be the best grandparents, but to a nearly two year old, Papa is the world.

 

By Vicki L. Pugliese

Don’t Judge My Snapshots

“You’re so pulled together! I need to be more like that.”  This young girl said to me at a Weight Watchers meeting after I had just destroyed my week.  I had completely gone rogue to the point of having cookies for dinner.  In that exact moment, I was executing a plan for my upcoming anniversary.  It’s a great plan actually.  It’s thoughtful and seems wise to this young unmarried girl.  She longs for married life even though she is in a long term relationship that is probably headed in that direction.  The uncertainty is ruining it for her, as is her biological clock.

In that exact moment, I seemed like someone to follow.  She planned on stealing my idea.  I encouraged her to do so.  The irony of the previous week was just too much for me.  I told her how my week started off badly, and then plummeted into terrible.  She didn’t care.  She was looking at the snapshot of the moment, the cover and she was impressed.

I had been at a work conference where I had no control over what food I was being served.  I could bring some snacks with me, and did after the first day. I found myself irritable for reasons I could not explain.  I was more irritable than my normal lovable self.  Then the second day, in the first session, I walked into a room I recognized, sadly.  I found myself in the room where two years previously I had received the call that it was “time to come home”.  My father was ill and was going to pass away.  Just a couple of weeks later, in a hospital room, while other family members and I were at his side, he left this world to be with our Savior.

While I know he is no longer in pain and, for the most part, I grieved conventionally.  I still miss him terribly from time to time.  This moment at the conference, as the memories flooded back, I realized why I did not want to be in this building at all and certainly not in this room.  My emotions overwhelmed me.  I handled my emotions fairly well that day, during the day.  I went directly to a Weight Watchers to pick up snacks for the next day on my way home. Then I went to a Starbucks and my week took a wrong turn.  I brought several Weight Watcher choices for snacks for the next day to keep away from all of the bad choices that the conference provided.  Instead of picking from the choices I brought, I ate them all.  The third day I brought less snacks, learning my lesson.  I had an event that evening and had very little time for dinner.  I had cookies for dinner.  Nothing else in the grocery store looked good.  I had given up by now.  I was experiencing a melting down. We went out to dinner on Thursday, I ate somewhat lightly, but had dessert.  By weigh in, if I had not already paid for three months, I might have high tailed it and not showed up to face the music at all.  The wonderful check in lady hugged me.  I had only gained half a pound.  I COULD actually come back from that.  I can pick myself up, dust myself off and shake off that week.

Here comes this sweet young girl watching me in this moment.  She didn’t see the video of my complete mess of a week.  She readily forgives me for my half a pound.  “You’ll do better this week.”  She’s really super sweet.  I love this kid.

I’m thinking to myself, how many times have I seen a friend or coworker or even a stranger in a moment and longed to be them?  How many times have I watched a couple that seem to have it all together and wished our relationship could be like that?  How many woman have I gotten just a glimpse of them all put together in the best moments and wished I was more like them?  How many Facebook posts have I seen and thought… I need to do that or be like that or start doing that?  I fall for all of those things immortalizing a moment.  I fall for all of those things showing the cover of a story but not the whole story.  I’m just falling for the marketing.  I know my whole story.  I know all of my ups, and all of my deep dark downs.  I’m very familiar with them.  Actually I quickly forget my successes.

I once read that being proud of yourself was like being proud of an organ functioning.  That resonated with me.  Let me explain.  I was born in this country to a decent family that valued education, a relationship with the Lord, family ties and a hard work ethic.  All of those things added to who I am.  I can’t take credit for them.  I can’t look at myself compared to you, not knowing your journey, and assume that those things didn’t impact that journey.  I would be looking at the cover, not the whole story.  I can’t even look at my siblings and make that assumption because I don’t know all of the things that have happened in their lives.  I wouldn’t be excited that my pancreas is functioning.  It just does.  Yay pancreas!!!  I assume it will function.  I would not be happy if it didn’t, that’s for sure.  I’m sure that would be a problem.  I can’t take credit that it does.  I can’t take credit that I’m hard working, have a value on my education and family ties and love the Lord.  Those are parts of my story that just were.  I can’t be proud of that.  I am not superior to someone who did not get that leg up in life.  I am not more worthy or less worthy.  I am just who I am.

I am enough, just as I am.  I don’t need to make more money or dress better or have better friends.  I might possibly need to be more responsible with my resources but that’s another blog.  I am enough just as I am.  Stop looking at my moments, my snapshots, and think you know anything about me.  I am going to try to do the same when I see your moments.  I’m going to try to remember at least once that someone thought I was all put together and had my act figured out, when the truth is I still don’t have a solid game plan.  I’m not even sure I know what game we’re playing.

I do know if you sit on the sidelines that they aren’t sidelines and life will come along and knock you on your butt.  I have figured some things out.  I am enough, not on my own but because I know the owner, the big guy, the man upstairs.  He took my broken pieces and made a masterpiece.  Yay pancreas!  Thank you Jesus.  Thank you mom and dad for introducing me to Him!  I am enough because I found Him.  No matter what my snapshots look like, my book ends with my name written in His Book.  He knows my name.  Therefore I am a winner. I am enough.  John 3:16 – “For God so loved the world that He gave His only Son that whoever believed in Him shall not perish but have eternal life.”

 

By Vicki L. Pugliese

A Unique Playground

My kids are the best.  They are individually awesome. Yet collectively they are the cats meow. You may have great kids too.  You may even think your kids are the best that’s just because you haven’t met mine!  My kids are all smart, like wicked smart in different ways.   They can be really philanthropic and kind too.  They are hard workers and yet have balance to their lives.  They are all fiercely loyal, faithful and have strong family ties.
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Oops. Fell off my brag box.

What I love most about my kids is we have our own playground.  If you have been invited in, you know that we are good at the games here.  It’s a playground of wit, humor and sarcasm.  Well, my kids are darn good at it.  They will send out a test fire to see if you want to play in their playground.  If you do not have the skill set for whatever reason; you weren’t born with a sense of humor, you are too naive or you will get hurt in their playground, then they will leave you alone.  That last one is kind of “iffy”, depending on your persistence.  If you don’t have the skills, they will leave you alone, as a cat walks away from a dead mouse.  Your hold no interest to them,  that’s not fun to play with.

I’ve been told my kids are “mean” and I take exception to that word.  Webster defines “mean” as “unkind, spiteful or unfair”.  My kids are smart.  Don’t go into their playground unarmed and without an armor of thick skin.  They are just showing you “love”.  They don’t play unfairly.  They are not spiteful.  I’m sure that the first word is where I have to defend, but I don’t think they are unkind, not deliberately.   There are rules on the playground.  I would say that those rules keep them away from being unkind.  We assisted in building this playground and put the rules in place.  It can be fun to play in.  Actually I am their favorite target.  I don’t mind.  Usually.  I do have a good sense of humor.  You have to be really good at wit and sarcasm to play in their playground, especially if there is more than one of them.  I’m not very good.  They think randomly.  They are uniquely designed to play well with each other in that playground.  They expanded on the original design.  I think possibly into a different dimension.  Ok, it’s possible if you get the oldest two together there may be cheating.  Your sides will hurt from laughing if you get three or more together.  The boys are more unruly, but let’s face it, it’s a family trait.  It’s good to be family at that point.

Although everyone will be laughing in no time, family or not.  That is their favorite goal in the playground.  Never to pick on anyone.  They aren’t spiteful or unfair.  Their goal is to have the entire group having as much fun on their playground as they are.  Somehow they always do it.  People adore my kids.  If they didn’t manage to play nice on that playground, in the end no one would like them at all.  No one would come to play on the playground a second time!  And what fun would that be?  People adore my kids.  They make life long friends of all ages.  They are really great kids and you will laugh until your sides hurt.
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Oops. Fell off my brag box again!

It’s an excellent playground.  Unconventional for sure.  We enjoy it nonetheless.  Some of us are “better” or have logged more hours on the playground than others.  Some of the kids move the walls occasionally and I have to reconfigure them to be careful of that “mean” line.  You will know if my kids love you (and you have a sense of humor) because you will walk away smiling!

My kids really are the best.  I know yours are probably awesome, they should come to play with mine.  We will all leave laughing as we collectively fall off our brag boxes.  I need to be more careful!  I’m going to break an ankle.

 

by Vicki L Pugliese

 

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