Writer’s Block? Pooshaw! Have you met our awesome God?

I’ve heard many a writer proclaim there is no such thing as writer’s block. As a writer, I have suffered from something every now and then, but I never named it that. I usually coin it, life block.

I never really thought much about it. I just knew every now and then, something would prevent me from moving forward. Sometimes, it is because I am profoundly depressed as a writer. The task seems too great. I have often said, I have a ten foot story, but I’m only a six-foot writer. It may sound weird, but sometimes I don’t feel up to the task of conveying my own story as best it needs to be described.

Sometimes, I just can’t write. I can rewrite, but I can’t add new pages.

Oh, sure, it’s probably because I’m a pantser. For you non-writers, that’s a person who writes by the seat of their pants. There’s also plotters. They write by outline. I have an outline in my head, but I don’t usually peg it down. Sometimes, the story and the characters lead me where I need to go. And sometimes, they don’t.

I haven’t written an original word in over six months. Like I said, I can pull up an old story and rewrite the dickens out of the thing, but the new story is stagnating.

One of the novels I am writing is tentatively titled, Air Conditioning is Ruining America. In the story, a family has suffered severe financial difficulty and then their four-year-child is accidentally run over and has to have her leg amputated. The fourteen-year-old brother, who was driving the car, runs to the top of a radio tower in an attempt to jump off. His older sister and father chase after him. When they catch up, he is several hundred feet in the air. He sits calm, cool and collected as if spending a day at the beach. He confesses he intended to jump but changed his mind when God told him to become a doctor.

The family loses everything, their home, and their business. Now, the family must move heaven and earth to make this a reality. They are dirt poor, but they have a son who is supposed to be a doctor. And God himself has said to make it so.

For the past six months, I have had this family sitting in a campground. I could not get them out of that darn campground!

And then, in stepped God. That’s right you heard/read me. In more ways that I can count, I have had God urging me on and telling me to keep writing. This is not only what I like to do, I believe it is what God desperately calls me to do. There’s a truth in this story. A truth, a reach, a laugh and a smile that needs to come out.

This Sunday, we heard a sermon on Healing. Our pastor, at West Hills Presbyterian Church in Omaha, NE, Derek Richman, preached from the Bible verse: Mark Chapter 5 24-34. I will quote the last few lines.

34 He said to her, “Daughter, your faith has healed you. Go in peace and be freed from your suffering.”

The sermon wasn’t just on healing, but believing you were healed. It may not happen overnight but over time.

Pastor Derek advised we could stand where we were and he would hold his hands up and pray for us. Our church doesn’t normally do alter calls, (for you non-religious types, an alter call is when people come forward if they want to make a commitment to Jesus) and we were short on time. After the service, if we wanted, we could come forward and be anointed with oil.

My sister stood. So, I stood too. And you know what, lots of people stood. I wanted help and healing for another matter.

Afterwards, I turned to my sister and I said, “You know, I totally feel my writing problems are over. I feel my dry spell has been healed.” I wasn’t even thinking about writing. I would never ask for prayers for that. It seems so silly. Presumptuous. Pretentious. People are struggling in this life. Why would I ask or need help with something like that?

I wasn’t going to get anointed with oil, but my mom and sister went. I didn’t really need it, but somehow I stood in line. Afterwards, I could smell the oil throughout the day. That sweet smell lingered with me. The sermon had a profound impact on me.

Later, I grabbed my flash drives and sat down to write, but I didn’t have them. I searched the couch and the floor where I was sitting. I scanned the kitchen counter where the flash drives had been, but they weren’t there. I looked on my bed. I actually crawled all over it, feeling for them. I scoured under the bed. I was almost late to work looking for them.

Let me explain what my flash drives mean to me. They have in their hot little memory banks both of the current novels I am working on. They have countless blog posts, short stories and novels I started but haven’t finished. Screenplays, critiques of writing partners, passwords, paychecks, plays, pictures, classes I’ve taken, homework and recipes. When I go anywhere, I bring my flash drives with me, but in my pocket. Should I be robbed, they can take my purse, my wallet, my car keys, but I will keep my flash drives. They are the one thing, I am prepared to fight for. And buddy, I do mean fight.

I was a bit panicked. Oh, sure, I felt healed, but here was the very tool I needed to advance the story and I lost it. Maybe, it was divine intervention. Maybe, I needed to stop what I usually do and not rewrite but just move forward.

A blank page sat in front of me.

A big, white, blank page.


Getting whiter by the minute.

So, I wrote a summary kind of sentence that basically said here we are, sitting in this campground. Then, I wrote. I didn’t finish the novel, but I wrote four or five pages. I’m not even sure of the count. So, this is what I need to do to move forward. Instead of rereading where I’ve been, I need to just look at the blank page. It occurred to me, give the protagonist a boyfriend. Sure, they are living in a campground, but that doesn’t mean she can’t meet someone. And now I have a complication. The story moves forward.

The next day, I said to God and Jesus, thank you for what you did to help me, but I have commitments. I had pages due to a writers group and they are waiting for them.

I figured I wouldn’t look. It seems when you look for something, you can’t find it. I would just start cleaning. I cleared off my kitchen table, which led me to sweep over here and over there. I took the dinner trays at the back of the bed and put them behind my refrigerator.

And there they were. At least a foot from the doorway, behind the refrigerator. Which meant, somehow, while I was walking to the living room, the flash drives leapt from my hands and flew back behind there. I have wondered if the trajectory of merely just dropping them would land them that far behind the refrigerator. I doubt it.

I needed this. I needed to move forward, and I believe God wanted it as well. Is our God awesome or what?

Maybe, he just wants to know the end of the story.

Posted in God's Help, Healing, Hope, Voices From Heaven, Writer's Block | 8 Comments

Don’t be Stupid and other Dadisms

I was out for a jog or my attempt at jogging. A song came on my IPOD. I thought how did I let this no talent wind up on my list of favorites? I don’t want to name her, in case you find yourself saying, “Why, I love her. She’s fabulous.”  But we all have different opinions, so rest assured it’s some girl with skinny legs singing rap.

Do you sing rap, or do you rap rap?

I love all music, but let’s face it. When white people rap, it’s embarrassing.  Frankly, I’m embarrassed for the entire human race.

This girl always seems to be wearing hot pants and go-go boots. Her clothing doesn’t bother me so much; it’s the lack of lyrics, the lack of meaning. All I hear is grunts and oohs, and whatever else that noise is. I hate to sound like the old folks talking about Elvis and his gyrations, but seriously, her songs sound an awful lot like someone reading an eye chart.

I suppose anybody could put gibberish to a beat and call it evocative, moving, and a statement piece. Just remember to place the microphone to your lips, (as if eating an ice cream cone), hold your fingers in gang symbols and make jerky motions while sitting on your haunches. Sway from side to side and you just might be a hip-hop star.

The song got me thinking about my dad & the things he used to say like, “I wouldn’t walk across the street to see her/him/them/it.”

The saying always sounded so mean. He might have said he wouldn’t walk across the street, but the emotion, the tone in his voice said, “That pile of doggie doo-doo? That walking, singing pile of monkey excrement? Are you kidding me? Yes, Dad. You nailed it. “I wouldn’t walk across the street to see her.”  So, if Miss Go-Go boots were playing across the street in a free performance, because why would I pay?  I wouldn’t walk across the street to see her.

My dad lived through a time when political correctness was well, a walking pile of monkey excrement. He probably wouldn’t have said that in front of her, or her family, but he didn’t mind stating his opinion about what he liked or disliked.

Dad had lots of sayings. This isn’t another S**t my Dad says, by Justin Halpern. My dad wasn’t prone to foul language, but he still had sayings. Like, Don’t be Stupid. He said that to my brother when he got his first vehicle. My brother saw that enormous bill for car insurance and refused to pay. My dad said, “Don’t be stupid.”

When I was a kid I liked chocolate malt balls, my brother told my dad he was going to buy me a case of them for Christmas, my dad said, “Don’t be Stupid.”

When my sister and I said we were going to quit college, my dad said, “Don’t be Stupid.”

If we sat behind a car at a green light, my dad would say, “It doesn’t get any greener.” (Although, Don’t be Stupid would also fit.)

Again, Dad nailed it. It was simple enough. But really, why do people sit at green lights?  They are daydreaming, texting, talking to the love of the life, or contemplating not paying their car insurance. But they could truly be sitting there saying to themselves, the bottom light isn’t exactly the right hue. I will not go through the intersection until I see chartreuse, sea foam or parakeet green.

I asked my sister if she remembered any sayings from my dad. “Money doesn’t grow on trees.”  That’s right. We can’t be wasting our money on dumb concerts of people we can’t be bothered to watch on television.

My brother said the only thing he remembered my dad saying was, “Girls, leave your brother alone.”

Not likely.

On the way home from lunch, that dreaded song came on the radio, and, unfortunately, the song stayed with me while I mowed the lawn. An hour later, that stupid tune was still going through my head and that’s exactly why I can’t be bothered to walk across the street to hear her sing rap. It never goes away!


Posted in Dadisms, Humor, Sayings, Things My Dad said | 3 Comments

Pedal the Plains Day 3



The Bike Corral.  I had to show my wrist band matched the bike I.D. Look at all those bikes.

I did the 7 City Century Ride in Norfolk Nebraska. It was so hot in my tent that I sent away for a compact battery operated fan. Of course, the past two nights on this ride, I froze. Chattering teeth and everything. I didn’t need the fan, but I spent Saturday evening inside. I turned my fan on and the thing barely sputtered. I had checked the thing when I first got it and the fan worked wonderfully. I reseated the batteries and it worked a little better, but not enough. I should have known not to store my batteries in the actual fan. I think it probably got turned on while in transport and now they are exhausted. Since I got it to work a little bit, I kept it on. The gymnasium was stuffy.

PTP has a truck that gives away free cinnamon rolls in the morning and cookies in the afternoon. The truck broke down, so they brought in the cinnamon rolls they had baked and offered them to those of us inside.

I went to sleep about 10:00 pm and slept until 1:00 am or so. About ten minutes after I woke up, an alarm in the school went off. And off. And off.

Someone finally got up and shut the door. That reduced the sound, but then someone else got up and left the door open. We had to close it again. I tried to figure the alarm out, but couldn’t. Since I was up, I grabbed a cinnamon roll. I deserved one after that stupid alarm.

I drifted off back to sleep. It took one hour and six minutes to fall asleep. I got five hours & fourteen minutes of sleep. When I woke up, the fan had stopped working.

Some guy was snoring like a water buffalo and a man just about five feet away kept giving him the death stare. The man ended up with his head sandwiched between the pillow to block out all that racket. The guy sat up and, I apologize. He wasn’t a man at all. He was a woman. I supposed I just assumed…

The next morning was also quite chilly, but not the finger numbing of the previous morning. They served hot pancakes. I used some syrup and butter. They only had a place to sit down outside, so I took my pancakes inside and by the time I got in there, they were cold.

Pedal the PlainsdPedal the Plainse

One of the town’s had a car show. Everybody was eyeing this truck.

Pedal the Plainsc

The lunch.


We stopped and got our picture taken by the Nebraska sign, and rode a short distance and got our picture taken by the Colorado sign.

I rode 62,78 miles

14.3 Avg

21.4 max

4 hours 21 minutes

10602 Odometer

Sunday, Sept 20th.

Posted in Bicycling, Humor, Long Distance Bicycling | Leave a comment

Pedal the Plains Day 2

Saturday, Sept 19th

The next morning it was 39 degrees with a feels like temperature of 36. I’m not sure I could tell the difference. I forgot my full finger gloves, so my fingers didn’t move very well. I could not get my tent poles to collapse correctly, so I took them inside the school. I was so cold, I really didn’t care if I was a public menace with poles flying all over and sticking out. I could hear my dad say, “You can poke your eye out.”

I packed up my tent and luggage in the usual way most bikers do. I jumped on top squeezing and pulling the zipper along each and every tooth. The metal clasp broke. Never fear, I used my luggage lock to keep pulling it closed. I realized somehow, I had lost my little plastic clutch, shampoo, hair conditioner, soap, and toothpaste. I wasn’t about to unzip that bag and look for it.

For breakfast, we had our choice of breakfast burritos or pancakes. I choice the pancakes and sausage for $7.00. The pancakes were cold. 

We battled headwinds for most of the day. Finally, I saw a turn in the road. As a bicyclist, when you fight headwinds and then you see you are about to turn out of it, it’s a very exciting, joyful, kick your heels in the air kind of moment. Unfortunately, we kept going straight.

Thankfully, it was a pit stop, aid station. Lunch.



PTP Lunch

I met a guy who had the exact same bicycle that I did. He said he paid nine hundred dollars for it. He found it on Craig’s list. He said, “No one ever pays the full price for these things.” Gulp. Then he said he thought they went for…(Fill in price here…) That was three hundred dollars less than I paid. Double gulp.

He took blah, blah component on his bike and put it on his wife’s bicycle. Then he took blah, blah and attached to another bike. I really don’t know components. I should probably pay attention, but it was all over my head. I hated to sound like a doofus, so I just nodded a lot.

After we had turned out of the headwinds, the rest of the ride was a lot better.

PTP had a rule about no ear buds, so I bought a speaker. Many riders commented on how much they liked my music choices.

One woman/girl/child/punk turned and said, “Wow, I really like passing you.”

How’d you like a nice Hawaiian Punch?

I did all the Ed stops and waited around afterwards to see who the winner was. I stopped at the Info booth to see if anyone turned in my lost shampoo/soap plastic satchel. She said no. I drug my bag, and I do mean drug it across the parking lot and over to the school. The thing is so heavy, I couldn’t lift it all that way. I was afraid I’d rub a hole in the bottom and I did. Sand burrs rubbed a hole. I know how to sew, so I’m not worried. After the previous freezing night, I figured I’d sleep inside the school.

I set up in the gymnasium and plugged my iPod and speaker in. I went through my bag three times and now, I can’t find my phone. I swear, 50% of bike rides are spent bicycling, the other 50% is spent looking for stuff.  I retraced my steps and walked back to the luggage truck and looked around. I hiked the entire route, including crawling under a metal handrail. I crossed the scrub garden in the exact spot I had been about an hour before. I went back to the info booth. They had it.

I went to take a shower and found my plastic traveling shampoo case. Yes! I can brush my teeth again.

The shower was ice-cold. I made the executive decision not to condition my hair.

I took my phone to the Viero tent for recharging. I waited around for the prize drawing. The winner won a Colorado State flag flown over the state capital on the day of their choice. As a Nebraskan, you can image my excitement. They also announced the winner would get money donated to the charity of their choosing. Okay, I can live with that. I didn’t win.

60.21 miles

12.4 Avg

10530 miles

4 hours and 50 minutes of time on the bike

It took me 2 hours and 8 minutes to fall asleep & I got 5 hours and 36 minutes of sleep.

Posted in Bicycling, Humor, Long Distance Bicycling | Leave a comment

Pedal The Plains Day #1

20150918_113836Here’s a picture of the start.  You can see all the bikers wrapping around this bridge.

September 18, 2015

I got up early and took a shower. While sitting there, bemoaning my lack of sleep. A guy walked into the girl’s shower. He said he was sorry and left. There was a woman in the shower, but luckily for her, she was hidden in the back.

Once inside my tent, I started packing up and heard the guy bragging about how no one said anything when he went into the women’s shower. Well, yeah. I only had three hours of sleep.

I went to the long-term parking space and parked my car. From there, I spent most of the day, just waiting for the ride to start. They had a mass start at 11:30. There was supposed to be two ride distances, one at 30+ miles and one at 50+ miles, but I never saw the 50-mile option. And with such a late start, that’s probably a good idea.

I went to the registration desk based on my last name. I think it was Gi-Ho. They had a box probably three feet long stuffed full of envelopes. I asked how many riders there were. She said there were over a thousand.

I went to take a picture with my camera and it said battery exhausted. (I used my phone.)


A picture of my bike, a corn field and the blue skies.

I rode 34,51 miles
24.1 m.p.h. max speed
13.6 average m.p.h.
10480 miles on my bike.20150918_122239

Here’s a picture of the crystal clear blue skies.

I went to the Viaero charging booth and asked if they had anything to charge my camera. They looked around, but no. I checked with the info booth and they said to try the town computer store but to hurry they were closing in 30 minutes. I waited fifteen minutes for the shuttle. I started to look up the store on my cell phone. I figured I might have to hoof it. Luckily, the shuttle arrived just in time. He dropped me off at the computer store. I had thirteen minutes to spare. Unfortunately, they didn’t have anything that would work.

I rode the shuttle back to Holyoke High School and they didn’t have any dinner options, so I hopped back up on the shuttle and went to the event center.

They had a choice of Lasagna and salad or Brisket, cheesy potatoes and chocolate chip cookie. That cookie was seriously worth the $10.00 alone.

On the ride back, I talked to a guy who said this was his second Pedal the Plains, He explained the educational stamp program. PTP has an option where you can make educational stops along the way. They stamp your passport and at the end of the day they have a drawing for prizes.
He said the prizes were things like airline tickets, backpacks, and bicycles. Did he say bicycles? I guess I can give it a try.


Here’s a picture of me in front of Holyoke’s sign.

It took me 53 minutes to fall asleep and I got five hours and 41 minutes of sleep.

Posted in Bicycling, Bike Ride Across Nebraska, Humor, Long Distance Bicycling | Leave a comment

Pedal The Plains Day Zero

It is my hope/intent to post part of my journal of my Bike Ride in Colorado, Pedal the Plains.
Here’s a picture of the cool clouds I saw on the drive down there.
Pedal the Plains

Day Zero
September 17th, 2015
Before I left town, I grabbed my camera and looked for my cord to recharge it. I couldn’t find the one, amongst the other half dozen, that worked. I checked and my camera said it was fully charged. I didn’t want to take a chance, so I figured I’d stop at the camera store and buy another cord on my way out of town.
Usually, when I am traveling, I print out an itinerary for my family. Unfortunately, I didn’t get that done. Big problem.

I was pretty well packed, but PTP has a one bag rule. Let me tell you, I find that oppressive. I used my bigger duffel bag, but that sucker is heavy.

I wanted to leave by 10:00 a.m. but didn’t get out of the house until about 11:00 a.m. I had several stops to make and wanted to make it to Sterling by 7:00 p.m.
My stops: Money, See Mom, give her a check for church, also give her the tomatoes I picked that morning, diet coke and stop at the camera store.

It was almost noon and I was finally headed out of town and looked down to see the four tomatoes. If I left them in the car, they’d probably rot. I turned around and went back to my mom’s house.

Mapquest says it is 5 hour and 43-minute drive.

I made it to Sterling Colorado and was just about out of gas. It was 2.74 a gallon. I got $15.08 worth of petrol. I’m so cheap, I thought I’d wait & see if I could find something cheaper. I Googled the school we were supposed to stay at. Pause for pain. Horror and shock.

I had it in my head I was supposed to be in Sterling, but I was supposed to be in Julesburg, which was back 55 miles. Maybe, if I had printed out my itinerary….

After some painful moments, head bashing, and general degrading of myself and my stupidity, I got back on the highway and clicked on the radio. Phillip Phillips song, Home, came on. He sang, “Settle down, it will all be clear…” I don’t know if it all became clear, but I took a picture of these cool clouds. Look at the lines in the clouds…

Pedal the Plains1

With the change to Mountain Time, I made it into Julesburg by 7:00 p.m. That was my goal, technically I made it. Okay, so I could have been there two hours earlier, but I digress.

I have an activity meter and it can tell me how long it takes to fall asleep. It also can say how long I actually slept.

It took me 3 hours & 41 minutes to fall asleep and I got 3 hours and 15 minutes of sleep.
In the distance, I could hear a storm coming in. Thunder was threatening most of the night, ironically when it started to rain is when I finally fell asleep.

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Text Neck vs. Biology Neck

In today’s society, we have developed a new ailment known as Text Neck. It happens when people, particularly youths, look down so often they develop a sore neck. Of course, they are also slouching and ruining their posture. We’ve all seen videos of people walking into pools and falling down staircases. Yes, they should be more careful and yes it’s kind of funny until it happens to you.
Text Neck

I haven’t ever walked into a pool, but I have walked into a wall/pillar. Apparently, I couldn’t take my eyes off of a friend’s fascinating photo of their dinner or something equally mind numbing like a video of someone walking into a pool.

I have come to realize I have another technological neck ailment. It’s been around a lot longer. I call it Bifocal Neck. When I am not suffering from Text Neck, I have Bifocal Neck. I raise my head to a slight degree upward so I can use the thin line of bifocals in my glasses. I guess I’m glad it’s a narrow section, but I get the feeling the bifocals are so small, the Flying Wallenda’s could do their tightrope act on it.

I’ve had Bifocals for a while. I’ve never found them useful, in fact, for the most part, I find them incredibly annoying. To compensate, I push my glasses up so I can use my uncorrected vision to read. Or, I slide them down my nose and look over my glasses just like my old biology teacher used to. I’ll call that Biology neck. It’s the over the glasses, condemnation, don’t bother me, kid, I’m busy look. That’s Biology Neck. You know you are getting old when you start to do the same things your ancient biology teacher did thirty-five years ago.

Biology Neck

You would think that Text Neck and Biology Neck counteract each other, but they don’t. I suppose in some way, I should be flattered that a person of my age can have Biology Neck, Text Neck and Bifocal Neck all at the same time. Okay, just so long as I don’t have Turkey Neck. You know that thin layer of skin that flaps in the breeze when you shake your head to alleviate Text Neck/Biology Neck. I’ve heard it said that if you raise your noggin just so, it will reduce the look of that extra layer of skin. It’s a tricky business all these necks.

Turkey Neck

Both Text Neck and Bifocal Neck have the same result. They hurt. To alleviate the pain, I swirl my head around like a soda jerk swirls ice cream at the local Dairy Sweet.
The cracking is a good thing. To compensate for the problem, I have lowered my desk at work, but I feel like I am sitting at the kid’s table.

One could never confuse Text Neck with rubber neck. Rubbernecking, as defined by Wikipedia, is the act of looking around. That’s the problem. People with Text Neck never see anything but their phones. They can’t take their eyes off their device.

To combat Text Neck, I just installed an app, called appropriately enough, Text Neck.
It will light up with a red head when I am viewing my phone at the wrong angle. A green head lights up when I have perfect posture. To picture this head, think of Blue Man Group. That’s what the head for this app looks like, only red or green.
I can set the app to vibrate or have a beeper go off. I need an app for Bifocal Neck. My glasses could beep at me when I’m doing the under/over glasses thing.

I’ve no idea how an app for turkey neck or rubber neck would work. I’m sure people develop turkey neck over time so it would have to be one long slow buzzer that zings you in the offending fold of skin. “You are in danger. It’s almost Thanksgiving!”
I shudder to think what would happen if my neck is down, my glasses lowered and then I develop turkey neck while rubber necking. The apps on my phone would go crazy!

Posted in Apps for a phone, Humor, Rubbernecking, Text Neck, Texting, Turkey Neck | Leave a comment