Sunday, September 16, 2018

Haha! Made Ya Look!

Have you ever had the misfortune of talking to an acquaintance or even a complete stranger who had something odd or distracting on their face? You didn't want to stare, but you just couldn't help it. You felt compelled to at least sneak a peek! Something just seemed to jump out and scream "LOOK AT ME!! LOOOK!"

Let me share an example that made a lasting impact on me:
Several years ago, I was chatting with an employee at Walmart. It was a pleasant exchange, except that I noticed that she had a bat in the cave. That's code for something yucky in her nose. It was right at the edge of her nostril. Every time she breathed, the air moved it back and forth, in and out.

I was trying to focus on what the nice young woman was saying, but I was worrying about not staring at it!

So I was listening but simultaneously having a debate in my head- should I tell her or not? I'd certainly want to know if I had that little problem! It's the right thing to do! But would our mutual humiliation be worth it? Perhaps I could save her pride as she continued interacting with people through the day.

My face started feeling warm as I tried to gather the courage to tell her. I'm ashamed to say that I chickened out. But I've been paid back for my sin.

Ever since that fateful day, I often find myself obsessively checking my nose in the mirror before spending time in public or conversing with people. Some folks might think I'm being vain, but that's not true. I just fear the same fate!

To be honest, I have been embarrassed by the same problem since then. I can think of two incidents of seeing a dreaded it in my nose after talking with someone! Nostril karma? Somehow I survived to confess it!

I unexpectedly found myself in another trying-not-to-look situation recently. My dilemma was for a completely different reason this time.

I live close to a Sonic Drive-In. One afternoon I made my typical Happy Hour run (half-priced drinks) to indulge myself with my favorite beverage.

A manager brought my order to me. I recognized him. He had worked there for a long time.
He's a very personable, good-looking young man in his late twenties. His smile and blue eyes are certainly hard to ignore!

That particular day, his appearance grabbed my attention once again, but it was not his smile nor his eyes. It was his throat.

The handsome and charming Sonic manager had acquired some new ink. It was right below his adam's apple.

My brain- which wanted to behave as if all was normal and didn't want to offend, was trying to gain control over my gut reaction- which wanted to stare but look away and yell "WHYYYY?!"

The new throat tattoo was a bright red blood splatter design about three inches in diameter, with an evil looking skull right in the center of it.

Now I think I'm quite open-minded about current trends. I personally don't have any skin art, but both of my adult kids do. I really don't have a problem with ink in general, but I was not a fan of that design!

I wasn't sure how to react. Does that prove my 55 year old fuddy-duddiness?
I tried not to gawk. I was my normal pleasant, chatty self and I didn't mention the morbid tat. I wonder if he could sense my struggle?

However...when a person pays big bucks to have a unique, brightly-colored message displayed in a very prominent spot, don't they want it to be noticed? I think now that I should have stared at it and mentioned it!

Oh, I wouldn't have criticized him. I still liked the kid. But I would have acknowledged his new look.

I've previously admitted that I'm an overthinker. These two anecdotes prove it! And I'll just bet you've endured similar circumstances.

After much deep contemplation about all this, I've decided that there are three important life truths that we must consider:
*To look or not to look, that is the question!
*To embrace the awkwardness and speak up, that is the challenge!
*To laugh about the situation later, that is the goal!

Weird social moments are just going to happen to all of us. If we just face them head on and refuse to look away, they might not be so intimidating.
And you might even get a funny story to tell your friends later.

Saturday, August 11, 2018

UFO Sighting: It's Just Your Childish Imagination

Copyright: <a href=''>
dreamcreation01 / 123RF Stock Photo</a>
That hot day in July had started like most others. Who knew that the impending series of events would be controversially famous for many decades to come? Not only in the small town where it occurred, but worldwide!

The auburn-haired eight year old was sitting up in a massive tree with a few of her neighborhood pals.

They had gathered in their friend Nancy's backyard to play for awhile. Oh they loved climbing that old Maple.

Some of their mothers were in the house, chatting and drinking coffee at the kitchen table.

What happened next is still a mystery...

The date was July 6, 1947. The town was Roswell, New Mexico. My mother was that auburn-haired eight-year-old.

She and her young friends saw something very strange pass through the sky above them as they played on those tree branches. It frightened them! They were old enough to recognize that it was not an airplane.

According to Mom's retelling of the story, she and the other kids jumped out of that tree immediately! They ran into the house to tell the adults what they'd just seen.

They were not taken seriously. Mom remembered something being said about "childish imaginations".

The parents were forced to believe their children's crazy story a couple days later. The radio and local newspaper were buzzing with the extraordinary story of a bizarre flying object that had crashed in the outskirts of Roswell!

That is the extent of what I know about the UFO arrival that made my hometown famous. And it made my spaceship-witness mom even more cool in my eyes.

I was born in Roswell in the early sixties and moved away in 1979. The  spacecraft/alien/government cover-up story wasn't mentioned much when I lived there.

When I went back "home" to visit some old friends in 2000, it was so different! There were "incident" reminders everywhere it seemed (check out the items listed in green!).

This is not surprising, considering that the movie "Roswell" had been released in 1994, and a resurgence of documentaries followed. There was even a tv series, which premiered in 1999.

The city and many local businesses have been quite smart to capitalize on its unique history. Besides, it's just some weird fun!

Many, many people from around the globe apparently agree! According to, 38,000 people, representing 43 states and 16 different countries, descended on the smallish town for the 2017 annual UFO Festival. That included many media folks too.

I'm not sure what I think about extraterrestrial spacecraft and large headed, almond-eyed creatures. Intellectually I lean toward skepticism, but it's a fascinating topic to my childish imagination!

And my mother? I don't remember that she ever specified exactly what she believed about all the Roswell UFO drama. I just know she witnessed the odd aircraft herself on that fateful day 71 years ago.

I've shared my mom's strange experience only a few times with family and friends through the years. It's an unusual inherited gift: this one-of-a-kind link to my hometown.

So thank you, Mom. Although you were only a little girl on July 6, 1947, and I'm sure you did have a vivid childish imagination- I've always believed your story! And I'm looking forward to passing it on to my grandchildren someday.

Copyright: <a href=''
>mixmotive / 123RF Stock Photo</a>

Friday, June 22, 2018

Middle-aged Athlete

"But you don't seem like the type of person who would be a bowler."
Hmm. I'm fairly sure my new friend meant well. But I never found out his reasons for saying that to me. His comment made me think.

What type of people bowl? People like you? Like me?

I've been bowling in leagues for about twelve years, off and on.
I'll tell you what kind of people bowl. 
Wild hair and laughter,
 right after my first 200 game. 

Inexperienced, bad bowlers do. Some of them don't even know what weight their ball should be. What about technique? Technique-schmechnique! They just try to keep the ball out of the gutter and hit some pins occasionally.

That describes my bowling skill level in 2006, when a friend invited me to join her team. I initially declined, saying "I'm no good! I'll bring you all down!" But my friend persisted and insisted. She assured me that she had a very low average too, but none of the others cared.
They were all doing it just for fun.

So I reluctantly agreed to join their all-women team. I'll admit, though, it was exciting to try something new! I'd let myself get too comfortable in my ruts.

I was not disappointed. My girls made me feel so welcome and I thoroughly enjoyed myself! I learned some basic scoring and lane etiquette, and yes, I even improved my technique. That was the beginning of my career as a middle-aged athlete.

So- what other types of people bowl?

There are the very serious folks who bring wheeled bags containing several specialized balls. They consistently roll games which are well above 200. They don't talk much while competing and they rarely crack a smile.

I appreciate the huggers. These are the league peeps who seem to know everyone. When they aren't bowling, they make the rounds to all the teams and give pats on the back, smiles and hugs to all their buddies. It's a camaraderie thing!

Beer drinkers? What? On bowing night? Well, of course!
There are plenty of people who don't indulge at all. And the majority of those who drink do it very responsibly. However...

I remember the guy who became a disco king after a few cold ones. He'd start the night standing at his team's table, tapping his foot and swaying to the music. By the third game, he'd be in a conspicuous spot, doing a pelvic thrust dance. NOOO! What's been seen cannot be unseen!!

People of all ages bowl. One of the best bowlers I've ever seen was thirteen years old. I'd watch in awe as he rolled strike after strike. He rarely missed and he made it look so easy!

Just a few weeks ago, I met a friendly woman on our opposing team. I learned that she is 98. Yes- two years under 100. (I thought I heard her wrong the first time.) Inspiring!

There are wealthy bowlers and there are some who can't afford their own ball or shoes. There are friendly ones and snobby ones, business owners and unemployed. And everyone in between.

I sure appreciate this sport and the variety of interesting, terrific people I've met through the years. I've made a couple of very close friends and many fun memories!

And for the record...
Pre-school aged tots are the most adorable bowlers of all, with their short legs and tiny bowling shoes. It's so cute to see them lugging the ball to the lane, dropping it with a loud clunk, then puuushing it with all their might.
A pin fell! YAY!!

So you see, there is not a "type" of person who bowls. Well, on second-thought, maybe there is. I think it's for the "people-person" types, like me.

Saturday, April 21, 2018

Mom's Legacy: A Lesson in Humility

Hi Mom,
I can't believe it's been twenty years since you died. April 18, 1998. I've been thinking about you. Your life. My life. I have a different perspective about many things now. I've realized some significant truths that I wish I could tell you face to face. But in my heart, I know that you already know...

But first I just want to share some other stuff with you. If you were still here, I'd come over to your house. You could make coffee for us like you used to. What is it about coffee fixed up by Mom? It just tastes better.

It feels like the time has just flown by! But I do remember when the days seemed to drag on, especially in the first three years after you passed.

Those were the days I felt absolutely numb. Or panicky, when I started accepting that I'd never see you here on this earth again. Sometimes grief felt like a 500 pound anchor on my back. I wasn't sure I'd get through those days. But somehow I did.

But for the most part, time has slipped away too fast. You, of all people, know that time doesn't stop for us when we are doing this thing called life.

Life- with its moments of inexpressible joy and crushing devastation. Loved ones suffering. New babies joining the family! Times of financial comfort and mountainous debt. Caring commitments of the heart; the pain of betrayal. Family funerals and birthday parties. The stress, drudgery and sweet rewards of hard work.

Our inner pendulums swing as the clocks and calendars measure the minutes, hours, days and years. We experience periods of mighty faith and cynical questioning. We feel strong and gratefully move forward when life's puzzle pieces come together for us. But what about the times when all seems to fall apart? We feel that we're drowning in the pits of depression and anxiety stops us in our tracks.

Now, twenty years later, I get that cliche' that I've heard so many times. The one that says "it's the little things" that make life precious. It's true!

I'm almost the same age you were when you suddenly left. That fact messes with my head! I can't explain why, exactly. I just feel that now, at age 55, I'm beginning a new, exciting phase of my life! I still say that yours shouldn't have ended at age 58. But those decisions aren't up to me.

I'm so grateful that we had a close relationship! It wasn't perfect of course. We had some conflict. I felt that you let me down a few time times. Likewise, I wasn't always what you needed me to be. But we didn't let those things drive a permanent wedge between us.

Age thirty five seems so young! I've learned so much in these twenty years. Wow, that sure seems like an understatement.

You faced a lot of hardship, Mom.
I remember how you struggled in life, especially in the latter years.

There were times I secretly judged you too harshly about your "weaknesses" and "mistakes", as I perceived them. I regret that now and I'm so sorry.

I just didn't get it. But now I've tread some life paths similar to yours. The view is quite different from this time and place in my journey.

Now I look at the continuum of your life. Even from my limited knowledge, sometimes fuzzy memories and incomplete understanding, I now believe you were one of the strongest women I've known. Only human, yes you were. A beautiful, strong, courageous woman of faith: definitely!

Your example, forgiveness, friendship and love have always been with me. How blessed I've been!

That bond is still intact. It's one that even death can't sever! Your spirit is still with me today. Thank you.

Now let's stop our boo-hooin' and have another cuppa coffee.

Sunday, March 18, 2018

I Hope You Can Limbo

I was in the middle of a debate. I had some convincing arguments prepared and a thorough list of pros and cons. It was concerning an important issue. Well, it was important to me anyway.

The debate was going on in my head. It was me versus me.
Doubting. Re-evaluating. Worrying.

I thought that getting out to run errands would give me a needed break from the stressful swirl of thoughts going round and round and round.

My favorite radio station was turned up. The sun was shining. YES! I felt my spirits lifting a little.

But my better mood was short-lived. I soon realized that I was missing even the best songs because my emotional brain wouldn't turn off. The same old debate continued. Ugh!

The next thing on my to-do list was to drop off some clothes at a nearby donation center.

I rang the bell so the attendant would open the big garage door. I heard the familiar noise and the door started to rise. Then it abruptly stopped, about three feet up! I just stood there, holding my cardboard box, not sure what to do.

The manager of the center walked out from a side door. As he approached, he looked me in the eyes. With a straight face and serious voice he said "I hope you can limbo, Ma'am."

Then he took my box out of my arms and we both started laughing. I replied, "Well, I think I can still limbo, but I can't go that low. I'm no spring chicken!"

"Oh sure you can! No problem! But we will still fix that door."

That very brief exchange was like a bit of magic for me. Somehow, I was able to put my mini-crisis away for awhile after that. I remember thinking Yep, that was cute. Laughing feels better! I've spent enough time overthinking. It's time to lighten up and let it go for today. 

I've recalled that small moment several times since it happened a couple of months ago. Did you know that a good life principle can be taken from a silly comment about the Limbo? I'm sure that sounds ridiculous, but...

One must be fairly flexible to squeeze under that pole, right? (How low can ya go?) When the going gets tough, the tough get flexible!

Being rigid increases the risk of getting stuck in obsessive, negative thinking. Some stretching might be required to a make a shift in attitude. But it's important!

There is a time for us to face our difficulties and deal with them, no matter how challenging they are. Adulting ain't for wimps!

But we all need to take a break sometimes to laugh, play and enjoy life.
It's called balance, Baby!
(I'm preaching to myself most of all.)

Flexibility and balance.
Both are necessary for good physical and mental health.

Then there are those unexpected gifts:
the people who cross our path right when we need them. I'm so grateful for those folks who are willing to share a smile and remind us that we can still limbo.

Limbo photo: Copyright: <a href=''>william87 / 123RF Stock Photo</a>

Thursday, February 22, 2018

Valentine Traditions and a Tender Tale

Oh Kyle! I still remember you. My mind can see what you looked like when we were both ten. You were soooo cute! Secretly, I was smitten.

I think you glanced at me a couple of times. You might have even said hi. Did you like me the way I liked you? The Valentine you gave me is etched in my memory. So is my tearful walk home after school that day...

The bittersweet thoughts about my first big childhood crush came rushing in today. I've recently had other random thoughts about Valentine's day, since the 14th was just last week.

While the main focus of February 14th is romantic love, we (as a culture) have personalized it to represent any kind of affection we want it to! Fancy cards, chocolate and other gifts are sweet for anyone to give and receive, right? Whether they are lovers, family members or friends.

When I was in elementary school, I so enjoyed all the traditions of the season!

A few days before the big V, our teacher would let us spend a couple of hours decorating white paper lunch sacks for our annual card exchange. We were so creative with construction paper, glitter and markers! We labeled the bags with our names in big letters. It was fantastical fun for second, third and fourth graders!

Mom or Dad would take us to the discount store and let us choose our favorite kiddie cards. Looney tunes? Or maybe Disney characters. We'd get a package of twenty-five, just to be sure we had plenty.

We'd spend most of that evening at home, carefully writing a classmate's name on each tiny card.
Then we'd take our labors of love with us to school the next day, and drop them in our friends' fancy sacks.

School is school, so we had to restlessly endure a few lessons before lunch on Valentine's day. But afternoon was party time!

There's nothing quite like twenty cupcake-devouring munchkins, full of sugar and high expectations! We anxiously opened every single one of our miniature envelopes. Various reactions followed.

When I was in fourth grade, I'd chosen a special card for my would-be beau. I'd agonized over what to write on it. Just my name? Should I add "I like you."?

Honestly I can't remember what I wrote, but I recall being very nervous about how he'd react.

During the class party, I would frequently sneak peeks at tall, lanky, shaggy-haired Kyle. I couldn't tell if he'd seen my brave declaration of like or not. He didn't behave any differently than usual.

When I opened my card from him, my heart was racing! It had a boy baseball player on the front, with the message "I'm crazy about YOU, Valentine!" He'd printed his name on the back.

I'm not sure what I expected, but I felt a rush of emotions when I looked at the small token of friendship. Maybe because I'd been attracted to him for many months. Also, I'd been obsessing about the "what ifs?" of that day for twenty four hours.

Thankfully, it was time to go home immediately after the festivities. My face was hot and I had a huge lump in my throat as we were all cleaning up our classroom.

The bell finally rang. I avoided my friends and escaped from the school as fast as I could! As soon as I crossed the street, the dam inside of me broke. I sobbed during my entire walk home. I'd never been overcome like that before. It was very confusing!

Dear Handsome Kyle, I know now that I was too young to be so caught up in my affectionate thoughts of you! At ten, I was far too immature to manage feelings of being rejected by the boy I like-liked! Sure, I'd liked other boys before, but you were something extra special.

My pre-adolescent emotions that year caused me to have my first stressful, miserable Valentine's day.

A million people could have told me to chill, because there would be plenty of time for boyfriends when I was older. But their wise words wouldn't have made a difference. Human hearts are not as easily managed as pink paper ones. Not when one is ten, nor when one is fifty-five.

I know you probably don't even remember me, Adult Kyle. But I thank you for the sentimental  memories. It was all good experience and just a natural part of growing up.
I hope your Valentine's day was wonderful this year.

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Nude Exercising and other Healthy Activities

Copyright: <a href=''>panicattack /
 123RF Stock Photo</a>
Recent news flesh, oops, I mean flash: a gym in New York City is now offering a nude exercise class! Check this out!

We all know that exercise is very important to keep our bodies healthy.  But how do we keep our minds and emotions fit- especially with so much stress and bad news in our lives every day?

Well, haven't you heard that laughter is the best medicine? I truly believe it's helpful in every way, even physically! I've laughed so hard at times that my belly was aching. I'm sure that type of workout was as effective as doing crunches.

I remember one such occasion that happened many years ago. I was doubled-over and could barely catch my breath! I was cackling and snorting while watching a hidden camera scheme on Oprah.

The prank involved an actress who was posing as a receptionist at a fitness club.
She was sitting at a desk in a little room. Her job was to assist members in signing up for an upcoming class (raquetball, I think).

When each person walked in, she said something like this "Hi. Are you here to sign up for the raquetball class? "Yes." Well, I have a huge favor to ask of you! I just got a call about a family emergency and I need to leave. Can you please just have interested members fill out this form? It would help me so much! Someone will be here to replace me in about 10 minutes."

Most of  them said "Okay, sure!" As the receptionist was rushing out, she added "Also, do not let anyone open that door that right behind you! A nude aerobics class is going on in that gym, and we guarantee our members complete privacy!" The helper's wide-eyed reactions were just the beginning of the funny stuff.

So, each person was in this tiny cubicle with nothing to do but wait. No one came in and time just seemed to drag. Hmm, boredom and intense curiosity is not always a good combination.

There was a little window above the gym door, positioned very high, near the ceiling. The scenario was similar with each hidden camera victim. Most of them looked out of the cubicle first, to make sure no one was coming. Then they grabbed the chair and took it over to the gym door, climbed up on it and tried desperately to see through the window! But the chair just wasn't quite tall enough, not even on tippy toes! Ugh!! A few of them heard something while they were perched up there. Oh you never saw anyone leap down so fast!

Some of the sneaky peekers even got on their hands and knees to look under the door. When they stood up, oh, what bitter disappoint on their faces! They still couldn't see the exposed exercisers! 

I'm still unsure, all these years later, why those scenes were sooo hilarious to me! But I think it's because I've always thought that relatable humor is the funniest. Those common traits of human nature that makes us laugh, not only at others, but with them too.

So here I am. It's still early in January and I have a whole new year ahead of me.

I've recently written about some of my struggles and lessons learned in 2017. I wanted to start my new blogging year off on a lighter note.

Hearing about the NYC nudie exercise class was just the inspiration I needed! It sparked such funny memories and encouraged me to lighten up (both physically and mentally).

The Oprah show fiasco also reminded me to avoid judging others. We can't always predict what we might do in a new situation! I hope I'll always do the right thing, even if I think no one's watching.
It's true that I am a very curious person, but fortunately, I don't have time these days to get bored...