Saturday, January 17, 2015

Sequins and (In)Sanity

This is going to be short...and I am not sure if it will be sweet (because I am just writing as I your guess is as good as mine.)
It is the big show choir invitational this weekend...and we are completely immersed in show choir land.
(This is what happens when your kids decide that show choir is their destiny.)
My Friday involved close to 10 hours of rehearsal and performance at the choral competition. (Part of the weekend's exciting events.)
I did find another song I want at my funeral while listening to one of the choirs.  This is good, since I have been accumulating music, and compiling a folder.

(I'm not kidding...I really do have a folder.)

I was thinking tonight that I might be best if I end up with some terminal disease...just so I have time to put together my funeral choir, and can rehearse them.
Of course, I would rather just die in my sleep...but the music I have selected is pretty challenging, and it isn't something that can just be thrown together (and I really want it done well.) Can you see the dilemma I am having here?
Ugh.  The things I have to deal with.
Don't tell Mark...but I need to share a funny moment with you.
On Thursday night, we were at the high school helping set up the gym for the competition.  (This meant he came home from work, and immediately went to work on the gym for the next 4.5 hours.)
It was about 10pm when we finished, and we hadn't had dinner yet, so we stopped at the grocery store on the way home.
We figured we would pick something up at the deli (our son was sending texts with his subtle "so, have you guys eaten yet?" approach to asking us to pick him up some food.)
Mark was also in dire need of some beer...I didn't blame him.
As we headed toward the check out, he turned to me and said "So, do we have anything going on tomorrow?"
I looked at him, wondering if he was being serious. (He was.)
I said "Well....tomorrow is Friday."
He abruptly stopped, and proceeded to have the biggest (and quite frankly, the funniest...and most profane) temper tantrum I have ever witnessed.
"WHAT?!!! You have got to be $^#&*(** kidding me!!!  I have to go to WORK TOMORROW??!!  IT isn't #(*#$^#( FRIDAY TODAY?!!!"

This went on for awhile.
It is good it was late, and there were no children present.
I was completely entertained, however.
About 20 minutes later, he said "You know....earlier today I thought it was Wednesday."  Am I losing my mind?"
Yes dear.  You probably are.

I can only imagine what today will bring.
If he thinks Friday was rough....I wonder what an entire day of show choir (not exactly his favorite past time) is going to do to him.
If we are really lucky, he will be delirious by the time it's all over...and he will be  entertaining us with his creative dance moves.
If you ever happen to be out with should ask him to show you his moves.  If you catch him in the right mood (aka: after a couple of drinks) he can put on quite a show. ;)
Come to think of it...I still have a video of his one and only karaoke performance on my phone.
It was actually pretty impressive.
Maybe even youtube worthy.
If anyone is looking for some super sparkly, big-haired, jazz handed entertainment today, you can find it (and us!) at the Onalaska High School!
Have a great Saturday!

Friday, January 16, 2015

Superwoman...for a day.

In case you were wondering...I was super-woman yesterday.
I might even go make myself a cape. 
I was up before 10. (I had to be at rehearsal by I really didn't have a choice.)
I was home by 9, and on my way, was informed that my 1:00 meeting was cancelled.
That left me with seven whole hours of TIME.
I have to admit...I was very tempted to curl up on the couch with the dogs and watch all the shows I need to catch up on.
(I really need to kick this TV thing.  It's a pretty recent addiction.)
However, I made myself head down to the dungeon of doom instead.
It actually was no longer overwhelming, since I spent an entire audio book and 1/2 on it the other day.
(Do you ever measure time or progress by audio book(s)?)
Ironically, I put the last thing in place just at Angels and Demons came to an end.
You know you have a disaster when it takes Tom Clancy AND Dan Brown to tackle a project.
I wish I had taken more "before" pictures....because it was embarrassingly horrendous.
This room really is ground zero at our house though.
It's the room that is used the the very back of the lower level of the house.
There are no windows, so unless you enjoy the feeling of being in a cave, or bomb shelter, it isn't super appealing.
What it has become is our dumping ground.
If you don't know what to do with throw it in that room.
However, when it's all organized, it is actually a pretty great place.
I just need to Bethify it now.
Here is the original disaster.

I am actually shocked that I even bothered to start this.  Typically, this would have been too overwhelming, and I would have filled with anxiety, started either crying or throwing things...and chosen to take a nap.
Rest assured that the ENTIRE room looked like this...even though I didn't capture it in photos. 
And now...the (take a deep breath) after:

Now...all I need is about 36 more audio books so I can take care of the rest of the house. 
The nice thing about spending two full books cleaning a laundry room is that it is super convenient to do laundry while you are working.
(It's probably the only time I find doing laundry super convenient.)
So, I now have nice, freshly laundered sheets and blankets on my bed.
You know how you typically run back and forth about 37 times, from one side of the bed to the other, while putting sheets on?  Especially on a king sized bed, because there is no way to reach across that thing.
Whenever I go into my bedroom (or pretty much anywhere) my chihuahua Riley follows me.
I usually don't pay a whole lot of attention, but today I realized that he literally follows me back and forth each time I go from one side of the bed to the other.
I'm not sure if he is worried he might lose me, if he thinks he is helping, or if he thinks we are going to take a nap, and I can't decide which side of the bed to hop up on.
At any rate....he is adorable.

Both my husband and I have super cute bedside tables.  I hunted for the perfect shabby chic pieces that were not matching, but still looked really fabulous together.
In my perfect world, we would just have a cool old clock, a lamp, and maybe a vintage book sitting on them.
In my reality, they are piled with crap.  I have SO many books and magazines and crossword puzzles and God knows what else that I usually have a huge pile on the floor too, after half of the stuff falls off.
Anyway, as I was tucking in Mark's side, I noticed this:
Yes.  Those are wads of chewed gum.
This is funny for two reasons.
1. My husband reads educational books.  About music. For fun.
I think the only book he has ever read that was simply for entertainment was Tom Brokaw's biography (or autobiography?)
I don't know...I read trashy romance novels.
As for the gum....there is a rule at our house.
If you want to even have half a chance at getting any better have minty fresh breath.
(This is my rule, by the way....probably rather obvious at this point.)
Don't even bother to come near me if you are stinky.
Apparently my poor husband has been very hopeful.
I guess he must pop a piece in when he hops in bed (since I say "I'll be right in") and then just spits it out and sticks it on his book when he realizes I'm actually going to sit on the couch and watch two more episodes of Castle.
Note to self: Buy Mark a garbage can.
Oh, by the way....I've decided that I probably wouldn't make a very good shepherd.
I was thinking about the logistics of it...and I am really more of an indoor kind of girl...unless the weather is really nice.
There are just too many variables with that job.
So...back to the drawing board.

Have a great Friday!

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Holy Sheep

I think I am ready to find a way to make a living that involves having very little human interaction.
I would probably make a really good shepherd.
I like sheep.  I think they are hilarious when they bleat. (Is that what it's called when they "talk?" )
Whatever it is, it cracks me up, because they all have their own "voice" and they all are rather passionate about what they have to say.
I especially like baby doll sheep.  They are just adorable balls of fluff.

Of course, I would probably need to relocate to someplace like Scotland...where the landscape is perfect, the villages are quaint...and the men wear kilts. ;)

You have to admit....a quiet existence in a gorgeous setting, surrounded by cute, wooly entertainment does sound pretty enticing.

And seriously....if I could look at faces like this each day....I would have zero stress or frustration in my life.

And...if a certain Scottish warrior were to happen to show up, well, I guess I would just have to find a way to deal with that.

A girl can't be expected to shepherd all of her sheep by herself, you know.

I might have to add a piggy friend to my flock.

But seriously...sometimes it really is tempting.  The thought of just packing it all up, and living a life of solitude in a foreign country.
Or...even just a quieter existence here.
Yes, I had one of those days.
The kind of day where you just have to stop and wonder what the heck some people are thinking.
(Or are they thinking??)
The kind of day when you realize that your priorities and values are definitely on a different plane than some of the people you have to interact with on a pretty regular basis.
It can be rather disheartening.
It was also one of those days where I got to deal with children who weren't my own....and some were in less than chipper moods.
That's always fun!
Yes, I think I would be utterly blissful if I could determine whether or not my day was to involve human interaction (because some days, I really do crave it) or if it was to be a day of absolute solitude, or (my perfect day) one that included well planned interaction, but mostly time alone (animals allowed, of course.)
Just the perfect scenario where you never had to worry about being disappointed, nor whether or not you might disappoint.
Can you imagine a life where you could set your own schedule...every day?
I suppose that is called retirement.
I am pretty sure that is a luxury I will never know, because, let's face it....I work at a church. ;)
That's okay though.  Aren't church ladies supposed to be in their 80's?
I will fit the perfect stereotype.

I just hope that I am not blind and deaf, and can still remember how to play the piano at that point in life.
(It will be hard to make a living as a church musician otherwise!)
I will apologize for all those in the congregation...or anywhere within earshot, if I am 100, and no longer am able to keep a beat...but everyone feels sorry for me, and doesn't have the heart to tell me that I suck, and should probably retire.

Beth, age 94.  Shepherd/Church Organist

Or, if I do decide to become a shepherd, and once I'm in my 90's I get confused as to whether I'm supposed to be shepherding or playing the organ, because obviously, those two things would be easy to get mixed up.
I suppose I could just play my accordion.  I mean, it is portable, and would work both indoors and out.
I am pretty sure the sheep would love it.
Well, I'm still not sure what the future holds, but I feel better now, because I have some options.
And, quite frankly, I have come to a point in my life where I really have no desire to deal with things that make these wrinkles on my forehead more pronounced.  
See them? 
They appear because of some of the following thoughts that may be crossing my mind..... :
*why do I have to deal with stupid people?
*Unless someone gives me a prozac prescription....I have no more patience for whatever it is you are currently doing. 
*You were supposed to act excited about that.....
*Are those words actually coming out of your mouth?
*You should probably just stop. Now.
*I wouldn't do that in public. Ever.
*Let's pretend today never happened.
I really could go on forever, but I just looked at the time.
You see, I have this little deal I make with myself.
I try to promise myself one hour of down time/relax/chill time.
Now...I have to plan accordingly.
If I don't have anything scheduled for the next morning...time isn't really an issue.
However, when I do have to be up early, I need to plan ahead.
Yes, I'm one of those people.
This is why you will rarely, if ever, see me out on a Saturday night.
I have to be up by 6am on Sunday.
That means in bed by 10.
If I get any less than 8 hours of sleep....I look like ^^that^^
all day long.  (And much worse.)

(A more accurate example)

I'm excited to see what tomorrow brings.
Maybe I will ditch the shepherd idea, and become an astronaut instead.
Eh, that's pretty unlikely though.
I saw Gravity.  
And my mom forced me to wear moon boots as a kid.
Scarred me for life.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Obsessive (too much) Crap Disorder

Here is what I really need to know.
Is it actually possible (and by possible, I mean, to do this without actually having my house taken away by a tornado, or burning down) to go from having too much stuff, to a clutter-free, well organized, no risk of "stuff re-accumulation", home?
I'm telling you...I have been trying to do this for years.
I would not put myself in the "hoarder" category, by any means.

I would go, rather, into a "sees pretty things, and really thinks she just has to have them" category.
And, perhaps the "has a bit of a furniture addiction" category.
And we are all aware of the "is drawn to lovely office supplies" category.
Not to mention the "can't keep her hands off of books and magazines" issue.
Oh...and then there is the "don't even mention the word 'shoes' when she is around" thing.

Oh yeah...kind of have a bit of a "each chair must have a minimum of two feather filled, pretty pillows, and at least one very soft and fluffy throw."
Okay.  Maybe I do have a problem.
I occasionally have selective OCD...which typically occurs after I have spent a good amount of time cleaning.  I get completely manic about things staying perfect.  And I'm not kidding about the manic.  If I decide to finally sit down and relax, it is not uncommon for me to jump up a good 8-10 times because the magazines aren't perfectly piled, or the fringe on the rug looks bunched in one spot, or the angle of a picture isn't quite right.
It's ridiculous.

After a few days, however, I revert back to the typical Miss Mess personality, mostly because I was sick of trying to keep up with the three tornados that I live with.  Yes, I have failed as a parent.  If only I had convinced my kids at an early age that cleaning was fun.  Or necessary.

But...back to my original question.
Will I ever live in a clutter-free zone?
If you recall...I have been reading "the life-changing magic of tidying-up."
The author has been obsessed with organization since she was a little kid.
She literally would come home from school, and work on "tidying" each room of their house.  (Including her siblings rooms.) Why didn't she live with me??
Anyway, she couldn't figure out why, when she would spend hours organizing and cleaning, things would soon be a mess again.
(Hey...welcome to my world!)
She came to the conclusion that "tidying a little each day will result in tidying forever."
Well....I can't say that I work at it each day, but yes, I do agree with the fact that even though I spend hours on always goes back to an overflowing mess eventually.
Her theory is: "If you tidy up in one shot, rather than little by little, you can dramatically change your mind set."

I can see how that might work...but how on earth do you do that?!
A few chapters in, she finally mentioned that this "one shot" typically takes about 6 months to complete.
Thank God....because I was trying to figure out how the heck I was supposed to tackle this whole house in one day!
I could spend an entire day just on my desk, trying to decide what to throw and what to keep!

She also says that you need to sort by category, not by room.
For instance: Clothes.  
Find a spot in your house (a big one) and take every piece of clothing you have (search every room, to make sure you haven't missed any) and pile it in that spot.
Then, you go piece by piece, and decide "does this spark joy in me?"
Yes?  Keep pile.
No? Discard/Donate.
If you have too many clothes, work in subcategories, (tops, bottoms, socks, etc.)
She says gathering all of your stuff into one place is eye opening, as far as the sheer volume of things you own. (I can't even imagine what my pile would look like.)
She also says things stored out of sight lie dormant, and it's much harder to determine if they "inspire joy" or not.
Once you "bring them out into the light" the process is much easier.
And the kicker...anything you come across after the purging takes place is automatically discarded/donated.
Good motivation to find everything the first time around.
The whole process sounds rather daunting...but I can see where it would be almost a "cleansing ritual" and a good way to really clear things out.

My biggest issue tends to be two things:
I always have a hard time determining what documents I need to hold on to, and what I should throw.  Many are financial/insurance/etc. so I tend to hold on to those.  Then, there are the sentimental items. (I have gotten better at purging things from the past.) Then, I have binders and folders with ideas and articles I have ripped out of magazines....that may or may not every be looked at again.
And of course, my ridiculous pile of music.
But I think my biggest frustration is food storage.
I see pictures of people's kitchens where the counters are clear.
There is maybe a coffee maker, and a couple of other items, but otherwise, they boast tons of workspace, and no clutter.
Mine, on the other hand, look like a grocery store just threw up on them.
We have a pantry....but it's back in the mudroom...which is not even near the kitchen.  We store the non-parishables in there, which is handy..but if we stored items like bread or bananas, etc...they would rot before we even remembered they were back there.
We have pretty ample cupboard space...but most are filled with dishes and pots/pans.  We keep our baking supplies, spices, everyday fare like peanut butter, oils, syrup, etc. in there also...but it never fails that we have a counter filled with bread, english muffins, granola bars, fruit and veggies (onions/potatoes, etc)
Am I the only one who has this problem?
I have tried re-organizing...but have yet to come up with a workable system.
I suppose we could quit buying food that doesn't fit in the cupboards?
(My waistline would probably benefit from this!)
All I want is a nice, fresh, clean this:

And then, there is my reality.

( really doesn't have to look this bad.  But...this is what it looks like right now!)

I think the only answer is to steal another one of Lexie's chocolate covered strawberries, and start planning the big purge.
I know it won't be hard to determine if a strawberry "sparks joy."
5 of those would "spark even more joy."

Considering I only have 90 minutes before that darn counter may be the only thing I actually accomplish today. :-/
Ugh...these damn baby steps.

Happy Hump Day!

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Strawberries and Snowbanks

I suppose I should admit that I didn't quite accomplish goal #1 yesterday.
I seem to be falling under the "needs an excessive amount of sleep" category these days.
In fact, I just woke up from a little siesta on the couch that occurred when I tried to stay up long enough to watch the 2 hour season finale of "Major Crimes" that I had taped.
(Considering it is now 1am...I'm kind of guessing that I might not achieve the whole "get out of bed before 10" thing again today either.)
Fortunately...the fact that I'm a lazy bum in the mornings did not hinder my ability to be productive on my one day of freedom this week.
Oh yes....I was a little worried that my Monday would be yet another day in the long list of "where did my day go?" wasted day pile...but instead, I gave myself a little pep talk, and got to work.
I decided that I was going to tackle the rest of that darn laundry/craft room disaster.
And oh, what a disaster it was.
After seven hours of sorting and organizing and throwing and cleaning and moving and wanting to throw myself in a snowbank....I am almost done.
(Pictures to follow.)
~ will all be worth it when it's finished, AND...this happened!

(Mint oreos, dipped in chocolate.)
This is what happens when I send my daughter to get groceries, and say "if there is anything delicious you think we just have to have...pick that up too."

But...what made life worth living (and what I could honestly live on, happily, forever:) is this!

I have eaten WAY too many of these....and I am soooo okay with that.
The girl might not win any awards in the "good at cleaning up after herself" dept....but when it comes to making crepes or covering things in chocolate, she gets an A+.

I will say, Lexie has gotten a little too big for her britches, and has left a sign in the fridge that says we are supposed to "ask her before eating any strawberries."
Yeah.  Ok....I'll get right on that.
And...for further entertainment, my dog has been reverting back to puppy behavior.
When he was little, he used to love to dig holes in the dirt during the summer, and run around like a maniac in the snow every winter.
Now, he is almost 9, and fat and lazy.
(Gee....must take after his mother!)
However, in the past week or so, he has started to go outside, stick his face in the snow, and dig and act like a total goof ball.
Then, he comes back in, and looks at us (with his snow covered face) like
"What? What are you looking at?  I wasn't doing anything..."

We always give the dogs a tiny little treat after they go outside and do their business.  Of course, Cooper (who is ALL about eating, now that he weighs about 15lbs more than he should) will also bark to go out, stick his face in the snow, turn around, come back in, and sit and wait for a treat.
I have to tell's hard to say no to that face.

I hope your Tuesday is terrific.
I am going to get some I can take on Tuesday, and hopefully get started sooner rather than later.
Baby steps....but maybe today, I will try some medium sized steps. 

Monday, January 12, 2015

Starting Again

Another Monday.
We all know I like my Mondays.
However, this one starts a three week cycle of I am not quite as thrilled about it as I typically am.
I would have been perfectly happy with a whole month of "not-so-crazy" after the insanity of December, but I guess that is not to be.

One positive is that I have burned through all of the "Castle" episodes I had DVR' that little distraction is gone.
This will definitely help me be more productive...(unless I find something else to distract me.)

Mark and I were discussing the interesting phenomenon of the passage of time.
When we were kids....time dragged on like nobody's business.
Having a whole day to play outside allowed you any number of wild adventures.
A school day felt like a whole week's torture (even more so when I was teaching!!) ;)
But now....I wake up, get ready, and suddenly the day is half over.
If I get involved in any sort of project (or Castle episode(s)) I can sit down at 1:00, and suddenly the kids are walking in the door after school, and it's starting to get dark out.
(And I wonder why my jeans are all getting too tight.  Duh.)

Where does the time go?
I can easily lose an entire day, and have accomplished nothing more than emptying the dishwasher and making dinner.
(And that dinner might consist of a frozen pizza and steam fresh veggies...fresh from the microwave.)

How does that happen?  Especially when I have been running around all day...which means I have been busy, right?

I must be really good at keeping busy, but getting nothing done.
I have such enviable talents, don't you think? :-/
Well, one of the things I like about Mondays is that it gives us a chance to start over again.  Lord knows I can always use a fresh start.
So, rather than solving all of the world's problems in the next seven days, I think I will attempt to just get a grasp on some of the things that will make my life a little easier.
For instance, finishing up the laundry/craft I have a place to move the stuff from the spare bedroom that will soon become the "work-out room."
We finally bought a treadmill (it is currently in a huge box, sitting in our back entry area, making it almost impossible to actually squeeze through that area, much less attempt to do anything like carry backpacks or groceries in from the garage.)

Handy and convenient, right?

Mark's back is still hurting, so your guess is as good as mine, as far as when we will actually get the darn thing downstairs.
Maybe that is a good thing...because I would like to get rid of the horrible wolf wallpaper border that is currently gracing that room, not to mention painting the  rather dreary dark blue walls. (They coordinate so beautifully with the hunter green carpeting.  I kid you not when I say that the prior owners had very nice, light, neutral carpet installed throughout the lower level....except in the "wolf room."  There, they decided to match the walls and carpet to the lovely "north woods wolf" border, hence the blue walls and green carpet.
(Don't you worry...I will post before/after pics.)
Of course, the carpet is in perfect condition, so I can't justify ripping it out.
We also found pink and white sponge painting behind the refrigerator in the kitchen.
I should mention that the kitchen has maple and cherry cabinets, and black and gray speckled granite countertops....and this is an open concept home.

Here is a pic...just so you can try to imagine pink and white sponge painted walls. 
Who would EVER spongepaint the kitchen pink??
I wonder if they had Strawberry Shortcake curtains?
Some people should just not be allowed to decorate.
We won't even discuss the wallpaper we stripped in all the bathrooms.
Anyway...since I am taking baby steps...I will keep my goals reasonable. it is:
Monday's goal:
Wake up before 10am.
Hey, what can I say?  If I accomplish this...who knows, maybe I will even move on to goal #2! (Once I figure out what that is.)
The key is to just keep moving forward.....even if it's teeny tiny baby steps, 


Have a great Monday!

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Information Devastation

I often wonder how cutting myself off from all forms of media would affect me.
I will admit, I am a Facebook addict.
(I am currently looking for a 12 step program in my area for that.)
Typically, I just like to catch up on what people are doing,
and quite frankly, without it...I wouldn't have reestablished friendships, or forged new ones with about 80% of the people I currently "chat" with there.
It's addictive qualities are somewhat detrimental, but it also 
serves a very positive purpose in many ways.
I have subscribed to our local paper for quite a few years now. (I will admit, I have decided to cancel my subscription, considering the fact that a 13 week subscription has gone from $63ish dollars to $100 in a two year period.)
My husband typically turns the local and world news on every evening, so I end up watching that as well.
And, of course, over the course of several years, my inbox has become flooded with daily notices from any number of places, filling me in on all the latest happenings in the world...good and bad.
I am starting to wonder: Am I over-informed?
I will certainly be the first to admit I am not over-educated.
When it comes to all of the crazy government based, political insanity that is constantly occurring...I am clueless.
I always tell Mark to let me know if there is something I should be aware of.
Otherwise....I find that sometimes it's just best to be blissfully unaware.
Especially when you have a personality like mine.
I am waaaay to sensitive...and I tend to take on the "energy" of the people and things that surround me.
I honestly think it's the pisces in me.

I don't know if you are into all of that zodiac mumbo jumbo...but for me, EVERYTHING that I have ever read as a typical "pisces trait" fits me to a tee.
Heck, I even have a pisces symbol tattooed on my back.

When my mom was living with me, I would always get ready while she was in the tub.  EVERY SINGLE DAY, she would see my tattoo and say "Oooh! You have one of THOSE?!!" (Like I had a huge swastika splattered across my back.)
It was pretty funny.
ANYWAY....having 24/7 access to the media, and the fact that everywhere you look, every atrocity occurring around the world is being shared, really starts to wear on you...and perhaps even change who you are.
For me, I think it has really opened my eyes to just how bad things really are.
Sure, I watch CSI and Criminal Minds, as well as true crime shows like 48 Hours.  I have never been blind to the unbelievable things humans do to one another.
However, it is the animal cruelty that has really hit me between the eyes.
Of course, I have always known it exists...but when I see photos, or, God forbid, videos (I can't watch them...I did once, I'm scarred for life.) of what people are actually doing every day to these poor defenseless has really flipped a switch in me. (for lack of a better term.)
It has unleashed an inner rage that I haven't felt before.  A desire to take down anyone who would cross that line...and to protect any animal in danger.

I was talking to my co-workers at church about it one day.  I told them that I was 100% about getting an "eye for an eye" law passed when it came to animal and child abuse.  "You throw a dog into a vat of boiling water, and then skin him alive....well, guess what will happen to you?!"
(This was right before Christmas) Deacon replied, "Wow Beth, you are really getting in the Christmas spirit, aren't you?!" 
I suggested he offer to write the homily for the weekend that the reading about "an eye for an eye" came up....and I could assist, of course. ;)
 I might veer off topic ever so slightly.....well, biblically speaking.
I am still waiting to get an answer from him about that.....
I can feel my blood pressure rising just thinking about the things I have read and pictures I have seen.
It makes me it better to be aware of these things...or was it better when I had a much smaller knowledge of the reality of it?
Back then, it would make me really sad to think about animals out in the cold...or animals who didn't have a home.
Now, I get these e-mails from Peta...or see stories on FB...and I sob, and then I want to go hunt down the abusers, and literally subject them to the same fate as the animals they have hurt or killed.
(I should mention....hurting/killing typically isn't the norm for me.)

The other issue:  What can I do?
There are small things I can do....but it makes me crazy that I don't have the power to actually make these things stop.
Yesterday in the paper, there was a story about 22 ponies being abandoned since September.
Neighbors and others had notified the local humane office that they were concerned for the animals welfare.
The last contact the humane office had with the owner was in November.
These animals have endured a minimum of 2-3 months with no food, water or shelter.  (One died)
They have now been rescued and are with other families.
The article made the humane officer out to be the hero in this story.
Here is my question.
Why did it take the humane officer 2 MONTHS to address this problem?
She even stated that "You can tell that there are a lot of animal and horse lovers in the county.  I had quite a few folks get ahold of me."
I am still scratching my head here....2 months??
(Criminal charges are being pursued against the owner, by the way.  We won't even talk about my feelings towards her.)
I DO receive lots of positive news in my "inbox" as well.  
I purposefully subscribe to anything that will send me stories which help to restore my faith in humanity.
I have to balance things out, you know.
I also try to watch every cute and funny animal video that I come help block out all of the sad and horrible ones I have seen.
Wouldn't it be great if there was a paper in print that only told GOOD news?
(And I don't mean the bible)
I would love to go to my mailbox each day and find a paper filled with inspirational stories of wonderful, positive things that are happening around the world.
I have to wonder...would things change if the media made a conscious effort to flip the current ratio of bad/good news.
When I watch the world news, there is typically 28 minutes of bad news, and then a 2 minute story about something good to wrap things up.
What if the news consisted of a 5 minute recap of the events of the day (just to keep us updated...and of course, most of the events would probably be bad.) and then the other 25 minutes would be dedicated to stories of the good things happening around the world.
It would be interesting to see if being surrounded by good would change our outlook.
I can say with 100% certainty that my exposure to negative information, hurtful and abusive stories and photos, and, quite frankly, the reports of the atrocities that are occurring in our world everyday have caused me to question whether or not the human race is capable of compassion and kindness anymore.

Obviously, I know that there are so many good and loving people out there.
It is just that the bad has become so overwhelming, and so commonplace.
I believe the fact that we are inundated with it on a daily basis makes it feel like there is more bad than good....and it becomes our reality.
I have to believe that if we switched it around....and were constantly surrounded by reminders of good, rather than bad,
the good would become our reality.

It would be what we thought about, and talked about, and felt everyday.
I think it would turn our world around.
We have the world at our fingertips.
TV's, computers, cellphones, ipads, ipods....we are constantly plugged in to everything that is happening around us.
But if all that was taken away....maybe we would be able to slow down and really notice all of the good things that are happening every day.

I know that giving up Facebook is probably too steep of a sacrifice for me. (It is sort of my lifeline to the outside world, since I tend to hibernate during the winter.)
However, I might start forgoing the evening news.
Maybe I'll dig out those old "Chicken Soup for the Soul" books.
I am going to brainstorm a bit about how I can singlehandedly save all of the animals in the world, and take down their abusers (without being sent to prison.)
For today, however....I think I will just focus on good things.