The Stranger that lives within us

Dear Fellow Journalers,

Last of G series for the time being. Thanks for your comments!



There’s a stranger that lives within us. And it’s an unwelcome stranger—we don’t want them there. Some have become quite adept at ignoring the stranger, others can never ignore it. Doesn’t matter, because no matter how much you try and evict this stranger, you can’t.

This stranger is called our conscience. No one wants to hear its’ voice saying “YOU SCREWED THAT PERSON!” or “ WHAT YOU DID WAS WRONG!”

But conscience NEVER goes away, NEVER takes a holiday. Oh yeah, you might ignore its’ voice for a while, but it always comes back to haunt you.

The reason that conscience is the stranger that lives within us is because, I believe anyway, that some almighty plan never wants us to become comfortable with it. That’s why it must remain a stranger. A stranger so it can sneak up on us when we least expect it. Just when we want to do something we know is wrong, that’s when the stranger comes out to bother us.

I’ve decided what frankly I’ve always known. I’ve decided if I can’t get rid of this stranger I’ll make it a trusted advisor. That way, it’ll be a little less of a stranger inside me.

I invite you to join me.



On living life

Dear Fellow Journalers,

Another amazing and thought-provoking piece from G.


Have you ever noticed that while we all live on the same planet, we all live in our OWN universe?!? Our universe is of course, ourselves, and all the people we come in contact with. Some days that may mean over 100 people, and some days it may be just yourself and your thoughts. Doesn’t matter— it’s YOUR personal universe. An old saying I REALLY like is: “Be kind to everyone you meet, you never know what terrible things happened in their universe today.” Good advice. But have you ever really considered what effect YOUR universe had on people around you, and, in fact, on you yourself?

Makes you stop and think doesn’t it? Some people enter our universe for mere seconds, like those who take our order at the burger joint. Some enter our universe and become a permanent fixture in it. But believe it or not, those people (even at the burger joint) have SOME effect on our lives, and our universe.

About a month ago I was at a burger place and encountered a young man who reminded me of the importance of personal appearance and hygiene. He smelled badly and had “ring around the collar”. Even though we were in contact for a mere minute, he reminded me to always remember that people judge you by such things. Likewise, we all have people who have had a PROFOUND effect on our lives—our universe. And whether we spent a minute or a lifetime with them, they touched us for the good. And our universe will NEVER be the same.

Let’s not forget that OUR actions and treatment of others may have a permanent and lasting effect on those whose universe WE invade! But no matter what or who comes crashing into our universe, everyone who does has SOME effect. (I’d like to personally thank that beautiful young woman who simply passed me at the supermarket the other day. You made me smile!  I’d also like to thank Sister Marie Blanche, my eighth grade teacher who made me realize that if you really want something, it’s yours, IF you work for it.

So, PLEASE, get ready! Sometime in the next few seconds, minutes, days, years—-someone / thing will enter your universe. Will YOU be ready to think about what effect this will have on your life?


Dear Fellow Journalers,

This piece from G is hilarious and also very true!



I don’t know about you, but I have too much ・stuff.・ You know, that ・stuff・ that just appears and accumulates in one’s life. And I guarantee you that ・ stuff・ is a prolific breeder. Wherever you have ・stuff・, more ・stuff・ will mysteriously and magically appear. ・Stuff・ hates to be alone.

No one is exactly sure what causes ・stuff・ to be. In my case, one cause is that I’ll  be in a store somewhere, see something, and say ・Hey that’s  cool. I can use that.・ Then, I’ll find that item, two years later, still in its original packaging, has become ・stuff・.

The best that can happen is that when you’re  going through ・ stuff・, you come across something that you have an immediate need /use for. You put the item into service right then and there. It stops being ・stuff・ at this point.

The worst that can happen is you come across ・stuff・ and ask yourself ・What the hell did I buy that for?!・ Then you must dispose of it or retain it as ・stuff.・ If you retain, that’s when the phenom known as ・stuff・ begins. And remember, ・stuff・ breeds ・ stuff・.

I recently spent an afternoon going through ・stuff.・ That’s  when I discovered the absolute worst thing that can happen. Intending to rid myself of a bunch of ・stuff・, I fell victim to one of ・stuffs・・ best allies ・But I may have a use for this SOMEDAY!・. Working closely together, ・stuff・ and ・ may have use・ conspire to take over all the space in your life. If you’re not careful, you’ll wake up one day and say ・Where did all this ・stuff・ come from?!・

・Stuff・ also can cast a magic spell. This spell has us saying, I’ve  got to clean this ・stuff・ up SOMEDAY!・ Well friends, I’ve  checked several calendars, and there’ no day of the week named SOMEDAY.

You know something else? If you don’t clean up your ・stuff・, when you die, other people will come in and clean it up. Know what they’ll say? ・Look at all this shit ・stuff・ (insert your name) had? Why did they save this ・stuff・?・

OK gang, time to clean up your ・ stuff.・ BE RUTHLESS! Don’t fall prey to the traps I’ve outlined. Get rid of a lot of ・stuff.・ Especially those wayward parts for a coffee maker you had ten years ago.

P.S. If when you’re cleaning out your ・stuff・, you find some real good ・stuff・, and you can’t bear to throw it out, send it over to my house! I’ve  cleaned out so much that my ・stuff・ is getting lonely and needs more ・stuff・ to keep it company! Besides, and you know this is true, your ・stuff・ will accumulate more ・stuff・ again anyway!



Dear Fellow Journalers,

Another perspective from G.



If I could be given any one skill that I don’t have now it would be the ability to work with wood. Who among us hasn’t seen some beautiful piece of furniture, or statue or something made of wood, and hasn’t gone “Isn’t that beautiful !” Well every time I see something like that I say “I wish I could make something like that !”

Back when I was in the Marines I had a friend who was a wood smith. I’d go over to his house just to watch him make that magical transformation from raw wood to something magnificent. I’d watch as he meticulously cut, turn, rub, and angle, sand and polish until that stubborn wood was reborn into a work of art. I was envious of his talent, and remain so to this day of anyone who can wood work

. Have you ever noticed the hands of a master tailor or master barber? Their hands are terribly misshapen and deformed. This comes from years of holding the tools of their craft in a certain way for hours a day on end. The same is true of a master woodworker. Not only are their hands misshapen but they are rough and worn, have cuts and bruises, and broken fingernails. Wood is a hard and tough taskmaster, and does not surrender itself to a transformation easily or readily. You MUST love the craft, and LOVE the wood. But I’ve never known a master woodworker who complained about the price they paid.

One day at my aforementioned friends house, we were sitting at the dining room table. As we were talking about woodworking, he launched into a fabulous monologue. I remember it still: “G I made the table we’re eating off of. I took the wood and shaped it into something my family and friends eat their sustenance off of. While they hardly if ever notice, it gives me great satisfaction knowing they are helped and enjoying their meal on the fruits of my labor. Same is true for the many items around this house I made. It’s doubled when I made something for someone and gave it to them, and now it’s in their home.”

I told him my envy and jealousy of him was now doubled. My friend, and several more, have tried to teach me woodworking over the years, but my hands just don’t have the ability, dexterity, and agility needed to be any good at it. (Never mind the patience!) But I swear to you that I NEVER see a beautiful thing of wood but I don’t envy the hands that created it. Think about it please.

P.S. I haven’t seen or heard from my friend in well over 30 years. We lost track of each other, common for military people. But I think of him often. Why? Because in my home office is a gorgeous chair, MORE beautiful with age then the day it was made. He gave it to me, and I use it almost every day— Thanks pal, you CREATED something from almost nothing, and it is a part of my life. What a legacy, a legacy craved in wood!


4 Fun letter writing prompts

Dear Fellow Journalers,

Mary Beth weighs in:

Trying to prompt letter writing with children is a never-ending battle. Obtuse enticements (“You’ll feel good about it”) don’t work. We tried to make the ordeal fun by making a game of it. When an event (sending a thank you to a relative for a gift) came up, we practiced a letter. We had our children write a make-believe letter in their journal. One memorable letter our son wrote was to a tv character thanking “him” for not stealing the other character’s food. The imaginative letters became stencils for the real ones.

Four of the most memorable “stencil” prompted letters are as follows:

  • Your favorite ice cream shop is hiring children. Write a letter to the owner explaining 3 reasons why you are the perfect person for the job. Coincidentally, this letter helped our son when he was applying for his first job as a newspaper carrier.
  • Pretend that you’re a family pet and want more freedom. Write a letter to your owners and ask for one or two new privileges and reasons why you deserve them. I can imagine what you’re thinking!!
  • Think about a recent school trip. Write a letter to your cousin or grandparent describing your experience and what you learned. Convince them to take a trip there too.
  • Have you ever held a grudge against the shoe laces that broke making you miss the school bus or the book pack zipper that got stuck with your school work inside? Write a letter to the object and express your disappointment.

I’m sure there were many more of these Maroney letters (five children ) but these were the ones I remember the best!


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