Challenging Stuff

camping gear“That’s all you need in life, a little place for your stuff. That’s all your house is- a place to keep your stuff…. Sometimes you leave your house to go on vacation. And you gotta take some of your stuff with you. Gotta take about two big suitcases full of stuff, when you go on vacation. You gotta take a smaller version of your house. It’s the second version of your stuff.” – George Carlin

George had it right. We all have stuff. Lots of it. At least I know that I do. And, like he said, sometimes we go on a trip. And we need to take some of that stuff.

I’ve had reason to travel lately, and with that comes the challenge of how to consolidate the amount of stuff I invariably want to take with me. Because I always want to take too much. I tend to think that I need a few extra changes of clothes, you know – just in case. In case there’s a change of plans, or the weather shifts, or… who knows. And then there are the pairs of shoes. Yes, I used the plural: pairs. I take sneakers and workout clothes too – again, just in case the opportunity presents itself. Of course there are the other bits and pieces, like magazines, books, my laptop….just in case I have downtime.

I’ve been trying to cut back. Really, I have. I know there are other R.W.’s out there who have similar struggles with the whole packing thing. Yet a few of you have it down to a science. I have one BFF who can literally travel to Europe for two weeks with one tiny bag. It is a mystery to me how she does it, and I know I will never master that level of efficiency. Instead I have set a more obtainable goal. I have a 3-day business trip coming up, which will require travelling by air. My goal is to fit everything I need into a carry-on bag. Sounds like a no brainer, doesn’t it? People do it all the time. Easy, right? Yeah, unless you are me.   Usually I prefer to pack my too-much stuff in to a larger bag and check it so I don’t have to schlep it around with me. But in this case, I’m going to go for it in the spirit of simplicity. Well, at least I will try.

When we travel by car, I have much more freedom to over-pack. After all, the only restriction is that everything has to fit in the vehicle. I have gotten really good at filling the trunk of my car, or the back of my husband’s van. I remember as a young girl, sitting entranced at the kitchen table watching the Avon Lady visit with my mom. She had the coolest satchel of products (a place for her stuff) with ingenious little compartments to hold everything. She could fit an amazing amount of fascinating items in that bag. When I’m packing the car, I imagine I’m the Avon Lady. Except instead of lipsticks and compacts, I’m finding space for bags and outerwear and anything else that seems important to bring along.

This weekend we are going camping. Ahhh… images of the simple life fill our heads. Just us, a tent, a campfire… and a whole lotta STUFF. I’ve got bins of cookware, utensils, flashlights, bug spray, and towels. I’ve got a large water container, three sleeping bags, and a couple of blow-up mattresses (there’s only so far I’ll go for “roughing it”.) There’s the cooler for cold food, and bags of other food. And of course the tent and our clothing. There are separate bags of activities and snacks for the car ride. The dog is coming with us, so guess what – he has stuff too. He’s got his own travel bag for food, toys, his leash, poop bags, his water bowl, and treats. I realize the irony that spending two weeks in Europe, even for me, would require less stuff than three days of camping.

George Carlin understood all of our needs to pack so much when we travel. As he said, “even though you’re far away from home, you start to get used to it, you start to feel okay, because after all, you do have some of your stuff with you.”

That’s really the whole point I suppose, of carrying our stuff around with us. It is a matter of comfort and peace of mind. Some of us apparently need more comfort than others.

 

 

 

 

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Gold Medal Reality

hurdleAh, the twists, the turns, the speed, the jumps, the split-second decisions… could be the Olympics, or could be a day in the life of the average woman.

Ok, I suppose that’s a stretch. I mean, we’ve all seen Simone fly through the air, Katey speed through the water and Ashley leap and run. Let’s face it, they aren’t normal. Kind of superhuman as a matter of fact.

We watch them, fascinated, riveted to our seats, watching them soar – and we feel very…average. Un-athletic. Possibly even inferior.   These are extreme athletes who have devoted their lives to their sport, spending 365 days a year in the gym, or the pool, or the track. Going above and beyond to get to miraculous levels of skill and fitness and break world records. We feel good if we can get in a power walk at lunch time.

After a couple weeks of being pulled into the Olympic spirit, I think we all need to take a moment to reconsider our own greatness. Very few of us will ever get even close to the abilities of those competitors. But we have our own events that we master every day with style, skill, agility and strength. With that in mind, I present my recommendations for a few sports in the Real Women Olympics:

  • The Pet Hurdle. We love our domestic critters, our furry family members – and clearly they love us. They show us their devotion by being under foot All. The. Time. Simply walking from the bedroom to the bathroom, or making dinner in the kitchen requires nimble footwork to walk over and around these living, breathing obstacles. Extra points for mastering the trickiest move of all: stepping backwards when a silent pet has decided laying immediately behind their human is a really good idea.
  • Ready In Ten. This is the impressive and speedy evolution we accomplish when our family members suddenly want to go out to dinner, or a child needs to be picked up, a last minute date calls, or an unexpected work meeting is scheduled. The silver medalists in this event change from lounging in ratty sweat pants and old Tshirt, with messy hair and no makeup, to looking not only presentable, but Hot in 10 minutes or less. Extra points for doing so with only a hairbrush and lipstick.
  • Eight Hour Heels. The competitors we watch on TV have specialized, custom designed athletic shoes for their sport. That’s nothing compared to the stamina required to navigate life and maintain posture, style, and energy in heels for eight to ten hours a day, or for special events.   Sure, we could wear sneakers. But we want to look good while we conquer our worlds. Remember Ann Richard’s famous observation: “Ginger Rogers did everything that Fred Astaire did. She just did it backwards and in high heels.”  Extra points for walking and standing a minimum of three hours in totally adorable shoes.
  • Nutrition with Five or Less. The Challenge: A hungry family. A tight time frame. Only five seemingly unrelated and useless ingredients available in the fridge. The successful R.W. Olympian in this category can make dinner in less than half an hour using such items as peanut butter, pasta, a carrot stick and bread crumbs. Extra points if the family actually likes the resulting meal enough to ask for it again in the future.
  • Grocery Slalom. This event is not for the faint of heart. Special skills and experience are needed to rapidly and efficiently wheel the cart down aisles around obstacles like the elderly, crying babies, and spilled produce, all while comparing prices and nutritional information to get the best cost and value. The true expert in this event not only knows where items are located by aisle number and shelf level, but writes her list in the order of the store. Extra points for completing a shopping list in under an hour.

And finally, our signature event: The Multi-Tasking Scurry. An R.W. is given a minimum of a dozen activities to be successfully accomplished – all while beating the clock. Such activities may include taxi driver duties, laundry fulfillment, creating a perfect work presentation, treating a sick family member, taking the pet to the vet, cleaning the bathroom, getting the oil changed, balancing the checkbook and coloring her hair. Extra points given if no injuries are reported and no one becomes hangry.

The key difference between the R.W. Olympics and those we’ve been watching take place in Rio, is that in our events, no medals are rewarded, and they aren’t over in a couple of weeks. None of us will be on the cover of Sports Illustrated. Our names will not be known around the world. We will not break any world records. But if we are lucky, we are appreciated. And our reward is collapsing into bed at night and knowing that we have the skill, the strength, the abilities and the desire to get up the next morning and do it all over again. 365 days a year.

We are Golden.

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Now You See Me

mystery womanI was enjoying a pedicure at the nail salon. There were several of us lined up in our footbath chairs, doing the salon version of elevator etiquette — a possible quick simple nod to your neighbor, but no direct eye contact. When it came time for the technician to scuff the bottom of my feet, I promised her I’d do my best not to jump because I’m ticklish. The woman sitting next to me said “that’s the hardest part for me too.” We shared a chuckle and I glanced at her. She looked familiar. Like I think I knew her from somewhere in my past, but I had no clue where or what her name was. Within a couple of minutes she was on her way, and I was left to ponder “how do I know her? Or do I not know her?”

As we get older and have more life experiences, we naturally meet more and more people. So the chances of unexpected recognition are pretty high. Since many relationships are merely passing acquaintances or fade over time, we end up with SFF (Somewhat Familiar Face) Syndrome. And it drives me nuts. One glance of someone out of place and time, and I start a stream of brain history review, which is faulty at best: Old college connection? Past work associate? From the gym? (we all look a whole lot different in business attire and make up instead of workout clothes and sweaty ponytails)… Or perhaps a parent of one of my son’s past friends? A teacher from the school? Maybe even a store associate where I shop? Yikes, it could be anyone from anywhere.

The other day I was in the check-out line at Target and it happened again. The woman in front of me at the next register looked familiar. Soon I was attempting the subtle glance-without-staring thing. Eventually it came to me, I believe she may have been the mom of one of the kids in my son’s cub scout pack. He was in cub scouts nearly ten years ago. If it was her, she has changed her hair style (highly likely) and put on a bit of weight (who of us hasn’t?). But I couldn’t be sure, nor could I remember her name. And by the time I had come to this conclusion, she was long gone.

So what to do? Walk up and say “Hi, do I know you?” Or wait and see if the other person seems to recognize me and says something?  Ignore the whole thing and pretend I know no one?  I have considered what would be the worst case scenario in addressing the other person: possible awkwardness and embarrassment, or coming across like some sort of stalker with dementia.

I realize that I do the same thing with celebrities, but without the embarrassment factor. Quite regularly my husband and I may be watching a tv show or movie, and we will have a conversation like this:

“Wait, did you see that guy?”

“Which guy?”

“Wait until the camera goes back on the guy in the suit…. THERE! Him! He was in that other movie…”

“Oh, right, he looks familiar….but what the heck have we seen him in?”

“You know, it was that old movie with um… that other guy… the one about the mob….”

“Are you sure that’s him?”

“Yes, he had longer hair then…. do you remember? What was his name?”

And so the conversation will go on until FINALLY one of us will recall the other role the actor played, or even better, the actor’s name. Finally coming up with the answer feels like mastering some kind of long-involved treasure hunt, and we will sit back, spent but vindicated and proud of our intelligence.

I have one BFF who is really handy to have around when this happens, because she has an uncanny knack for remembering not just various actor’s roles, but their names, their marital status, and their kid’s names.   But for me, it is a guessing game every time.

Just the other day, I saw the preview for a movie that I’d like to catch. Again, there was a familiar face that I couldn’t quite place at first. Then I figured it out, and with great excitement mentioned it to my husband:

“I saw a preview for a movie that looks good… it has Hugh Grant and Glenn Close in it… no, wait, not Glenn Close…. Oh dang it, um…. Meryl Streep!”

“Is it a chick flick?”

“I can’t remember the name of it… maybe a chick flick, but I think you’d like it. Anyway, it took me a minute to figure out who the other actor is, but it’s the guy from Big Bang Theory..”

“Really? Which guy?”

“Um, oh, you know…. Not Raj…or Sheldon…..um… It’s the guy who plays Wojohowitz – no, wait, that was the name of the guy in Barney Miller.”

“Do you mean Wolowitz?”

“YES! That’s him!”

I sat back slightly exhausted “anyway… I want to see that movie….”

I have come to accept the fact that I will always suffer from SFF Syndrome, and I may as well make a game of it. Luckily, there are key people in our lives who will always be clearly and indelibly recorded in our memory banks. This morning I saw a woman who was not only our past Realtor but one of our first friends when we moved to our town nearly twenty years ago. I hustled right up to her to greet her, as I hadn’t seen her in many years. She is now 93 years old and sharp as a tack. She was happy to see me, and asked about my family – all by name. As I drove home, I thought “I want to be like her when I grow up.”

I’ll bet she never forgets a face.

 

 

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Seeking Support

bra_1

“Men will never understand how joyful it makes us feel to unsnap that bra, whip it through our shirt sleeve and fling it across the room. “ — Alex Elle

It is no secret that most of us women enjoy shopping. Sure, there are a few of us out there who’d rather have a tooth pulled, or would rather stay home in our jammies and order anything we need online rather than venture out to stores. But for the rest of us, we enjoy browsing, searching, and bringing home great deals, new styles, or those impulse “must have’ purchases.

Yet even for the strongest shop-till-we-drop avid hunters, there are a few items that fall low on our priority list, those items that are no fun — and instead of enjoying the thrill of the hunt, they are the ugh-I-don’t-wanna must-do’s. Those items include swimsuits, cars, plain white shirts, and bra’s.

At one point in our youth, shopping for undergarments held more allure. I remember buying pretty, lacey, just for fun lingerie in great colors and styles, with no consideration to support or comfort. That just didn’t matter. For those of you out there in this mode, please, enjoy it. Get those great sexy styles and wear them with youthful pride. Because some day, you will only be focused on what is comfortable, whatever puts the girls back where they should be, hides back fat, and comes in beige and black.

Since having to update and replace our undergarments from time to time is about as much fun as going to the dentist, most of us put little to no effort into the process. Statistics say that 80% of women don’t wear the right bra size. Mostly because we are in a hurry and just grab something we think will work, and end up with straps that fall down, bands that constrict, wires that poke, and either extra material that gaps, or our own natural extra stuffing that overflows the containment system.

This weekend a couple of my girlfriends and I discussed the need to get new bra’s. One of my BFF’s decided to do the right thing. She took the time to travel to a true lingerie shop to be fitted. She was measured by experts and given suggestions and options. Yes, there are experts in this field. In order to do the right thing, one must cast aside any pretenses of being shy. After all, your girls are under close scrutiny. But really, for most of us more mature women, after childbirth, mammograms, and all too frequently, breast cancer treatments, being shy about our breasts is a thing of the past.   My BFF described her experience with the sales woman who clearly has been fitting women for appropriate lingerie for at least 40 years. She spoke as if she smokes a pack a day, and she had no qualms in handling my friend’s girls to get them into the correct support system. In the end, my BFF invested in a couple of perfectly fitting, high quality bra’s that bring her ta-ta’s back up to where they used to be naturally in a truly comfortable undergarment. Now, keep in mind that doing the right thing requires an investment of both time and money. But with the appropriate care, her new undergarments will be comfortably supportive for years to come.

My other BFF and I were impressed. We know she did the right thing. You would think that we would take the initiative to follow her lead. To travel to see the aging yet expert lingerie professional, and be slightly manhandled into the right bra. But no. Instead, this morning we had a spare hour in our day, and we traveled together to the local department store, coupons in hand, and within 20 minutes we had each tried on and selected two each – one beige, one black. We went with the sizes that we have each worn for recent past history. No measuring, no guessing. No assistance from a pro. Yet we both felt proud and excited that we had finally taken the time to get updates. Our new purchases felt pretty good, supportive, and comfortable enough.   Yes, we are aware that they will wear out just like the last ones did, they may or may not be the exact right fit, and their support will start to fade until at some point we will be right back in the same situation, having to shop for undergarments when we’d rather shop for shoes and handbags. And our other girlfriend will still be there in her right thing products, looking perky and supported.

For now, though, we can cross this must-purchase item off our lists. And since we are in the latter part of the summer, we can breathe another sigh of relief that we don’t have to look for swimsuits — we can continue to get by with our well-worn twelve year old one-pieces. Maybe next summer we’ll tackle that challenge. I hear there are people who can help with that kind of purchase too — maybe when the time comes I’ll seek professional advice.

Who am I kidding… I know darn well I’ll be trying on suits from the clearance rack in a dimly lit fitting room, gauging my pudge in a private mirror. Some habits die hard.

 

 

 

Posted in age, assisting, beauty, clothing, friends, real women, shopping, Style, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , | 1 Comment

Uncharted

uncharteredLast week, as I drove through a neighboring town, I noticed a man walking his dog out of a ballpark area. I remembered that I had heard from someone that there were walking trails somewhere behind that ballpark, yet I had never taken the time to investigate. So the next day, I put my pup in the car, and headed over. I wasn’t sure what to expect, or really even where to go. I parked near a couple of other cars, and quickly found what looked to be a trail entrance. Off we went on our mini adventure. What we discovered was wonderful. I let my woofie off his leash, and we had a great time exploring a variety of walking trails, some in meadows, others wooded. There’s even a trail that winds all the way around a pretty pond. Since it was getting hot out, we decided to save the pond trail for another day. I stopped and had a short conversation with a woman who brings her dog there “all the time.” As we headed out, I felt kind of foolish. This little gem has been within 15 minutes of our home for nearly 15 years, yet I had never taken the time to stop and find out what was there.

It made me consider, how often do any of us take the time to explore uncharted territory? When do we dare take even a short break from our normal routines? I know a gentleman who includes one line item on his daily To Do List that will make him uncomfortable. So every day, he makes himself to do one thing that may be new, or different, or may just be an activity that pushes him beyond his comfort zone. No one forces him to do this; he just knows that he will be better for having done it.

I am on the verge of a fairly daunting dose of unfamiliar territory. After twelve years, I have decided to leave my current place of employment and have accepted a new job in a new (to me) industry. In the grand scheme of life, this is not an astounding feat of accomplishment. I am not climbing Mount Everest, I am not packing up and moving half way around the world, I am not giving everything up to be a Missionary in a Third World Country. But I am moving my cheese. And, in doing so, I am moving the cheese of those I have worked with. I am excited, nervous, and anxious to start my new chapter and discover new opportunities. Yet the departure from my comfort zone of where I’ve been for a dozen years is proving to be harder than I imagined. The realization that I will no longer see my current co-workers and friends every day and that I will no longer have that well-known comforting daily routine is harder, and more emotionally draining, than I thought it would be. But without venturing down new trails, without pushing ourselves to try new things and accept new challenges, we don’t grow and become stronger. At any age.

This week my son has been taking his Driver Education classroom training.   Yesterday I dropped him off at Starbucks on my way to work, where each morning this week he goes in to get some sweet flavor of iced coffee, relaxes for about half an hour, then walks down the street to his classroom. To learn how to drive. As I watched him get out of the car and stroll confidently away, I had two contradictory images flash into my head. One was the realization that very soon, he will be striding off to college, or off to a job, all grown up and on his own. The other image was a flashback to when he was just a little boy, and I wouldn’t let him out of my sight for a second when we were shopping in a store. And here I was, dropping him off to spend the whole day away from me, doing mature grown up things. Did this make me uncomfortable? You bet. In that instant I felt pride, fear, sadness, and a yearning for the old days when that little boy would run up to hug me, climb in my lap to read a story, hold my hand, and fall asleep on me.   In life, however, we don’t move backwards. We move forward. As I watch him grow and head into his own uncharted territories, I realize in many ways he’s forcing me to do the same. I have to let him become a man, to create his life, to choose his new trails to explore. And I need to learn how to let go enough for that to happen.

Braving those first steps down an unknown trail is simple, really. All it takes is courage, faith, several deep breaths, and a willingness to be a little uncomfortable. Then we can all check that item off our daily to do list. And be better for having done it.

 

 

 

 

 

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The Seasonal Abyss

child_addicted_to_video_gamesAhh….summer… school’s out. A time for warm breezes, playtime and bbq’s. Everything seems sunnier and we dream of days off with family and friends. Life is easier. And moms everywhere are stressed and worried. Wait, whut?

For those of us R.W.’s who are moms, or are somehow responsible for kids in our lives, the onset of summer means our planning and organizational skills have to once again kick in to overdrive. Our children are no longer in school. That means filling approximately 10 weeks of… something.   When our kids are very young, the change in schedule mostly revolves around who is taking care of them, and how to afford an increase in childcare cost. As they get a bit older, there is the rush to sign them up for camps, workshops, sports events and special activities. This planning is not unlike being an air traffic controller, tracking multiple dates, transportation needs, emergency back-up plans, packing lunches or sunscreen for each day, calming nervous bellies, wiping away possible tears, and determining how many activities our budgets will allow. Keeping our young ones busy, healthy and safe during the summer is a second or third job. But we manage. We find a way to keep them happy and active.

Then something happens. Those kids get older. And they enter the Lost Age zone. As tweens and early teens, they grow too old for camps and children’s field trips. Those who are in sports may still have some opportunities, but what if a child either doesn’t enjoy, or for some reason can’t play, sports?   They are not old enough to work or drive. They are, however, now old enough to be home alone with limited to no supervision. They no longer need babysitters. If both parents work outside the house, and the child is not within an easy walk or bike ride of any form of safe activity, they are, in affect, trapped at home.

So they enter the summertime abyss. And while our sons or daughters are home, we moms are at work or school or volunteering, or whatever takes us away from the house, worrying about them. Because guess what is calling to them from deep in the abyss?   Screens. Lots of screens. Video game systems, tvs, computers, mobile devices and smart phones. And with no supervision, we know darn well they are spending their days moving from one screen to the next. We worry that when we get home, we will be greeted by a zombie where our child used to be. This zombie has the glazed-eye look, a sullen or snippy demeanor, and moves only at a snail’s pace. Without planned activities, our child has been sucked into the Lost Age Vortex and replaced by a shell of a tween.

I have recently been commiserating with other R.W. moms in my life about this issue, and comparing notes on how creative we try to be in battling the dark chasm of inactivity. One of my friends has two boys, both tweens. Both into sports. One of her sons is very busy and active with athletic camps and sports conditioning sessions. The other son has an injured foot. This summer he can’t participate in the usual activities. Welcome to life on the sofa. Facing screens. She is trying hard to come up with things for him to do. Today she shared with me that he now finds it optional to get dressed and brush his teeth every day. Yup, he’s started the slippery slope to the sloth side.

Another R.W. mom friend has a son who is just starting to grow out of the camp years. And this summer he is “hating” camp. He wants to be home. With his screens. Getting his mind melded by high resolution graphics and sophisticated digital plots. Which leads to being hopelessly unmotivated or driven to participate in any form of activity.  We moms try to leave To Do chore lists or hobby ideas. But the pull of the abyss is too strong.

I know, because my son every day battles the lure of the summer dark side. He has not yet found a part-time job that is within walking or biking distance of home. He will soon be starting Driver Ed , so I know next year, he will be able to transport himself to a job or volunteer work or other activities. But for this year, he’s a homebody. More accurately depicted, he is a cave dweller because he rarely leaves his room. Every day I leave chore lists, and ideas for things to do, like cleaning out his closet, emptying the dishwasher, getting some exercise, doing his laundry. We have home projects we are even willing to pay him to accomplish, like staining the back deck and mowing the lawn.   Usually, one or two of the easiest items on the list are finished. The rest, not so much. Because they require much more effort than sitting in a chair with a controller in hand facing a screen.

I realize that this is likely his last summer of lots of free time. I try to rationalize the situation — he will be working for the rest of his life, so why not have one more summer to be off, to be a kid, to be a little lazy?   Why not cut our tweens and early teens some slack?   Because, as moms, we struggle with how much slack to give before it becomes detrimental.   Truth be told, there’s some guilt there as well.   When many of us were kids, we had a parent who was home, at least part of the time, during the day. We had supervision, we had someone to take us places if it was too far to bike, like to swim lessons or craft classes or to outings with friends. We felt safe playing outside all day and all evening. We had vacations with the family. Today, much of that has changed. Parents are home less, unsupervised outside activities are less safe, and in a recent article in Women’s Health magazine, it was stated that more than 40% of Americans didn’t take a single day off last year.

I’m sure at some point in the future, we will look back at the Abyss years and realize it was just a blip in time, and our kids survived and went on to become healthy, productive members of society, with good memories of the summers of their youth. When those days come then maybe, just maybe, we will stop worrying and stressing about the season and learn to relax and enjoy it. And we will finally feel like it is summertime, and the livin’ is easy.

 

 

 

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Pause and Observe

humingbirdsSome of us scurry our way through life, busy every moment, seemingly in high gear all the time. Others are plodders, going through life at their own pace, taking the time for thoughtful consideration in everything they do, and everything around them.

Two points to those of you who guess which category I land in. Hint: I’m riding in a car on a road trip and rather than gaze out the window, I have read two magazines, returned phone calls and am now having quality time with my laptop.

There are some misconceptions about those of us who tend to move quickly through our days. Plodders sadly shake their heads at us, concerned that we are missing too much, that we aren’t stopping to smell the roses. On the contrary… pausing long enough to take notice of certain things throughout our days is like a quick moment of fascination. While we are buzzing around, we are absorbing, observing, wondering and appreciating.

Some things we see are simple and beautiful. Others give us pause long enough to make us go “huh” and cause us to try to reason them out.

Here’s a smattering of the random things I have taken notice of this week:

  • I can no longer park my car straight. I don’t know why. I’ve had the same car for four years. I used to find it easy to dock her evenly. Yet lately, even with basic pull-in parking spaces, I notoriously have to back up and straighten out, or I think I’m fine but step out of the car to see I’m firmly on, or over, a line. Funny thing, my husband seems to have the same issue lately. Maybe it is the car. She’s a rebel, wanting to live outside the lines.
  • Mirrors lie, cameras are harsh. How is it that we can get dressed, look at ourselves in the mirror, and say “yes, this works, lookin’ good, on with my day.” Then someone snaps a photo, plops it on Facebook and you see yourself and think “good Lord, what was I thinking? This top makes me look as big as a house!” Is the mirror trying to fool us and lull us into a confident yet false sense of security? Or does Facebook add ten pounds? Darn that Mark Zuckerberg.
  • Happiness spreads. There is a gentleman who acts as a greeter at my local Costco. No matter what day or time I go, this man is there, casually checking for membership cards, and saying hello. He is in his senior years, and I’ve noticed that he now greets from a wheel chair. A couple of days ago I ran in there to get some items for a work event, and sure enough, there he is. And he was singing “Oh What a Beautiful Morning.” With a surprisingly strong and pleasant voice. Naturally, he made me smile. Even if he’d had a horrendous voice, I would have smiled. It doesn’t matter what you do for a job, or how you spend your day. Spread happy. It works.
  • Pets are magical. Sure, we all know our dogs and cats give us unconditional love, and long after the others in the family have stopped running to greet us at the door when we come home, our pets are there for us. Wagging tail, or rubbing and purring, or smiling and panting. But pets are also the great equalizer. No matter who you are talking to, what kind of mood or attitude someone may have, or if you are trying to get to know someone knew, the topic of a pet smooths everything out and perks up a conversation. Within minutes you are swapping stories and sharing photos. Magical.
  • We are not so different from our feathered friends. Last weekend my son had a large group of friends over for a pool party. As my husband and I relaxed and watched their antics, at one point they all, en mass, exited the pool, all at the same time. It was apparently time to go play Frisbee football. The traveled as a group. I looked at my husband and said “they are like a flock of birds.”   And now, during my little family road trip today, we stopped at a Service area to stretch. My son and I treated ourselves to Coolatas. You know, those drinks that contain about a week’s worth of sugar? As I got back in the car and took a sip, I said to my husband, “want to try some of my hummingbird nectar?”

And there I found my metaphor. We hurrying scurrying types are like hummingbirds. We zip, we dodge, we do, we seem busy-busy-busy. But we really are pausing along the way to sip our nectar, to appreciate the beauty of a flower, to be thankful for the little things in life, and to ponder the things we don’t understand. You just have to be quick to notice us doing it.

 

 

 

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