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Steve’s Book, Life of a Baby Boomer is Now in Paperback!

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I’m so excited Steve’s book, “Life of a Baby Boomer”   http://amzn.to/1sBlyyu   is  now in soft cover on Amazon. It will be available on e-book on Amazon after December 1st. He’s included pictures of his family in the book, which brings the story even more to life. It’s an inspiring story for anybody who has ever felt down and out and maybe believed they were being judged unfairly. His book can be found on Amazon as a soft cover for $8.43 (don’t ask, I know it’s a weird price). He made the price as cheap as possible so more would be able to read it, and hopefully benefit from his story.

This is a book especially for those who grew up in the fifties and sixties, or suffered any kind of abuse, or had doubts about their capabilities, or served in the military, or have ever worked in law enforcement. I’ve read this book many times, and its words still serve to comfort and inspire. It was a privilege for me to help him put this book together. Steve has always believed faith in God–even if it is shaky and as small as a mustard seed–is the key to surviving life’s difficulties. A mustard seed of faith doesn’t sound like much, but it’s enough to survive all the hardships life deals us. I hope you join Steve on his journey. It’s a book that will make a great gift for the holidays.

Below is an excerpt from the book:

Chapter Three

 

 

The Lord said, If you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this

   mulberry tree, Be uprooted and planted in the sea; and it will obey you.  Luke 17:6 NIV

 

In spite of the horror of my childhood, I felt secure in the love of my Grandpa and Grandma Rockwell, though I didn’t dare tell them what happened to me at home or at school. I also had a secret sustaining me, because I’d never forgotten that near-death experience I’d had, and although I didn’t have the words to explain it, I knew someone was protecting me. I thought of it as the guardian angel my granny used to talk about.

Not only was there emotional torment at home, but I had difficulties at school as well. Once I came home from school crying because the teacher had taken my arm and scratched it with her fingernails, leaving four trails of blood down my arm, and then my mother yelled at me because I was too old to cry.

To my mother, expression of my feelings was a sign of weakness. It was one of those rules I had forgotten, but it wasn’t likely I’d need to be reminded again. During my first month of kindergarten, my mother would take me to school, and I’d run home as soon as the opportunity presented itself.

I couldn’t explain to others why I kept running home, so they assumed I was afraid of school. The truth was I was afraid to leave my mother at home because I feared my stepfather would kill her if I wasn’t there. It was a secret I couldn’t share with anyone. In my mind, if I was present, he wouldn’t kill her because I’d be a witness. It never occurred to me that he might kill me too.

I concluded my presence saved her, because the five or six times he beat her badly enough to be hospitalized, I was in my room and my brother was at his real father’s house. All I’d hear was my stepfather punching her as she slammed up against the walls, and the sound of her screaming.

Once she hit the floor with a dull thud, an ambulance would be called and I’d remain in my room, too terrified to move. When she’d come home from the hospital all bruised up, she’d say she’d had an operation. I never dared question her about these lies; I was just grateful she was still alive.

My long ride on the short bus started in kindergarten because I continuously ran home to my mother; I never talked to anyone other than my brother or grandparents, or occasionally, my mother, until I reached the second grade. On the first day of school in second grade we were told to write a poem and read it in front of the class.

I proudly read aloud to my classmates: “Once there was a dog, he slept with a hog./The hog was dead./ The dog had no head.”

In my mind, the poem wasn’t twisted, and it made perfect sense. I had sort of an “Old Yeller” theme going on like in the movie. I pictured a dog in his doghouse and a hog trying to get in, so they got into a fight. The hog, which had huge tusks, ripped off the dog’s head, but the dog had injured the hog enough so he also died of his injuries. The poem had the added bonus of rhyming and having a sense of justice.

In spite of my complete understanding of the poem, I was sent to the office to be seen by the school psychologist. I explained to him I’d created my own language in my head and the only person who could interpret my language was my brother. The psychologist nodded a lot, as though he understood, but he clearly did not. This wouldn’t be the last trip I’d make to his office.

Even though my first poetry reading was not what I’d hoped for, I did begin to speak normally in the second grade, but I don’t believe the psychologist was responsible for my progress. I credit my ability to speak to others to my second grade teacher, Mrs. Emmons, whom we fondly called M&M, after the candy. In fact, she looked like the lady on the See’s candy box, a grandma-type representing everything sweet and good in life.

She’d sometimes set me on her lap and give me a hug, an experience I was unaccustomed to, but I learned to like it a lot. She was the first person, except for my grandparents, who accepted me for just being me, and she was one of the few who loved the misfits more than the socially acceptable. She was the first teacher I ever remember giving me the recognition I longed for, and it was partly because of her that I later became a teacher.

Even though I was now speaking, and I rejoiced being in Mrs. Emmons class, I had already been labeled as one of those children who rode the short, yellow bus. I was still taken out of class one hour in the morning in order to have remedial help.

In my special education class, I was instructed on how to make sounds, and when I made a mistake, I would be slapped across the face. When I incorrectly wrote the sound or letter, I would be hit on the palm of the hand with a ruler. As horrific as these teaching practices sound, they were acceptable methods for training “slow” or “retarded” students back in the 1950’s. I was subjected to these learning methods until I entered the sixth grade.

That hour of special education each day was more like an interrogation than a learning experience, except there were only bad cops, no good ones. Each day I entered a room not much larger than a closet, with bare, concrete walls and no windows, nothing but gray concrete surrounding me, a barren room where no love of learning could ever take root and grow.

The theory of educating students like me was that a disciplined body would lead to a disciplined mind. For that hour, I’d sit on a hard wooden chair with a table in front of me. The teacher would never sit; she’d walk around, continuously circling me like some boney bird of prey. It never occurred to the teacher I might have inner needs she could possibly discover through talking to me about my life.

The sound of her footsteps would thud in my ears, as I concentrated on keeping my arms on the armrests of the chair and my feet flat on the floor. Good posture was considered important in my speech training.

If I moved, I’d get whacked with a ruler, so I learned to sit really, really still. Every minute I sat, the room would get smaller and smaller, the clock ticking louder and louder. The bare concrete walls, no windows, and hard green tile on the floor could be compared to a prison I’d later work in, only the prison had colorful murals and painted stripes on the walls.

I remember coming back to my regular class where Mrs. Emmons would always give me an extra special hug; I’m sure she’d see by the expression on my face the trauma I’d been through. Mrs. Emmons was a bright and golden ray of sunlight in the dark, gray clouds of an unenlightened school system. Maybe I needed the darkness to give a background to the brilliance of her warmth and kindness.

I’d recall in my Sunday school class when the teacher would talk about having faith just the size of a mustard seed and being able to conquer mountains. Mrs. Emmons was my mustard seed of faith.

I hope you enjoyed this excerpt and you can share this book with others. Thanks so much for stopping by.

Bren

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To All Vets and Active Military–Thank You For Your Service and Sacrifice!

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Today is Veteran’s Day and I’m sure many of us living in the USA are sending our positive thoughts and prayers to those who have served, or are serving our country. I always feel a small burst of pride when someone stops my husband on the street and says, “Thank you for your service!” After the negative treatment he and other returning Vietnam vets received, those words of gratitude mean more to him than ever.

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Steve is still friends with one of the men he served with in the Navy, and they were fortunate enough to spend a couple of weeks together recently. Above is a picture of them over fifty years ago and today, but I’m sure you can guess which is now. LOL! The band of brotherhood and sisterhood of those serving in the military is a powerful bond difficult for we non-military to understand, but it is easy to admire.

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I was glancing at a world atlas and thinking about what a great big world this is and how many parts of the world our men and women in the military go to in order to keep us safe. How can we possibly say ‘thank you’ enough?

Today we went to the Olive Garden for dinner and I was pleasantly surprised to find they were serving free meals for veterans. I know Golden Corral and many other restaurants honor veterans in the same way. There are famous people like country singer Trace Adkins who support the Wounded Warrior Project. It makes me grateful our country now acknowledges what the military has done for us in the past and what they continue to do for us at great sacrifice. Our country couldn’t survive without our military, so God bless them all.

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My husband, my daughter, my son-in-law, and my great niece have all served, or are now serving our country, and I couldn’t be prouder of them. Our military personnel keep us strong and I’m positive we’re all grateful to have the chance to say ‘thank you’ to them today, and hopefully, every other day of the year. God bless America!

Thanks for stopping by.

Bren

 

 

 

 

You’ve been gone nearly fifteen years, Mom! It seems like a second or sometimes forever!!

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You would be ninety-six this November, Mom. Time flies by. I often wonder what we would talk about if you were still alive. I’d love for you to know your great-grandchildren and to know you have a great-great grandchild. Wouldn’t you love to go to your son’s granddaughter’s wedding next year! I think you would be proud of your family and happy to see the lives they’ve made for themselves.

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Above are pictures of your great-grandchildren and even your great-great grandchild. I know you would be so proud of them all now and they would love you so much. Many of them were lucky enough to know you, but the youngest never met you. I like to imagine some of them have something of you inside them. I picture them loving to read like you did, or loving to cook, or creating things with their hands like you.

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Above are your grandchildren and your children, as I’m sure you know. I hope you also realize how much we all think about you and miss you. Each of us have our own special memories of being with you. You are a precious person to all of us and we hope you watch over us and know how much we appreciate you! There are so many things I wish  I had told you, but now I have to be satisfied in just writing it down.

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The pictures above are for my cousins and pictures of their moms. Jackie and Gwen, I know you just lost your mother, so I hope this picture of Aunt Lois with Jackie will make you both smile. And Peggy, you and Keith and Paul must think of your mother every day, so this picture is for you.

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Mom, I know you’re up in heaven with everyone you love, so I’d just like to let you know how much I love you and miss you! I talk to you sometimes, and I feel you’re answering me back, so thank you for that! Have a happy birthday up in heaven! But I suppose every day is a happy day.

Thanks for stopping by and I hope that if you’re lucky enough to still have your mother with you, you’ll tell her how much you love her. And for those of you who are like me and your mother is gone, remember our mother remains our mother forever!

Bren

 

 

 

Fall Foliage, and Pumpkins, and Witches–Oh My!

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People often ask me why we moved from California to Florida and I have to say it was for the warm (hot) weather, Disney World, and close proximity to the cruise ships. One thing we didn’t move to Florida for is the fall foliage, so what are we to do but to take a ship to enjoy fall elsewhere. I have to admit there was not as much fall color as I’d hoped for because the changing of colors seemed to be just beginning, but by Florida standards, it was still incredible, and incredibly cold, I might add.

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We were lucky enough to travel with some Miami friends we’d met on a much earlier cruise in the Mediterranean. Reconnecting with these friends has been a fantastic experience, and we had an amazing time together.

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We started in Quebec City, and I have to say those people seriously know how to celebrate Halloween!

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Quebec City is an amazing place to visit and surprisingly easy to get around in whether you walk it or utilize a hop on/hop off bus. Almost all the cities we visited had transportation which made it easy to get around.

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Traveling through the rest of Canada was quite an experience as well. Some feel the lobster is to die for, but I personally believe you cannot beat Canada’s Tim Horton’s for maple donuts. I don’t know what led to the great maple donut conspiracy in the US, but I know we once could get maple donuts in Florida, but now we can’t. Who is behind this conspiracy???? Is it the Republicans? Is it the Democrats? I just don’t know.

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Again, I do love Florida, but it’s nice to go to a place where fall actually feels like fall–more like winter to me–but I digress! Warning! If you don’t get the lobster, it’s apt to get you. Once my sister and I ordered a lobster in Boston, not realizing that you get a lobster that looks pretty much like the one in the picture–and almost as big! People always talked about getting the ‘lobster roll’ and I always imagined it was a neatly rolled up lobster, but it’s not, it’s a sandwich. A lobster on a roll, get it? So many things to learn!

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If you’re feeling a little California and have the urge to hug a tree, it’s nice to hug one that is crimson or golden once in a while! Seriously, if you are thinking of going to Canada for the fall foliage, it’s well worth the trip and now is a great time to go with our dollar being worth about twenty-five percent more than the Canadian dollar, it makes it a bit more affordable.

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At the end of our trip we did stop at Portland, Maine, and Boston Massachusetts as well, and for our finale, we wound up at Kennedy Space Center back in good old warm Florida! I loved Kennebunkport, Maine, although that name just doesn’t roll off the tongue easily, much like the lobster roll. LOL! Sorry, I couldn’t resist that one.

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Whether you decide to do the fall foliage trip all the way from Quebec, or you start it in New England, it’s a fabulous trip and there are fantastic sites to see.

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While I’m not a native Floridian, when we visited the Kennedy Space Center in Port Canaveral, I felt that Florida has created some pretty amazing history in the more recent past. It made me proud of all our astronauts have accomplished.

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I would just like to say thanks for letting me share some of those special moments of travel with you. Life is so short and I feel truly blessed to be able to visit such absolutely amazing place. Thanks for stopping by. And as you can see, those space capsules were not very big!

Bren

 

 

 

Steve’s Book, “Life of A Baby Boomer” is Coming Out in Paperback Soon!

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I am pleased to be working on Steve’s book, “Life of A Baby Boomer” which will soon be coming out in paperback with photos included on Amazon. It has been a work of love for both of us. It will be republished as an e-book as well. Hopefully, the two pics above will be on the cover. Working with Create Space at Amazon is pretty amazing.

This is a book for men and women who have struggled to achieve goals that often come easily to others. It’s written in memoir form, but it also serves as inspiration to those who have struggled in school, or who have come from dysfunctional families, or who have striven to surpass others’ expectations of them. It’s Steve’s journey from the ‘short bus’ at school, through the horrors of family emotional abuse, and the trials of being in the Navy during the Vietnam War when not all Americans were supporting our military forces, and then trying to readjust to civilian life in a meaningful way. Throughout his life, he held onto the belief that all it would take was faith the size of a grain of mustard seed, and God would answer his prayers, but it wasn’t always an easy journey.

Below is an excerpt from “Life of a Baby Boomer.”

Prologue

   There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven: A time to weep

   and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance. Ecclesiastes 3:4 NIV

As I write these words, it’s the end of my prep-period during my final year of teaching U.S. History to eighth-grade students at Mae Hensley Junior High School in Ceres, California. So close to retirement, I’m looking back on my life, thinking of those moments in my life of crying, laughing, mourning, and dancing. Perhaps many of you have danced the same dance or cried the same tears. God has recreated all of us many times throughout our lives and will again until the day we die.

By his merciful grace, I have, Forrest Gump-like, been shoulder to shoulder with the famous and the infamous. I’ve met Bob Hope, Raquel Welch, Barbara McNair, and Jennifer Jones. I’ve worked at a green-grocer’s with Sirhan-Sirhan, and I’ve worked in a prison system where Charles Manson, Steve Grogan, Bobby Bousalai, and Juan Corona were incarcerated.

I have been stranded on a sampan in the middle of the Hong Kong Harbor, fallen into a grave in Olongapo in the Philippines, dumped in a back alleyway in Saigon, and stuck behind the wheel of a patrol car precariously perched on the edge of a forty-foot levee in Tracy, California. Whatever happens though, God has always given me the power of choice, and thankfully, He’s protected me from my own bad decisions

My educational life began in the fifties. I had language processing problems and, during this era, educators were quick to label a student with my difficulties as “retarded” or “slow.” I was put on the short bus, which was the special bus that carried me to my special program for six long years. It wounded me deeply, and I grew up trying to overcome the stigma of being “the kid on the short bus.” Those scars haunt me still.

The life unfolding within these pages is my story, and I make no accusation against any individual, educational system, or society, or government for the things that have happened. These are my perceptions of my life, and my brain forms these precepts. My memories may not coincide with the memories of other people in my life. Get two people reminiscing about the same incident, and you’ll get two entirely different takes on the same experience.

I’m a product of my time, a child growing up in the fifties, now facing life in the twenty-first century, and doing my best to fulfill the life I’m supposed to fulfill, whatever God determines that may be.

Looking in the mirror, the person responsible for the choices I have made in my life stares right back at me, but it’s God who’s seen me through the twists and turns. God has never left me or forsaken me—though I may have abandoned him more than a few times in my journey. To protect other people’s privacy, I’ve changed the names of people who were part of my life but they may recognize who they are.

Riding the short bus as a child was just the beginning of many disappointments. When I joined the military, at first, I was denied my goal as a photographer. Later on, as a correctional officer, I was denied promotion. At age forty, though, when other institutions would not accept me because of my age, the educational field didn’t care how old I was. Its only concern was what I knew and whether I could teach the material to young minds, and so I was accepted as a history teacher.

Teaching young minds left me deeply humbled. I found it ironic a system that once scorned me, later embraced me without prejudice once it ascertained I was qualified to be an educator. Times, they do change. At the moments in my life when I felt most like giving up, God seemed to whisper in my ear that my time would come if only I would . . . wait. Something that is often so difficult to do.

In the following pages, I will tell of my struggle through adversity and of roadblocks I encountered along life’s way. Maybe something in my life will seem familiar—to take the high road or the low road—knowing it’s always a choice that is ours alone and yet not always easy to make.

With God’s good grace, we do make the correct choice. Thanks to him, my times of joy have far outweighed my times of sorrow, and I hope it may be the same for those taking this journey with me. God is with us—always.

Steve is an honorably discharged Vietnam vet, a former peace officer, a retired counselor, and a retired school teacher. He’s a life member of the Veterans of Foreign Wars, a Mason, and a Shriner, and a member of Toastmasters.  His book is based on Biblical inspiration, and it’s for anyone who keeps picking himself/herself up each time she/he is knocked down by life. I’ll let you know when his book is available–hopefully some time in November.

Thanks for stopping by.

Brenda

 

 

 

 

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