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Sunday, December 23, 2012

Happy Holidays?



“Happy holidays”, the young girl said as she bagged my purchases.  I smiled and thanked her for her well wishes.  The next customer, not so appreciative of this greeting, made a snide remark about the fact that she didn’t say “merry Christmas”.  Perhaps he was trying to make a point of keeping Christ in Christmas, but what he really did was annoy two people.  I didn’t walk away from that store having had a spiritual awakening because of his words.  In fact, I was really more irritated than I was when I entered the busy store and realized just how long the check out lines were in the first place. 

If I see someone this time of year, I will wish them happy holidays to encompass all that we celebrate this time of year.  We start with Thanksgiving, then Christmas and end the season with Groundhog Day on February 2nd. (that’s my favorite holiday) So because of this, if I see you between Thanksgiving and Groundhog day, I will undoubtedly wish you a happy holiday season.  I suppose I could carry a list in my pocket of who my Christian friends are and who my not-so-Christian friends are so that I deliver the appropriate non-offensive greeting.  But, as you can understand, I don’t have time for that.  Besides at any given moment, as some would believe, Christians can lose their credentials and find themselves back on the other list.  So how do I know when to use which greeting?

So I find myself in a quandary.  Merry Christmas or Happy Holidays; can’t we just accept the kind words of a stranger as that….kind words.  There are certainly worse words that have been said to me by strangers. 

Sing your Christmas hymns, your songs about Rudolf and light your Hanukah Menorah. Enjoy this time of year for what it is, a time to celebrate faith, family and friendships.  Whether Christian or not, this time of year brings out the giving spirit.  There are certainly people could use our cheer instead of our sneer when they offer the wrong holiday greeting. 

Happy Holidays.......

Amy Lynn Michael

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Through Eyes of Gratitude


I walked into a counselor’s office about 10 years ago and waited for her to tell me something wise, comforting; ultimately waiting for her to tell me what to do.  I had lost my husband to cancer a few years prior and my best friend a couple years after that.  As far as I could tell there was only one way and that way was up.  I sat in Lynn’s office for what seemed like an eternity hoping for those life-giving words.  In one session I was determined to find out all I needed to know to move on, to move up and to step out with my new attitude.  It didn’t happen that way.  It took several months of questioning and trying to make sense of it all.  She didn’t give me any answers.  In fact, she made me answer my own questions.  Lynn was only a sounding board and a very good one at that.  But there was one session that was pivotal for me.  The holidays were nearing and the intensity of my pain and loneliness were suddenly overwhelming.  I walked in her office that day and said, “I hate the holidays”.  She grinned and said, “what did the holidays do to make you hate them so much?”  That was it, I knew my counselor was a colossal smart ass and for the first time I became angry; verbally and visibly angry.  It turns out that is just what I needed to do.  Lynn asked me that day for the rest of the hour to begin naming things that I was thankful for.  For several minutes the only thing heard in that room were the faint voices of people across the hall.  Finally through tear-filled eyes I began to whisper one by one things that I was thankful for.  I started with naming my little dog, Blackie and continued to name things for the next ten minutes or so.  I stopped and looked up as Lynn placed in my hand a piece of paper with a list of all the things I had mentioned.  She told me to take that with me wherever I went and when I started to feel sorry for myself I was to keep adding to that list.  This seemed like a crazy idea but it is the single thing that I have carried with me all these years.  It seems as though gratitude was just what the doctor ordered.  My sadness didn’t end overnight and it wasn’t an easy climb out.  Giving thanks, though, changed my perspective and gave me a reason to keep moving forward. 

Sometimes, still, I get caught up in thinking about the things I have lost, the friendships that have faded with time and distance and those things that I wish I had.  When this happens I think of my counselor and friend Lynn Boeyink, who lost her own battle with cancer a year ago and I give thanks.  I give thanks for all that I have been given over time; friendships, family, pets, nature and so much more.  Sometimes I am simply thankful to be alive.

Today as we begin the holiday season, let’s be mindful of those who may not be able to see through the eyes of gratitude.  Let’s be their eyes and when they can’t see past their pain, let’s listen with our hearts as they express their sadness and give thanks for and with them.

Happy Thanksgiving to you and your families.

Amy Lynn Michael

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

The Road to Forgiveness


The Road to Forgiveness

Sometimes we are thrown curves in life.  When that happens I sit down at a piano and play it out.  Sometimes that is my form of prayer.

If you came here looking for encouragement, simply listen to the notes I play and know that forgiveness is not about the other person.  It is about you.  It is about freeing up space on your shoulders so that you can walk freely away and with a bounce in your step.

You are worth it!

Amy Lynn Michael

Sunday, August 26, 2012

The Words We Become



“I’m going inside now”.  These are the words, as a child, that I said when my parents called me in for dinner or the end of the day bedtime routine.  Sometimes I said these words simply because I was mad at my playmate.  I was tired of being called dumb, ugly or any of the harsh words that are often spoken in child’s play.  I thought that if I went inside, I would not be bothered and would maybe find some reassurance in the shelter of my home.  What I didn’t often plan on was the disturbance of any one of my six brothers.  So if I wanted to go inside and not be bothered, I would go a little farther and head upstairs to “my room”.  I was the only girl and my room was all my own.  It was there that I could think about anything, I could play with dolls and draw pictures.  I think my first drawing was of an egg plant.  I fell in love with this vegetable/fruit because of it’s brilliant color.  The picture I drew was magnificent but misunderstood by my mother because it was on the wall of my closet.  Sorry Mom.  If I wasn’t drawing, I would make up little songs and sing about my day.  I wrote some poems and on occasion I played with dolls.  I have to say that my playing with dolls may have been greatly influenced by all the boys in the house.  When I played with Barbie she was with GI Joe and they fought against the green army men from a big Tonka Truck.  Nonetheless, I played on my own often and because I was tired of the outside influences telling me how to play and what to play.  I wanted to think on my own, create what I saw in my mind and ultimately I was on an early quest to find out who I was.

As children we believe what adults tell us because they are our authority figures and therefore they must always be right.  If a parent tells their child that they are beautiful and intelligent, rarely does a child set out on a mission to prove them different.  But somewhere along the way another person, perhaps a schoolmate, tells them that they are not the person of their parent’s pride.  They begin to question themselves and start to see themselves in an ugly light.  They head home, back inside, where their parents reaffirm their sense of worth.  They “pick themselves up, dust themselves off and start all over again” as the song goes. 

Not all children are fortunate to have parents who speak words of life to their tender little souls.  I once heard a mom say to her child in a store, “you stupid little bastard, you will never learn, will you?”  The child was three or four and immediately began crying.  Her mother then said, “stop crying like a baby, you are going to make this lady mad”, gesturing toward me.  I walked over to the child, got down on her level and said, “a beautiful little girl like you could never make me mad”.  The little girl smiled for a second through her tears and the mom snatched her up as quickly as she could to head in a different direction.  I still think of this scene and wonder where that young girl is today.  Did she give up in school because her mom told her she was stupid?  Did she have other people in her life to give her words of kindness and encouragement that she could cling to?  Was she ever able to “go inside” even if that simply meant finding a way to think and to become who she believed she could be?

Sometimes I still find it necessary to “go inside”.  When the pace of work is too much, and I begin to doubt my own abilities, I sometimes am caught replaying what irresponsible adults told me as a child; words of negativity and discouragement.  In these negative moments, though they are few and far between, I will sit down to write, draw or play my keys until I am convinced that I am capable of so much more than the limitations of my own understanding.

The flower in this picture represents beauty, the border surrounding it represents the people who have helped to create, promote and protect that same inner beauty. I am fortunate to have a life-mate who helps me to see my beauty, when I can't seem to find it.  I am grateful.

Sometimes we become the negative words spoken over us and sometimes we find the strength from within to rise above them; we find the ability to sift through the noise of discouragement to hear the words of hope becoming so much more than we imagined. 

Amy Lynn Michael

Saturday, July 21, 2012

40 Days to a Meaner Me




If I am in a long line and someone is coming from a distance needing to simply pass through the line, I am the one they feel most comfortable cutting in front of.  When I am at the grocery store, I am the most likely candidate for a fellow shopper to ask directions to the right aisle.  If I approach a door at the same time as another, I am most likely to take a step back and allow the other to pass through first. I will probably even open the door for them.  I have never even flipped someone off while in a fit of road-rage! I need to get this fixed and soon!

Yesterday I wandered into my doctor’s clinic and purposely sat in the children’s waiting area.  I did this for two reasons.  They were showing a “Looney Tunes”  DVD and there was nobody else sitting on that side of the room. I don’t really like to visit with people at the clinic other than the doctor because eventually someone asks the question, “how are you today”?  I don’t want sick people to breathe on me or worse, touch me.  I want to be left a lone.  Yesterday, like many days, I attracted conversation.  I didn’t even so much as LOOK at him and the words fell out of his mouth.  “Sure nice to be out of the heat, huh?”  I smiled, or rather grimaced, and quickly picked up a magazine, holding it high hoping he would get the clue.  “So, you from around here?” was his next question.  Really?!  We’re in the “bleeping” doctor’s office!  Do you think I traveled across the country for this?  If this was a pick-up line, I’m glad to report that this man will surely be committed to the “in sickness and health” part of his marriage vows.  Again, I smiled and put my face even closer to the magazine.  This is truly an act of desperation since I don’t usually touch magazines in the waiting room because of who may have had it before me. My doctor was running a bit behind yesterday, which really is unusual, and so I was really banking on Mr. Chat A. Lot being called back before me.  Finally, finally, I was called back.  We passed through the door to the exam rooms and the nurse asked me to step on the scale and I enthusiastically, perhaps pathetically thanked her.  She looked confused and I’m really okay with that.  I’m okay with that because I am on a mission to learn how to be mean.

The next time I’m in a long line and someone wants to cut through, I’m going to give them my mean look and they will surely tremble with fear.  The next time someone at the grocery store asks me where something is, I’m going to say “ask an employee, chump!”  The next time I’m cut off in traffic I’m going to shake my middle finger in the air while looking as mean as I possibly can.

So I am off to start my own 40 day challenge.  In 40 days I hope to be meaner than I am today.  Who will join me?

Thanks for stopping by!

Amy Lynn Michael

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

With Love......


Dear Friends,


I love snail mail!  I have a folder that I keep special notes and cards in and I try to sit down once a month just to write letters to loved ones.  If I see a greeting card that makes me think of someone, I refuse to let it remain just a thought. I buy it and send it.  I like to write letters because I like to receive letters.  With e-mail, text messages and social networks, it is not so common to receive hand written communication these days.  Our rural and some smaller city post offices are closing up shop because of technology and the speed of it all.  I am determined to keep someone in business, even if it is only once a month.  I love to get my special folder out periodically to reminisce and to think about those who have taken time to write letters with pen in hand and with love in their hearts.  I had that folder out tonight and I smiled inside as I read letters from friends and family.  I laughed as I read a card from a friend with whom I have exchanged dry humor for more than 20 years.   My heart sank, just a little bit, as I read a letter from a friend who passed away this past October.  I also felt a sense of gratitude as I looked at her handwriting and imagined the hand that wrote each word.  I came across a letter from my Aunt Lois Bernhardt thanking me for a gift of music that I had presented to the ladies of her church.  Aunt Lois has been gone for a few years now and seeing her words somehow made her feel close once more. Then I laughed out loud as I read a post card that I received from Mike while we were dating and lived nearly 300 miles apart.  His penmanship would rival that of a medical doctor, but I know his letters, every one of them, was written with love.  As I held in my hands these letters, I became thankful that there are those who have not yet kicked pen and paper to the curb replacing them with the computer.  Just as I began to get self-righteous about it all, I pulled from this box a letter from a dear friend in South Africa.  I met Stevie G. via this same technology that I was beginning to criticize.  Stevie took time to send a handwritten note and....some chocolate. Clearly the chocolate would not have translated nearly as well via e-mail.  

I send a lot of e-mail every day for work and for personal purposes but there is nothing I enjoy more than getting a piece of mail hand-written with love.  So my challenge to you this week is to get out your paper, pens and envelopes and write someone a letter.

With Love,


Me

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Where Never is Heard...

...a discouraging word.




Think about your week and the people with whom you have interacted.  Whether they were family, friends, clients, colleagues or the person who cut you off in traffic, they all made some type of impact on you. 

There was a day this week in which I was insulted, ignored and encouraged within an eight hour time frame.  I was insulted by the customer who felt it necessary to inform me that he was prepared for my ignorance.  I was ignored by the person who felt it necessary to cut in line at the check-out.  If you had asked me how my day was going at that moment, I may have had a negative reaction and colorful response.  I did however, make it through the day without permanent damage to my self-esteem. 

When I was driving home that day, I began to sing. “Oh give me a home where the buffalo roam and the deer and the antelope play…”  Well, I don’t have deer or antelope, but I do have a dog, a very enthusiastic dog.  I have a dog who doesn’t know how to be anything but…a dog.  When she is out in public, she doesn’t care what people think of her coat.  She could care less if the shoes I’m wearing were made in Italy, so long as I’m willing to walk and play with her.  She is even forgiving when I forget to feed her because she lives with faith believing that Mike will soon be home and he never forgets to feed her.  In spite of limitations of space and time to run freely outside, she is always happy.  In her mind the world was created for her.  Sometimes she looks a little depressed but is easily brought back to happiness by the simple toss of a ball or heavy praise.  In fact the words don't even matter really so long as they are spoken in the right tone of voice.  For Chloe the Corgi, the skies truly are not cloudy all day.  She is fed, and praised and that’s all she needs.

People are not quite as simple as this though.  We need more than a little food and a little praise.  We need a heavy dose of encouragement.  Frankly sometimes those words of encouragement seem few and far between.  Last night before I left for the day, I saw that one of my coworkers was still on line.  I sent her an instant message simply to encourage her and wish her well before her weekend.  This simple act of encouragement was what she needed at that moment, I would later learn.  This morning I had a conversation with a kind co-worker who offered me the words of encouragement that I needed to get through what would normally be a day spent at home. 

The gift of an encouraging word will cost us nothing but the breath to speak or the keystrokes to type. Encouragement is a gift; to the giver as much as to the receiver.  In this world of so many discouraging words, I want to be more keenly aware of those around who simply need to hear a kind word.

Do you need to be encouraged?  I challenge you in this; reach out to someone with words of encouragement and I think you will quickly feel those same words coming back to encourage you just the same. And soon you will notice that your “skies are not so cloudy all day”

Thanks for stopping by.

Amy Lynn Michael

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Welcome to My World


When I moved to the Kansas City area four years ago, I had my husband and my little dog, Mr. Jackson aka Blackie. (God rest his sweet, furry soul)  I didn't have a job or any friends in the beginning and so I wasn't always happy.  A lot of my days were spent driving one direction to find out I was going the wrong way and sometimes I just plain gave up and went home to cry.  I wanted to go back to Iowa; where everything was familiar.  But, I am not known for being a quitter so I have been determined to find a way to make this my world.  First I had a great foundation in Mike's parents.  They were wonderful hosts to me while I got established, and by the way, they still are. My job search was tedious, but successful.  I took a job in a call center doing something I was pretty sure I would hate, but I would live by my motto of "making the most of it".  Today, two promotions later, I am loving that job and the people I work with. Because of this job I have made many friends who I will carry with me forever.  

My friends here have taught me to look at life from an "urban perspective", for which I am both grateful and scared.  I never thought I would see the day when I would use words like; homie, boo, grittin' and deuces in context.  And they have found new meaning in phrases like, "don't cha know", "you betcha".  Never have they heard the letter "O" with so much emphasis.

Lately I have been thinking I need to find a quiet place in this city where I can go to find solace.  There is a park in the middle of our city called, "Loose Park".  Today I went to that park with my little red companion, Chloe the Corgi.  There were people and dogs in all shapes and sizes, running, playing and the occasional sound of conversations carried in the breeze.  The distant sounds of the city were muted by the song of the birds in the trees overhead. My hair was in a pony tail and I had one of my favorite Iowa Hawkeye caps on.  

Funny thing about this wonderful place is that it is less than five minutes from Kansas City's Country Club Plaza; shopping central for many locals and visitors alike.

But for me, at least today, I had the best seat in the city.  So maybe Kansas City really is ok with me by now.

There really is no life lesson in this writing.  I simply wanted to take you with me on my little journey.

I hope you have a place like this where you can go and if you're ever in Kansas City, make sure you find this wonderful gem in the middle of our city.

God's Blessings to You,

Amy Lynn Michael

Saturday, April 28, 2012

When Life Hurts


Last week I learned about a 12 year old boy from my home town who took his own life.  The word on the street is that he suffered with depression and he was bullied.  Both of which are so difficult.  There were many thoughts expressed as well as questions.  The question that was asked most frequently was, “how does a 12 year old feel that hopeless”.  He was a child.  I wrestled with this into the night when I learned about it.  Yesterday I saw his picture along with his obituary that told of the things that he enjoyed.  His picture still haunts me.  Why?  I didn’t even know him or his family.  I suppose there are many asking the question that I am asking today; what could have been done to save him?  Instead of trying to come up with an answer to any of it, I went to National Alliance on Mental Illness website www.nami.org.  There is a well written guide called “What Families Need to Know About Adolescent Depression”.  The following is an excerpt:

It is important to not dismiss any of these symptoms as “acting out” or “just a phase.”

• sleep problems (commonly more sleeping);
• loss of interest or pleasure in formerly fun activities;
• loss of interest in friends;
• appetite changes;
• energy loss;
• sadness or irritability;
• concentration problems;
• hopeless or guilty thoughts;
• body movement changes—feeling edgy or slowed down;
• persistent physical complaints and/or frequent visits to school
   nurses; or
• suicidal thoughts or preoccupation with death.

For many adolescents, suicidal thoughts are part of major depression.
Suicide is seen as a permanent “solution” to what may be a temporary
problem. Although teenage girls are at greater risk of depression, boys have
a higher risk of suicide if they are depressed. But if diagnosed and treated
promptly, almost everyone—children, adolescents and adults—recovers
from depression.

I have felt the sting of depression and thoughts of hopelessness and know that there is a better day around the corner for you or your loved one.

Please reach out today to someone who is hurting.  If that one is you, please reach out to a friend and a professional that can help you.  You are worth it!

Blessings to all who stopped by today,

Amy Lynn Michael

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Where Are You Now?



A family of four once lived here.  Mother, father and two children both boys.  Every day for several years the father went to work in the fields by summer, and at the local grain elevator by winter.  He was hard working.  Steel hands, they called him because his hands were so hard and calloused from his work.  When he came home at night he made sure there was always plenty; plenty of wood for the fireplace, plenty of food on the table to eat, plenty of love for his wife and children.  He did his best.  Mom stayed home and cared for the basic needs of the family.  She cooked, mended the torn knees in active little boys trousers, and made sure there was enough time to read stories and always did everything with love. 

As time went on the boys grew to be men and moved away from the family farm.  They came home often, bringing laughter and laundry for their mom because she had the magic touch.  Eventually their visits became fewer and farther between.  The home that was once full of laughter was now so empty.  Mom and dad getting up in years no longer had the energy to care for such a big house.  Losing strength and sight, they were no longer able to drive and eventually had to take refuge in a home for the elderly.  

Left behind was merely the memory of baked bread drifting in the wind, the laughter of children and the place that was once called home.

This is what I imagined as I drove by this broken down home recently.  I have no idea who lived there but I can't stop thinking about the life that once was.  People are no different.  Sometimes things happen to beautiful, happy people that reduces them to an old broken shell.  When I meet people who are difficult at best to love, I often wonder what happened to make them this way.  Have they seen tragedy?  Were they abandoned?  Like this house, did they wake up one day and feel cleaned out and worn?  Have they given up?

What is left of the house in this picture can't really be salvaged but what it rests on is a foundation; a foundation that could be rebuilt upon.  I believe that inside of each of us is a foundation, a good foundation, that can be built on and made stronger than ever.  I believe that inside each of us is a spirit of joy waiting to be rediscovered and nurtured.

Do you feel like this house, abandoned and lacking life?  Do you feel like there is no way to rebuild?  Be comforted in knowing that you don't have to do it alone.  May someone close to you see your foundation of beauty and better still may you find it within.  And may you find the strength to pick up and move on.

Thanks for stopping by today,

Amy Lynn Michael

Sunday, April 8, 2012

No Church on Easter?!

It’s Easter and instead of going to church like Christians around the world, I chose to go for a bike ride.  Before you set your fingers a sail on your keyboard to respond to what may appear to be rebellion, please know that only your freedom of speech will be applauded.  I did what I did because I wanted to spend some time alone and with nature today.  The sermon I heard as I rode along the stream in the middle of our busy city spoke profoundly of God, creation and a resurrection of life. 

Sun shining through after a rainy day…
…I celebrate in its warmth

Little birds chirping from a nest in the tree…
…I celebrate the gift of life

Flowers peaking through the weeds in the rough…
…I celebrate your unexpected beauty

Young couples walking hand in hand…
…I celebrate love and friendship

Little girl on the swings with her dad…
…I celebrate parents who know how to play

Gentle stream trickling through the trees…
…I celebrate living water

In the quiet spot where I chose to rest…
…I celebrated a savior who knows what I need and provides it at that minute.

Today, I needed a quiet place, a gentle message of life and I found it where I was.  Perhaps I wasn’t in a church bound by brick and mortar, but I was very much in the presence of the resurrected Christ and for this I give thanks.

I hope wherever you are, whether you celebrate Easter or not, that this day will simply be a day of refreshing; a refreshing of the soul.

Thanks for stopping by,

Amy Lynn Michael

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Not Perfect Just Forgiven


The car approached my back bumper with the speed of Danika Patrick and whipped around to cut me off just as quick.  I was just about to utter profanity when I noticed the bumper sticker, “Christians aren’t perfect, just forgiven”.  Oh, I thought, because she was a Christian, she could drive like a complete ass simply because she has the “I’m a forgiven Christian Disclaimer” on her bumper.  So I did what any Christian would do, I sped around her and cut her off because I have a “Jesus fish” on my bumper and I think that trumps her bumper sticker.  Didn’t really matter, she then extended her “just forgiven” middle finger, which also didn’t matter because, yes, she was forgiven for that too. 

I had a conversation with someone several days ago who was shocked at the language I used on my facebook page when I used the phrase “for godsake” when referring to a Beach Boys performance at the Grammy Awards. By the way, they annoyed me when they were young, why must I be reminded of this in their less than stellar comeback tour.  Anyway, that’s another blog post.  While I suppose there could have been a hidden request for an apology in that conversation, I wasn’t feeling the least bit apologetic about what I had said.  I still don’t.  After all, “I’m not perfect, just forgiven”.  But you know I have given this much thought.  I really do owe an apology of sorts.  I have not portrayed who I really am or rather who I am not.  I am like all Christians, imperfect.  I’m sorry that I spent a better part of 20 years in the Academy Award Christian performance of “Super-cal-evang-e-listic” style of worship that ultimately taught me how to “act”.  At home I was not a woman who spoke in terms of Psalms, hymns and spiritual things. So I am sorry that someone had to learn three decades into our friendship that I can and do speak outside the laws of scripture and more importantly probably, outside man’s interpretation of how “real Christians” should speak and live.  Nobody can really live up to all that is commanded in the Bible, especially that judgment commandment.

While I am my own person and I will feel free to talk as I feel, I still have respect for people and the decency not to intentionally offend someone.  What’s interesting to me about all of this is how my friendships have changed in time.  When I woke up and decided to be myself, uncensored and free, I lost “friends” and gained friends, real friends.  Social networks can be as simple or complicated as you care to make them.  I approach them knowing that at the click of a mouse I can invite you in or shut you out.  You can do the same.

I know my thoughts are somewhat disjointed and pissy this morning but I not perfect, just……..


Amy Lynn Michael

Friday, February 17, 2012

Take That Guys!

This “letter to the editor” still makes me laugh and I wanted to share it with my readers.  Enjoy!

A snowy Sunday morning laugh

How wonderful to wake up to 8.5 inches of snow and find my Journal waiting for me.  Even better that I brought a laugh on a snowy Sunday morning in the form of the Letter from the disgruntled male who wanted to know why there are more male “Jeopardy” champs than women.  Could it be because the women are home working, taking care of the house and kids so their hubbies can have the luxury of venturing forth to show their knowledge of trivia?

The writer was also upset about the portrayal of men on certain TV shows.  I would like to point out the shows he referred to are sitcoms, which stands for situation comedies (little bit of trivea that might come in handy on “Jeopardy”) Anyway, the word comedy should indicate the shows are fictional and supposed to make one laugh.  Don’t worry, we women understand the whole fiction concept.  Of course, shows based on women characters such as “The Nanny”, “Desperate Housewives”, and “Wonder Woman” are accurate portrayals of women.  Another laugh in reading this opinion was the writer pointing out he was married to a woman who was, first, wonderful.  Second, pretty. Third, hard working.  I think the writer putting pretty ahead of hard working speaks volumes.

By the way, if the writer would ever like to go head to head in a “Jeopardy” type competition, let me know.  I’ll be there with bells on.  Just as soon as I get off work, make dinner, do two loads of wash, help the kids with homework, make sure they have their baths and brush their teeth.  My wonderful husband should be able to take over after that, but I don’t want to overwhelm the poor guy. – Kim Harper Sioux City Journal February 27, 2007.

As always, thanks for stopping by. 

Amy Lynn Michael


Sunday, February 12, 2012

Embrace Your Inner Beauty

Amy Winehouse and Whitney Houston had something in common.  They were beautiful talented women whose lives ended too soon.  When I say their lives ended too soon I am thinking beyond the professional potential that each of them possessed.  I’m merely suggesting that they may have died never really believing how beautiful they were.  Performers, whether they have walked the red carpet or only set foot on the dirty carpet of a local bar, are actors.  They are actors who perform whether they feel like it or not.  They flash big smiles and are showered with compliments from their fans.  So long as the stage lights are on, they have to present themselves as if they too believe they are beautiful and talented.  Inside each of us is a performer, really.  When celebrities look in the mirror at the end of the day, do they see what we see?  Do they see beauty?  Or do they only see the other side? 

I have one of the greatest blessings in life.  I have husband who tells me every day, makeup or not, how beautiful I am.  Even so there are still days when I look in the mirror and wonder what he sees.  If I stay in that thought long enough I find myself thinking about all of my flaws and soon I feel ugly.  These days I don’t stay there long because I know deep inside where my beauty lies and I embrace it quickly and hold on to it as tightly as I can.  I don’t live under the microscope of the public eye like celebrities do.  When I fail, sometimes I’m the only one who knows it.  When I go to the grocery store looking disheveled I don’t have to worry that my picture will be on a tabloid tomorrow with speculations of what I may have done the night before. As I write this, I actually do look disheveled and this mug, this mug is raggedy!  But I don’t care because when Mike woke up this morning he told me that I am adorable.  I grinned and said, “I know that”.   I said it because I believe it.  I am cute, I am adorable and I don’t have to prove it to anybody.  I just know it.

Amy and Whitney were beautiful and so talented.  We only saw their outward beauty and we all made judgments of some kind when they fell.  But both of them had what we have deep inside; they had inner beauty that was waiting to be embraced if only, and most importantly by themselves. 

Do you embrace your inner beauty?

Amy Lynn Michael

Sunday, January 29, 2012

The Cat is Not Dead

Warning: Censorship has been turned off for this post

It was an ordinary Saturday.  Having had a busy week at work, I decided that I would sleep late and wake up when I was ready.  My husband left for work early and I was stretched out across the entire bed with all of the blankets wrapped around me.  Snug as a bug in a rug, you might say.  I heard the door close as Mike walked out and then all I heard was the hum of the circulating fan moving the cool air around while I lay bundled up.  I had barely drifted off to sleep again when it started.  Carlos the cat strutted into the room and around the corner of the bed.  It was on!  He had gotten Chloe the corgi’s attention and she ran out of the room snarling and barking after him.  She came bouncing back into the bedroom as if to say, “and stay out”, which he did not.  I swear he stood around the corner listening for my breathing pattern to resume to a relaxed mode so he could start all over again.  Two more times this animal nonsense happened and then I had given up.  I started my day cussing.  Damn these animals!  Most days we would have to pry the dog’s furry badonkadonk out of her kennel to get her outside before work because she likes to sleep in.  She is not a morning pup. As for the cat, typically in the morning nothing phases him except that he likes to watch Mike clean his litter box and fill his food bowls, yes I said bowls as in plural.  He has his little morning snack, then off to sleep he goes.  He sleeps by day so that in the night he can work on his agenda.  That agenda, by the way, is finding ways in which to piss me off.  Some mornings it’s a complete roll of toilet paper unraveled into the toilet.  It may even be a roll of paper towels that rose up against him in the night making it necessary for him to wrestle it to the floor shredding every bit of it’s Brawny dignity.  It may be about pushing things off the dining room table that he feels are in the way of his 15 pound, fur covered, feline ass.

Because I started my day in a less than delightful way, I headed off to the music cave, which I share with Carlos; his pedestal to the window is there along with his food and the dreaded litter box.  On approaching my keyboard, Carlos was quickly reduced to “that damn cat!” That damn cat has been thinking outside his litter box!  He had relieved his bladder near my music equipment, making sure to give each cable that connected my keyboard to the amplifier a good strong dose of Carlos.  As I began to pull cables from the back of my keyboard, tossing them into the middle of the floor, IT strutted into the room as if to say, what’s up?  At 212 degrees, water boils and I learned yesterday that I boil at 98.6 degrees if provoked by the cat.  It had been building all morning when suddenly I threw a handful of cables, shouting at the top of my voice, “get the hell out of here, fucking cat!  I’ll take your furry ass to the first animal shelter that will have you!”  That felt kind of good, I thought.  In fact it felt so good that I think this world would be a less violent place if people would cuss more often. 

Some of my readers may still be in shock having read the uncensored thoughts, sticking with me to the end hoping for that warm fuzzy life application that I typically provide.

Today I simply want to leave you with good news.  The cat is not dead.

Thanks for stopping by.

Amy Lynn Michael

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Will You Move Over?

There's a book I like to read from every now and again to gain insight about the traditions, and expectations of etiquette when our parents were going up.  The book I read is, "Amy Vanderbilt's New Complete Book of Etiquette" copyright 1952.  The chapters on courtship, even the word is outdated, are almost funny to read because they are so "old school", as they say these days.  Tonight when I came home I had a purpose in my reading.  I knew that there was a chapter that spoke about welcoming new citizens to our country and the problems they face.  I thought that Ms. Vanderbilt's words on this topic would seem antiquated as well, but what I found is that she and I share more in common than our first name. I am going to simply share with you some excerpts from this wonderful book.

"Millions of us are the children or grandchildren or great-grandchildren of those who took refuge here to escape political, social or economic upheavals in their own lands or who fled from religious persecution."  

"It is only natural for every man to regard the stranger, the possible economic encroacher, with a wary eye.  But we need to remember our own sources and realize that the vigor and progress of the country is stimulated by each such influx of new Americans, who bring with them talents, trades, ambition, and even wealth America can use."

"We should all remember that no matter how American we are now, our ancestors, even if they were English speaking, had their own problems of adjustment here too - physical, social, and economic.  Even well-bred English who settle here today feel our hostility or experience our ridicule of their manners and customs - as any English-born bride of an American can tell you.  So it isn't language that is the principal difficulty at all.  It is just the perversity of human nature.  We all hate to move over, as others had to move over for us."    

My ancestors had a time of finding a new life and acceptance in America.  I hope that as I am challenged to welcome newcomers that I can allow myself to remember that someone "moved over" for my ancestors so that they could walk with pride in this great Nation we call America.

Amy Lynn Michael

Saturday, January 21, 2012

The World Outside is Cold



Tiny little fingers
Even smaller toes
Curly brown hair
Little button nose


You were born in winter
The world outside was cold

You had to grow up fast
No time for games and tears
You became a young survivor
Wise beyond your years

You were born in winter
The world outside was cold.

You were born in winter 
The world outside was cold.

Amy Lynn Michael

Saturday, January 14, 2012

The Chill of Man's Ingratitude





“Blow, blow, thou winter wind.  Thou are not so unkind as man’s ingratitude.”
 William Shakespeare

This line in Shakespeare’s poem has haunted me since I was a teenager.  The poem was set to music and we sang a beautiful choral arrangement of it in high school.  Since I can remember, the lyrics to any given song have been more important to me than the tune.  It has to mean something to me in order for me to give it a second listen or to consider it for singing.  While it would seem that my love for winter alone would draw me to this song, it isn’t so much that.  It is the idea of man’s ingratitude being more unkind than the bitter winds of winter.  I have felt the chill of a wintery wind when the temperatures were below freezing.  When I wake up knowing that it is bone-chilling cold and can hear the wind howling outside our window I have the sense to bundle up before I leave home. Cold air to me is refreshing; exhilarating even.  It makes me feel alive when I am prepared for it. Occasionally though, just as I take a breath, a sudden gust of wind circles in and takes my breath away for what seems like minutes.  I find myself grasping for something to cover my face with so that I can catch my breath. 

I realize that my perspective of winter is different than most, because I really do love this season.  But there are those who are immobilized by the cold and snow of winter.  They have to rely on others to bring them what they need.  To these friends, winter is their prison; an icy hell that keeps them from enjoying life to its fullest. To those whose lives are virtually put on hold for this season, winter really is unkind.  But even so, is it, as Shakespeare suggests, as unkind as man’s ingratitude? 

At the end of each day I give thanks for something.  It may be as small as the gift of laughter or as large as the gift of life.  I am determined not to let ingratitude be my life’s theme.  I am determined not to let the winter winds seem more inviting than the words that I speak to another.

Today I am thankful for the opportunity to share this with you.  What are you thankful for?

Thank you for stopping by.

Amy Lynn Michael

Monday, January 2, 2012

Life

“But now old friends are acting strange,
they shake their heads, they say I've changed. 
Well something’s lost but something’s gained in living every day”
Joni Mitchell

I love life in some small way every day because I experience at least one good thing that I didn’t the day before.  Every year we look back and reflect on the things we want to repeat, and the things that we hope never happen again.  We say sad goodbyes to loved ones, while we welcome new friendships.  We change careers.  We change geographic locations.  Any and all of these things can happen in what seems like the blink of an eye when you are the one whose life is directly affected. Some changes leave us emotionally barren, while others overwhelm us with feelings of ecstasy that can’t be contained.  But no matter what we do, no matter how hard we try to control it, life will happen and we may as well accept it on its terms.

Some that will read this blog have known me most of my life and have seen the many changes that have taken place to bring me where I am today.  There have been sad times, exciting times and the mediocre in between times.  I am richer for them all. 

Today I got an e-mail from an old acquaintance that said, “Amy, you were so much fun to be with back then but...I’ve noticed that you have changed…you seem more liberal or something.  What has happened to you?”  The author of this letter went on to talk about the spiritual condition of my soul based on observations of my interactions with others. 

For many years I lived my life trying to be the person that people thought I should be.  Like many others, I was an illusionist.  I lived a scripted life until one day I closed the curtain and stopped giving out tickets to the show. I needed to change.  I needed to be true to myself. Can anyone really "know life"?

“I've looked at life from both sides now. 
From up and down and still somehow 
it's life's illusions I recall.  
I really don't know life, at all” 
Joni Mitchell


Thanks for reading,

Amy Lynn Michael

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