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Just my opinions and outlook on life
The end of 2020

The very first entry I made for The Writer’s Cramp was my best. It tied for the win and I was happy about that but it really made no difference to me. It was a poem written after Thanksgiving about my own recovery from addiction. That was 26 years ago and it totally changed my life. I checked myself into Drug Rehabilitation when I first realized that I might have a problem with substance abuse. I had no idea what changes that one incident would make in my life. When I was discharged, I had a lot of major decisions to make and the poem spoke to how conflicted I still was. The prompt was Closely Watched Trains. It was easy to take that one and run with it. After all, trains take you places and where you go can change your life forever. My journey had just begun.

Closely Watched Trains

I stand alone in blinding rain,
waiting on an unknown train.
My future life, a choice to make.
Only one I can take.

Two tickets lay in my hand,
don’t know where to stand.
One path leads to a familiar past.
Comfort once lost; now peace might last.

The other takes me far away.
Unknown future, a bright new day?
Strangers can become friends.
A new life, old wounds can mend.

Last time I waited on a train,
a filthy walkway, urine stains.
Crying frightened, shameful tears,
burdened with pain, unknown fears.

The smut on me wouldn’t wash away.
In pores so deep, I had to stay.
If I hung in, worked the steps.
A cluttered mess might bring rest.

Been running too long and fast,
towards a certain fatal crash.
Smoke the gin, drink the powder,
Alice of Wonderland in troubled water.

I did hard work, washed my stains.
Princess in a castle, I glow, no shame.
I found answers for all asked of me,
climbed the Magic Beanstalk tree.

Now, I wait on my wish filled train.
I pray a light shines true in dark rain.
God, I have come a long, long way.
I need to love myself enough to stay.

By Kathie Stehr

Learning to love myself enough to make necessary decisions was the key to future happiness. If you don’t love yourself enough then you cannot love other important people in your life. I left a marriage that I knew was over after twenty years. We had two children together and were happy for many years so it was devastating to even think about starting over. Our lives had changed so much over those years. Now, instead of working together, we were destroying our lives and it was affecting the kids.

I also ended up leaving my job as a registered nurse because the stress of all of it: the marriage, the job and no time for my children was taking a terrible toll. I had been diagnosed with a neurological disease that was painful and hard to deal with for me and my family. The final straw was taking medication for the symptoms and making the potentially harmful mistake of mixing it with alcohol. Thankfully I only did this when I wasn't working but if I had continued, I would have made mistakes at work and could have hurt or killed someone.

Working with the hospital, I tried different areas to go back to work but could not physically do it. I applied for and got on the hospital's disability benefit. This step began a whole new way to live an even better life. I helped with the national organization for dystonia, became a support group leader, I also was a motivational speaker that traveled the country to talk at our national symposiums with physicians and scientists. It was a different way of being a nurse/caretaker by taking caring of me first then other people who needed information and guidance. I loved meeting the people and the symptoms, that I was trying to cover up at work, showed others I was just like them. I could give them hope.

I remarried, in time, to a man who loves me and helped me with my volunteer work. He has been by my side for surgeries and many painful procedures. Of course, I have reciprocated for him but it is hard to deal with a partner with physical disabilities. We have been together for over twenty-five years and have a large combined family who love each other. I will be 68 in 2021 and we are enjoying a more laid back retired life.

All of us should constantly take an inventory of our lives. How are we living them? Are we serving ourselves or others? I believe we are put on this Earth to help others and we must be willing and honest to do that. I follow the principles of AA and NA and it hasn't let me down. It is progress not perfection, like a marriage. If you make a mistake, you own it and begin again.

I hope any future entries I make are as true to my convictions as this one was. Fiction is fine and I enjoy it. All writing comes from the inner well of wisdom that says so much about its’ author. I try to end all my writing on an optimistic note. I want to grow in my writing, sometimes I touch my inner feelings more than others and this was one that did. It was a great prompt.

2020 has been a very hard year for more people than I can ever remember. There are so many people out there that are ill, have lost someone they love, can't feed their families and are falling into the darkness of addiction. I pray for all of them and do what I can.

I wish for the judges and all the people that belong to Writing.com that they are at peace within themselves and bring more joy to this planet than they take from it. I know I have to make that choice every day, to spread love and remain sober.

I wish you all a happy new year, may it be a much better year for all. Thanks for letting me be a part of this family.

Kathie Stehr
December 31, 2020

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October 1, 2022 at 3:49pm
October 1, 2022 at 3:49pm

October is my birthday month so it has always been a favorite time for me. I love cool fall wind on my face and the symphony of leaves blowing. We sleep with the window open and it brings sweet memories into my dreams.This year I will be 69. How fast it has flown by. I am so glad I have kept journals and writings to jog my memories.

October 23rd is my first grandson's birthday and he will be sixteen. The day he was born was so exciting and now we have 9 grandchildren. I remember my own sixteenth birthday when my parents let me decorate my bedroom with new paint, bed spread, pillows, and curtains. I did everything in shades of orange, brown and rust. My dad built a dresser for me that was beautiful. I felt so grown up and truly thought I knew what I wanted in my exciting future. Life took some learning curves along the road but I am very happy with how things turned out. There isn't much I would change.

This is a beautiful song and I am not a huge Barry Manilow fan but the words are meaningful. So I celebrate this 1st day of October with a heart full of gratitude and love for my wonderful family and friends.

My thoughts and prayers go out to those people dealing with the terrible storm and the damage it has caused.

July 10, 2022 at 3:07pm
July 10, 2022 at 3:07pm
July 10

What genre of music contributes to the most death?

I think it is more lifestyle related considering young musicians indulging living dangerously with drugs, an "over the top" lifestyle. When you are speaking of deaths, I have noticed most of the coverage of shooters show these young men listening to “death metal or rap that includes lyrics about death”. But there are plenty of young guys that love grunge, rap, metal etc. that do just fine. The rappers that have died by gun violence are mostly involved with gangsta rap but most have been caught up in all kinds of "bad" behavior like being in rival gangs.

I love all types of music and hate to say one genre contributes to death. The lyrics probably don’t have that much to do with it anyway. A lonely dysfunctional life of negative music along video games and movies that depict violence can’t be good for anyone.
May 6, 2022 at 11:01am
May 6, 2022 at 11:01am
Social Aspects: Roe vs. Wade pro-life versus pro-choice. When you look at the different aspects of this situation, what's the first thing that comes to mind? Is it about the unborn child or a woman's rights? Do you ever wonder why men aren't subjected to vasectomies' so this issue doesn't happen? "Women certainly have carried the burdens of society a lot more than men." Your thoughts?

The first thing that comes to mind is this has been settled law since 1973, protected for women across the US. It has been fought over before and no one has been able to change it. Even the conservative judges like Kavanagh, Comey-Brown and Goursch all agreed it was settled and protected law when they were questioned during their hearings. Were they lying?

Everyone feels differently about the status of an embryo that is becoming a child if the pregnancy continues until said child can live outside the mother's body. A normal pregnancy is 40 weeks. 90% of abortions are done during the 1st 12 weeks. 21 weeks is the point of possible viability and that is usually with a baby on a ventilator, looking at many complications if the child manages to live and a very expensive hospital bill plus medical bills and special needs ahead.

I happened to work on a Women's Unit as an RN for over 20 years and one thing I am sure about is women will continue to end pregnancies if they don't have a safe alternative. I have held the hands of women that lost their uterus because of a botched abortion or died of septic shock. This was when Women's Clinics weren't' available close to them or they couldn't afford it or they didn't want to tell anyone from shame. We should be making it easier and safer by taking better care of women. One thing I am positive of is that women with money will still be able to get abortions anyway-that has always been true. It is poor women that willl be affected by this the most.

"Women certainly have carried the burdens of society a lot more than men." That is certainly true and always has been yet men seem to have control of our bodies. Most rapes are never reported. When I worked at a Rape Crisis Center, it was humiliating to go through the questioning and exams. I am sure it is easier now psychologically but wouldn't this make it harder because the morning after pill won't be available in some places?

I believe we are now moving backwards when we had made progress. That is my feeling about this subject. My own Mom had a baby out of wedlock (great word?) in 1939. My brother was shuffled around from place to place for foster care. When Mom met my Dad he adopted my older brother but my Mom suffered family shunning, dropping out of school and the shame she carried. I asked Mom about abortion once and she said she didn't know how to go about finding safe care. She was too afraid. Of course my older brother is very glad she kept him. I didn't know for many years that he wasn't my Dad's child. It didn't matter to us. I was a flower girl at his wedding to a lovely girl that is my dear sister and they had a son. Mom didn't even tell him until he was 40-what a shock!

All of this comes down to the fact that it is a very personal choice and each woman deserves the right to make it. As a health provider, I believe we should offer her safe choices and let her decide.

May 2, 2022 at 12:56pm
May 2, 2022 at 12:56pm
“Music is the great uniter. An incredible force. Something that people who differ on everything and anything else can have in common.”― Sarah Dessen,

Do you agree or disagree? I agree most of the time, it depends on the occasion. If people are getting together for a baseball game and The National Anthem is played, I believe most American citizens are swept with emotion and it becomes a uniter, no matter your political feelings. At funerals, people show respect for whatever type of music is played even if it is something they might not have chosen.
There are songs that are generational anthems that can unite people of a certain age. I think most of us that are over 40 love to hear “Blowing in the Wind” by Dylan although we might have different political views. It is a song that will always fit the changing times.

I personally love the music that is used during protests. A lot of that came from gospel and folk music. I hope most people treasure it because it is used for all types of protests, all ages respond to “We Shall Overcome”. Those times it become a universal game changer.

During the Civil Rights protests in the 60's, people sang constantly. They sang as they marched, when the police were beating them and they were loaded into police wagons. They sang while in the jail cells. The guards and cops didn't understand this and I think it kept them from being hurt more. It gave them joy and kept their resolve alive. Music truly is a powerful force.
April 7, 2022 at 2:01pm
April 7, 2022 at 2:01pm
April 7, 2022 BCOF


Do you know the history of the town you live in?
I wrote the following poem for the Writer's Cramp. Don't think it won but it is short, accurate and sweet. I live in Acworth which is a part of metro Atlanta, near Kennesaw Mt. where the Civil War was fought. It is a lovely area with Lake Allatoona (110 mile shoreline), lots of trees and flowering bushes right now. A great temperature, not too low and usually not over 90 where we live. All four of our grown sons and families live in Georgia.

Atlanta Pride

This well known southern city.
Wasn’t always so sleek and pretty.
Our streets were former cow paths,
A quaint visual and little known fact.

We started as a trading post.
“Standing Peach Tree” for Indian folks.
Then “Whitehall” for white pioneers.
A pit stop to further mountain frontiers.

Trains became the next step.
End of line was called Terminus.
Rail Sheds, saloons formed a town,
a proper name then must be found.

Marthasville, it was christened,
daughter of a General Manager,
of Western and Atlantic Railroad.
So in her honor, the town was bestowed.

Atlanta was the final name,
J. Edgar Thompson made the claim.
An engineer for the "Iron Horse".
Trains, our historic travel source.

Atlanta is known by many milestones,
Burned by Sherman, rebuilt for future folks.
Out of flames, Phoenix rising, an ambitious fate.
Our motto became “the city too busy to hate”.

We survived segregation’s shame.
Maynard Jackson, our 1st black mayor claimed.
African American businesses flourished.
Hank Aaron gave us Braves baseball fame.

!996 US Olympics, Amb. & Mayor Andrew Young.
Home to Rich’s, Coca-Cola, thanks Mr. Pemberton.
Emory, Georgia Tech, Morehouse, Spellman.
Martin Luther King Jr., Tyler Perry, President Jimmy Carter.

I grew up here, went to college, made it my home.
My children born here are proudly Atlanta bred.
Our family’s touchstone, as I lay my head.
Beneath fragrant pines, magnolias, lovely azalea beds.

Coming home from many lonely flights.
She beckons, thousands of flickering lights.
Atlanta, city of different colors and creeds.
Together, we stride forward to succeed.

By Kathie Stehr

March 24, 2022 at 6:54am
March 24, 2022 at 6:54am
DAY 3323 March 24, 2022
March 24, 1989: One of the worst oil spills in U.S. history begins when the supertanker Exxon Valdez, owned and operated by the Exxon Corporation, runs aground on a reef in Prince William Sound in southern Alaska. An estimated 11 million gallons of oil eventually spilled into the water. Attempts to contain the massive spill were unsuccessful, and wind and currents spread the oil more than 100 miles from its source, eventually polluting more than 700 miles of coastline. Hundreds of thousands of birds and animals were adversely affected by the environmental disaster.

It was later revealed that Joseph Hazelwood, the captain of the Valdez, was drinking at the time of the accident and allowed an uncertified officer to steer the massive vessel. In March 1990, Hazelwood was convicted of misdemeanor negligence, fined $50,000, and ordered to perform 1,000 hours of community service. In July 1992, an Alaska court overturned Hazelwood’s conviction, citing a federal statute that grants freedom from prosecution to those who report an oil spill.

Exxon itself was condemned by the National Transportation Safety Board and in early 1991 agreed under pressure from environmental groups to pay a penalty of $100 million and provide $1 billion over a 10-year period for the cost of the cleanup. However, later in the year, both Alaska and Exxon rejected the agreement, and in October 1991 the oil giant settled the matter by paying $25 million, less than 4 percent of the cleanup aid promised by Exxon earlier that year.

Citation Information :Exxon Valdez crashes, causing one of the worst oil spills in history
Author :History.com Editors

Do you think oil companies are held accountable enough? Do you think they should be allowed to renege on an agreement that affects us all as Exxon did in the Valdez situation? What can we do as citizens to show our anger with their actions and lack of accountability?
Big oil companies and other corporations have gotten away with bad environmental behavior for far too long for the profit of their shareholders. We only have this earth and we should be good stewards of its resources. I remember the reporting on this disaster and the pictures of dead fish and volunteers retying to clean animals with Dawn liquid soap. These beautiful creatures being suffocated by man’s negligence. If broke my heart. The leak in the Gulf of Mexico by BP was another example.
March 19, 2022 at 12:21pm
March 19, 2022 at 12:21pm
March 19, 2022

Music related:1960's

Did/ do you enjoy R&B, Motown, Soul music, Garage Rock, the British Invasion, Country, Psychedelic rock, Folk Music, Boss Nova, or Reggae? Were your music choices influenced by peers, family or a desire to be different? The 60's brought about a lot of change that still influence us today. Even if you weren't born yet these music choices are still readily available to explore. If you're interested the link has some great background information on 60's music.

I was a teenager in the 1960’s and music was at the center of my life. Top forty music was playing in the cars and most of the kids my age were familiar with 3 chord melodies and simple lyrics. That is what the AM stations went for, if a song lasted more than 3 minutes, it didn’t get air time. Artists like Bob Dylan had some hits but a lot of his music didn’t get played. As the Vietnam War became more prominent in my life and my friends were going to war, I searched out protest music. That led me to music by Pete Seeger and Phil Ochs. I learned to appreciate blues music from my Mom who was a Sarah Vaughn, Etta James and Ella Fitzgerald fan, so I loved the blues also. I never was a big follower of country music although I married a country music fan but he also liked Motown and 60’s so we agreed on a station that played mellow rock. Then I discovered college stations that played alternative music. Music has been a constant adventure for me and I love a lot of newer sounds also but the 60’s and 70’s were special. So I can say I love it all, depends on my mood.

Mr. Piano man, an ocean dances
in your aquamarine eyes,
swimming might save me.
Or I could sink into oblivion.

Long fingers command keyboards.
Cole Porter tunes, Lady Day blues?
I’ll pretend cigarette smoke
brings lonely tears to my eyes.

My pain is for Sgt. Clare O’Reilly,
returned from World War Two,
killed in the popular "line of duty",
what remains in a pine box with a flag.

In the streets, confetti flies.
Strangers hug and kiss.
Happy for them, really I am.
I just want someone to love me.

Mr. Piano man, you should smile.
Read my lonely sapphire eyes.
I am drowning in self pity.
A lonely lady with too many martinis.

Time to rejoice, we are free
from hellish pain of this fight.
Living skeletons in camps have hope.
My Clare paid the ultimate price.

Have we finally learned,
the horrific price of war?
The death, destruction of innocent lives,
in the final tally, what was it for?

Mr. Piano man, don’t make me beg.
I can show a guy a good time.
Just watch my tongue lick red lips
I tease and caress the olive.

We can slip between cool covers.
I will close my eyes, as we gently kiss.
Taste the salt of my tears.
If I call you Clare, forgive me this.

By Kathie Stehr
March 17, 2022 at 3:26pm
March 17, 2022 at 3:26pm
March 17, 2022
History: “I can only note that the past is beautiful because one never realizes an emotion at the time. It expands later, and thus we don't have complete emotions about the present, only about the past.” ― Virginia Woolf

Do you agree or disagree with Ms. Woolf? Why?

I agree with Ms. Woolf. An example would be having your 1st child. Although the child has been growing inside you and you have felt it move, you really haven't any idea what effect that baby will have on your life. Even after birth and the joy and pain, it isn't something that you reflect deeply on because most people are much too busy with the current situation. It isn't until later in life that you look back and realize what a true miracle birth is and the unconditional love and bond most parents have with their children. I think this is true of adoption also.

Of course this is true of a terrible tragedy also. If you lose a parent early in life, you are raped, robbed or attacked, in a fire or accident that disfigures you, each experience has a permanent effect on your life and always will. Having therapy can help and time can heal but it will always be with you and that experience affects decisions for the rest of your life.

I believe your brain protects you from tragedy and pain in some ways by allowing you to absorb what you can handle at a time. As we age, we can look back and see the reasons why we take different paths in life. Even someone who has had a lot of bad experiences can eventually come to also see the joy in many moments.

In her head, Leonard's voice
is always calling with love.
He tries to cheer, pick her spirits up
calm ideas deemed too rough.

She walks slowly to the shoreline
watches the tide pull away.
Praying for the resolve to do
what she must this day.

The voices are back
causing pain and agony.
No love, however deep
can conquer this bitter gloom.

She wades into the water.
Heavy rocks took both hands
for death wish pockets. To stay
is selfish and just false hope.

They will all adjust.
Time will heal this open wound.
She will no longer burden,
there is rest in nature's tomb.

She wades into her grave,
the current offers no resistence.
She sees sunlight through the water
then precious silence

By Kathie Stehr
For Virginia Woolf

March 7, 2022 at 8:08am
March 7, 2022 at 8:08am
Day 3406: March 7, 2022

Prompt: Health: An apple a day keeps the doctor away. Old Home Remedy. There are some home remedies that are back by science and some that are not. Have you ever tried a home remedy? How did it work?.

A apple a day has science behind it since it has both fiber and vitamin C in it. There are a lot of home remedies that I have used over the years. A tea bag, wet and warmed up will help the pain and absorb bacteria from an accessed tooth but you still need a dentist. Clove oil also helps with a tooth abscess, soaked in a cotton ball. Ginger works for nausea-the tea is great for pregnancy, Most green teas have some medicinal properties. Valerian helps you sleep. Honey does really help a cough. Grandma actually did know what she was talking about. Adding the whiskey and lemon to the honey, I think was more to help Grandma since it sedated the child also. If you go to a naturopathic physician they use a variety of natural remedies.

Have a wonderful healthy day! Something else Grandma always told me was vasoline is good to soften skin and prevent wrinkles and a spoonful of olive oil a day keeps you regular.

March 5, 2022 at 12:42pm
March 5, 2022 at 12:42pm
March 5
It's Music time: Pick a song from the 40's, feel free to share a YouTube link. Why do you think the song you chose was popular then? Could you see yourself dancing to the song? Have fun there's a lot of great artists from that decade.

I love the blues so Robert Johnson came to mind to start with and an old blues song. This particular song speaks to me because Chicago is the place my parents used to go to after WW2 for vacation from Michigan and they danced in the clubs there. They liked Big Band music also but they knew some smaller places in Chicago to go that weren’t so expensive and both blacks and whites had a great time there grooving to the blues.

I guess it makes me think of all the share croppers like my dad, including those that toiled in the hot sun of the South that made the transition to the North where wages were higher for a working man. The industrial north was hiring men of all colors to work with a decent wage and the possibility of security. You had the chance to get a GI loan and buy a house, have a family, and that was considered paradise.

I couldn’t find a video of Robert Johnson but did find this good one of Buddy Guy surrounded by blues lovers from the White House . Eric Clapton proclaimed him a superior blues man. I can only imagine the joy of the war ending and people flocking to places to dance and celebrate. Actually this song is older than the 1940’s and has been reworked with new lyrics but it stands the test of time.

Five of Chicago's professional sports teams have played the song at their games in one form or another. On February 21, 2012, Barack Obama and Michelle Obama hosted, "In Performance at the White House: Red, White and Blues", a celebration of blues music held in the East Room of the White House. President Obama began by describing the origins of blues in the South and added "The music migrated north – from Mississippi Delta to Memphis to my hometown in Chicago" Later, encouraged by Buddy Guy and B.B. King, he joined in singing the first verse of "Sweet Home Chicago".

Every time my husband and I go to Chicago, we go to a restaurant my parents used to frequent. It isn’t a very fancy place but the photos on the wall are of all the stars of the 40’s and 50’s, Sinatra, Crosby, Sammy Davis Jr, Louis Armstrong, Lena Horne, etc. They serve everything from burgers to a flambé at your table. The last time we went to Chicgo, we went out on a night time cruise on Lake Michigan, had a wonderful dinner and dancing. My husband actually danced with me to a song or two, unusual for him. The hotel we booked had a room where the balcony overlooked the lake. It was spectacular. Nice memories.

I remember as a child ,after we had moved to Atlanta, we would spend a couple nights in Chicago on our way to or coming back from Michigan to visit relatives. Mom and dad would take us to museums., parks, shopping on Michigan Ave., and we’d go to the places they used to go. They would dance and act like kids themselves again. This song would always be a standard for the house band.

Chicago and the song have a special place in my heart. Try listening to this and not wanting to get up and shake your bootie.

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