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Sharon OMaley - Contena

Sharon OMaley

At 9 years of age while attending a one-room school house, I was so bored that I retrieved an encyclopedia from the shelf and wrote a story about fish. At 11 years of age, my family was witness to a 3,000 acre forest fire and all I could think of was writing a story about it. That is the beginning of my writing career. 

Writing is a comfort to me, it eases a yearning in my soul. I may be writing a B2B script financial planning or crafting a story about my life in the Dominican Republic, it all satisfies my deep passion for writing.

For more than 20 years, I wrote B2B courses on finances, insurance, real estate, medical and health issues. I researched for information to create courses for my clients but all the while I was feeding my need for knowledge about all things.

It is not easy operating a business from one's living room converted to office, but I did not mind the long hours even working through the night because of my love of research and writing.

I was born in Xenia, Ohio to a pastor and his wife so the years of my childhood and youth were spent moving from one parsonage to another. I attended college at the foot of Pikes Peak in Colorado Springs, Colorado 

Today, I live north of Austin, TX in an RV park in the beautiful Hill Country.  I have been a full-time RVer for 8 years now.

......and I'm still writing!

If you want to read more of my writings visit: https://www.drstrainscbd.com/blog/

Ethics or the Law
1 minute read

The legal profession has been in existence since the Code of Hammurabi, 3500 years ago. According to the most common definition in Black's Law Dictionary, legal ethics are "usages and customs among members of the legal profession, involving their moral and professional duties toward one another, toward clients, and toward the courts; that branch of moral science which treats each member of the legal profession with and which he or she owes to the public, to the court, and to his client." 

One measure of civilization in a society is to see if its laws derive from ethics or if its ethics derive from laws. Many ethical philosophers believe that the more civilized a society believes laws derive from ethics. Or, in other words, ethics first, laws second. 

So if ethics are just as important as law, how can ethics be translated into law? There may not be a perfect translation as such, however, when following the law, one can go a step further which leads to an ethical conclusion as well.  An individual or a company or corporation may abide by the law even to every letter of the law, but still be making unethical decisions. 

Ethics goes beyond the law.  Disobeying the law carries a punishment with it. Ignoring ethics does not carry jail time, but it does harden one's conscience and denies one a blessing and a character promotion of doing the right thing.

Henry David Thoreau (1849/1960), however, urged that if a law "requires one to be the agent of injustice to another, then, I say, break the law".

Edmund Burke (1790/1961) stated that there is a great importance to the absolute compliance with the law and no man should be judge in his own cause. 

Companies have Codes of Ethics which they compile and expect their employees to abide by and they advertise to the consumer that those are the standards their company has. But more importantly, an individual has the responsibility to have his or her own Code of Ethics. A career without a personal Code of Ethics is volatile because it is not natural to do good or right. 

One needs preset boundaries for consistently acting on the good, the right, the honest and the honorable thing. A personal Code of Ethics can be that boundary when practiced daily.

Published November 11, 2019
Sacrifice
2 minute read

Sacrifice generally goes against the nature of the affluence of our time, looking for what one can get rather than give; self-betterment rather than generosity and me rather than others is today's idea of superiority.  But sacrifice does not wilt and die because of little use.  Too much depended on the greatest Sacrifice of all time and eternity for sacrifice and its benefits to become a faint memory. 

Our grandparents sacrificed everything in the Great Depression as they watched their bank accounts drain away, the cattle die of hunger and revenue for crops slide to pennies.   This sacrifice may have been forced, but they chose to sacrifice as they started to rebuild their lives, plant the few crops they could and buy single digit lots of cattle to build a new herd. 

Every mom and dad has known sacrifice as they give birth and raise their family with year after year of doctor bills for illness and injuries, sport team dues and sometimes the last pennies are squeezed from pay checks for clothes and food for growing teenagers.  But their sacrifice is made freely for the privilege to see their children grow and flourish, graduate from college and become contributing adults.

Sacrifice has marked the American horizon ever since the Pilgrims foraged in a new and foreign land to start life again in a place they could worship freely in a religion of their choice.  Hunger, sickness and loneliness were sacrifices they made on a daily basis so that their children and their children's children could have a better life and freedoms they had been denied in the Old Country.

As our country formed a government and engaged in the Revolutionary War, great sacrifices were made as soldiers fought gallantly through that cold winter with little to eat and insufficient clothing. They fought for a better life and freedoms not only for themselves but for their sons and daughters of future generations.  Many of those soldiers did not get to enjoy the freedom for which they fought but laid down their lives in the gunfight on the cold icy waters of the Potomac River.

But you and I live today to enjoy freedoms which were fought for and won on the battlefield that cold winter.  Churches of all faiths and denominations have risen in cities across the United States because the soldiers in every generations fired one last shot while they laid bleeding and wounded.

Our children learn in classrooms with dedicated teachers about the great World Power we are as one generation after another stand on the victories of those who have gone before so that another brave line of soldiers on the battlefield for human rights and justice can advance forward. 

Then one day in the future, the ones who are 3rd, 4th and 5th graders now, will choose to lock arms with new recruits in boot camp for the Marine Corp, the Army, the Navy and the Air Force to continue to defend this great land of diversities. 

But there is one great Sacrifice, the most costly Sacrifice, that made every other sacrifice possible.  The dark afternoon when Jesus, the lowly Nazarene, bowed his head and said, "......not what I will but what you want" and died on the cross than everyone might be redeemed. 

Looking back on a sacrifice from within the victory and the freedom it created, is when we understand the changes that the sacrifice put in motion.  Christ's sacrifice on Mount Calvary changed everything for every human being on earth.  Every sacrifice that our military has made, put in motion freedoms for every American. 

Sacrifice is as much about redemption as it is about giving all.

Published November 12, 2019
Mind over Matter -- Heart over Mind
Front Page
3 minute read

The mind is a powerful influence over our actions. It may be subconscious or we may be exactly aware of how this “gray matter” is manipulating us through the day. Over most circumstances, I am a positive, forward-thinking individual. You may claim the same. That means that we also feel we are in control of the thoughts and actions moving through the days and weeks of our life.

Sit down to write an article, a true personal story, a meditation or whichever genre you decide on that day and in an instant your mind is blank as the monitor screen in front of you. The next monologue you have with yourself is, “I’m not a writer after all. Why did I even think that I could put one paragraph together much less an entire story?” Your momentary inspiration tucks tail and splits four ways – east, west, north and south. You reach for the TV remote to listen to someone else’s story.

Thomas Edison said, “Success is 10% inspiration and 90% perspiration.” So most of our writing will be “perspired writing” rather than “inspired writing.” To again quote the great man who gave us the gift of electricity, “Many of life’s failures are people who did not realize how close they were to success when they gave up.”

I had developed a habit of turning the TV on to watch DVDs as soon as I walked in the door at home and when I get in the driver’s seat of my KIA Cadenza, I turned on one of the many audio books I have. I did not realize how I was constantly flooding my mind with words, voices and stories so that my own creative juices were becoming constipated. One morning, I started down the road in silence. I’d finished the last audio book and was tired of re-listening to old ones. Through the silence, my heart started doing cartwheels through my mind with article ideas, story lines and rhyming poetry. 

I was working as a gate guard on the pipeline in Central Texas so often had many hours of inactivity throughout the day. That particular morning, all was quiet so as soon as I was parked at my gate, I whipped out my spiral notebook that I always carried with me and started writing. I was inspired out of my mind and could hardly write fast enough to get the thoughts on paper. The article was written in 30 minutes and I called my best friend to read it to her for feedback. She loved it, made one suggestion which I adjusted and that was it. The name of the article was “Sacrifice” and I sent it to a magazine for the Veteran’s Day themed magazine edition later in the day.

My mind became empty that morning and allowed an idea to bloom, a thought to become a devotional and a memory to transform into a true story. The mind has to be empty of rift-raft and confused thoughts or feelings before the heart can speak through it.

Our world today is cluttered with noise from the TV to the radio to all the beeps, rings and pops from smart phones because we dare not miss one FB post, email or text.

In order to allow the heart to move into the mind, it is necessary to carve out a quiet place in the home, under a shade tree in the back yard, by a sparkling pool in the neighborhood park, or as I did, along a dusty county road making sure the gate was secured.

Another thing our world is cluttered with is technology such as ipads, laptops, smart phones or desktop computers with document creation capabilities. So we sit down with our technology and type away expecting a heart-felt story to be the result. Picking up a pen and a spiral notebook is therapeutic. Let your hand feel the paper as the pen scratches away word after word after paragraph until a story is born. Handwriting provides an avenue to get in touch with the story that is growing in the heart with potent insights. 

We all know a submission has to be typed, double-spaced and spelling and grammar has to be impeccable. However, the rules of good writing often stymie a powerful story or a moving meditation and mute an insightful article. Write the story with all the freshness and emotions possible forgetting about the precision of writing. Go back later and prune the bush to a perfect shape. 

We cannot limit the lengths and depths to which our heart will drive a story when the mind is emptied of distractions. The mind is a powerful tool but where writing is concerned, its power can be better utilized when driven by energy of the heart. 

Published November 13, 2019
In The Beginning -- Life Insurance
2 minute read

Life Insurance is as much about life as it is about death. A working definition of life insurance begins with understanding why the concept of insurance originally developed. In all lives, uncertainty exists about what will happen tomorrow, next month, next year. The future holds unknown events, some will be positive, others, negative. Negative events include the possibility of loss. Insurance is specifically concerned with financial loss.

Because most people own and rely upon the availability of cars, they can envision the financial loss that will occur if the car is damaged in an accident. As a result, people buy auto insurance to protect themselves against the uncertainty—the risk they take by driving—that they will suffer a financial loss if an accident occurs.

Life insurance is designed to protect against the risk of death. The risk of death exposes a family or a business to certain financial risks such as burial expenses, paying off debts, loss of family income and/or business profits. There are different types of life policies, as noted below. An individual has the opportunity to shop all the best insurance companies to give him or her, the maximum coverage at the lowest rate. This is not the only item about life insurance that is important, however. It is of utmost importance for an individual to evaluate his or her particular circumstances in life. Some of the things that must be considered are what exactly he or she is planning for; whether he or she is in the middle of raising a family or if they are still in college about to marry.

The best understood and most obvious purpose of life insurance is to pay a certain amount of money to survivors when the insured person dies. Paying death benefits was the original purpose of life insurance policies and continues to be the major reason people buy life insurance. Life insurance paid at the time of death can be used for many purposes, including:

• Ongoing living expenses for survivors;

A life insurance policy can provide substantially for the income needs of surviving dependent family members. Whether this is children left behind or a spouse, there will be a need for a cash stabilization. Another benefit of a life insurance policy is to pay federal and state death taxes and other estate settlement costs. It can be used to pay debts, to provide for children’s education or to meet “special” financial demands of physically or mentally handicapped or learning-disabled children or parents or other dependents with physical or mental limitations.  

• Establish a fund for children’s future college costs;

A life insurance policy can replace income for the survivors during a period of readjustment period of two or three years after the policy owner’s death. If the family is a two-income family, it takes time to adjust to one paycheck instead of two. If the policy owner is the sole wage earner, with young children at home, the spouse’s need for a readjustment period is obvious particularly for children under age 18 and their college years.

• Paying death expenses and existing debts;

Life insurance basically comes in two forms. One type pays only a death benefit--a specified sum of money--to the person or persons designated, if death occurs within a specified period of time, or “term.” This is an immediate benefit on the occasion of death and for a certain amount of years after death. The other, more permanent type, comes with an additional feature that builds tax-deferred savings called “cash value.”

• Replacing income lost by the death of a key employee.

The last thing a family or business associates needs to worry about is coping with the financial consequences of an untimely death. Without the breadwinner in a family, a family may not be able to meet mortgage payments, provide for college, or prepare for retirement. Immediate and future family needs may be put on hold as a result of death whether untimely or not, just as business operations could be turned upside down.

While life insurance has traditionally been used for purposes such as these, contemporary policies can provide additional benefits, whether the insured person lives or dies.  (...to be continued)

Published November 14, 2019
The Power of My History
2 minute read

Is my environment or my genetics more influential over my life and who I become?  Many researchers and philosophers have pondered over real life subjects but still the question remains because there is no majority conclusion. 

I was blessed with many of my dad's genes as far as my physical features. As the years have passed, I've discovered I also have his drive for perfection, his passion for helping others and his love for a nice green lawn. But are these genes or training?

My mom bestowed on me her health strengths and weaknesses -- from headaches to troubled feet to a fibrocystic condition. I like to believe that I also acquired her kindness and her faith in the power of prayer.

But the frailty or the strength of those genes imparted to us do not necessarily form our history. We very soon start blazing our own history in the world. The religious and familial culture I grew up in does mark and define my history with successes as well as imperfections.

I wonder looking back over my life what could have been but wasn't because of decisions my parents made and choices I made subsequently. It is not redemptive to spend much time trying to redo a choice but it might give perspective and wisdom for the future.

My history may propel me forward and then in a split second it yanks me backward kicking and screaming protests. Either one of these triggers from my history can further define my present or my future.

One day I reacted fiercely to something a friend said to me in a conversation.  My friend was started and, in fact, I was too.  Then I remembered, I remember the hurt from my history that pulled the trigger to my reaction.

My history and your history may be powerful but it is within every one of us to determine how we are shaped by the pains, disappointments and tragedies of our history.

After my divorce, I found myself in tears and great pain on each anniversary until one year my Heavenly Father said, "Not this year. Get up from your sorrows and grief and do something for someone else that will brightened their day."  To be honest, I was tired of the weeping and moping around but seemed powerless to do anything but now I had a direct command that challenged change from me.

I purchased 3 red roses and gave them to 3 different individuals who had been helpful and supportive to me in the last couple years. Just that quick a switch was flipped because I was focusing on someone else and giving rather than being all self-absorbed in my misery. It was a historical day of change to create a new history. 

My history is powerful just as your history is powerful.  It can drag us down. It can stain our present and dissolve our future into a pond of despondency. Or we can choose to allow the chaff of the past pain, anger and tragedies fall through our fingers while the kernel of wheat remains in our palm to represent the good, the hope and lessons learned.

Let's challenge our history with a cup full and running over of joy and excitement to be the fuel to empower our future.

Published November 15, 2019
My Angel with a Mop
2 minute read
Angels have come and gone on the Best Seller List through the years. Angel experiences, angel rescues, angel movies, and even talk shows about angels flash across the screen but these angels disappeared in a pouf of light never to be seen again. 

When my marriage broke under the burden of lies, betrayal and abusive words and actions, my heart splintered in pieces realizing my dream of a long life together, four children and many other great things had to be placed on the altar. I had to start over again on my own. I embarked on this journey with fear and apprehension, then I found angels crossing my path.

One day I picked up the Green Sheet which is a neighborhood paper in Houston. I knew that I could clean houses because I had worked my way through college dusting peoples’ furniture, cleaning their filthy toilets, and scouring tomato seeds off kitchen floors. I knew that I had no computer skills, or for that matter, any office skills. But nothing was going to stand in my way of starting to generate some income in order to support my daughter and myself when we were on our own.

I found an ad but why I called it rather than the other twenty ads for house cleaners, I do not know. The lady’s name was Denise. I asked her if I could work part-time. I just need to make enough money to pay the insurance on my car so that my husband would not sell it. I needed to start getting some money together also so that I could make the necessary changes in a few weeks.

“Yes, you could work part-time, I think, but I do not have anything this week or next week,” was her discouraging answer. “However, call me next week and we’ll see if my schedule has changed.” Before she hung up, I asked her to speak only with me. She understood and agreed.

Denise called me the next week before I had a chance to call her back. She needed help for about six hours on Friday. She said that she could use me on Saturday and one or two days the following week. I was beginning to see an individual in the form of an angel.

The next morning, I shared with my husband that I had work for six hours on Friday that would help pay for my car insurance which he had asked from me earlier in the week. With a heavy heart from harsh words spoken that morning and tears running down my cheek, I prepared to go to work.

Already running late, I hurriedly took my 3 1/2 year-old daughter to a friend’s house who had agreed to watch her while I attempted to make some money. Then sped to Denise’s home that also housed her office. It was the first time that we had met. I apologized for being late then related what had happened before I left home.

“I’m going to leave today,” I confided to Denise, who I felt was no stranger. “I will clean for you then when we are finish, I’ll go home and pack up what I can put in my car and leave.”

“Where are you going to stay,” Denise asked.

“I don’t know.”

“My place is small here, but if you want to stay with me till you can make other arrangements, you can,” said this angel with a broom in one hand and a bucket and a mop in the other hand. “I will leave an extra key in my secret hiding place so if you get back before I do this afternoon, you can come on in.”

At that moment, I knew more about angels than ever before. I followed through with my plan that afternoon and returned that evening to find Denise’s door open. For the next two weeks, she gave us food to eat, her bed to sleep on, and all the work that I could do.

Best of all, this angel with a broom, bucket, and mop, did not disappear in a white misty pouf as the story books show. Angels?? --yes, I believe in them. The angel that walked into my life that lonely day in March, has forever left a new meaning of angels for me. She was a blood and flesh angel from the Hand of God.

Published November 16, 2019
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