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Writing: Gift or Curse?

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Have you ever experienced sleepness nights where you are caught between dreams and reality? Your mind is spinning as thoughts weave in and out filling the crevices of your mind.

Have you ever thought about writing being a curse, as well as a gift? Recently I was contacted by a fellow writer, Ron Lemco. Ron has published a compelling book, Rest Stop, that is scary in a sense because it could happen in real life – in fact, it DID happen. While the language is rough, the way difficult, the result frightening, the way I look at it, it’s life! Reading his book left me with the impression that I might not want to take advantage of the convenient ‘rest stop’ on my next vacation.

He shared with me a writing that definitely got me thinking about the writer’s world being both, a gift and a curse.

by Ron Lemco

A thought about what a person is writing enters into his head.
It becomes a vision and then, like magic, he begins to see a dialog.
He is trying to sleep but words are escalating taking control.

Jumping from his bed he writes notes he needs to contain.
All too often an image is lost and recollection is not the same.
Notes no longer satisfy the thoughts that must be transposed.

After a fix here, a fix there, he climbs back in bed. . .
One thousand words later.

Share your thoughts…have you experienced The Writers’ Curse?


Do you push when you should pull?

The Farside – Gary Larson

You walk up to a door, you push and push, the door will NOT open, no matter how hard you push. Frustration sets in as you push again, even harder. You sheepishly look around to see if anybody is looking when you notice the sign on the door says: PULL.

How many times have the events of a day delegated reactions of opposite direction? Did you turn left when you should have turned right? Did you put your left foot forward when it should have been your right? Did you say ‘yes’, when you should have said ‘no’? Did you think twice or just go?

Within these musings resides one essential question:

How many times do you find yourself pushing and pushing when in actuality, it’s time to pull – to pull away, to pause, to reflect, to let go and let God?

      “Pull the string, and it will follow wherever you wish. Push it, and it will go nowhere at all.”
Dwight David Eisenhower (American 34th President (1953-61). 1890-1969)


Mary Helen Ferris speaks from the heart with words that touch the soul. . .

Greatpoetrymhf's Weblog

There are chocolate lava days

that one dreams of 

when relaxing.

Molten Chocolate Cake


A day one is faced with laughter

A day when Soul 

comes out to play.

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Pen Pals

Motorcycle Postman, 1912 (Library of Congress)

Do you remember waiting in anticipation for the postman to arrive? Let me clarify that which you are anxiously awaiting. . .it is a letter from someone much different from yourself and living in a far away land. That’s right. . .a hand-written letter, not typed nor texted, but actually penned in the best cursive one could produce. It could have even been debated whether the letter itself was the most important or that wonderful foreign stamp.

Needless to say, should I mention this to one of my daughters, now an adult, or perhaps I should say granddaughters, she would more than likely react in complete astonishment. “Mother, you have got to be kidding! Write a letter? That would take way too much time! I can contact anyone in the world with a click of a button.”

So true today, but not in the days long, long ago and not anywhere near as personal.

The memory that someone, somewhere once took the time and trouble, I might add, to pen their thoughts ever so carefully, fold the paper and crease it gently with his/her own hands, then, post it with a well-chosen stamp lay embedded in the knowledge that days or weeks had to pass with hopes of receiving an equally personal response. Those days or weeks of anticipation were filled hour upon hour with thoughts of excitement and imagination!

Did you have a pen pal? What do you remember?

“Dear Pen Pal, you are a ray of sunshine on a cloudy day. Please write back.” ~catnipoflife


Liebster Award

Waiting in my Inbox today, I found a most pleasant surprise. catnipoflife had been honored with a nomination for the Liebster Award from Cosmuse. I was only vaguely familiar with this award having seen it on many blogsites but having never taken the time to reseach what it truly means.

What is the Liebster Award?

“The Liebster Blog Award is given to up and coming bloggers who have less than 200 followers. The Meaning: Liebster is German and means sweetest, kindest, nicest, dearest, beloved, lovely, kind, pleasant, valued, cute, endearing and welcome.”

Before delving into the rules for this award, I would like to introduce you to . She is from New Delhi, India and claims she likes writing as much as she likes desserts, maybe more! Now, folks, that must mean she absolutely loves to write! I believe it and you will, too, once you visit her site. She is a very talented, heartfelt writer! Vaishali, I am very humbled and honored to receive this award from you!

There are certain rules one has to follow, and copying them from  Cosmuse‘s blog post, they are enumerated below:
  1. If you are tagged/nominated, you have to post 11 facts abut yourself.
  2. Then you answer the 11 questions the tagger has given you & make 11 questions for the people you are going to tag.
  3. Tag 11 more Bloggers.
  4. Tell the people you tagged that you did.
  5. No tagging back.
  6. The person you tag must have less than 200 followers.
Here goes:

11 Facts about me:

Other than first being a child of God and a true believer in Jesus Christ, I am. . .
1. A Weight Watcher’s makeover
2. A member of G.R.I.T.S. (Girls Raised In The South)
3. Lover of music but the only note I sing is ‘So‘ – Sour only
4. My husband and I share the same middle name – Lee.
5. I’m giddy like a child when I catch a fish.
6. Love to swim and once dreamed of being the next Ester Williams (Visit Awakenings: Like Classic Movies?)
7. Enjoy painting, oils and acrylics
8. Favorite sport is golf
9. University of Florida fan Go Gators!
10. Hate to be alone
11. Love old cars and classic movies
Answers to Vaishali’s questions:
1]   ‘Checkered blue n white’ or ‘black’?
Let’s see. . .I love blue (my favorite color, in fact),  not too fond of checkered (except the red & white checkered tablecloths at picnics). black, well it is known to be very slenderizing. OK …that does it – Black, definitely black!
2] Curtains or no curtains?
Definitely NO curtains! All they do is collect dust, frogs (yep, the ting green ones) and make rooms too dark. If anything, plantation shutters. . .Let the light shine in!
3]   Hardcover, paperback or ebooks?
Hardcover when it is on sale:>) No doubt about it – paperback over ebook. Love the feel of that book in hand and special bookmarks!
4]   What’s your ambiance while writing?
With and without music, whatever is going on at the time but definitely with my cat in my lap!
5]   Do you plan to publish a novel?
I think every writer thinks about a novel at one time or another but my gift from God is writing poetry and inspirational  words. After all, I am a mathematician become messenger: He gifts it to me and I gift it to others.
6]   Do you like to make a gift for your loved one or do you rather buy?
Much prefer to make but it is not always feasible or possible.
7]   Which is the most beautiful color according to you?
Blue, most assuredly, blue.
8]   What’s your mantra in life?
From Treasures in Jars of Clay, 2 Corinthians 4:18 – “So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.”
9]   Have you ever thought of becoming a soldier in your life?
Not really, but I have the utmost respect and honor for those serving in the military.
10] Do you have stage fear?
Not at all. . .life is a stage!
11] ‘Mickey mouse/ Aladdin/Duck Tales’ or ‘ Shin Chan/ Doraemon/ Kitretsu’?
‘Mickey mouse/ Aladdin/Duck Tales’ especially the first two!
Because of the time that it does take to complete the requirments for acceptance of this award and because I feel Vaishali’s questions really hit at the crux of this award, I am passing the same questions on to the well-deserving nominees listed below. Each of them has in some way touched my heart and often made my day!While you may not reach the ‘magic’ number of eleven, remember they should be new blogs of no more than 200 followers. Since many blogsites do not display stats for number of followers, it may be possible for some nominees to have more that the required number. If so, please do graciously accept the award as a means by which you can pass recognition along to any newbies who are following you.
And the nominees are. . .[drum roll, trumpets]

On Any Given Day: Life is Full of Beauty. . .

. . .regardless of the weather. . .

how often do you take the time to notice the simple things in life . . .

the innocence within a single smile, the laughter of children on a playground, the helping hand as an elder crosses the street, the young man holding the door or the young woman tendering a sweet, loving kiss, the aroma of a bakery with its fresh baked bread or gooey cinnamon rolls cloaked in snowy white drizzle, the soft purr-r-r-r of a kitten, the bumble bee savoring sugary nectar from a sunflower or the attala butterfly hovering over a field of daisies, perchance the melodies drifting about with the wind or the raindrops pelting a windowpane on a steamy summer afternoon?

Ah-h-h-h! Could there be an endless list of possibilities?
Perhaps, for. . .


Life is full of beauty
Stop and notice it. . .
The flight of the bumble bee
The butterfly flit

Life is full of delight
Stop and enjoy it…
Laughter of a wee child
A holiday skit

Life is full of love
Stop and cherish it…
A hug from a friend
The time to commit

Life is full of sorrow
Stop and learn from it…
Live for tomorrow
Never to forget

Life is full of beauty
Stop and notice it…
The sights, sounds, smells
Never ever quit


In other words. . .

“Life is full of beauty.
Notice the bumble bee, the small child, and the smiling faces.
Smell the rain, and feel the wind.
Live your life to the fullest potential and fight for your dream.”
Ashley Smith

In some way, we all notice beauty around us.
What in life represents true beauty in its purest sense to you?


Sending a Hug

Hugs sent your way from catnipoflife!

There’s something in a simple hug
That always warms the heart,
It welcomes us back home
And makes it easier to part….

~Johnny Ray Ryder, Jr., “A Simple Hug”


The Original Text Message

My inspiration today actually came from a lady’s T-shirt I spied while checking out at Walmart. The drudgery of walking back and forth from one end of the store to another (more than one time mind you because something was missed on the list or thought of after the fact) finally ended or so I thought. OOPS! Forgot the cream cheese and sour cream for the cheesecake:>(

[Hubby bakes KILLER cheesecakes for friends and family on birthdays and one is coming up next week.]

He waits in line while I trudge one more time to the lower forty for the forgotten items. Along the way, I see the graham crackers needed for the crust and don’t remember if we have any at home. Grabbed a box plus a box of powdered milk. Needed four 8-oz packages cream cheese and one 8-oz carton sour cream. Got those. Turned to head back to checkout and noticed the butter. Oh, dear, do we have extras in the freezer? Not sure, snatched up one pound. Made a right-hand final turn toward the front of the store and there it was – Hershey’s Syrup in the can! Glaring down at me with imaginative signs of oozing chocolate waiting to be licked!  [When hubby bakes cheesecakes there is always enough for a tiny cheesecake sample for all the hard work. Wouldn’t that thick, rich Hershey’s Syrup be great drizzled over the top? And, o-o-o-oh, it is so much better in the can and not always available or that easy to find.]


Now, remember, I already have a box of graham crackers and one of powdered milk, four 8-oz packages cream cheese, one 8-oz carton sour cream, and one pound butter. What’s one more item? Shifting the items, cradling them in my arms which are crossed hoping to keep everything secure, I slowly turn my body to the right, reach up with my right hand that is only mobile from the wrist to the fingers, and voila I ease the can off the rack onto the pile and neatly tuck it under my chin. Only thing left is the walk down the longest aisle of the store to checkout where hopefully hubby is patiently waiting. It was definitely the longest aisle and took the longest time to trek than any other during the entire shopping spree.

Whew! Almost there. Hubby is in sight and thank goodness he is the next in line for the conveyor belt. That was in my favor. He hates lines and if he had to let someone ahead because I was taking too long, heaven forbid! As he turned his head and spotted me coming toward him, all I could hear was this roar of laughter as he (not whisperingly) exclaimed, “That’s my wife, octopus arms!”

I know by now you are wondering what all of this has to do with the lady and her T-shirt…

As all of the items plummeted from my arms onto the conveyor belt. I turned around to begin unloading the grocery cart. That is when I spotted the lady and focused on her T-shirt. Think about it. Had I not gone back for the forgotten items and took the amount of time I did as I spotted other items along the way hubby and I would have already been out of Walmart and on our way home never having seen the lady, the T-shirt or read its message.

All of a sudden thoughts of how everyone is so in tune with today’s advancements in technology, gizmos, gagentry and gear, ‘techie’ tips at every turn, flooded my mind centering on how appearances of hearts and minds no longer yearn for the simple things in life. One cannot leave home without a cell phone, Tablet, iPad, iPod or as I just learned about yesterday, the Livescribe Smartpen. They have become as much a part of daily life as the quill and scroll, pen and paper of yesteryear, used to be. Where messages and love notes were once penned, now they are texted. In other words, where messages and love notes were once hand written, now they are generated electronically.

Are you seeing a connection? Recall the title of this post, The Original Text Message?

It was these words, The Original Text Message, that appeared across the front of the T-shirt. Why was I so focused on those words? I don’t even text. In fact, I had text-messenging added to my new cell phone over six months ago in order to receive a code for activation. Received the code along with 500 ‘free’ whatever and I haven’t used it since. I do have a computer (in fact, two, desktop and laptop) but no iPad, iPod or the newly learned Livescribe Smartpen. [The pen does seem worth investigating. I hate losing random thoughts.]

The lady with the T-shirt obviously felt my stare. I abruptly stopped unloading the grocery cart, totally oblivious of anyone else in line and as I walked toward her, she began to walk toward me. . .

OMG! There it was! The message and its true meaning. . .

The Original Text Message

Thank you for visiting catnipoflife. . .Please leave a comment!


A Pet’s Prayer


Inspiration can reveal itself so unexpectedly! It comes in many shapes, sizes, packages, in the form of simple or complex messages, and sometimes totally surprises us with random thoughts and complete spontaneity. Yesterday I was touched by Rosemary Adkins Extraordinary Dreams of an Ireland Traveler. Within her posting was a bonus story, actually a prayer, about her dog, Sandy, who is very ill.

Throughout the formative years of our children, Jim and I have encountered, helped, saved, fostered, and laid to rest many pets. Some have been more memorable that others each leaving behind his/her own tales of antics that brought on the tears, either from sheer aggrevation or pure happiness. They ranged from pet snakes to gerbils to the adoring puppy to the dog who dug into our yard to the fiesty and last, but not least, the cuddly kitten.

This would be similar to our gerbil cages.

Let’s begin with the gerbils. Cute with all the accessories that go along with keeping gerbils active and happy, cage with bedding and nest fluff, exercise wheel and chewing toys (household items worked best). Of course, there were two since the two youngest daughters (Nicole and Wendy) expressed the most desire for the gerbil as their pet(s). Oh, dear, one would not do so we ‘adopted’ two, that is two of everything for the gerbils ended up being one male and one female. (Don’t really recall if that was intentional or totally by accident. LOL!) The kids would watch them as they performed their stunts and the laugther and giggles could be heard throughout the house. All was well and each girl took responsibility for caring for her gerbil, until. . .

One afternoon while Wendy was visiting a friend, Niki felt like her gerbil was sad being all alone in its cage. Oh, I know what you are thinking and you are on the right path alright! Yep, she opened the tiny door to Minnie’s cage, carefully reached inside and gently lifted the little socialite onto her hand. Then, cautiously opened the tiny door to Micky’s cage releasing Minnie quickly as she closed and relatched the cage door. Well, rightly to say that was not the end of the story but only the beginning for the loving couple! I will add that all in all it was not a bad experience for with the birth of the baby gerbils came excitement that could never be replicated! May they rest in peace:>)

OOPS! A little of track. . .

Sharla, Jim & Chief 1984

Since this reflection began with Rosemary and her dog, Sandy, it cannot conclude without reference to Chief, the black labrador and Prince, the dalmation. Chief was the one mentioned earlier that dug under the fence into the yard. It did not matter how many times we let him out the back gate or how many times we filled in the holes under the fence, we would wake up the next morning with his having returned via a new entrance into the backyard. It was early one morning as Jim let Chief out the back gate AGAIN that he was approached by one of our neighbors who proceeded to make a comment insinuating the dog liked our yard better than his own. Needless to say, by the end of the conversation, we had acquired the dog! To this day, I do believe Chief was abused and that is why he kept coming into our yard.

As for Prince, he strayed onto the front porch one day so skinny his ribs resembled a bony rack and what little skin that was there oozed profusely from sores. So pitiful were those eyes that just bored right through you pleading for love! Our son, Scott, actually knew the owner of the dog (I really think the dog followed him home with a little help.) After contacting Prince’s owner, we found out he was unable to take care of the dog mainly because of the expense to get him to a vet. So, he became Prince Shults! [I searched for a picture of Prince but there was none to be found in the family albums. Probably still in one of the envelops that never made it to any of the album pages.]

Well, Chief Shults and Prince Shults were buddies from day one! Both loved to run and play (inside and outside the house mind you)! Understand that Chief was the water hound and Prince, the instigator. The yard was fenced in but Prince being slender and quite agile quickly learned he could leap off the deck. Chief being the much heavier of the two struggled but eventually made it not wanting Prince to have all the fun alone. That is how the escapade began but it definitely did not end with just a simple romp around the neighborhood. It resulted in several nights of missed sleep because the dogs could not be found.

The kids were frantic. Jim and I were worried. The weather turned nasty. Then, we played the waiting game. We contacted everyone in the neighborhood, called the rescue center, the Pound, animal control, etc., etc., etc. You know the routine. No luck. For days we waited, hoped and prayed they were alright. Then came the phone call. . .

Actually, it was Jim who made the call once again to the animal control center. Here is the gist of the conversation.

Control Center Operator: “Bay County Animal Control. May I help you?”

Jim: “This is Jim Shults and I live in the cove. We have two dogs that have been missing for several days.”

Control Center Operator: “Hold on, Mr. Shults. Hey, Glenda, do you still have that boat owner on the line calling about the two dogs? I think I have their owner on this line.”

Bottom line, the dogs had crossed town to the bay. Prince was leading Chief to water! When the weather turned nasty, they seeked refuge aboard a doctor’s boat (You can use you imagination about the boat!). As soon as the weather cleared, the owner went down to the dock to check on his boat. Here is the last part of the telephone conversation.

Glenda: “Yes, I still have Dr. McCormick on the line. I told him we may have the owner of the dogs on another line. He says a dalmation is on the boat and a black lab is in the water. He wants to get on his boat but the guarddog won’t let him come anywhere near the boat or the water!”

Control Center Operator: “Mr. Shults will one of your dogs guard a boat while the other swims? If so, they are at Dr. McCormick’s.”

We knew the doctor so when we arrived at his house the atmosphere was frantic but cordial. The minute those two dogs saw Jim they bolted toward him, both wet, scared, hungry and totally exhausted. They slept for two days.

Oh, my, I did get a bit long-winded, didn’t I?

When you start writing stories about your children and/or pets, it is sometime hard to just stop. Must though or the message behind this story might be lost. Since catnipoflife is inspired by the feline she will end with a prayer, but it is a prayer to all the loving, adorable pets who grace our homes and lives.

Be sure to stop by and visit Rosemary. Leave a prayer for Sandy.

A Pet’s Prayer

Thank you, Lord, each day
For the victuals I am fed
Petting and brushing
And my soft, billowy bed

Thank you for the extra treats
Persistently when I’m good
Especially the catnip
Dusted along the faux wood

Thank you for safe keeping
As I scamper and play
Climbing trees, chasing bugs
During the night and day

Thank you for my parents
So loving and kind
Who clean up my messes
And don’t even mind

After all the thanks
I must surely add
I’m truly feline
For this I am glad

If I should die
And it seem unfair
Please let them know
I’m in Heaven’s care

To them you see
I am their child
They need to know
For me you smiled

But before I close
My prayer, you see
Is for more than one
Not simply me

© 2012

“If we treated everyone we meet with the same affection we bestow upon our favorite cat, they, too, would purr.”
—Martin Buxbaum (Author, photographer, artist and humorist, 1912–1991)


Personal Reflection: A Silent World

Today I read the inspiring words at the left posted on facebook by Kathleen Reeser Hill. How true are these words! I read it over and over again thinking of our daughter, Nicole, and the persecution she faced in growing up, especially during her middle school years. I would like to share a little of Her Story.

When Nicole was born on March 28, 1981, I was overjoyed for I so much wanted a daughter. A son had already blessed our family two years earlier but two miscarriages destined us to seemingly having only the one child.

When the miracle happened, never did I envision how the new life set before me would be the beginning of overwhelming challenges for both of us. Hers was not an easy birth and she entered the world at 9 lbs 13 ozs already with determination written all over her face. She was not one of these babies born with a headfull of hair but only a tiny tuff on the top of her head. I was so excited wanting everyone to know the long awaited daughter had finally arrived that I scotch taped a tiny pink ribbon to that tiny tuff!

Being around the children more than their father placed me in the situation where I almost felt like their only caretaker and sometimes instances would go unnoticed, not from neglect by any means, but simply from being a working Mother and trying to keep the household together. It was on a weekend when my parents were visiting that my dad questioned whether Nicole could hear. She was eighteen months old, and that day was the beginning of a totally unforeseen ending ahead…

A trip to Children’s Hospital in Birmingham, AL and many tests, tests, tests later confirmed that she was 80% deaf. The doctor was so rude he told us she would never hear well enough to amount to anything in society. Then, to top that off her father insisted she could NOT be his child because she was ‘imperfect’. Can you imagine what went through my heart, mind and soul on that day?!. This was our daughter, a gift from God!

Nicole – 3 yrs old

The next couple of years were unimaginable. She was easily agitated, totally frustrated as she tried to understand the world around her and communicate her wants, needs and feelings. Temper tantrums would result in such unruliness that her father would walk out demanding, “That is YOUR daughter, YOU deal with it!” A lot transpired within that time span which led to. . .well, doing exactly that, I dealt with it…without him. He came home one too many times to a dinner table set for four to only brush us aside and say HE was going out for dinner.

The kids and I moved out and on. Then, I met Jim who was soon to become the Dad she had never had: The man in her life that would not give in nor give up on her, the one who would work with her day in, day out making sure she listened. Yes! I do mean listen. She was first aided with over the ear hearing aids connected to chest packs that brought her hearing within 80% capacity. Remember, in the beginning, she was diagnosed as 80% deaf which allowed for only 20% hearing. [I can recall the embroidered designs on little vest pockets where ‘eyes’ of various animals became the holes for the microphones of the hearing aids. These have long been replaced with ones so tiny you don’t even notice she is wearing them.]

There are stories upon stories about her hearing aids – the time she became so frustrated she buried them in the sandbox at daycare, the time they were retrieved from the garbage can, the time the dog chewed them up, the numerous times they just simply went missing, etc. Then, there was the turmoil that churned on the inside that she dealt with on a daily basis and the persecution beyond words from her peers whose cruelty was unfathomable. She excelled, however, at all grade levels even being admitted to an advanced program in high school only to forfeit that status in the second semester of her senior year in order to transfer to a different school.

None of that feigned her determination. She beat them all! She went on to receive her Associate’s Degree from Santa Fe Community College in Gainsville, FL, then on to the University of Florida (GO Gators!) where she received her BS Degree in Marketing. Now she is working on her Masters, but has ventured into Financial Analysis with aspirations of obtaining her Doctorate. And this is a child who was born 80% deaf, told by a doctor that she would never amount to anything, rejected by her father BUT has already accomplished more than most of her high school classmates! And, she will tell you very quickly she has the best Daddy in the whole world!

John and Nicole Reina

She is married and has two beautiful daughters, Natalie and Catalina, both of whom at birth passed Florida’s mandatory hearing test!

To Nicole and all those whose world might be on the quiet side. . .

A Silent World

I called and called your name
Why didn’t you answer?
You were so close—
A vision of loveliness

Your wonderful smile
Upon a laughing face
Concealed a lonely place—
A world of silence

Over and over the same refrain
Thinking I was just ignored
Irritated and exhausted—
A game of annoyance

Suddenly becoming perfectly clear
After I called louder and louder
Heartache and tears revealed—
A moment of sadness

Through the years of special care
Hours and hours, frustration and tears
Overjoyed with anticipation—
A day of hope

Confirmation finally came
No longer a silent world
You turned and smiled
When I called your name

When you call someone’s name
Why don’t they answer?
Think before you repeat
Theirs may be a silent world

Sharla Lee Shults