Decor or Decorum?

deck-halls-houseThe turkey has been digested, the pumpkins put away, and virtually overnight neighborhood yards are coming to life with a veritable cornucopia of Christmas magic. That is, if your idea of magic is multi-colored light shows, mechanical deer and inflatable snowmen.

I go big with holiday decorations inside my home.  But outside, we are relative light-weights.  A few lights on trees, bushes, the fence in the backyard, and we call it jolly. Add in the traditional colonial candles in the windows and we are pretty darn proud of ourselves.

In stark contrast to our home, is a group of three homes down the road from us.  Reminiscent of the Griswold’s, or Danny DeVito’s spectacular display in Deck the Halls, each year these folks go all out in a joint venture.  Lights, displays, things up on the roof, even a holographic Santa that appears in the window – all set to music.  In a frenzied sort of way, it is impressive.  And yet I can’t help but think like a typical real woman and wonder a.) How they find the time to do it, b.) Where the heck they store it all during the rest of the year, c.) What family member started it all with “I’ve got an idea….” and d.) How gigantic is their electric bill?

Over the weekend I had a conversation with a BFF about the amount of Christmas “stuff” we have, and how I really need to clean it out.  The storage of our decorations takes up almost half of my basement space.  I know darn well there are items in those crates that I never use or put out on display, but I’ve kept them simply for nostalgic reasons.  The popsical-art ornaments made by my son in kindergarten, the handmade wreath that is disintegrating, the Rudolph plush toys, and the now cloudy snow globes –yes, they are all still sitting in boxes taking up space.  And this year, like every other, I vow to get rid of them after the holiday season is complete.  Unclutter and simplify.  One of these years, I’ll actually listen to myself.  Yet when I see some of these complex lighting displays and yard art, I realize my storage issues could be far worse. And certainly so could my taste in décor.

I do love meandering neighborhoods to see what people have erected to signify holiday cheer, and to find out the hot new things of the season.  This year apparently projecting sparkly dots all over the front of one’s house is a thing.  Looks a bit like festive measles. More popular than ever are the blow-up characters. I’m not an inflatable lawn ornament kinda gal.  Not that I have anything against the big puffy snowmen, reindeer, Peanuts characters and penguins that glow and weave in the wind at night.  Some folks love them. I find them humorous during daylight hours as they lay deflated and crumpled in holiday heaps, like giant melted Frosty’s.

For the most part, the décor is fun and cute, sometimes even with a nod to the traditional spiritual meaning of the season.  And yet, each year, there seems to be one or two sightings that just make me wonder what they were thinking.  Today on my lunch time walk, I was scoping out the plethora of items in the yard of a house on a street corner.  Lots of deflated lumps of nylon, groups of snowman-faced orbs on sticks, prancing reindeer, a sleigh, a couple of toy soldiers, strings of big retro-style lights in the trees.  Then I saw it.  In the back, behind the reindeer.  I had to back up to look again.  Was that really santa with his pants down?

For the rest of the day I pondered where one would purchase such a thing, but even more to the point, why would someone put that in their yard?  What was it supposed to symbolize?  Did Santa’s pants fall off when he came out of the chimney?  Was Santa relieving himself after drinking too much nog?  Even worse, was Santa becoming a flasher?  What is the story there?  Did the household’s Dad reach the breaking point of too much cuteness?  Did he sneak out at night to install it after his wife was asleep to see if she’d notice?  Did someone lose a bet?   Oh, so many questions, all to go unanswered.  Perhaps it’s not what I thought I saw…. although conveniently I had my smartphone camera with me, so you be the judge.  santa-pants

The key take away here is that we each have our own taste in holiday décor.  We each show our spirit in different ways. What may be slightly distasteful to others could be the coolest thing ever to someone else. But no matter what, now more than ever, we all need avenues for healthy self-expression, ways to bring joy into our lives, and make each other smile and feel good, even if it is just for a moment as we pass by a giant waving Mickey Mouse, a handcrafted Holy Family, a set of blinding LED Spotlights, or even a scantily-clad Santa.  Ho ho ho.


Posted in decor, Entertainment, family, Pride, Seasons, Style, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Prepare to Do Nothing.


I had a conversation with a couple of coworkers today who pointed out some of the reasons so many of us truly enjoy Thanksgiving:  food, football, and stretchy pants.  It is a day when, after the flurry of food preparation is done, the entire expectation is to not do much of anything.  How lovely.

As the big day approaches, I’ve determined there are really three key ways we prepare…things we must focus on before we become one with the couch in our ratty old yoga pants to snooze in front of family and tv:

  1. Great Aunt Helen’s Pearl Onion Recipe. Or Mom’s Famous Potatoes.  Or Trendy New Roasted Brussel Sprouts.   We all have very specific, even territorial, preferences about what must be prepared and served on the big day.  Really, I’ve heard arguments arise where food feelings run rampant:  “You’ve GOT to have Rhodes dinner rolls!”   “What do you mean you don’t cook your turkey in a bag?”  “No, no, no, it has to be the cranberry jelly that looks like the CAN.”  And the best one:  “But that’s not how mom did it.”   Only we Americans could find a way to add stress to holiday food preparation.  Take a deep breath.  As sacrilegious as this sounds, it doesn’t really matter what you eat.  I know, shocking. But true.  Want pb&j?  Go for it.
  2. Put the Fun in Dysfunctional. This is one of those holidays where family members who don’t normally spend a lot of time together get together to spend a lot of time together.  We all have glorious images in our mind that our gatherings will look like a Norman Rockwell painting.  normanrockwell_thanksgivingYet reality proves again and again that our Thanksgivings will bear a stronger resemblance to scenes out of Married with Children or Arrested Development. Rather than being disappointed that we aren’t all perfect, or worry about who is going to say what, I think we should just embrace our family and friend craziness. Get an assortment of relations together, strap on the feedbag, pour some alcohol, and let those sparks fly.  I saw a great tweet today where someone said their plan was to settle in to a crowded table, ask “So what did you all think of the election?” then happily spend the rest of the meal alone in another room.  No matter the wackiness, we all need to remember it is one day.  For a matter of hours, let’s all just get along.  Then call our BFF’s over the weekend to share stories.
  3. Do what you can. Any of you who have been following my blog for a while have read some of my rants about how much I dislike grocery shopping.  Yet no matter how much I whine and complain, hate the process all the way from list-making to schlepping and putting away, I am thankful that I can do it.  Because a frightening number of people out there don’t have that option.  They don’t know when they will eat next, let alone have the option of going to a store to buy food. Luckily this time of year especially, most of us get the reminder that we need to donate food or funds to those in need.  For the past several years, I’ve gotten my son involved in volunteer work at local Food Pantries.  This year he is helping out at the grand-daddy of food collection events.  The local Classic Rock radio station here hosts the Mayflower Marathon, where the goal is to fill three Tractor Trailer trucks with non-perishable food in 52 hours to benefit the local Open Pantry. It is quite the sight and a great community event.  Yet we need to keep in mind that those in need aren’t just hungry during the holidays.  There are just as many folks struggling in July as there are in November.  So if you are like me, and some time soon you will be grumbling about the First World problem of having to go back to the store because you forgot to pick up peanut butter, try to stop being grocery-cranky long enough to grab a little something extra for someone else.  It is an amazing mood-booster.

The count down has begun.  Those traveling have packed their bags and gotten on the road.  Those who are hosting have stuffed their fridges and dug out their recipes and planned what gets cooked when. Everyone has their stretchy pants at the ready.  And hopefully everyone will find a place to get a warm meal.

Eat. Talk. Laze around. Enjoy.

But most of all, be thankful and be kind. Which is easy to do with a full belly.


Posted in Entertainment, family, Food, friends, Helping others, Holidays, home, meals, Relationships, Seasons, shopping, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Self-Prescribed Time Out

17996-super-moon-111316-mike-quaintance-of-baileyYikes. Turmoil. Lots of it, and we are all carrying it around with us. Not only of course is there turmoil at a national and international level, but there’s plenty of turmoil in our personal lives. It doesn’t matter what it is related to, politics, health, finances, work stress, relationships – there’s enough to kick us into tilt mode and overwhelm us. Just like a small child, when we feel overwhelmed we no longer can think straight and we get lost in our worry, fear, anger, sadness or anxiety. We start making wrong choices. In our toddler years, those choices could be throwing wicked public tantrums, or throwing food, or crying until we vomit.   I’ve been seeing remarkably similar actions in adults lately, with rioting, crying, meanness, and vomiting via social media posts.

In taking a lesson from our youth, I decided to put myself in a Time Out. I’ve done this before during times of stress and anxiety and for me it works. No, it doesn’t solve all the problems in the world, but it is a way to add some sense and peace back into our lives.

Sure, the dream Time Out would be to run away to a tropical island for six months and be served fruity drinks by handsome cabana boys. But remember, this is a blog about real women. That kind of thing only happens in our fantasies. So our Time Outs need to be a bit more realistic. And easy. And quick. So the Time Outs I’m proposing are simply focusing on the simple things in life that are seemingly unaffected by any of the chaos around us.

  • Nature. Sure, we can obsess and worry about global warming, pollution and fracking, but in our time outs we need to just stop. And appreciate what we have right now. Depending on where we live, we can marvel at fall foliage, or balmy breezes and sunshine, or early winter snow falls. Go for a walk and just breathe.  How about pausing to gaze at something so incredible as a Super Moon? None of us put that moon there. It happened regardless of what we are doing in our lives.
  • Other creatures. Last night I was driving home and went by a field that this time of year routinely has deer grazing in it. Sure enough, a big doe had just crosdeersed the road as I came by. I stopped (because as we know, where there’s one, there’s more), and she stopped too. She turned her head to look at me as if to say “Hi. What’sup?”  Beautiful.
    Got pets at home? They are always there to greet
    you in their unconditional love kinda way. Even the non-furry pets. They don’t care if you’ve had a bad hair day, just had an argument, or are exhausted from caring for a sick relative. Guess what, they don’t even care who is President. All they care is that you exist.
  • Off button.  It’s ok to turn off the news or take a step away from social media. Really, it is ok, Matt and Savannah can survive without us. We shouldn’t bury our heads in the sand forever, but just tuning out for a bit can feel remarkably good and calming. Go ahead, give it a try. Well, after you finish reading this blog, of course.
  • Release. Nothing feels as good after a long day as getting out of that bra, sliding on our favorite mom-yoga pants, old ratty Life is Good shirt, and fuzzy socks. There has to be some point in the day when we just don’t care how we look, we just need to feel good. Even better if we can then carve out a few minutes to sit with a magazine, or read a book, or watch a favorite sitcom or movie. It’s called escapism, and when we can push aside all the yuck it can feel decadent and wonderful.
  • Music.  Not that angst-filled angry stuff.  Nope, I’m talking about turning up the tunes that make us sing and move.  It’s hard to be grumpy listening to Happy, You Don’t Own Me, or Dancing Queen.  So go ahead, turn it up, and sing loud in the shower, the car, while making dinner.  Get yo’ groove on, baby.  Be the next Beyonce.

Small children of course want to get out of Time Out as quickly as possible. For me, I like to stay in as long as possible. Sure, at some point I have to put on my big girl pants and refocus on the issues at hand. But right now, I feel no rush to do so. Let the turmoil go one without me for a bit. I’ll come out of Time Out when I feel more rested, stronger, more at peace. I’m thinking sometime along March or April….

Care to join me?


Posted in beauty, communication, Entertainment, family, Health, Kids, moods, real women, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Please Leave a Message

Displeased woman on phoneI get it. We are all busy, busy, busy.  Just like Frosty’s Professor Hinkle.  Yet in Hinkle’s day he couldn’t rely on technology to manage his busy-ness.  No, sir, in those days people spoke to each other. In person. Or wrote letters. And responded. Lately I’ve been missing those days.

It is truly ironic that modern conveniences like voice mail and email, developed to make us more accessible and efficient, have actually managed to overload us and have given us a way to ignore each other.

Take a moment to think of the past several phone calls you made.  How many were answered by a real live person?   And, if so, how many were answered by the real live person you really needed to talk to?  Not too many? Did you get trapped in a system that asked you to “please listen carefully as our menu options have changed” then sent on a confusing matrix of numbers and recordings?  Or were you requested to “please leave a message”?   Here’s the kicker – after leaving the message, did anyone call you back?

Over the past two weeks I have left three voice mails for the Case Worker supposedly in charge of the unit my brother lives in, as I have some concerns about him I’d like to discuss with her.  Two weeks.  Three calls.  I have received no return calls or messages.  Next, I’ve left two messages in the past couple of days for the Director at the facility, voicing my concerns.  Two days.  Two calls.  No response.  It’s not like I’m calling to just chit-chat.  I have explained my reason for calling.  5 times.  About the well-being of my brother.  If they have no good answer for me, then they could at least “hide” by calling me after hours and leaving a message, or send me an email.  Because that’s another popular communication tool, avoidance of any in-person interaction whatsoever – aka: hiding.

In a related avoidance topic, last week I had Xrays done due to some ongoing neck pain.  The X-ray technicians assured me they would send them right over to my doctor.  Silly me, I assumed this meant the doctor would review them and call me with any results.  After three days, I called the doctor’s office.  After “listening closely because the menu options had changed” I eventually was connected to a nurse. Then put on hold. For about 15 minutes.  She then came back, explained it had taken her a while to find the Xrays, then she literally read them over the phone to me.  I guess since there was nothing scary to report, the doctor saw no reason to call.  Too busy, busy, busy.

There are many things that bother me about T.A. (Technology Avoidance), but one of the biggest issues is that yes, I’m sure the people I’m calling are busy.  Well, guess, what, so am I.  Yet I’m the one having to find the time to do all of the follow up.  And getting no where for my efforts.

My unreturned calls irked me so much that I did a self-assessment of my own reaction times.  I thought about a couple of the media sales reps who had called me lately at work and left messages. I had not yet called them back, because I had no new information for them.  But after my recent experiences, I thought about how those sales reps are people too, and I reached back out to them – even just to say I had no different answer for them since the last time we talked.  But you know what?  They appreciated me contacting them. Even though I had no news for them.

I will also be the first to admit that I am way behind in phone calls and outreach to some of my family members and friends.  I owe several calls to reconnect.  But we are still in at least sporadic touch, thanks to things like Facebook and texting.  We may not have had a good ol’ fashion gab session lately, but they know I’m alive and thinking of them, and vice versa.  If we need to be in immediate touch, we have several ways to do so.

That brings me to another mind-boggling trap.  Email.  This morning I was talking to a co-worker (yes, live and in person) and he was sharing how he struggles with how many emails he gets all day, and how he wants to be able to sort and delete them but they are so fast and furious it is a challenge. We both agreed that is a very common issue for those of us who are professionally busy, busy, busy.  Sadly, it is fairly easy for an action item via email to get buried or forgotten, or – here we go again – go unanswered. So what can the email sender do?  Send another email. Or call and leave a voice mail.  And the vicious cycle continues.

Before I headed back to my desk, I said to my co-worker “can you imagine that we actually survived and did our jobs BEFORE email even existed?”  He paused and said “Wow. Yeah.  How did we do that??”

Resisting the urge to sound like someone’s grandmother, I remember those days.  At my first professional job out of college, I had no computer.  Only a regular, corded desk phone. And a typewriter.  And lots of real humans around me.  As a young girl, we had only a couple of corded wall phones at home, and if we called someone and they weren’t available, we either got a busy signal or no answer.  So we just had to call back again later.   Sure, I suppose back then maybe life wasn’t so urgent.  Maybe we weren’t so busy.  But I’m going to go out on a limb here and guess that we just were better at planning ahead, and we were a whole lot more patient.  And we couldn’t hide and avoid each other – it never really dawned on us to try.

I suppose I can take a page out of my “old days” book and attempt some in-person contact with those who don’t seem able to respond to me.  I will take the time out of my schedule to go bouncing off down the hill like good ol’ Professor Hinkle, and hope to get noticed when I show up in person.  Which means that I’m sorry, I will be off being too busy, busy, busy to take your call.

Please just leave a message.



Posted in communication, family, friends, Professions, real women, Technology, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

BFF Code of Conduct

besties-glassIf chicken soup is good for the soul, then time with BFF’s is the ultimate balm for our sanity. When close female friends spend time together, it is one part relaxation, two parts therapy, a dash of education, and a heaping dose of entertainment. All mixed up in a big ol’ bowl of unconditional love and acceptance.

This weekend I had the pleasure of spending time with my BFF’s, and I realized there is an unspoken yet natural Code of Conduct when Besties are together. We tell stories, we vent about family issues, we discuss favorite books, shows, movies and celebrities. We shop. We marvel at our similarities and celebrate our differences. We have heart-to-heart discussions about life’s challenges like job changes and relationships. Sometimes we cry. But mostly we laugh. A lot. Because in any good BFF gathering, much silliness is required.

One of the other important elements in the BFF Codes of Conduct is honesty. After all, the members of our Personal Board of Directors are the ones who know us best. Honesty is required when trying on clothing, sharing decorating ideas, and considering new hairstyles. Honesty is required when asking advice about everything from men to professional situations, to shoes. Sometimes moments of honesty might push us outside our comfort zone. Even with BFFs.

The other night, as one of my BFFs and I were cleaning up the kitchen together, she bravely chose the quiet time we had alone to address something with me. She did it perfectly, saying “I don’t want to upset you, but I’m concerned…are you aware that you have developed a bit of a head shake?”   Of course my reaction was something eloquent like “Huh? What? Really? When? How often? Is it really noticeable? Um, NO, I had no idea!” She kindly let me know what she had noticed and encouraged me to get it checked out.

I have been blessed to be very healthy all of my life. Sure, over recent years, there have been a few challenges like surgery and treatment for breast cancer, a bout with the flu, a few head colds, some aches and pains, arthritis in my knees, and currently an annoying ach in my shoulder and neck. But overall, I’ve been really fortunate. Last year I was happy (almost smugly so) to get a glowing health report from my doctor after my Physical. So to hear that something might be wrong, when I had no clue, and have felt fine, is unsettling at best.

That night when I went to bed, I told my husband what my girlfriend had said to me about my shaking head. He replied “Yeah. That’s been happening for awhile.”   WHAT? Awhile?   Like how long? “I dunno, maybe a couple of years?”. HUH?? A couple of YEARS?   And no one had said anything?   I raced to the mirror to look, but of course could see nothing happening.

In true R.W. fashion, I didn’t sleep all night, instead spending those quiet dark hours ruminating about this news. My mind raced between hoping it was just a side effect from the neck pain I’ve been having, to worrying I suddenly had some deathly serious neurological disease. I obsessed about how obvious it was, with visions of Katharine Hepburn nodding her way through my head. And why hadn’t anyone else said anything? Had everyone in my life noticed it?   Am I doing it RIGHT NOW?   No real woman’s thoughts at 2am are clear and logical.

I understand, of course, that in the grand scale of health issues, injuries and disabilities, this little tremor barely registers as even an issue. For that I’m thankful. But any time we women discover we may not be infallible, or we have a rude awakening to our age or our weaknesses, it is a tough pill to swallow. And of course, there’s vanity. Arthritis in my knees I can hide. A head tremor, well, that’s just out there for the world to see.

In the morning, I confronted a couple of my other BFFs about this news. Yes, indeed, they had noticed it, and for various reasons, had not felt comfortable enough to say anything to me. They each gave different versions to me of when it seems to happen, and even which direction my head shakes. One of my besties is a doctor, and told me that she’s fairly certain it is a benign condition called an Essential Tremor. I would much prefer it to be a wee bit less essential. (I have since been in touch with my friend Google and have determined this condition happens to 10 million other folks in the United States, with not much known about the why’s or the treatments. I will confirm Mr. Google’s prognosis with my real live doctor very soon).

At first I wanted to yell WTF, why didn’t you all say something?? Then I realized that honesty is not always easy. And the #1 BFF Code of Conduct is to make each other feel the best we can about ourselves, to be supportive, and help us all believe we are amazing. Having to point out some sort of potential flaw is not something any of us want to do. I also realized that it was only fitting that the friend who was brave enough to mention it is the one who has known me virtually all my life, since we were 10 years old. I also realized she was wracked with guilt about having said anything, until I thanked her and reassured her. After all, if she had not pointed it out, at what point would I have discovered it? When it became so constant and obvious that strangers stared at me on the street, or I was unable to put on my make-up?

That brings us to a new rule, one I will borrow from first responders: if you see something, say something.   We have to put ourselves in each other’s shoes. If your clothing tag was sticking up, wouldn’t you want someone to tell you? If you had spinach in your teeth, would you want someone to tell you? If you have an involuntary head nodding, wouldn’t you want to address it as soon as possible? The answer of course is yes. Even if we don’t like it. The key of course, is how to say it. And no one is going to be able to deliver any kind of news like a BFF.

We had an amazingly fun weekend together, and can’t wait until the next gathering. Every time we get together, we grow even closer.   By this morning, we were all laughing about my new little tick, and discussing how I could use it as an excuse for completely unrelated things. Burn a batch of cookies? Blame the tremor. Forget someone’s name? Blame the tremor.

So I will give myself about 48 hours to contemplate and worry. Then I will shake it off (no pun intended) and deal with it. Because I know I have a team of BFFs right there alongside me, and no matter what oddities and challenges life throws at each of us, we will always be there to help each other be brave, be beautiful, and pull up our Big Girl Pants and move on.

Even if sometimes those pants aren’t very comfortable.




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High Tech We Really Need

jane-jetsonSmarter smart phones. Robots with artificial intelligence. Jet packs. Micro chip implants. The waves of the future, perhaps, and all very impressive. But if the technological geniuses and scientists out there really wanted to impress us real women, and help us lead easier lives, they’d put their energy and funding into things we could really use. Develop inventions that really would save us time and stress. Sure, it’s great that we now have the capability to do 3D printing. But here are a few things we really could use:

  • Automate our morning routine.   Some days I just don’t want to have to take a shower, pick out something to wear, dry my hair, put on makeup…. It seems like such a chore, a waste of time. Unfortunately, I’m not the type who can pull off the roll-out-of-bed-and-look-good style. Wouldn’t it be awesome to have kind of an automated conveyor belt to push us through our routine, no effort on our part, go in one end, come out the other beautiful and ready for the day?   This is not a new concept. Just ask George Jetson.  If the idea was there in the 60’s, why hasn’t it become reality yet?
  • Help menopausal women lose weight easily. We hit a certain age, and BAM, the weight packs on, the metabolism slows down, and it seems the only truly effect way to take off the extra pounds is with a diet consisting of kale and water, and exercising for three hours each day. None of us have the willpower or time for that. There must be an easier way.
  • Make our dinner decisions for us.   How amazing it would be to come home, push a button, and three meal options pop up for us to choose from. Select one meal, the ingredients are already in stock, thawed, and cut. Even better, we then pick between: cook it myself (for those of us who enjoy cooking) or cook it for me. Tired and pressed for time? No worries, this magic machine makes the decisions and does all the work too. Lovely.
  • Clone us. No, I don’t think I’m so fabulous that there should be two of me. However, we all struggle with multi-tasking.   And so very often we are being pulled in two directions and trying to figure out how to do more than one thing at one time. A classic example is having to manage personal family management while at work. Today I needed to make calls to change a doctor’s appointment, set a new appointment with a different doctor, get a hold of my brother’s social worker, pick up a prescription, drop off a rug sample, and arrange a time for service people to come to the house for an estimate. All during work hours when I’m already busy – you know, trying to do work. How cool would it be to once in a while call on a clone of ourselves so one of us could work, the other one could take care of our personal lives. And heck, let’s have one more clone who can be sitting at the beach with a good book.

So to you smarty pants technological whizzes out there, I’ll make you a deal. Grant us just one of these innovations, and you can keep your jet packs and your laser hair removers. Plus you will have the undying gratitude of over half the population.

Win Win.




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Finding Something

extracurricularsWe had a conversation with my son this evening about him finding an extracurricular activity. He’s a sophomore in high school this year, and currently between “things.” As in, he doesn’t have a “something” to do right now. And he needs one. Even if he doesn’t think he does.

His routine is pretty much go to school, come home and do homework, then spend the rest of the night playing video games. Not exactly thrilling and productive.

I get it, kids need down time. I’m all for that. But they also need activity to keep their brains, social skills, and bodies healthy. So tonight I gave him the assignment to consider what his next “something” is. Does he want to get back into taking music lessons? Does he want to get more serious about getting a band together with his friends? Does he want to join the gym? Do photography? Play hopscotch? I really don’t care what it is, as long as it is something.

He will figure it out, and the next “thing” will become cool. So I have to temper my harping. Besides, soon he will have his license, then an after-school job, and his schedule will get really busy. Finding time for fun stuff will be even more challenging.

I was thinking today about my high school years, and the extra things I did. My son says his school’s clubs aren’t cool. Neither are the music groups. That’s too bad. I was a band nerd in high school. I had a fairly tight-knit group of friends who were also band nerds, and we were all in at least 2 or 3 groups. Every year I also played in the pit band for the high school musical. Then there were occasional other groups like yearbook committee or prom planning. Outside of school I had 4-H, right up through my teen years. Yup, I had plenty of “somethings” to keep me busy.

And what about now? What are our extracurriculars now? What are our “somethings”? How many of you just snorted “yeah, right, who has time?”   We R.W.’s are all so busy running around working and taking care of people that sometimes we forget about the importance that hobbies and interests still have in our lives. We need them too to keep our brains, social skills and bodies healthy. And no, cleaning the house, doing the laundry, paying the bills, beating deadlines at work, taking the kids to school and going grocery shopping does NOT count. Even for those of you wacky folks who enjoy those activities – they don’t count.

Amazingly, most real women do manage to carve out time for some sort of “thing” in their life. Lucille Ball once said “If you want something to get done, give it to a busy person. The more things you do, the more you can do.” And that really is true. Somehow the women in my life hold down jobs, family management, household maintenance, and more, yet also fit in things like hiking, card-making, quilting, sewing, scrapbooking, biking, painting, kayaking, social groups, book clubs, volunteer work, travel, theater – you name it. They all have some sort of “thing”, and that thing is really, really important to them.   I think in many ways, that “something” is what helps us all preserve our sanity. I know that when I have time for a bike ride, or some scrapbooking, or writing, I feel better and more centered. Less cranky and stressed. Huh. Go figure.

There is another adage, this one provided by John Wooden, that points out “The most powerful leadership tool you have is your own personal example.” So we owe it to our children to show them how important it is to find healthy and creative “things” in our life, and make sure we do them.

So I think the next time I decide to skip doing the laundry, or cleaning the bathroom in favor of writing a chapter in my book or going for a walk, I’ll pop my head in to my son’s room, tell him what I’m doing, and add “and I’m doing this for your own good.”   I know his initial response will be “wait, whut?”

Then some day, when he’s deeply involved in something cool and fun, he’ll get it.



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