Enlightenment Is Just a Word

Another guest blog by my brother, David —


Enlightenment is just a word, and words are imperfect. What so many people think is the meaning of enlightenment is in error. They think it is a destination, a level of acquirement. It is not. Enlightenment is something to be discovered about yourself.

“Seek not to change the world, but choose to change your mind
about the world.”

The world is vast and complex. Our experience in the world is but the tiniest of specks in the vastness. Yet we seem compelled to give it meaning. Then we want the world to reflect the meaning we have ascribed to it. When it does not, we suffer (disappointment, frustration, disillusionment). This is when we need to change our minds about the world.

What you think the world means has (virtually) no effect on the world. But it does affect you. It affects how you see the world, and so how you experience it.

“Enlightenment…is a realization. And when you wake up,
everything changes and nothing changes. If a blind man realizes
he can see, has the world changed?”

When you change your mind about the world, you wake up; you let the blind man see. The seeing is the change, not the objects seen. Choose to change your mind about the world and you will see differently.

So what good is enlightenment, you might ask, what good is waking up to see, if not to change the world? It is good because you change your experience. You eliminate (most) of your suffering. You move (mostly) past your excuses, your lamentations, your complaints. If you dare to change your mind about the world, then you will (most likely) find its meaning within yourself, within your own experience.

“Those who seek the light are merely covering their eyes. The
light is in them now. Enlightenment is but a recognition, not a
change at all.”

It is time for you to become enlightened and at ease with yourself in the world. This happens when you admit that already the light is in you. Admit it to yourself and you will see it. Uncover your eyes and you will recognize that the light is in you now. Do no hesitate.

“Everyone is waiting for eternity and the shamans are saying,
‘What about tonight?’”




Lunchtime Stress

My brother, David, has gallantly stepped up to assist me in this blog. It has been one month since my last post. I simply let life get the better of me and retreated in my own little world. Accepting his help in my attempt to emerge from that world, I present his wonderful contribution. This is just one of the many, many reasons I so enjoy my family. I am loved, in spite of my stress and self-exclusion from life. I am pleased to introduce my brother to you (if I am lucky, he’ll contribute again–he’s quite wonderful):


Once upon a time, there were three male college instructors who, day after day, week after week, ate lunch together in the break room.

Once such day, the science instructor opened his lunch and then cried out, “I don’t believe it! Fried chicken and rice…again! Fried chicken and rice, fried chicken and rice. If I see this one more time for lunch, I will crack. I will run and jump off the cliff!”

Just then, the math instructor opened his own lunch. “I don’t believe it,” he cried out. “Fried fish and rice…every day it is fried fish and rice. I cannot take it anymore. If I see fried fish and rice in my lunch one more time, I will race you to the cliff!”

In his turn, the English instructor opened his lunch. “I don’t believe it,” he cried, pulling out some peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and a hard-boiled egg. “Peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and a hard-boiled egg…one more time for the ten-thousandth time. If I ever again see another such sandwich-egg combination as my lunch offering, I will drive my car off the cliff.”

The next day in the lunchroom, again the three men were gathered.

“Chicken and rice!” burst the science teacher, clapping his hands in fervent exclamation. “I am out of here!” he said, then ran from the building.

“Fried fish and rice!” spat the math instructor, pounding his fist upon the table. “I am done!” he said, then ran from the building.

“Peanut butter and jelly,” yelled the English instructor, standing up so abruptly that his chair almost tipped over backwards, “and one hard-boiled…oh, no wait…ah, there it is…and one hard-boiled egg!”

He went on, holding the egg aloft, as though it was symbolic. “I have had all I can take of peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and hard-boiled eggs. I am gone!”

With that, the English instructor threw the egg down upon the table and turned toward the doorway—but his attention was drawn back by the sound of the egg breaking on the tabletop. Its sound was unexpected because the egg was not hard-boiled, and now it was seeping out of the mangled shell onto the table.

“Oh…whoops!” said the English instructor. Then he ran from the building, patting his pockets and mumbling, “Where are my car keys?”

Because of the mad ravings of the running instructors, students became alarmed. They call to Security, who were able to catch the instructors easily. Already they were slowing down and breathing heavily (except one, who was juggling three tennis balls as he ran).

Later, in the president’s office, the three husbands sat across from the three wives who had been called in.

“Mr. President,” said the wife of the science instructor. “I had no evidence he was tired of fried chicken and rice. Had I known, I would have prepared something different.”

“Mr. President,” said the wife of the math teacher. “I miscalculated; I thought he loved his fried fish and rice. Had I known I would have prepared something different.”

“Mr. President,” said the wife of the English instructor, rolling her eyes with a tip of her head toward her husband. “I do not know what to tell you. He prepares his own lunch.”


One Lovely Blog Award


Well, I can easily state that in my planning, procrastinating, and general work-avoidance methods, I truly did not plan on having this be my next topic to post, but shoot dang, Merle! I was very happy to read that from the sticks to the bricks and back again has nominated my very new, very young blog for the One Lovely Blog Award. Since I had no idea that there even was an award, I can honestly state I was blown away and pleased. By way of explanation, bloggers are nominated by other bloggers. This is to promote and showcase up and coming, new bloggers, or promote established bloggers who have lovely blogs! I’m very touched and humbled to have my page included!

As I am a fairly good conformist (I fight when/where fighting is needed, otherwise I am a pretty good rule follower) — I will follow the rules set forth in accepting and nominating, and ask if you’re nominated, please also do the same. Here are the easy and fellow-promoting rules:

  • Thank and link back to the person who nominated you for the award.
  • List the Rules and Display the One Lovely Blog Award logo to your post and/or blog.
  • Share 7 facts/or things about yourself.
  • Nominate around 15 other bloggers and let them know about the award
  • Follow the blogger who nominated you, unless you’re already a follower.

Seven facts about me:

  1. Humor is what drives me. I try to be funny. I enjoy being around people who are funny. I enjoy funny movies. Absolutely everything I’ve dealt with in my life, at some point, has had a moment of humor. I take it as a gift from God and how He’s helped me to deal with tragedies and stress.
  2. I am a Catholic mom. I have a deep love for God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit. That being said, I certainly struggle often with all that. I am a stubborn woman who can be passive-aggressive. Okay, it’s not so much that I can be passive-aggressive, but more that I am passive-aggressive. That kind of goes in the opposite direction of living a faith-filled life. God and I are working on that. Still. And again. But mostly still.
  3. I come from a large family. It didn’t seem that big when I was growing up because that’s all I knew. We have four boys and four girls. Well, since I am one of the youngest and I am clearly “middle aged” I guess we could say four men and four women. And two brothers-in-law. My parents still live in the same home we grew up in.
  4. I have a twin sister who is five minutes younger than I am. She and I do not look like, act alike, like the same things, nor have the same life-goals. I am outgoing; she is more shy. I am loud; and so is she. Wait—with people she already knows she’ll be loud. Otherwise, she is not very loud at all.
  5. I have a boatload of nieces and nephews, step-nieces and step-nephews, and a handful of greats thrown in–some greats already here, and one on the way. ❤ This is a happy Aunt Juwie. Or, as the niece who will be having my newest great niece would say, Aunt Ju.
  6. I have worked in state politics for just over 17 years. All but nine months of that time has been spent in a non-partisan office, serving both parties equally. Well, I guess all parties because we have an Independent a time or two. Lonely for them, I’m sure.
  7. I love the color purple–absolutely my favorite.

I would like to recommend and nominate these folks:

Hope, Fireflies and Fairytales

Young & Twenty

Grasshopper Girls



Just Ponderin’


Out of the Dungeon


I know I should have more that I follow, but I am truly such a novice and am still finding new blogs to follow. Please feel free to add your suggestions in the comments. I would love to add blogs to my library!


Halloween Candy and Resolutions

This is about the time of year that I begin my new year’s resolution planning. Mind you, not because I plan ahead–I think you can see from the theme of a few of my blogs that procrastination and distractedness run strong and true in these veins.

October. The obvious needs to be said: It’s breast cancer awareness month. Be aware. Do your part, check ’em out and get a mammogram. It hurts. But only for about six seconds. Three times on each side. Okay, so 36 seconds. That’s doable. Do it.

Again: October. Halloween is in the air. Candy is in my pockets, my purse, my desk drawer, my car. I am a slave to three types of candy. Milk Duds–available year-round. Candy corn–available year-round (but for some reason, even more delicious after October 1). And peanut butter kisses–a Halloween delicacy. The only other person I am aware of who enjoys them as I do is my sister Susie. We’ve been known to hock a few away on the off-chance that we may see each other and can give the other the yummy surprise. We haven’t lately because she’s hours away from me, and with my children still in school leisure travel during the school months is hard to do. And she is in the glorious stage of no children at home, a great marriage that both she and my brother-in-law enjoy so they do things together and often, and are grandparents so they get to enjoy their sweet little grandbabies. Methinks that my great-niece and great-nephew may be enjoying my peanut butter kisses these days.

On the heels of the candy-fest comes Thanksgiving. We have a large family reunion every year, with a LOT of food. This is year is our 50th Anniversary, and we are hoping for a large turn-out. A large turn-out indicates a large amount of food.

Then comes the month of December with Christmas parties, holiday parties, birthday parties, more Christmas parties. You know what ALL these have in common? Food. Lots and lots of food.

You can see where this is all going, can’t you? There is nothing but socializing and over-indulgence in my near future! My new year’s resolution seems pretty plain to figure out–lose weight and exercise. There is really no good reason to start now, with this slippery slope of food starting already. BUT WAIT! January is hard to start being healthy–it’s my Birthday Month. Hmm … “Autumn Resolutions” sounds about right again.


My Cancer Story

Monday, January 4, 2010, I took my morning shower before work. Everything was fine and healthy. Tuesday, January 5, there was a small little bump in my left breast. It kind of felt like a jelly bean, and was about the same size. I thought it odd, but didn’t give it another thought until I went to bed. I laid on my back and did a self-breast exam. The lump was still there. Now, I am a middle-aged woman, and was at the time, too. Breast tissue is reactive to gravity. If I lay on my back, my breasts do too. 😡 The lump did not move. It was still hard and in the very same spot. The next morning I called my doctor. He examined me on Thursday, and (I love him for this!) said, “Well. I am not really sure, and am not too concerned at this point. However, I am not the expert at this, so let’s send you to her.”

I was scheduled right away and saw her on Monday, January 11. I had a physical exam and she couldn’t find anything. They did a mammogram and couldn’t find anything. So they did an ultrasound and finally found it. They had a cancelation in their day so I was able to have biopsy the same day. They made an appointment for the following Monday (January 18) to go over the results with me. It was Martin Luther King, Jr. Day so I had the day off from work. My husband offered to go with me. I said he was being silly. I am the epitome of good health. All of my blood work is in the exact middle of levels for the tests they run. My bad cholesterol is very low. My good cholesterol is very high. My blood pressure is relatively low and healthy. I was just sure I was wasting my time by even going in, but they always schedule a return visit for biopsies.

The doctor and nurse came in and sat down. I was reading and was in the middle of a paragraph. I politely put my finger on the word, so when they told me it was all clear, I could finish the paragraph and be on my merry way. I completely lost my place in my book when the doctor sighed heavily and said, “I am completely surprised by this because I thought it was nothing, but you have cancer.” Much like when the doctor told me that my second child was a girl when I was *just* sure that I was carrying a boy, I stared at her dumbfounded and asked if she was sure.

I really don’t recall all the words that were said at that time, but I clearly remember being told that my results were shared with the hospital’s cancer board. I remember being very offended, frightened, and angry that I had a condition that needed a board–a board of DOCTORS, no less–to discuss my course of action. The doctor had an opening that Thursday in her schedule for surgery. Since I wanted this offensive growth gone, I jumped at it. I had a lumpectomy–that’s where they take the tumor and surrounding tissue, and they only had to remove one lymph node. I caught it early enough the cancer had not spread. This was one day before my birthday. Happy flippin’ birthday to me!

As far as cancer horror stories go, mine was a cake walk. I joke that I had Cancer Lite. I had a close friend, Traci, diagnosed the same week as I was. Mind you, she had been sick for a year and a half, and they finally found out she was sick from cancer, not stomach ailments. She is still off work–cancer-free, but off work due to all the treatments and medicines and procedures. I got out of my cancer experience very easy.

I had six weeks of radiation. At the end of that I started a medicine called tamoxifen. It is a “fake” estrogen that goes into my system, and if there are any cancer cells they attach to the medicine instead of me and starve to death. A decrease in estrogen is basically aging. It’s not just the cancer cells that react to the medicine. My body is aging slightly faster than other women my age. I have compared aches and pains stories with my sisters, and one of them is a twin. They feel great and still feel young. I wake every morning with stiff joints and sore muscles. I feel like I have been in a minor car accident and have the aches and pains associated with that. Every damn day. But I wake up each day. I’ll take the pain.

This is Harder Than it Looks (But Not as Hard as I make it Look)

I really would like to say that I make blogging look easy, but oh my gosh–if anyone based their launch into the world of blogging on my scant and short history, they’d never get started. I swear, in my head I was going to be much more devoted, diligent, and devastatingly humorous.

This was going to be “I had Cancer” story, but quite honestly the last couple of weeks have been hard to deal with, stressful and busy. I am just not up to sharing my cancer story.

My eldest is still looking for a job. Finally, she got a call back from a great opportunity not far from home, hours that will work great for her, and (I think) it’s slightly higher than minimum wage. However, as with any job hunting experience, it has been stressful, scary, and a bit depressing. I know that she has not gone through anything more than the multitude of job seekers in our community. It is still hard to go through, and hard to watch your child go through it. It has certainly prompted many in my area to get prayers from an anonymous stranger (me). She is waiting for her background check to be completed, so hopefully in a week or so I will be blogging about my employed child.

And holy cow, did I forget how busy school gets. Granted, I only have one in school now, but I have quickly been reminded of the fast pace of high school life. I don’t think I’ve mentioned it here yet, but I am a Cheer Mom. I am not one of those who get over-involved in her daughters’ lives, but I do enjoy watching the cheer team. I am sure this will not be the last mentioning of cheer events. In fact, I can *pretty much* guarantee it will not be.

This weekend is homecoming. That means tailgating with the football team’s families. Since this is my fifth year with the cheer program, I was drafted, er I mean I volunteered to coordinate our team’s participation. If you are remotely unfamiliar with me, please feel free to read my previous blogs on — “Autumn’s Resolutions”, “Attention Deficit Dis–Hey, how are you?”, and “Procrastination.” Suffice it to say I avoid planning and organizing. Alas, I’ve been drafted. I got around to it last night. Homecoming is Saturday. Julie On the Spot!

This entry was pretty much an apology to those few of you who wait for me. I appreciate it and don’t even mind the reminder emails you send. I can’t promise another one too awfully soon, but I do promise I’ve already put some time aside on my weekend’s agenda to fine tune a few of the entries I’ve started.

You know, unless I can find something else that distracts me …

Four years, four months

That’s how long I have been cancer free. Four years, four months. It’s been a great run, but I am ready for it to be done. Eight more months. That’s all I have left to take my daily pills. I assume it has kept me alive. I don’t know that I needed them, but I know it has not let anymore cancer develop. I am not sure it would have, but it didn’t.

My next blog will be my cancer story. I was going to include it here, but I am very happy about this appointment and when I was typing it up, I was sad. (Not that it will be sad to read it, but it really happened to me. Ugh!)

I see both my medical oncologist and radiation oncologist every six months. I am very happy to say that I am down to one mammogram per year, too. My tumor was right next to my rib cage. That is the tissue that needs to be examined closely. Those ladies out there who have had mammograms know the pressure of “regular” mammograms. Can you imagine having two extra images taken right on your rib cage at every mammogram? And doing that twice each year. Y e a h . . .

I just visited my radiation oncologist. My doctor reviewed my chart–four years and four months since I started my medicine. She said that I have less than a year to go. I am scheduled for a six month return visit. Then she said, “After your next pair of six-month appointments, we’ll only be seeing you once a year.” Aren’t those beautiful words?



Hello, my name is Julie and I am a procrastinator. I am a procrastinator like my mother before me. Maybe even her mother before, but I doubt it. That would be my grandmother, and sorry–Grandma was perfect, so she probably worked on things when she should have.

In fact, the make-shift, pretend schedule I’ve put myself on to post here has been delayed twice. And I’ve only been on this for month. Last week I was ornery. This week I am using the Labor Day holiday weekend as my excuse. Granted, I’ve been back to the real world for two days now, and I am just getting this done. But … you know–the holiday weekend, and all.

What tops it is my complete lack of ideas. Don’t get me wrong, I have a whole notebook full of topics and ideas. The mood I am still in makes none of them funny to me. I have eight drafts that I have started. That’s how many are not funny or fun or really that informative right now.

I keep trying to figure out what it is, and the only conclusion is that I am a irritable person right now. It’s because of this procrastination thing I suffer from, because I am sure it is an affliction and not laziness. I am sure of it.

In my defense, (because people with afflictions need a defense … wait, that’s not quite right) there is a lot going on in my life. Um. You know. The whole “school starting back up” thing–because my daughter, in her third year of high school, needs me so much right now. Heck, I am lucky if my sweet child even makes eye contact with me. Oh, that’s not true–she does make eye contact, then immediately rolls them to the back of her head, sighs heavily and stomps out of whatever room I am in. Unless I have food. I am Super Mom when I have food.

My eldest does need me (and her dad) right now. She is going through changes, but they certainly are not all-consuming changes for me. They are the age-appropriate changes that we, as parents, have been working toward. And while she needs us, I certainly have my own time. That time is just swamped! (Imagine me delicately wiping my furrowed brow in a very genteel manner.)

Oh! the responsibilities I face. I have had to restart my dryer three times. And you know what I’ve done? Let the clothes sit there for three cycles. In my defense, (there it is again!) I really hate folding laundry. And washing it. And cleaning. And cooking. And getting groceries. So, I put all that off until … later.

So, here is my post a day or so late. I do have my to-do list at the ready to get the house cleaned. I’ll try to finish that laundry. But it is a really nice day out. Maybe after dinner I’ll grab a beer and relax on my deck.

In my defense, housework can wait.



When you get to a certain age awkwardness kind of fades away a little. You get to live a few years of blissful awkward-free life. Having teens live in your house, some of that comes back to you. That shirt with those slacks look awkward. Your hair is a little awkward, Mom. And who calls them ‘slacks’? Awk, Mom–they’re pants.

I’ve been a parent for a while. I have friends and family who are parents. We’ve all gone through, or are going through, the awkward teen phase. This is not like the awkward stage pre- or early-teens go through, but the mid-teen phase where the embarrassment of parents is almost turning into pity because we, as parents, have hit the stage of knowing nothing!

I am having a contradiction of sorts with awkwardness. I am a fairly confident, comfortable-in-my-skin middle-aged mom. At this point in life, I am who I am. I try to be the best I can be of: a child of God, a child of my parents, a parent to my girls, an aunt, a friend, and most importantly I am the best Julie I can be.

After all that being said, that confidence and identity being bandied around–Gretchen and I were waiting to get her sports physical the other day and she was bored. She dug through my purse, used my lip balm, played with the flashlight on my keychain, and found my little notebook I use for blog ideas. She started looking through it and I felt awkward.

I think the vulnerability of it made me feel awkward. This is my child and she knows how I think. These are blog ideas that I will be posting online for anybody to read. Watching her read them, and listening to the ones she read out loud, was a little like having someone find your diary. Those are my ideas, but I haven’t fine-tuned them yet. Those are the thoughts I have, but I am not ready to share them.

She didn’t do anything but read them aloud. I got over being embarrassed about it. She did not once pity me for not knowing anything. She read more, and a couple of them are (hopefully) funny ideas. We laughed. I snorted, as I sometimes do, just as the doctor walked in.

Okay well, that was  awkward.

Attention Deficit Dis–Hey, how are you?

I am not sure I would actually be diagnosed with attention deficit disorder, but I could be. I have I diagnosed myself with a version A.D.D.

It’s been said most people with A.D.D. are really trying to juggle too many things — “multi-tasking.” I call mine interrupt-tasking. I start out with the very best of intentions. I will clean my house, do my laundry, get groceries, and do yard work today. I will. But I always find a way to interrupt my thought process.

I will start to clean my kitchen. That means I need to load the dishwasher. Better check the living room to make sure there are no glasses and snack dishes. Huh, who’s socks are those? They need to be in the laundry. While I’m here, I’ll just do this load. That’s not a full load so I’ll grab the towels. Oh, so that’s where I left my bathrobe. Better hang that back up. As long as I am in my room, I might was well make my bed. Oops, there’s my water glass from last night. While I am here, I might as well start the kitchen and load the dishwasher …

I can’t even tell you how many meals I’ve missed.

My youngest definitely has had her A.D.D. moments, but I am finding as she matures she is outgrowing this. It used to be if you told her take care of her shoes, she would–but only one at a time, with a reminder for shoe number two. She has become very focused and organized and can actually stay on-task quite easily. My older daughter has always been very focused and organized. This has never been an issue for her.

I’ve tried the tricks. Write things down. Stay focused. Don’t listen to music. Listen to music. Ask for help. Work independently.

I try to focus. I really do. It’s sometimes hard to see the big-picture, so I focus on the details. I write things down, then I find myself doodling in the corners of my paper. I don’t often complete the details in linear fashion. I definitely chase that butterfly’s path.

I’d love to share more, but I need to go load my dishwasher. Did I just hear my dryer buzz?