13. Castles of Mad King Ludwig

NeuschwansteinOkay, I told myself when I restarted this blog that I will focus on being grateful for present blessings.  However, this evening I played the game “Castles of Mad King Ludwig” — and that reminded me of several things I love.

First, I love playing games.  And I love that I have people in my life who also love playing games and that we can get together now and then to do it.  (These are different people than the regular Friday Night Gaming Group I was already thankful for.)

And it’s fun to win every now and then.  And that particular game is fun even if you don’t win, because you get to build a “castle.”  Which is a silly thing to be happy about, but it makes me happy.

And of course that also reminded me how much I love castles, and how blessed I am that I got to visit 167 of them while I lived in Germany, including some Castles of Mad King Ludwig.

It all just made me happy.  I have had and continue to have a wonderful life, with plenty of rather silly blessings.  Life is good.


12. Christian Music


I think positive affirmations are a good thing.

I’ve read books by Louise Hay which teach this.  The other day, a friend mentioned that when someone defines you negatively, just denying that definition reinforces it in your brain.  (It doesn’t help to try to counteract it by saying, “I’m not a bad mother.”  It’s better to say something positive:  “I am a loving and accepting mother.”)

And Christian songs add music to positive affirmations.  They are powerful.

I’m going to include a couple that have blessed me recently.


The Glorious Unfolding speaks directly to my bewilderment in not having the life I expected at this time in my life.

Sovereign Over Us reminds me that God is good and loving, and He is in control.

11. Summer Reading

I’ll admit it — Summer isn’t my favorite time to work in the library, when it can be something of a madhouse.

But one thing I do like?  The look on kids’ faces when they bring in their completed list of 15 books they’ve read for the Summer Reading Program.  I like asking them which book was their favorite.  I like talking to them about books before the summer starts.  I like finding books for them they’ve heard about and want to read.

I’m glad I have a part in motivating ordinary kids — kids from every imaginable ethnicity and walk of life — to read during the summer.  And I am happy with them when they meet the goal and receive their prize.

10. Living Near DC

Smithsonian at Sunset

Yesterday, on a whim, I took the metro in to Washington, DC, and browsed the National Gallery of Art for a couple hours.

It was a symbolic thing to do for me.  Partly, it came from having read Madame Martine – a book where a lady lives in the shadow of the Eiffel Tower, but never visits it because that’s for tourists.  Then a little dog she adopts runs away onto the elevator of the Eiffel Tower — and she discovers what she’s missing.

I only go into DC when I have visitors from out of town.  But why is that?

Also, when I lived in Germany, I did lots of Castling — visiting castles.  However, I only did it at the times when my husband was home to do it with me.  He traveled often with his job in the Air Force Band, so I figured if he was away, that gave me a break from Castling.  That worked out well — but it got me in the habit of not going to do cool things when I’m by myself.

Now I’m divorced; my kids are adults; I’m on my own and so far unsuccessful at finding a man to share my life with.

However, I got to thinking that I don’t want to wait to do things I think would be fun until I have a man in my life.  And, just maybe, that man wouldn’t think that browsing the National Gallery of Art was a super cool thing to do anyway!  This is my chance!

What’s more, the Smithsonian is free — It’s a national treasure, and it’s not that far away.

I want to be the kind of person who does cool things.

So I am happy with myself that yesterday I went to the National Gallery of Art!

9. Time with a Friend

Today my friend-since-third-grade Darlene had me over for dinner, since her husband and kids are out of town.  (Okay, that was just a good excuse.)

Darlene’s part of the reason I moved to Virginia.  And I am blessed to have a friend so near who knows me so well and is such a great person.

A couple hours with Darlene, and I’m in a great mood.  There’s something about life-long friends.  🙂

8. My Gaming Group

I’m part of a group of 8 people who play Eurogames every Friday night.

Okay, everybody isn’t there every week, and tonight it was just two of us.  But most of us are there most weeks.  And I love doing it!

I never needed to find a gaming group — until my youngest son headed off to college.  Before that, I could always play at home — first with my brothers and sisters, then with my kids.

While we lived in Germany for ten years, I got super excited about Eurogames.  You can just buy fantastic games in Wal-Mart-type-stores in Germany!  One of my favorite activities before I realized I could find the translations on the Internet was practicing my German by translating game rules.

But first my husband left.  Then one by one, my sons moved out.  I didn’t have anyone to play games with.  Yes, I could have gone online.  But I already have solitaire puzzle games I play online.  The fun of board games and card games is playing with actual people.

So my co-worker invited me to a group that plays on Saturdays, and I finally got around to going.  Eventually an opening came up in the Friday night group.  I love it!  I really enjoy games and really enjoy playing them.  And it’s fun exercising my brain among smart people.  (They are mostly better than me at games, but I win just often enough to feel like I’m not deadweight.)  And, yes, it’s fun to be around men again.  (Only one of the other gamers is a woman.)  It reminds me of playing games with my brothers or my math brothers (fellow math majors in college).  Now that I work as a librarian, a field dominated by women, I don’t get that as much.

But, funny thing.  This summer, I got to play games with some of my brothers — and it reminded me of playing games with my gaming group!  So I feel like it’s an important part of my life now.

Bottom line, I’m so glad I have a regular outlet when I get to go play games with other people who enjoy it as much as I do.

7. My Family

I have more relatives than anyone I know — except people related to me.

Of course, it starts with 12 brothers and sisters, and goes from there.  My Dad was 9th of 12 siblings and my Mom was first of 6.  Her Dad was first of 10.  So I have I-don’t-know-how-many first cousins and second cousins and cousins-some-number-of-times-removed.  But there are many!  Lots of aunts and uncles, too.  And I remember two of my great-grandmothers.

Of course, the down side of being part of an enormous family is that you can feel pretty insignificant — just one of many like you.  This may be why I live on the other side of the country from most of my relatives, where people only know me.

But I have a pretty cool family!  I like them a lot.  They’re quirky and wonderful in ways that are definitely related to me.

I recently took vacation on the West Coast and got to see many, many relatives and was reminded that in this way, I am truly blessed.  In fact, my cup overflows.

6. My Job

I’m a Librarian, a Youth Services Manager — and I honestly think it’s the best job in the world!  Well, at least for me.

My job is full of meaning, and it’s fun.  What more can you ask for?

I touch lives.  I get to help kids get excited about reading.  I get to tell people about great books.  I get to help parents learn how to build early literacy skills and math skills in their kids.  I get to bring some great programs to our community.  I get to help people learn who *want* to learn.  I even help the homeless and the poor and new immigrants.  And I hear about fantastic books almost as soon as they are published.  And I get to hang out with other people who love books.  And I get to read books to small children.  And even talk about prime factorization now and then.

5. My Home

Who’d have ever thought I’d own my own home?

We never did when I was married, since we were always moving with my husband in the Air Force.

After my son graduated from high school, so I didn’t have to worry about school district, the time was right, and my Dad gave me a down payment, and I bought a lovely condo.

Earlier, I had put an offer on a condo not nearly as nice, much farther from work and church — but that I thought was the best I’d be able to come up with it.  That fell through — at exactly the time this one came open.

When I walked into this home and saw the lake view all across one wall, I was overwhelmed.  It was more than I imagined for myself — a gift from God.

The lake outside my windows motivated me to start walking, and that first year, I got my fitness back to a decent level, which my stroke had taken from me.

I regularly see a great blue heron, and there are ever-changing wildflowers by the lake.

I’ve got a balcony with flowers.  And a garage.  The condo association takes care of the yard work.

I’m surrounded by my books, games and yarn.  The things that make me happy.  And I’m close enough to church to host a small group in my home.

I can play my music and sing along.

My home is such a blessing.