Sunday, May 31, 2009

In Control

This weekend was one of those that I used to distract myself. I had the scrapbooking ladies over on Saturday, and today (Sunday) has been spent watching movies and television, and commenting on Facebook and Twitter. What am I avoiding, you ask?

Well, Friday afternoon at 3:00, I found out that two of my coworkers are now my former coworkers. Our department was downsized. Now we are 50% of what we were when I went to work Friday morning.

But instead of being afraid of being the third one to go...I'm just going to refuse to think about it. There really just isn't any point. If I go into work tomorrow and find that I am unemployed...then what is worrying about this today going to change? The answer? Not a thing.

I've found that in my life...worrying about things really is futile. The real choice that I have to make is this: do I trust that God is in control...or do I not?

The times in my life that I have thought I was in control normally led me down a path that got me into trouble. Stressing over a good suspense entertaining. Stressing over a potential hassle like figuring out how to pay the not.

I think that one of the things that I've learned from this current economic crisis is that I am totally NOT in control...but I do believe in the one who IS.

So, as I leave for work in the morning, I will breathe...hope...pray...and just put one foot in front of the other. Later!

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Scrapbooking Ladies

Today I tried to get the photos that I have taken since last year put in scrapbooks. I do this once a month with a group of ladies that are truly wonderful women. It is also entirely likely that - although we all attend the same church - we would never have had occasion to be friends. There are actually a total of nine of us - but there are six of us that form the core of the group.

I am the youngest in three months. We are all mothers (or stepmothers) and we all love documenting the stories of our lives through photographs and scrapbooking. Most of us have been doing this for over ten years. In my case...since January 1996 (13 years). I still do my scrapbooks the hard way...with paper and stickers...while many of the others have gravitated to digital scrapbooking. They travel far lighter than I do...

Among us are a banker, a retired homemaker, a retired medical assistant, a caregiver, a special education teacher, a church organist, an entrepreneur, and a Calculus teacher. We range in age from 46 to 70+. We have raised children, grandchildren, husbands, dogs, and occasionally...the roof. We love to eat...and we are all fans of chocolate. In fact, chocolate is the guest of honor at most of our gatherings.

What I realized today was that in meeting monthly for the past several addition to finishing several scrapbooks...we've learned a lot about ourselves. I've learned that watching one of my friends and what she is doing with her daughter is a pretty good gauge of what I'm going to be dealing with in the near future...since her daughter is three years older than mine.

From another, I've learned that it is possible to keep a perfect home. From a third, I have learned the beauty of taking care of others and seeing to the details of life that some people gloss over or take for granted. From a fourth, I have seen what a commitment to doing the right thing looks like. From a fifth, I see how important the church and my brothers and sisters there are going to be down the road. From a sixth, I learn that it is possible to make a living doing something that I truly love. From the others, I've learned dedication, love, laughter, peace, patience, joy, and perseverance.

I think that many times in life people are put in our path to teach us something. I know that I've been covered and blessed many times by my connection to these wonderful women. Women that not only ooh and aah over my pictures...but who remind me that I am important and special to them. And who will actually get a can of Comet out from underneath the sink and then clean it for me to keep me from being mortified.

That's true friendship. Later!

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Collective Soul - Part II & Twitter

Tonight I was checking out the Twitter landscape and found that there is a contest out there sponsored by Collective Soul ( the assistance of two megaTweeters - @BuzzEdition (who I follow) and @webaddict (that I don't...yet). Since any person who knows me probably knows that I am a huge Collective Soul know that I'm going to fulfill the requirements to enter this contest right now. Now, granted, they are looking for something interesting and catchy, but I am what I whatever.

For those of you who want to do a little research on the band, you can check them out at I, I KNOW...that if you listen to the music alone, you'll be hooked. However, in today's world, we really seem to want something a little more for the time we invest in anything. I's too short, right?

Well, tonight I not only want to enter the contest, but I want to tell you why I support these guys...

The band was out of Atlanta, and being a Georgia girl myself, I found to be quite cool. I think I've fully elaborated on my love affair with the song "December" but that's easier to explain. What has been harder to explain is how I feel like their music is the soundtrack to my life. It is the perfect mix of all of the music that I love. And the words to the songs? Pure poetry.

For instance...the words to "The World I Know"...

Has our conscience shown?
Has the sweet breeze blown?
Has all the kindness gone?
Hope still lingers on.
I drink myself of newfound pity
Sitting alone in New York City
And I don't know why.

Are we listening
To hymns of offering?
Have we eyes to see
That love is gathering?
All the words that I've been reading
Have now started the act of bleeding
Into one.

So I walk up on high
And I step to the edge
To see my world below.
And I laugh at myself
As the tears roll down.
'Cause it's the world I know.
It's the world I know.

That song was on the radio...a lot...a haunting but beautiful combination of guitar, strings, and vocals that rocks, stings, and soothes simultaneously.

As I've looked at the band...caught the fact that they performed with the Atlanta Youth Symphony Orchestra in a unique and awesome way...seen them in person twice...and have watched how they interact with the fans (including me...twice :))...I think that I can trust my impressions. They are worth your time to check out.

I love the words to their songs...I love the music...but most of all...I love the heart that this band has. A heart for the fans...for friends...for supporters...for the music itself. These guys would be people that you'd like to be friends with...and the Twitter experience actually gives you the chance to see the normal side right before they get out there and blow your mind with incredible music.

So, what's stopping those of you who are looking for a great band to support? They are starting a tour in 2009...and they are adding dates every day. Not enough to suit me in the southeastern United States, but I'm hoping that will change. The dates are at

I may be a "cybergroupie" but most of the following that I do is because I honestly appreciate seeing talented people using that talent in unconventional ways. These guys do exactly that...

The cool thing is that they are going on tour in 2009 and have a new album coming out the first week of August. (Tour info at

Now, for those of you who honestly say that they did not know that I was a big fan of this group, then obviously you have missed Collective Soul - Cybergroupie Part I on this blog. Go ahead...hit the archives...I'll wait. While you're at last night's discussion about Twitter...which in the grand scheme of things was quite timely! Later!

Monday, May 25, 2009


Technology is a wonderful thing for those who either have a natural capacity to absorb it or the time to invest in figuring it out. I'm 46, which puts me old enough to be in the work force pre-Microsoft Windows, fax machines, e-mail, and believe it or not - the cell phone. While I would not trade these conveniences for anything, I also believe that you can cross over into the absurd.

For me, Twitter borders on the absurd. But, much like an accident on the interstate, you just have to slow down and watch.

My fascination with Twitter was because I kept hearing the word on the lips of broadcasters and celebrities - and seeing it in print. I wondered what the "deal" was...and figured that I'd just sign up and see for myself.

I started out with "suggested" friends including "peeps" (shorthand for "people" on Twitter)such as Shaquille O'Neal and Rush Limbaugh. I was to "follow" them as opposed to being their "friend" - like in Facebook.

I started out by inviting my friends to go online...and two actually did. Another two found me through other means.

My second "follow" was to the band Collective favorite band of all time...and they follow I'm proud to say that they are followers of ktmixon315! I've received two tweets from them, although I've tweeted something to them or about them nearly every day.

Of course, after getting about 10 followers, I started wondering about something called TweetDeck. It is like Twitter on crack. I mean, you have four columns of tweets going on simultaneously...a general tweet feed, a replies (where people have responded to me via @ktmixon315), direct messages (like e-mail...unseen by the general masses) and my Facebook feed so I am not hopping back and forth unless I want to. Normally, I want to.

The reason that I've enjoyed Twitter is that it is short...and it is unique. I mean, you have to put the whole message in 140 characters including spaces. Harder than it looks...especially for a word junkie like myself. You can tweet what you are doing...such as "Enjoying coffee on the new deck and watching the sun come up...gorgeous." Or, you may include a link to an article, photo, or webpage somewhere else on the web. They have a method to shorten the URL to a "tiny URL" that takes up less space...since the URL is part of your 140 characters.

Then, there's the RT - or retweet - where you want to put something funny, or pertinent, or clever out there that is a "direct quote" from someone else to your people who may have different people that they are following than you do and wouldn't see it otherwise. Anyway, people love to be retweeted...most of the time and will frequently thank you for that or for following them in the first place.

Some people are on there to sell you something. Some are selling something that is of the "adult only" variety. I find, though, that there are a lot of people out there who are just fun to touch base with on a daily or occasional basis. There really ARE no rules...BUT you CAN block the losers...and this is a good thing.

Currently, I follow Collective Soul, Bruce Baumgartner (Kevin from "The Office"), Jimmy Fallon, The Ellen Show, Rush Limbaugh, John McCain, and Shepard Smith (Fox News). These are the ones you may be familiar with...however...this is the minority of those I follow.

I follow two is a nice lady who is a very creative stamper. I also follow a guy in London who is just funny. He doesn't follow me back, but I've enjoyed the humor...and if I quit enjoying it, I'll just "unfollow" him. No biggie. Another one I follow is a teacher of gifted kids in South Alabama. I also follow a lady who has over 25,000 followers...and she is - by far - THE most active Twitter-er I've seen. She also seems to be a very nice person. Another guy in San Francisco is unemployed, but looking for opportunities...and is currently selling Avon. I also follow a DJ in Atlanta and his wife...and avid shopper. Most of these people were talking to people I was "following" and I just checked them out...and now I follow them as well.

I currently follow 33 people, and have 67 people following me.

The number would be higher, but I ruled out a number of people following me that I highly suspected were not interested at all in what I had to say...and I knew for certain that the feeling was mutual. Some of the time...the picture or the name just gives it away. I won't elaborate...and you'll just have to trust me.

So why am I on Twitter? I guess because I really do enjoy learning in short bursts. I have no history with the vast majority of my followers...or of those that I follow. It's just novel...and interesting. And when I get tired of it...I'll just drop out.

In fact, an article that came across Twitter today showed that most people only stay at it for about a month. Well, I'm a little ahead of that right now...but we'll see.

At least I'm - for once - with the least until the newest and best comes out...even some of what is in the Twitterverse is already above my head. Like THAT'S hard. Later!

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Baggage (from the archives)

All travelers have baggage. What gets packed and what gets left behind is often difficult to understand and is a uniquely personal decision.

With regard to the bag itself, some are designer, sturdy, matching pieces, carefully monogrammed, in trendy colors and as functional as we can make them for carting about. They have wheels, handles, and are carefully labeled. Sometimes we are proud to be seen carrying this baggage, as it can reflect our personality and uniqueness.

Others might carry a faded trunk that has been passed down for generations, tied together with twine, and certainly not much to look at. Some of it may be heavily labeled with stickers, marks, and scuffs designating where it has been.

Other baggage might be in a sack from a retail store. The intention was that it was to be carried temporarily, but even though the handle is broken and there’s a hole in the bag leaking contents, we continue to carry it from place to place because it is convenient and familiar.

Some of the baggage may have been received from others. It may have marked the passage of something important and was considered an appropriate gift on the road to maturity.

Some of it we picked up along the way because it suited our needs at the time. But as our life has changed, we no longer need it, but are reluctant to get rid of it because we might just need it again someday.

Some of it is borrowed. We may not have enough of our own. We may think that we are only going to carry it for a little while, but sometimes it ends up in our own closets.

Some smaller bags are surprisingly heavy. The sheer weight of the bag can tire us and sap our strength. When we are young, our shoulders can carry the bag. As we get older, we try to get help in some way…removing contents, asking for assistance in carrying the bag, or shipping it ahead to be dealt with later.

The only common thread is that we all have baggage. For some it is to hold things for our convenience, use and remembrance. The bags are assigned to our care, and we take ownership of them.

Of course, Jesus says to release this ownership on several fronts.

First of all…those who are weary and heavy laden…but why in the world would He suggest that we would be weary and/or heavy laden? I think it is because He knows our willingness and capacity to carry baggage. He also knows how tiring it can be. He knows that a rest from it, or elimination of it, is the only way that we will ever make it in this world.

Another statement he makes is about things…He doesn’t want us to get so attached to “things” because He knows if we do, we have a particular fancy to baggage, and this is not in our best interest. If you consider that a lot of the verses in the Bible that deal with materialism could actually be taken to mean fascination with “stuff” – or namely, baggage, then we could see that this is not His intention for our lives at all.

Some of the gaudiest baggage I have carried around was screaming “notice me” because negative attention was better than no attention at all. I envied those who had the perfect bags, and had assistance in carrying them without having to ask. I carefully packed my bags with anger, guilt, shame, and rage and then insisted on carrying them myself to prove to everyone that I could.

Later, when the novelty wore off, my back was tired, and my mind exhausted from considering the contents, I decided that I wanted to free myself of it. Over time, I'd work through an issue...and take the virtual two steps forward. Unfortunately, empty bags are mighty handy vessels to be refilled. So, the pattern of packing and unpacking became well established.

By the way, this works for awhile… until you begin to want something better for yourself. As you go through the motions of life, you start seeing the patterns that you are doomed to repeat. When the baggage got left behind, instead of running, I just started putting the junk in garbage bags. Although they were not nearly as large or full as before, were considered temporary and therefore much more manageable, they still existed. The pattern of my life was not broken. And the old bags I left behind? Well, some got lost permanently, some I actually managed to drag out to the curb for pickup, but others somehow got forwarded to my new address.

In the grand scheme of things, the baggage that is yours is meant to be relieved only by Him…in His timing…and in His power. We try often to relieve ourselves of the baggage by sharing the carrying of the baggage with our friends and associates. They don’t have the capacity, really, to carry their own baggage…much less ours…because the point is that we don’t need to be carrying so much anyway.

We really only need to carry what we need for today, and that which God has placed in our care. The baggage of our own choosing is often hauled around from place to place serving no purpose whatsoever other than tiring us or making us fodder for the Enemy.

Sometimes having people help us with the load actually increases the ownership time. God doesn’t want us to really “own” anything. Especially not something that belongs to someone else and must be presented at His feet to be relieved of eventually anyway. By allowing others to trip over their baggage, they are more likely to effectively manage it than they are if we try to help. Short term help is fine, but before you pick up a bag, you must know how long you are willing to carry it and set that boundary.

Baggage becomes very complicated when it is mixed with everyone else’s. Looking at the endless stream of bags as they come around a carousel at an airport with everyone staring intently to find their bag, secure it, and get out of the way of everyone else is the way that many people view the world. Wouldn’t it be easier if you just didn’t have to wait on the bag? What would you do if there was no bag to pick up? What if everything you needed you already had? Not only would it save time, but it would save the effort of having to keep up with it.

The truth is that you already do have everything you need. If you don’t, you either don’t really need it and just think you do, or you believe more in your own timing than in God’s. The secret is to get through this life with as little baggage as possible. Store your treasure in heaven, and then you don’t need any bags here to clutter up your closets or store the junk that comprises most of the bags anyway.

Part of the weariness in the world today is that people have more maintenance time assigned to the things and baggage they carry than they do to the things in this life that really matter. Lay the bags down. Move on. Don’t even bother to unpack them. And don’t rent a mini-storage facility to keep it all, either.

The pain that most people feel is the pain associated the need to deal with the baggage – to carry it or unpack it. The best option is to just throw the whole burdensome thing away and travel lighter. He can carry your baggage straight to the place where it is remembered no more. He can free your back to be able to take on more of His work that He wants you to do. He can give you freedom in that surrender.

As the next few years of your life unfold, you will see opportunities to pick up baggage from the most unexpected sources. Do not under any circumstances pull out a Hefty bag and think for a minute that you can leave it at the curb. It may end up in the trunk of your car instead - where it may be forgotten about…until you smell the decay. Trust God to only give you what He wants you to carry forward, and when He urges you to let it go, then do so. You may have to carry some baggage for awhile. He may use that baggage to strengthen you for the journey. Muscle is built by stress…stressing the muscle, that is. He may choose to build your muscle for a task He calls you to and wants you to be prepared. Ask Him to help you pack lightly for the journey here, because as you know, we are all travelers in this world that is not our own. I’d rather focus on the journey itself trusting God for the preparation and provision. I want to lay my bags down at his feet. He doesn’t mind, you know.

Sorry to be deep...but this is just something important that I've learned. God has been very faithful in eliminating a great deal of baggage from my life. And for this...I am very grateful. Later!

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Signs of Aging

I really don't want to elaborate on the obvious here. I know that most of us have seen the hair color alterations...or have seen hair actually just give it up and move on. We've also seen lines on the formerly smooth surfaces...seen stubborn pockets of "excess energy" that refuse to melt off after a one week grapefruit diet...and we are seeing our children doing those things that we remember all too well doing ourselves.

What? I was talking about graduation, weddings and new babies. I'm not spilling any state secrets here. Believe ME.

So...other than the can we REALLY tell that we are getting older? We don't always FEEL older...which is good. Oh are just a few that I've noted:

We're more practical: What this means is that if the choice is between looking "cute" and being comfortable...we're going with the latter. That means that we don't really care if you like our Crocs, stretch pants, Merrills and the like or not...we're wearing them anyway. If we find a pair of shoes that is comfortable, we'll buy them in every color. Some men just go with the ol' "all khaki...all the time..." at this stage. Why not? Who is really looking at us that critically anymore?

Undergarments are easy: We grew up in the "pre-thong era", and after spending the better part of our adult life keeping our panties out of our crack...we find the whole idea of a thong rather distasteful. Some may disagree with this...but that's only because you've kept your figure. I assure you that the rest of us are in WalMart grabbing the Hanes Her Way off the wall and checking that task off the list. Yeah, we'll pay decent money for a bra (due to gravity), but to us...a thong brings back visions of Frederick's of Hollywood...and these aren't always entirely positive images.

Music isn't the central focus of our lives: We love the old songs. Most of the excitement over American Idol is over the guests that they bring on...guests we remember from the FIRST time around. We still rock out to the songs we rocked out to in High School. Ironically, so do our KIDS. They were denied decent music due to some fairly heinous musical trends of late. Granted, many of us do own an iPod...and we are actually ahead of the curve. But I guarantee you that if we do...we keep it in a freezer bag in our purse so it won't get damaged. I know that I do.

Reality TV is fun but not absolutely necessary for us: I mean, our actual real lives contain enough drama for us (thank you very much). Between our friends, associates, coworkers and neighbors...not to mention our us...we're good without watching "The Hills" or whatever MTV is pushing. Because we still remember when MTV stood for Music Television and played real videos...all the time.

Being bored: We haven't been bored since the month before our first child was born and we were confined to a recliner wishing that the baby would be born three weeks early. Being bored is a luxury of the wealthy, idle, and people under the age of 25. In other words...not us. The only exception is sitting in a waiting room at the doctor's office...which many of us do more often than we used to.

Cell phones: Although many have stepped up to the phones that can do everything short of filing your taxes for you...many of us are just happy to be able to text...and old school texting at that. Our phones are often the simplest model and are often the kids' rejects when they want an upgrade. They have things like..."I love you Mom" on the screen and a picture of your spouse. Your ring tone is something like "In the End" by Linkin Park or "Low" by FloRida because they think it's funny and they know that you have no clue as to go about changing it.

Hot nights: While the dating scene for some is alive and well...for many of us...a hot night involves a bath, a book, and peace. In fact, the term "hot" means something different to us entirely. As I recently read on a plaque somewhere..."I'm still just comes in flashes now." Sad, but true.

Gifts: Gifts are either a gift card or an appliance. The only exception is if you actually buy something you actually want yourself or bribe one of the kids to do it for you.

Whining: Your responses to whining without fail can shut the younger set down. They are concerned about having so much to do, no money, five pounds to lose and worry that they won't find their soulmate. Blah blah blah. You tell them that you did more than they'll do all day before you arrived at work, haven't had money since 1990, have more weight to lose than they weigh, and assure them that their soulmate will be around...and around...and around. For some reason...they don't seem particularly eager to whine a second time in your presence.

New cars: You see a new car in terms of payments and insurance cost rather than how hot you'll look driving it. Like you care.

Anyway, some of these may not apply to you...and that's probably because you're still young!

But for those of you who agree with at least one point made here (and I'm betting on the Hanes Her Way, personally)...aren't you glad that you are the awesome person that you are now? You've survived so much to get here. And as the lyrics to a Collective Soul song says..."now that wisdom has come...everything else fades." Well, not entirely. Your love and spirit are timeless.

I think I'll just listen to my iPod now and then put her back in her Ziploc freezer bag when I'm through...Later!

Friday, May 22, 2009


Yesterday I worked with the junior class on the school's graduation reception. I'll be chairing it next year with a friend, and she and I showed up to help out and to observe. I can observe anything without just jumping in. So, after 9 1/2 hours on my feet (minus 2 hours guarding the silver in mid-afternoon) - I was dog tired last night. This morning, I felt as though I had walked 20 miles or had taken three Pilates classes back to back. It was brutal just getting up.

So, today, I am recovering.

I was seriously reminded that at 46...I am no longer able to just hop around all day doing more than I am accustomed to doing. It is imperative that I listen to my body's demands that I sit or rest sometimes. I used to watch my grandmother - spry until her 80's - drive all over creation and never seem to tire. She took a nap every afternoon, but in my was more of a power nap than anything. Getting that nap meant that she could stay up late playing cards or whatever with me.

I also realized that at my age...I should not have been this out of it the day after just walking around and carrying pitchers of punch. This was a huge wake-up call for me. I'm getting myself back into some semblance of decent shape.

Don't we all have "wake-up calls" in life? I're working at a job and putting up with heaven knows what...and then one day you are like...nope...I'm just not doing that anymore. I don't have to tolerate this. So, you find somewhere else to sell your time...

Or, you may be one of those people who wears herself out making life pleasant for everyone at your expense. You don't really mind...until one day. You just decide that there is more to life than catering to the whims of the self-involved...those people that just suck the life out of you and you'm moving on.

Or it may be that you are just sick and tired of a certain medicate, see specialists and "try" to make it better instead of just getting it dealt with properly?

The latter finally happened to my mother today.

She has been limping around since at least 2006 due to her need for knee replacement surgery. Since 2006, I have walked her all around London, Paris, my sister's house in west central France, New York, and Pennsylvania. But today...she is lying in a hospital in Columbus, GA. She is beginning the long process of recovery. The folks called today and although she sounded seriously intoxicated...she also sounded positive. She almost always does...positive...not intoxicated. (Seriously...this is my MOM we're talking about here...)

Her recovery won't be fun...but it will mean that I can start planning our next adventure. It is probably to California...I've already warned Uncle Harry. She will not want to hear that I have my travel agent cap on right now. In fact, she'd probably kick me with her good leg if I got close enough.

Anyway, recovery insinuates that there is a condition that we need to correct...something that must change...a desperate plea for something better for ourselves.

In my case, I've been recovering from my first 20 years of life for the past 26 and I'm making some progress. I suppose I broadened my horizons a bit, grew up a lot, and accepted that there are a lot of things I'll never do, a lot of blessings I don't deserve, and a lot of life that is still ahead. It's okay. I think everyone does this at some level or another. I just don't want to flog myself for something I can no longer change. It's pretty stupid to try, anyway.

So, as I sit here thinking about Mom, and about feeling better, I realize that recovery is one of those things that is an ongoing process. We're all in the process of recovering from something...a broken heart, a dream deferred, a physical malady, the pain of separation, the ache of loneliness, the memories that make us wince, or the cords of addiction. Something.

I think that God allows us to struggle so that we have a reason to seek each other minimize the trauma of it all. And laughter, appreciation, love and concern tie us so strongly together. We also tend to look UP instead of IN or OUT at some point...and for no other reason than that...our pain is somehow worth it in the end.

I hope that Mom recovers well...and I hope for any of you reading this in need of healing...that you will recover as well. Time and love can change most of what ails us...physically, emotionally, and spiritually. Here's to getting well soon...Later!

Thursday, May 21, 2009

For the College Kid...(archives)

College is funny. Everyone tells you that you should have fun and enjoy yourself, study hard, and “find yourself” because you won’t have time to later. What they mean is…in four short years, you will be responsible for displaying some semblance of responsible behavior, will no longer be on the dole, and will be expected to support yourself, lead a family, and devote yourself to something or someone or both. Somehow between having Mama doing your laundry and catering to your every whim, and graduation, you have to decide on your vocation, possibly pick your future spouse, and figure out how you are going to repay your student loans.

You will be encouraged to dream big dreams for yourself. You will then spend a portion of your adult life chasing your dreams and achieving them, scaling them down to a manageable level, or punting them altogether. A part of you will wonder why you even had them in your heart, another part cannot recognize life without them, and yet another part may resent the fact that they were ever there at all. Fortunately, at least a few will be granted. These will quickly be relegated to the “less than what I really wanted” category over time because it is easy to forget when we have been blessed. It is the great irony of life.

You will make mistakes, and most people will forgive you for them because we have all been there. Unfortunately, it is often difficult to forgive ourselves. At random moments, our shortcomings seem to light up in neon in our minds, and those things we got away with haunt us. They invade our adult lives like unwelcome visitors and remind us of how much darkness we are capable of embracing and how easily we can fall. We try to compensate for the darkness by shining a dim light for others. Sometimes we save a few from walking the same path. Mostly we just wait for the signal to pick them up. They think that we won’t understand and certainly won’t forgive. What they don’t know is that we understand all too well. We simply lack the courage to tell our stories.

You will have to make choices. Hard choices. You will find that for every “yes” you choose as an adult, there’s one or more corresponding “no’s.” There are few compromises. In college, you can date as many people as you want. You can only marry one (at a time.) To accept a job you may have to live somewhere other than where you want. To buy a car means that you have monthly payments that will mean saying “no” to the trip to Scotland or the Bahamas. Even if you say “yes” to Mama and Daddy handing you the money, you say “no” to your independence or self-respect in some cases. There is always a trade-off.

You will have to give back at some point. In college, you can take freely, because it is an accepted fact that you are broke, have no time, and have too much to do. Everyone understands. As an adult, you will be forced to sit through the United Way presentation at work and will be pressured to give. You will be expected to call and visit your parents and grandparents. In fact, if you choose to say “no” to this, you will regret it later in life when they are gone. You will probably have a family that will cut into your golf time, nights out with the guys/girls, and clothing/toy budget. In fact, you will probably only at this point truly appreciate the sacrifices that were made on your behalf that you had the audacity to whine about in your teens and grumble about it not being enough in your college years.

You do have the option of remaining self-centered. There will always be people around to enable that behavior because they were raised serving selfish people or they think that their love can change you. Unfortunately, once you have drained them of their resources and dignity they will then be able to catch on to the fact that you have no intention of changing and will eventually leave you, or you will simply outlive them. It is a sad thing to see someone who only loves himself/herself. These people miss so much and they traumatize the people who love them.

Your faith has to be real. You cannot talk the talk and not walk the walk. You also will learn that walking the walk is nearly impossible without accountability, prayer, and frequent doses of humility.

Failure happens. Sometimes our failures end an association, a dream, or a path that we are not meant to travel. Sometimes is it our time in the desert. But, how we respond to our failures is really the important thing. Do we curl up in the fetal position on our couches? NO. We regroup, we get around the people who love us, and we forge ahead in another direction. It isn’t always pretty, but when we look back, we see that the failures in life are most often the turning points to a better place.

You don’t have to do everything. You are not called to do everything. But – whatever you are called to do…do those things well. Be the best. Celebrate others who are the best at what they do, and don’t resent their success. Accept the level of success that God has ordained for you. In college, you can do a lot of things fairly well, and a few things halfway and nobody will really criticize you (other than your professors who believe that you are an idiot anyway and your parents if you waste their money and flunk out of school). In life, you have to do what you choose to do really well or you will be unemployed.

You will have to find people who bring out the best in you and hold on to them for dear life. Actually, that is the best way to pick friends. People that make you better just by being in their presence. It is definitely the way to pick a spouse.

Friends who take exorbitant amounts of energy, time, and resources away have to be put on the back burner. High maintenance people are not funny in spite of the number of tee shirts that have been sold and the fact that I do laugh when I see that plastered across someone’s chest.

Sometimes people fall in love with their problems. You can easily spot these people because they are the ones who constantly complain about a problem that is easily solved if they would just change their juvenile behavior. If the answer is obvious to you and everyone else around them and they are not doing anything toward solving the problem…run when they begin their mantra. Even if they pulled you out of a frozen lake when you were eight or they happen to be a blood relative. The fastest course to getting them back on track is to get out of the way, because they are going down. Sometimes they need to.

You will find that people come and go, your favorite things are discontinued in the catalog, and that no matter how much money you make, you will find something to spend it on (in Economics this is called “the marginal propensity to consume.”)

Love your life, because to not love it is futile. There is always something grand about it if you look hard enough.

If you are being prompted to do something over and over and you are not responding to that prompt, then you must do one of two things. If it is a message telling you to do something that you know you should not do, then you must face it squarely and either deal with the situation, or get help. If it is a message telling you to do something positive for yourself or someone else, you definitely want to heed that call. You don’t know how long you will have to tell someone you love them, or how long the window of opportunity will stay open. (Case in point: I’ve been prompted for five years to visit New Orleans.)

Speak or write words of love to people. Serve others. Invest freely in people. Spend time with others…you’ll always learn something.

As it says in the Dale Carnegie course – “Expect ingratitude.” You will then not be disappointed when you get it. You can either choose to let this bother you, and hinder your future efforts at giving, or you can get over it and do what you would do for that person anyway. The choice is really yours. Whether the bride thanks you for the gift within the prescribed two week period or not no longer changes the fact that you chose to give the gift. You’ve already controlled the only behavior you can…your own. Be sure that when you thank someone that it is genuine. People can sense your distaste at the custom of written thank you notes. That’s worse than not sending one at all.

Your horizons are huge right now. At some point, you will have to rein that in. Sometimes people rein it in too much so that they can manage it. You will then have to expand your horizons and get outside your comfort zone. It is more like a teeter-totter than anything. Maintain balance.

If you fear something and it is not illegal or immoral, force yourself to work through the fear. If you let the fear win, you are limiting your possibilities, and that is probably why Satan is taunting you in this area – to hold you back.

The ability to write and speak in public are two of the three strongest indicators of future success and earning capacity. Get over your fear of speaking in public, and learn to be a better writer by reading more and having your work edited by someone who is a good writer, and then learn from your mistakes. Incidentally, the third indicator is to develop a skill that others can’t easily emulate or for some reason don’t want to. Doctors, nurses, artists, and undertakers fall in this category.

If it is handed to you, it won’t mean as much. Work diligently for everything you can. If you are blessed with an inheritance, a business to run, or even the family furniture, but have learned the value of work, then you will appreciate it all the more.

Love God, love people, and love yourself unconditionally and fully. Be extravagant in the agape (unconditional Christlike) love that you show to others. You cannot really worry about what other people think. What matters is that you love people with all that you have. But if you can only do one of these…love God fully. He will then open you up for service (to love others) and will show you how to love yourself over time.

Feeling follows action. If you wait until you “feel” like something is right that you know is right to do, then you may miss a blessing. Do the thing that you know that you should do. The feelings will follow.

Trust your gut. If every fiber of your being is screaming “Why are you here?” then you need to leave. No questions asked.

We are all interrelated. Every person that crosses your path is meant to. Everyone that you know is your mission field. What you do for one person impacts that person who impacts someone else. When you see that loop back to you through some unexpected twist, you will realize that your hesitation in reaching out due to what people will think, or with the knowledge that someone could do it better because you are inadequate only hurts the body of Christ. Of course, you are inadequate! But He is not. You are to do what God calls you to do. It may not be what you want Him to call you to do. What matters is whether or not you will obey. Obedience is the core thread of the Bible and of the Christian life. Just remember that every time you obey in the little things, God builds His trust with you to give you a bigger assignment. Discomfort is part of the equation. Will you worry or will you obey?

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Brushes With Greatness

Don't we all long to be highly regarded? Now, the girl with the sixteen piercings on her eyebrow and the pink hair and the attitude may really not give a rat's behind. But most of us...of a certain age...really just want to just be valued for whatever it is we have survived to make it to this point. But if we aren't comfortable with that...we'll sometimes just settle for brushes with greatness.

If you've ever been to New York or Los Angeles, it is highly likely that you looked around you in hopes that you would see somebody famous. I mean, I saw Kathie Lee Gifford through a window by NBC studios last December in New York City. And while I was struggling through Macy's with Jill, my mother and my aunt were across town on the elevator with Liza Minelli. I kid you not.

The highlight of my week last week was that I actually got a tweet from Collective Soul on Twitter. Yeah! It was awesome. Tonight on Twitter, one of the people I follow (as opposed to "friends" on Facebook) is at the American Idol finale in Los Angeles. He was in the room with Paula Abdul when he sent his tweet. Imagine! Another person I follow on Twitter was delighted that one of the people with the largest followings (excluding "celebrities") is now following HER. One of my daughter's friends has - as his Facebook profile picture - a photo of him with John McCain. Another friend has a brother who sends a Christmas card with somebody famous every year. The fun is figuring out who that person will be.

I think that this is why America loves American Idol so much. The contestants are talented - yes - well...except for that one guy...William Hung? But the true draw is that these people are undiscovered...normal...everyday people. We love seeing them enjoying their brush with greatness.

But what about those of us who overlook the obvious greatness of those who we come into contact with every day?

I think that sometimes we overlook the basic fact that the people in our lives who seem like nothing special will also be the people who have the biggest impact on who we are, how we think, and what we become.

How many successful people do you know? Success is measured so differently from person to person. As for me, I admire people who can play a musical instrument like my Uncle Harry plays piano...or can sing like my mother or aunt. I admire people like my friend, Donna, who can take words and string them together beautifully in a poem that puts you smack dab in the middle of it. I admire the loving encouraging friends who have given me a thumbs up and told me to keep writing like Angie, Michele and Sandra. I admire the unbelievably beautiful flowers that my friend Kayla grows. All of these are brushes with greatness.

Because when all is said and done...the people who most profoundly affect us are the people that know us...and inspire us.

In my life...there are the people like Mr. Hugo Starling...who taught Sunday school music every week for years (I still remember that number 153 in the Cokesbury hymnal is "Love, Mercy and Grace") and was a great man in my eyes...or Mrs. Grace Hawkes, who taught 3rd grade at East Thomaston School and who told me - every time she saw me even in adulthood...that I was smart. She kept me reading...and she praised me for my effort. And then there was Mrs. Joyce Kendall, who was my 4th grade teacher...and my grandmother's eyes and ears in her last two years of her long life. These are just three of those with whom I've had brushes with greatness.

So, you live your life and make people smile as you serve, love or work with or for them...remember that you may not be totally aware of the impact you are having. In fact, if you have children, you may not know for many years.

And although it is fun to look to the rich and famous for is far better and richer to look at those who value us with their time and their gifts as the true "great ones." Later!

Tuesday, May 19, 2009


Today I was sitting at my computer and the word "shells" just came to mind. I started thinking what this could possibly mean...and as I did...I realized that there are so many threads that I could follow here...

Walking on eggshells.
Picking up seashells.
Coming out of her shell.
Shelling out dough.

Funny word, isn't it?

Don't we just love the people that force us to walk on eggshells when they are around? The same people that I'm so afraid of offending that I actually do offend them by never really being myself. People that no matter how hard I try, will always point out the one detail I miss in spite of the ninety-nine I remembered. The ones who are moody and difficult and crass. And in spite of this, they are the ones who are simply allowed to be. I get no such pass in life.

Eggshells. Aggravating if they get in whatever you are cooking...useless after they are cracked, and always sharp, difficult to manage, and messy.

I know in my life, I have dealt with the person who wants me tiptoeing around them far too many times. In fact, I've finally come to the conclusion that the only way to deal with them is to sweep away the eggshells and just refuse to walk on them. Sometimes you have to take a stand...refuse to bend...let it go...simply be honest.

And then there's seashells. Those lovely little shells that as a child you put in brightly colored plastic buckets and carried home and admired years later in containers. Little reminders of salty breezes and sand beneath your feet. All unique...many damaged...but all beautiful. Just like people.

And then there is "coming out of your shell" which is what I am witnessing with my daughter this week. After her friends and a very nice young man to whom I owe a huge debt of gratitude refused to let her pull into her shell...she's doing just fine.

I normally witness this phenomena when girls get their hair figured out, braces off, and exchange their eyeglasses for contact lenses. I remember a family friend telling us when Jill was in the 7th grade..."we always knew she was going to be cute...but we didn't know she was going to be BEAUTIFUL!" Gotta love that.

Or the person who was once quiet, who laughed at everyone's jokes and supported friends without hesitation...but once transplanted to a different environment, comes into her own. Or the person who - when fueled by the passion for something he believes in or at last realizes the extent of his talent or gifts - becomes a truer version of himself.

But today...because my son is finally hitting the long awaited growth spurt...I have been shelling out dough to various clothing establishments for the past two days. Last year...plaid was fine. This just won't do. Clothes have never really been that important and the acquisition of them had a hassle factor of 10 (third circle of hell). But right now? We are having angst over what we are wearing...and we're all being sucked into the vortex of this neverending swiping of my American Express. He has the eye of a certain young lady and he wants to keep it that way. I knew something was up on the day of the voluntary haircut.

So, I have gladly shelled out cash as I have walked on eggshells while trying to extract some information out of him such as when he'll be home and how his finals are progressing. On the other hand, I've watched the other come out of her shell and start talking excitedly about a trip to the beach with the girls in mid-June. I'll just pretend that they'll actually be looking for shells...yeah, right. Later!

Monday, May 18, 2009


Isn't "inappropriate" an interesting word? All of those syllables...

I have been thinking about that word a little bit tonight. How we often deem some action, mode of dress, behavior, or attitude to be unworthy of our expectations. I have always been accused of having high expectations that are normally dashed. When this occurred when I was younger, I'd be perceived as being negative. Later on, I learned to just expect the worst, and prepared for that. Or at least I tried to. These days, I just figure that most of the time I'll be I forge ahead and hope that I bounce around somewhere in the realm of acceptability. I know how to apologize (since I have a lot of practice) and I also know that failure isn't fatal. Trust me. It can't be...I'm still here...

How many of you have seen a woman with black hose and white shoes in February and you've thought...bless her heart? Well, I know I have. In fact, I used to teach Principles of Banking classes (10 years...over 600 bankers...scary, isn't it?) and would tell everyone not to wear white shoes to work at the bank because it is tacky. Well, in the 1990' was. Now people wear capri pants and sandals in customer contact positions. I am not in a customer contact position anymore, and I can assure you that what I wear is in favor of comfort and would certainly be deemed "inappropriate" by my younger self. I think that cartoon character ties, tee shirts, excessive cleavage, anything with spandex and too much jewelry still hasn't crossed over to acceptability, least in banking.

That's because it's tacky.

Tacky is the southern word for "inappropriate" except that it carries a stronger undertone with it. This means that using the wrong fork might be inappropriate, but only providing plastic forks for tacky. See the difference? Trust me...WE do.

So where exactly was I going with this? Well, I have a list of things that are a bit random...but they are just inappropriate...think about them and see if you have others that might qualify:

Okay, here's one:

We were in the Amish market. We're discussing the buggies, the bowl haircuts and somehow the conversation swung around to things that would be totally useless to the Amish. The #1 most useless item? Thong underwear. Even THINKING about it is inappropriate.

Or this:

Someone has a husband or wife with a name that makes it difficult to determine if that individual is of the opposite gender or the same gender. Frankly, people, the whole gay marriage thing bothers me because I would be the one person who asked about Lou...assuming it was short for exactly.


My mother is singing "Cherry Pie" in her "Broadway voice" because she's seen the Hardee's ads.


You congratulate someone on their granddaughter's achievement...and you realize he's not the grandfather...he's the Dad.


Oh, I could go on all night. Because if there is an opportunity for some level of inappropriate behavior to crop up, I assure you that I have a story for you...

But back to the excessive cleavage...

I have people ask me about why I have such a problem with this. I mean, why should I care? Am I angry on behalf of ALL women? Jealousy? Maybe. Or maybe it is just that I look at excessive cleavage the way I look at tramp stamp tattoos or yellowed crusty big toenails sticking out of sandals. It's just more than I want to know.

I mean, if you think that you have to put the girls out there for public inspection...that means that you're trying to distract me from a deep insecurity, clinginess, or true insanity that I'd ordinarily pick up on without effort and avoid at all costs. While I'm thinking..."how tacky"...I'm completely missing that the lady is a Glenn Close clone from "Fatal Attraction."

Yellowed toenails are something that I could go my entire lifetime without knowing about. Paint the things or put them in a shoe. Enough said.

Tramp stamps bother me because I know what a couple of pregnancies can do and I'm thinking that it is not going to be pretty when the young lady turns 30. Plus, it just doesn't scream "professional"...unless you add the word "stripper" immediately thereafter.

Oh well.

I'm working on falling more into line these days. Trying to avoid being tacky...and trying not to embarrass my children or myself. It is a thin line I walk...Later!

Sunday, May 17, 2009

To Jill

Last night I watched you struggle with red rimmed eyes and cracking voice as you tried to understand why the boy you've been dating for nearly two years has just suddenly decided that he needs space. Although this happens to girls every day 365 days each year (or 366...but whatever) is never easy when it is YOU. I get that. I've been there.

I think what you don't know is that this is all part of the plan.

The plan? What plan?

Well, long, long ago before you were conscious of the fact that your parents were human, when you could eat sugar without feeling like you'd ingested poison, and before you had those nagging life details such as deodorant, eyebrow appointments and Pilates to contend were just a girl. A little girl with such a mind of her own that your 2 year old picture at daycare (which will appear on this blog as soon as I can scan it in) says in pixels what is inadequate to describe in words. You had a mind of your own even then,and we heard words like "strong willed" and "pistol" and "handful" before you were out of Pullups. That was a battle in itself (potty training...) but we got through it.

Later, you followed your own mind back to the library to finish a project even though your 1st grade class had gone on to the next or French or something. Your teacher found that you had doubled back because YOU thought that you should dictate when you were through rather than allowing the clock to do it for you. Well, that one got your Dad and me an invitation to the "elementary coordinator's" office. Her take on it was that you had wonderful leadership skills that needed to be "channeled" in the proper direction. Far easier said than done. It would have been easier to hop on a bucking bronco, hold on for 8 seconds, and not get trampled afterwards. But, luckily, and through the grace of God, we managed.

At age 12, you discovered that the boys in your class were well...BOYS. For hours you sat by the computer as you instant messaged people and I checked about every five minutes. It was obvious that other parents didn't check out the computers from what I read. It was an enlightening experience.

At 14, you started REALLY liking boys, and we started the stream of the poor souls that later became known as "victims." You made some mistakes that were unkind, but "unkind" would have been nice in return. You received what can only be described as the electric chair for jaywalking, and you learned (as did I) that adult women can sometimes be the most hateful creatures alive. You endured more pain than a 14 year old girl should have had to shoulder because you had the audacity to be a 14 year old girl. You may have looked 18, but you certainly weren't.

At 16, you dated a boy that we all loved to pieces but whose mother thought we were trying to adopt him. We were just trying to enjoy him while he was here. Because he appeared to enjoy being with our family, she gave you "round 2" in how adult women can be the cruelest creatures on earth. But, due to some godly women that saw the injustice, and loved you, you not only survived - but you flourished under their care.

And then about two years ago, at age 18, you showed up with the one that you are crying over today. He was tall, nice looking, athletic, and was able to date you because he had the money from working full time and the benefit of living at home. He seemed to have it all together in that he worked out, worked full time, and worked his classes in at night. Hard classes such as higher math and sciences. Most impressive. Frankly, I wasn't impressed that he couldn't carry a full load. Still think that's bizarre.

But as you know, from day 1, I knew that this day was going to come. I had just hoped for sooner rather than later...just to spare you the pain of today.

He is the real loser...because you, my beautiful daughter, are a PRIZE.

He saw your beauty...but not the beauty of your heart.
He saw the big blue eyes...but not the intelligence behind them.
He saw how hard you worked...but not the fact that your best work is done in support of a cause or for someone you love.
He saw the comfortable home that we have, and missed the fact that you are worthy of someone who will provide it for you later on and not the other way around.
He saw someone who was well liked, but didn't understand how hard it is to be beautiful and have everyone assume the worst about you because they are so insanely jealous.
He saw you go to church, but did not fully grasp the plans that God has for you in this life.

And while you aren't are the perfect daughter for me...and you are going to be the perfect wife for some lucky man one day.

You see...I want better for you. At the proper time...I want a man for you with the eyes to see all that I see in you and more. A godly man that is not afraid to fight his weaknesses and insecurities to be worthy of you. And quite frankly...I just haven't seen that man yet. And because I know you have some more growing up to do...I honestly believe that this is for the best.

So, today, as you are trying to figure out where you went "wrong" with him...remember that it is part of God's plan. God loves you even more than I do, although I often have to remind myself of that because it honestly does not seem possible. He wants the best for your life, and doesn't want you wasting time with someone who has nothing more to offer you than a complete lack of intelligence and the sensitivity of a brick wall. And that's me being nice.

And you know THAT, too. I have enough red clay under my feet to go "redneck" on someone in a second.

I'm personally excited that this drama is unfolding so nicely this early in the summer...the last summer you will be at home. I am personally hopeful that this summer is going to be one of tremendous personal growth for you. I don't want you to waste time trying to figure out the motives of a Neanderthal. He doesn't know why he's a loser...he just IS. Dry your tears and forget that this idiot ever crossed your path. I can see no real benefit from the time other than it kept you out of some of the trouble that often befalls young freshmen women. Not that I really worried about you...but I am glad for that year being behind you as well.

Know that I love you. Know that God loves you. Know that it is going to get better. I have faith. In God...and in you.

Love, Mom

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Always (a little risque/a reprint)

This is one of the most hysterical things that has ever come across my e-mail...but before I "share" - I'd like to say that it came to me on a day that one of my friends knew I needed a lift.

The original letter states that this was "an actual letter from an Austin woman sent to American company Proctor and Gamble regarding their feminine products. She really gets rolling after the first paragraph. It's PC Magazine's 2007 editors' choice for best webmail-award-winning letter." I don't know how much of that is true or not. However, I can certainly vouch for the campaign. I even have some little sticky notes that these people sent me...I'm going to try to photograph it and put the photo on this blog.

I am taking a couple of "editorial licenses" because some of it is just a little cruder than need be...

Here you go...

Dear Mr. Thatcher,

I have been a loyal user of your "Always" maxi pads for over 20 years and I appreciate many of their features. Why, without the LeakGuard Core or Dri-Weave absorbency, I'd probably never go horseback riding or salsa dancing, and I'd certainly steer clear of running up and down the beach in tight, white shorts. But my favorite feature has to be your revolutionary Flexi-Wings. Kudos on being the only company smart enough to realize how crucial it is that maxi pads be aerodynamic. I can't tell you how safe and secure I feel each month knowing there's a little F-16 in my pants.

Have you ever had a menstrual period, Mr. Thatcher? Ever suffered from the "curse"? I'm guessing you haven't. Well, my time of the month is starting right now. As I type, I can already feel hormonal forces violently surging through my body. Just a few minutes from now, my body will adjust and I'll be transformed into what my husband likes to call "an inbred hillbilly with knife skills." Isn't the human body amazing?

As Brand Manager in the Feminine-Hygiene Division, you've no doubt seen quite a bit of research on what exactly happens during your customers' monthly visits from "Aunt Flo." Therefore, you must know about the bloating, puffiness, and cramping we endure, and about our intense mood swings, crying jags, and out-of-control behavior. You surely realize that it's a tough time for most women. In fact, only last week, my friend Jennifer fought the violent urge to shove her boyfriend's testicles into a George Foreman grill just because he told her he thought Grey's Anatomy was written by drunken chimps. Crazy!

The point is, sir, you of all people must realize that America is just crawling with homicidal maniacs in capri pants...which brings me to the reason for my letter. Last month, while in the throes of cramping so painful that I wanted to reach inside my body and yank out my uterus, I opened an Always maxi-pad, and there, printed on the adhesive backing were these words:

"Have a Happy Period."

Are you flipping kidding me? What I mean is, does any part of your tiny middle-manager brain really think that happiness - actual smiling, laughing happiness, is possible during a menstrual period? Did anything mentioned above sound the least bit pleasurable? Well, did it, James?

FYI, unless you are some kind of sick S&M freak, there will never be anything "happy" about a day in which you have to jack yourself up on Motrin and Kahlua and lock yourself in your house just so you don't march down to the local Walgreen's armed with a hunting rifle and a sketchy plan to end your life in a blaze of glory.

For the love of God, pull your head out, man! If you have to slap a moronic message on a maxi pad, wouldn't it make more sense to say something that is actually pertinent like "Put Down the Hammer" or "Vehicular Manslaughter is Wrong" or are you just picking on us.

Sir, please inform your Accounting Department that, effective, immediately, there will be an $8 drop in monthly profits, for I have chosen to take my maxi-pad business elsewhere. And though I will certainly miss your Flexi-Wings, I will not for one minute miss your brand of condescending BS. And that's a promise I will keep.

Always...Best, Wendi Aarons

Go Wendi...later!


Today I was chatting and the subject of my dogs came up with a friend. Many of you probably have dogs, and like me, you think that your dogs are the most intelligent creatures on earth. I'm a realist, though.

Rebel came to us by way of my mother. My last dog, Harley, was killed at age 3 by having the misfortune of running under the tires of my crazy speeding neighbor. What made this worse was that it occurred in front of my son. Fortunately, Jill and I were not at home, and arrangements had been made for Harley before I could get back.

I cried for three days - even at work - and people were beginning to talk. I combed the local newspapers for a black long haired chihuahua pomeranian mix, but to no avail. We even traveled to a nearby town...but found that the short haired chihuahua mixed with the pomeranian gave something that was downright scary looking. I began to believe that Harley was irreplaceable.

After whining to my mother incessantly during this period, she finally acknowledged that she was aware of a litter of puppies that would be right around the proper age for release from their mother. The mother was a Shih Tzu and the father was a Yorkshire Terrier (yorkie) that was allegedly past his prime. Not so.

Mom was aware of this as her Shih Tzu, Bradley, was actually getting the nod as the sire, and alas, it was too late. At least, I think that's right.

So, they went to the house and one puppy remained. A little brown male. Actually, he was more gold at the time and had black markings. I had already pre-named him "Rebel" - partly after the high school mascot in Thomaston, GA, and partly because I thought it sounded like a great dog name.

Rebel came to live with us approximately four years ago. He was a quiet little dog. Easily trained, and willing to sit for hours on my lap at the baseball field while Brian played ball. All of the children loved him, and he was just a great dog.

I trained him to do commands...sit, stay, shake, high 5, down, roll, spin, play dead, and choose the hand. He worked hard for his slices of American cheese. He still knows the word "cheese" and will aggressively "speak" to have the opportunity to perform.

A year later, we got a female Shih Tzu - the daughter of my mother's dog, Bradley, and a lovely little Shih Tzu named Pepper. Ironically, Pepper was white. I don't get it, but whatever. We named her Dixie. She looks exactly like her father, Bradley, and is THE perfect dog.

Rebel and Dixie went on to have a total of 12 puppies...Bo and Luke, Shania, Willie, Hank, Merle, Dolly, Brad, Reba, Billy Ray, Toby, and Patsy. Do you notice a common thread here? Only Toby kept his "original" name. We still receive pictures of the granddogs from four of the parties and have babysat three of them for various reasons at one time or another.

After figuring out his mission on to speak...Rebel became quite protective of his yard. This meant that anyone coming into the yard was going to leave remembering that he did not appreciate the intrusion. This was usually a nip right at the ankle as the individual turned to leave.

Rebel bit everyone from males daring to come visit HIS Jill to delivery people. The mailman refused to deliver mail to the door anymore and asked for a copy of his rabies certificate. DSL and UPS braved it, but kept him in front of them.

The last straw was when he crossed over and bit my friend, Nedra. That was enough for me to schedule his "appointment."

He has been somewhat better since.

I am writing about him because I think about how wonderful it is to have pets, and how at this particular stage in my life...I love knowing that someone thinks I have some degree of intelligence. Rebel believes himself to be my dog, although he sleeps with Brian at night, and fully understands that David is the alpha male at our house.

He is just a great dog. Ornary as all get out if you don't know you ever come to visit me...keep the brown dog in front of you. Later!

Friday, May 15, 2009


My family is awesome.

And while that statement applies to many of my relatives, right now I am thinking specifically of the group of people that I just visited in Pennsylvania. But first...the backstory.

My mother's mother, for those of you who did not have the privilege to know her was Frances Middlebrooks. She lived in Thomaston, GA, was married to Harry Sr. and had three children: Jean (Mom), Harry, Jr. and Pitta. She had one sister...who was over 20 years younger...same parents...Mary Bird.

Aunt Mary Bird is six years older than my mother, and due to her father's early death, and the fact that she and her mother lived with my grandparents, she and Mom were raised more like sisters than the aunt and niece that they really were.

My grandmother adored her little sister. She spoke of her all of the time, was in communication with each of the three of Aunt Mary Bird's three children: Jan, Chip, and Kenneth, and kept us in the loop on their lives as well.

And while there was activity in their branch of the family including marriages, births of children, and an occasional divorce, we sat firmly in our little southeastern United States reality while they made every attempt to include us in every trip they made anywhere remotely close to our vicinity. Members of their branch of the family showed up for my wedding in 1985, my grandmother's 90th birthday in 1996, my grandmother's funeral in 2004 and my cousin Robin's wedding last summer (2008).

I remember standing with Jan in the lobby of Frazer (my church) 1989...both of us with Jill and she with Sean...only because she picked up the phone to let me know that she was there at a conference.

Sometimes, Gammy would tell me that one of the boys - Chip or Kenneth - had come by to visit, or Aunt Mary Bird was down, or would show me a picture of one of Jan or Chip's kids (Kenneth's and Danny's came along later...)

And what have we done through the years? Well, not much since my grandmother quit traveling sometime in her 80's...and this is unacceptable.

Last summer, as I was thoroughly enjoying the company of Jan, Carl (Jan's husband) and Aunt Mary Bird at Robin's wedding in Atlanta...I thought...exactly why is it that we have never traveled north? And so it became immensely important to me at that time to go.

And so...last week...we did.

We learned many wonderful Aunt Mary Bird has a picture of her mother's mother (my great-great-grandmother) in her possession that is just incredible. She also makes unbelievably good cheese eggs and has turned me on to Luzianne coffee with chicory. Jan is a phenomenal cook...she put no fewer than fifteen different dishes together for dinner...all were spectacular...healthy...and beautifully presented as well as delicious. We met Danny's three children...who are precious...but "active" is an understatement. We spent time with Chip...and Sean...both of which were on their way to somewhere else the following day.

And while all of these were surprises...the biggest one was Jan's son, David. He just seems southern to me in a northern package. He invested time showing us around, listening to our craziness and actually laughing, and just being an all around great guy. We're trying to talk him into visiting us and hope that he will take us up on it. Luckily, he seems to think that we're funny instead of nuts. It's a thin line we walk...I'll admit. David is the one that looks like the Abercrombie model in the pictures on Facebook. He seems totally oblivious to this...which is a very attractive quality.

We missed Kenneth this trip...but we may descend upon his family and Chip's at a later date. If they are reading this...consider this a warning.

I suppose that all of us have family that we take for granted. We know that they are there...we care about them...and we know what is going on in a general way. And then we do something actually spending time together and realize what a true gift they are to us.

I would not trade the time we spent...although I do so wish that we had been in time to say goodbye to a fine man...Uncle Henry. But I also know that where he is right now...he knows that we finally made the trek.

So, for those of you who are out there reading words to you today are these...go pick up the phone and call your family. Send a card...attend something you are invited to attend. Stay in touch. Put whatever it is that annoys you beyond belief behind you. Forgive. Forget. Move on from the unimportant. Remember that nothing that we are doing is as important as our family is. The only things on earth that we can take to heaven with us are people. Invest in them. Love them.

They might just surprise you. I know that we were pleasantly surprised...and hope that they were as well.

I am SO glad that we made the journey. We're far richer for it. And I hope that they know that they are welcome here...anytime. And...if they are brave enough to invite us to come visit again...I promise I won't delay another 20 years. Later!


Today I was reading a funny response to my post on Facebook about Collective Soul "tweeting" me on Twitter from a friend. His response was that his kids could "clock him using a calendar." Oh my. Don't we all feel that way up to the younger generation? I honest. Who do you call when you need something done in the electronic realm? Yeah, I thought so.

I have never really been anti-change. I mean, I like for my big rocks to stay put in the jar - so to speak - but changing the pebbles has always been okay by me. For years I thought it was odd that I would be obsessed with something short term, and then that would fade into oblivion only to be replaced with something else. I call this way of life "project management" because that's exactly the way I attack it.

Here are some of my past obsessions...

Age 14 - Tickle deodorant - 4 colors - and I even had shampoo that matched each as, yellow, pink, or green. I really liked pink the best...because I could use my "Gee, Your Hair Smells Terrific" shampoo with it.

Age 17 - Seventeen magazine...the back to school issue. I had memorized nearly every page. Never mind that nobody in Thomaston, GA dressed like these girls.

Age 19 - 3 for 1 drinks at Main Street on Monday nights. I actually brought my Economics book to study during this time until the effects of the libation rendered this impossible. I quit imbibing in excess in 1984...quit pretty much for good in 2002

Age 22 - Step aerobics. I still love this.

Age 25 - Babies. Then I had two...

Age 28 - Barney and Friends videos. Don't go there with me, people. I thought I was being a good mother.

Age 30 - Work and Beanie Babies. Oh yeah, I tracked them down like a flipping bloodhound. Never paid a ridiculous amount unless you consider $15 for a $5 animal excessive. I knew crazy people who were spending in the hundreds of dollars...buying cases, etc. It was hard to hunt them down in my spare time since I was working 70 hour weeks at the time.

Age 32 - Creative Memories Scrapbooking. This is what I like to call a long-term obsession. I have enough scrapbooking supplies to keep me busy through 2015.

Age 36 - African violets. I even joined the local garden club which consisted of eleven ladies over the age of 70, me, and my 8 year old daughter. At one point, I had 44 violets. I still have about 16...all at my office. I still struggle with this obsession.

Age 38 - The gym. I worked out every day and even got in the tanning bed (gasp!) for about a year. I regret this decision now as I am experiencing my first age spot. Bad tanning bed. Bad.

Age 40 - Food. Forget the gym...bring on the Doritos. Also started reading Christian books...excessively. Read everything that Max Lucado ever wrote.

Age 42 - Whoever Jill was dating, rock music, and photography. I also started the love affair with Europe that continues to this day. Probably has something to do with Linda living in France...

Age 46 - Collective Soul, travel, and electronic social networking. I started eBay in January 2009. I have a feedback score of 225 right now. This is not the mark of a normal person.

Well, as you can see, it has been quite a ride.

Looking over this list I see the many phases of Karen. I guess that everyone is pretty much like this...however, I seem to take whatever I am doing to the nth degree. Is that word "nth" even a real word? I think not. What I'm saying is...I don't mind change if it involves growth. I just hate it when it moves faster than I can keep up with it.

See, that's my mother's problem.

My mother is not Y2K compatable. For those of you who remember the alleged end of the world woe is me time of 1999...all of us were racing around thinking that something bad was going to happen on 1-1-2000 because the computers were going to all shut down and render life as we knew it obsolete. For those of you who embraced this with gusto...hopefully you have made it through your water and canned good stash by now.

My mother was one of those that just stopped right there. Anything that was created or put into public use after the year 1999 is something that my mother is incapable of or unwilling to operate.

DVD player? Um...nope. Digital camera? Not happening.

But you know what? It's okay.

I have found that change is sometimes bad, sometimes good, and sometimes just interesting. Mom isn't interested in moving forward to the 21st century. She e-mails, she can use a cell phone, and that's good enough for her.

Last week, I visited with my cousin Danny. The last time I saw Danny...he was two years old. He is now the 26 year old father of a five year old daughter and three year old twin sons. I saw him grow up in photos...but it was still quite amazing and awesome to see him in person...although most of the time I saw him was while he was in motion dealing with the three of them...all on a sugar high.

I also saw a group of Amish people on my trip to Pennsylvania. Talk about a group of people unwilling to embrace change. Well, more power to them. Non-electric power, that is.

I hope that some things will never change, though. My ability to love, take care of myself, read between the lines, accept what is, stand up for what is wrong and my faith in God. Here's hoping...Later!

Thursday, May 14, 2009


I just returned from a wonderful vacation to Pennsylvania to visit with relatives that I do not see often enough. Our family members are spread from coast to coast, north to south, and aren't limited to the North American continent. I have family members in Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, Florida, California, Texas, Illinois, Tennessee, California, Pennsylvania, Virginia, Iraq (or is it Iran...I honestly cannot remember), and France. While there is a great concentration in the southeastern United States...every so often, you just need to get in the car and drive.

Our visit was overdue by over twenty part because we couldn't get the people in the same geographical location to also have money and time off at the same time. This presented a problem when one person was retired but needed someone to drive them, others had children who would not survive the trip (the risk was that they'd be left at a rest stop along the way), the cars were too old or too small, there wasn't enough time to go...or it just wasn't convenient on the other end. (I could actually add other excuses, but some of them are too bizarre for words.)

This trip was almost thrown off balance by the fact that we actually waited too long for one of our family members who died earlier this year. A memorial service was held the first weekend in April. My folks were going to go...but were incapacitated by the flooding of their home. Something about an underground spring, 50 year old pipes and incessant rain. SO, I could have come the proper time...or come as planned with more people. Like anyone in our branch of the family ever does anything at the proper time. Ergo, we showed up six weeks later.

I hope that we were forgiven. Since we FINALLY showed up spite of the fact that we FINALLY showed up.

Anyway, it has been YEARS since I have taken a real road trip. A road trip is defined as anything over seven hours in duration. Anything shorter than that is really just a road trip wannabe. I can change drivers and nobody is really tired. Right?

A road trip is an American institution. It is one of the passages of life that years later people can still remember...for better or worse. Every family has a bit of the Griswolds in it (even if Wally World isn't the ultimate destination), and a long ride in a car just brings out SOMETHING in all of us.

In my opinion...a REAL road trip provides adequate time for one or more of the following to occur:

1. A detour around a major city that you are totally unfamiliar with...that is not on the AAA map, Mapquest or on any of the three thousand signs in the vicinity. Normally, finding your way involves something just short of a fistfight and definitely includes the words "your mama." Ironically, "your mama" is sometimes one of the people yelling at you.

2. Some loser in an older model station wagon will tell you that you are "number one" simply because you want him to quit going 45 in the fast lane. To let him know, you stay fairly close on his bumper. What he doesn't know is that this is primarily because the 18 wheeler behind you is fairly close on yours.

3. Long stretches after 9:00 pm with no lights, no traffic, and no hotels other than something you'd swear has "a Bates property" after the name (or Norman Bates, proprietor...same thing...)

4. At least one screaming match that rivals the Kardashian sisters because the driver is tailgating, whiplashing lanes, not paying attention, or driving like a freaking maniac according to the backseat driver.

5. Hallucinations from driving too long. (These will not be discussed I don't have time for a psychiatric evaluation right now.)

6. Eating at an Arby's more than once...and scaring the people in the drive thru when you get out of the car because no makeup has been applied, your hair is stuck to your head and your clothes look like you spent the past three nights in them.

7. You eat 63 packages of Pringle's snacks and consider this "eating light" because you "shared."

8. You are now quite familiar with every single solitary country song out there with any degree of popularity and even know who sings the songs. Never mind that you hate country music.

9. You finish the first Twilight book and make inroads into the second. This is not because this is particularly good fiction...but because you have hours and hours and hours to kill.

10. Something has time to malfunction on the vehicle. In our case...low freon. Not a problem in cool Pennsylvania. Not so nice in hotter than 100 hells Tennessee. Yee haw.

11. You spend so much time in "Wild Wonderful West Virginia" that you swear you're driving in circles.

12. You're on the road for ten hours when you think that you are "making good time" because you've finally reached a point two states away from the one in which you reside.

Anyway, we had a great time. I'll be adding...the rest of the various posts in the coming days. Just wanted to hop out with this post today. Later!

Friday, May 8, 2009

Fiber (from the archives)

This was an actual e-mail that I sent to a friend several weeks ago. I alluded to this particular incident in an earlier post, but I'm now sharing it with you in its entirety. E-mails like this are why I am now doing this HERE instead of THERE (work)...

Title: Just in case you ever wonder...

I'm here to let you know that it IS possible to get too much fiber.

I went and added up what all I had consumed today just so you will understand more fully. Since I am required (at Rehab) to write down everything caloric that enters my mouth (other than gum, ice, water, or the occasional pen tip), this really wasn't terribly difficult.

For breakfast, I had two Kashi oatmeal packets. EACH had 7g of fiber, for a total of 14g.

Then I had an AllBran drink mix (in iced tea flavor...and it really is close...if you don't breathe while you are drinking)...well...actually, I had THREE of those and each has a total of 10g of fiber...a total of 30g.

Lunch was Progresso soup (I had a deal to get out so Subway didn't happen) - Weight Watchers blend, naturally, with 4g of fiber. To go with it, I had a serving (18) of AllBran crackers - another 5g of fiber.

I missed my yogurt, but will have it later (assuming that I survive) and was able to have one of my "frozen crack" bars (Weight Watchers variety - 1 point!). Yes...quite addictive...and 5g of fiber. (Yeah, that's how they keep the points down...)

Grand total: 58 grams of fiber. Recommended daily allowance? 25-30g...and most people can't fit that in. OH! And I'm not through eating for the day...OMG.

Anyway, my stomach sounds like Linda Blair in the scene in "The Exorcist" where her head spins around. It's probably gurgling something like "Paul is dead" if you played it backwards or "Just how cleaned out are you trying to get?" Haven't decided. All I know is that I am in grave danger of spontaneous combustion at this very moment. If all they find is a pile of ashes on my laptop...tell them it was the fiber. I may have solved the energy dilemma for the United States. This stuff is powerful.

FIBER: Flatulence, Indigestion, Bathroom runs, Excruciating pain and Remorse. Pretty much in that order for me. I'm on R right now if you can't tell. I distinctly just heard something inside my head go "you will quit eating...and you will LIKE it." I never want to eat AGAIN. Can I go home now? Never mind...I probably wouldn't make it home intact...if you catch my drift (and trust don't want to...)

Rehab would be proud. No wonder they are pushing the fiber. Hope I don't OD. Oh...gotta go...Later!

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Timing Issues

Anyone ever been the victim of bad timing? Well, I'd like to think of myself as somewhat of an expert in the field. I've had miraculously bad timing my entire existence...beginning with my birth eleven and a half months after my parents were married. may be going...whew!...didn't know where she was going with that one...but let's just suffice it to say that in 1962...when the birth control pill first came on the mother was a new bride. And just in case you are mother at 27 would have made Doris Day look like a pole dancer. So...NO...there were no issues, there. However, part of that whole "good girl" thing was that she also took her mother's advice and quit taking them since "nobody knows what that stuff will do to you."

Well, I'm here to testify that abruptly stopping birth control pills after taking them six weeks into your marriage will often...nine and a half months later...equal 9 lbs 9 1/2 oz. Ta-da!

Anyway, this was welcome news to all...except to my grandfather who thought that she looked suspiciously far along at Christmas (as I've already stated...I was a big baby). So, he just gave her the silent treatment until the end of January passed with no baby. Then the end of February...and on into March...

So, while I was well timed for him...I was certainly not for my 110 pound mother. I was two weeks late, had a full head of hair and could sing my ABCs at birth.

Many know that I am (or was until I got hooked on eBay) an avid scrapbooker. Photos are the raw material that I use to tell the story of my life. Well, that and words, but whatever. I located my baby pictures and was a little startled to discover that this oh so wonderful occasion is marked by the fact that - much like the swine flu hysterics today - my mother had a mask on in my earliest pictures. To make the picture even more "totally awesome!" was the fact that she had on no makeup...and her hair was in rollers. Must have been a heck of a birth.

At first I thought it was just the way that they did things in 1963. But, I don't think so. See, six short years later...she's in the hospital bed after having my sister with her makeup fully applied, hair perfectly in place and a big dimpled smile on her face. No mask. Yeah. I pointed out this difference...and she just giggled uncomfortably and that was the end of that. Enough doubt.

So, back to timing. Today some of the mothers of the kids Jill graduated with were getting together for lunch as we have been doing for the past several months on the first Thursday of the month. Yeah, it's a little rainy out...but nothing that we haven't really experienced here in Alabama since February of this year...great weather...crappy weather...tornadoes...

At approximately 10:45, one of the mothers e-mails that she has to move her horses out of one of the pastures because of flooding. Wow. Must be raining hard out there, I'm thinking...

At 10:47, another mother calls from her SUV to announce that a creek on her way home is almost equal to the street and that she's riding through about a foot of water. She's seeing stalled vehicles. It is still raining buckets. She asks whether or not we should just e-mail everyone and call off today's lunch...

At 10:50...the e-mail is sent. Some e-mails came back expressing disappointment...but it seemed to work out okay.

Well...not exactly.

See, across town, one of the mothers had not gotten the last e-mail about the cancellation. So she starts out toward the restaurant, deals with the traffic that has tied up on the interstate due to an accident, and then makes her way in the pouring rain to the restaurant. Realizing that she is going to ruin her shoes if she keeps them on...and she has no spare pair...she takes them off, shoves them in a plastic bag and sprints for the door. It is just after 11:30...our planned meeting time.

Then she sees it on the door..."The Restaurant Will Be Closed For Lunch Today Due To Weather." According to her e-mail, what came out next looked something like this @#*&$#@&*&(#@. She then gets back in her car, wrestles the umbrella shut, and braves the elements back to her workplace where she is greeted enthusiastically by coworkers who are delighted that she's made it back intact.

While I am very sorry that she was inconvenienced...I did laugh out loud reading her particular rendition of it. She wants to schedule next month's lunch in Arizona...but feels that if we plan will be more of the same. What will it be next month? Golf ball sized hail? Probably...because I just cancelled the comprehensive insurance on my Accord. Like I is all about timing.

Which brings me to my final point. My stress today was almost entirely due to someone giving me something to do that I can't possibly get done well before I leave for vacation tomorrow at 5:00. me...I'm leaving tomorrow at 5:00 either way. I just would like for one time in my working life...the ability to go on vacation without giving myself a blood pressure spike and adrenaline rush. Is that possible? Guess we'll find out tomorrow...Later!

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Cleaning it Out

Today, I received a text message from my friend, Carrie, who was in the throes of helping to clean out her eldest daughter's dorm room at college so that she can move home for the summer. And...naturally...I got to thinking (too much) about how exactly to describe this particular experience to someone who has never been through it. There is no word except "colonoscopy" that even comes remotely close. ask?

Because both involve cleaning out crap, are necessary, can be embarrassing, totally devoid of enjoyment, messy, involve some level of agony, and when you finally survive the worst of get a written report and a bill.

Today, Jill had her "check-out" scheduled at her dorm room in Tutwiler...which has been her home for the past nine months. I used to think that nine months was a really long time. I suppose that this was back when I was pregnant or something. Now, it seems like two weeks. She was just home for Christmas and now..."she's BAAACCCKKK."

I'm sure that I will get a bill from the University of Alabama for the non-stick dots that they just had to put on the closet doors to make them "cute." See, the package lied. The dots DID stick...and when the dots were were the last five layers of brown paint. Cost to us? I don't even want to think about it.

I guess being "cute" always has a price tag. Which is why, I suppose, there can only be one of us in our household being "cute" at a time. Tag...she's it. I don't have the energy anyway.

So, as she is preparing to come home...I'm thinking to myself. That's lovely. And then the second thought...where in the name of heaven are we going to put all of her stuff?

Unlike most mothers, who would probably keep their princess' lair exactly as she left it so that she would have something to come home to...David and I painted hers while she was going through sorority rush. It kept my mind off of the proceedings...and allowed me to FINALLY get rid of the heinous color combination of "neon rose" and a color called "citron" - which was just a fancy way of saying "ugly lime green." After year three of this particular combination...I began to rue the day that I actually encouraged David to paint two walls in one color and two in the other. Then, she hung about three hundred thousand pictures, plaques, cheerleading photos, ribbons, bulletin boards, calenders and other teenage girl necessities on the walls. When it was all removed, there seemed to be so much space...that we thought we'd added on.

She was not surprised...since I had been whining for her entire senior year (as I counted down the number of weeks until she left...sometimes because I was sad and other times because I needed to know that she was almost out of the house) and had sworn numerous times that the second she moved out...I was redecorating.

And we did.

Fortunately for her, she pledged her Mama's sorority - Phi Mu - because she came home to a Phi Mu pink room with black accents. I now consider it "my" room and she gets to stay there when she comes home to visit for a weekend (or summer). I never wanted there to be any doubt that when she left here last August that she was staying at the college of her choice...for four years...or until she had a reasonable game plan for getting off our payroll.

Although we love her with every fiber of our beings...we do not want her on our payroll after graduation. Having her room gone seemed like a very good way to start driving that point home. Not that I want her married off either. Have you priced weddings lately? We can't afford a wedding until 2016 at best. Hopefully, I don't have to think about it until then.

So, I suppose that the next 24 hours will be spent in cleaning out the boxes and bags of "stuff" that she has brought home from Tuscaloosa. Hopefully, we'll manage to get it all sorted by August when she has to go back.

Don't you wish that there was a company that existed that just cleaned out your stuff, eBayed what you don't want, gave the rest to charity and just brought you a receipt, and then gave your house a Merry Maids cleaning? I strongly hinted that I want Merry Maids for Mother's Day, but then again, people in hell want ice water, too.

Oh well. Back to cleaning out so that we can move more in. Egad. Later!