Wednesday, December 20, 2017

How to reduce your risk of death

Adding minutes one step at a time
This is interesting to me.  How many studies do we see that say "Just 15 minutes of exercise a day will lower the risk of death by 22 per cent", or "Lose weight and eliminate or lower your chance of diabetes (which can lead to death).

Now, don't get me wrong.  I love all the tidbits that help keep me healthy, however, for this to be meaningful, don't we need to know exactly how much time we are playing with?  

If someone tells me, "if you leave now, you will save 15 minutes off your total commute" I know that means I will get home in 30 minutes.  Because I know how long it normally takes.

It all goes back to knowing what you start with and figuring it out from there.   I have never read an obituary that read "John Doe died at the age of 70.  Lucky for him, he earned an additional 15 years (he would have died at 55 ) but thanks to his quitting smoking when he did, 10 years were added to his life.  And then he started walking every day which also created some bonus time of an additional 5 years.  I think you are picking up what I am putting down.

time is my choice

We are like a carton of milk.  We will go bad at some point (die) but we don't have an expiration date stamped on us anywhere (that I can find).

Makes me wonder.....Are we all so busy trying not to die that we forget to live?  Or at least place value on what is important at any given time?

It is very easy for us to focus on all the things that have (or could) go wrong!  Can you imagine what a day would look like if we focused only on our blessings?

At the end of the day, I want to do everything right (or at least within moderation) for my health.  But I guess I should want to do that anyway.  But using death as a consequence seems ineffective, since we are all going to die someday, no matter what.

Key points - death - still not optional.  Timing of death - still an unknown.  Life - whatever we choose to make of it.  Timing of life - Still all about how we choose to spend it.

Bottom line - Choices win!

Until next time,


your pal,


Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Check your blindspot

Lord, graciously keep me this night
I love the moon.  I may  have mentioned this before but the moon was something consistent that I could point out to Madison when we were apart.  I would call her before she went to bed and tell her to look out the window at the moon and know that I was looking at the very same the very same time.  The same percentage of the Moon will be illuminated no matter where on Earth you are.  This made us feel connected. 

There are so many different phases of the moon to be appreciated (eight to be exact).

In Western culture, we divide the lunar month into four primary and four intermediate Moon phases.  The Moon phases start with the invisible New Moon, while the first visible phase is the thin sliver of a Waxing Crescent Moon. Around a week later, half of the Moon’s surface is illuminated while the other half is in darkness at First Quarter Moon.

Fourteen-fifteen days into the cycle, we enjoy a Full Moon.  Before that, the illuminated part continues to grow into a Waxing Gibbous Moon, until we see the entire face of the Moon.

It then gradually shrinks into a Waning Gibbous Moon, and when it reaches Third Quarter, the opposite half from the First Quarter is illuminated. From there, it fades into the Waning Crescent Moon before it finally disappears from view again, only to reemerge and repeat this cycle over and over.  A literal circle of life.

I was driving home the other night when I enjoyed a glimpse of the Waning Crescent Moon.  The light from the moon seemed to indicate that what I was seeing was all there was.  And then I began to ponder....

How many times in life do we question (or worse yet believe) "this is all there is".  None of us were promised a life free from strife, challenges, loss.  In this way we are all equal.  No matter how educated, wealthy, smart, likable, etc.etc., no one gets a free pass.  And at times, the darkness can be overwhelming.

Just these past few days Terry and I enjoyed the almost full moon for two nights.  We talked about which night would reveal the moon in its full glory.  Anticipation.  And then, the big night arrived.  Cloud cover.  Completely.  We missed it.

Yet, we knew it was still there.  We didn't have to see it to appreciate and believe that somewhere, someone at that very moment, was enjoying the sight of the moon (super this time).

And it resonated with me, this is what faith is all about.  The type of faith that believes without seeing.  I am so grateful

Until next time,

your pal,

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Like a Runaway train

Sometimes I am amazed at all I have accomplished.  We are talking lifetime achievements here, not this past week.  I have managed to graduate from college.  I have completed a masters degree program.  I have participated in numerous training programs that required a commitment of time and attention.  I have enjoyed a successful career, all while raising children.  Yet, at times, I am startled by my inability to stay in the "moment".

a whirlwind of activity
Oh sure, I am physically present, and initially I am even "on track" with whatever is going on.  However, I can be "miles down the road" before I slowly become aware that I am no longer "present and accounted for".

I wish I could say that this just happens when the topic discussed doesn't apply to me, or the meeting is going on ad nauseam,  but I find I can start out interested in something.....and then my thoughts are hijacked by whatever random ideas pop into my head.  Actually, it's more like a stealth infiltration.  I will totally switch gears, and am not even aware this has happened until I "surface" again.

I am a very visual person, so even in my head, I tend to map out plans, projects, lists, etc.  Sometimes I go so far as to "hearing" the conversations that will need to take place.  And yes, there are times when I vocally participate.  ( It surprises me, too.)

Part of the problem could be that I never feel content to do just one thing at any given time.  If I am watching TV, I am also catching up on my Yahtzee and Words with Friends game.  If it is not my turn, I have a "go-to" game that I play alone (Merged).

If I am knitting, I am listening to an Audible book.  If I am sewing, music is playing for my singing contribution.  Not so much a problem when I am at home, but if I am expected to sit still and "be present" for a meeting, I can promise you that after 15 - 20 minutes, I am doodling all over my notes and thinking about only God knows what.

During my 30 minute drive, if I am not on a scheduled phone call, I like to listen to my Audible (currently listening to Stephen King, "It" over 44 hours long.  I am in the last 3 hours.)   Lucky for me, I can hit rewind when I realize my mind has been busy piecing together my first quilting project, or going over what I need to get done for the day.

In summary, my brain is an untamed beast, the last Frontier, or my favorite entertainment.  What I know for sure is, I cannot hold a thought.  And now you know why.

Until next time,

your pal,

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Does anybody really know what time it is?

Time Traveler
One of the things I rely on is time.  I like to see clocks and watches, hear chimes and bells.  My day is guided by a print-out of "time".  Time commitments and free time. Fun things and not so fun.  But, I like to know where I am supposed to be, at any given time.

Time is something we cannot buy or save.  It is simply allocated so....

One of my PET PEEVES, is disrespecting time.  What I mean by that (and have mentioned it before) is, if a designated time is given to start something, let's get going.  On the other side of that coin (or clock), when time is up, it's over.  In football, before the game is over, we have the two minute warning.  I like to think of myself as the two minute warning, since I may be guilty of gathering up my things when the 2 minute warning sounds in my head.

Time changes can be a challenge.  While we have can save daylight (as in savings time) we can't really change the time.  However, the experience was different for me recently as evidenced by our recent trip to Arizona.  Now, we could totally plan for the 2 hour difference (this was prior to day light savings time) and we adjusted accordingly.  We advised family that we were running a couple of hours behind which eliminated early morning calls, etc.  Then came the day we visited the Grand Canyon. 

We didn't realize we were in a time warp until it came time to check in for our flight the next day.  The alarm set on my phone rang at 3:00 p.m. and I quickly switched over to my Southwest App.  No check in available.  How can this be?  We are in Arizona (hence Arizona time) and are leaving at 3:00 pm.  After several failed attempts, and EVEN KNOWING that Madison was two hours AHEAD of us,  I sent her a text and asked if she could check us in.  Soon her message came back - it's not time yet.  Hmmm.  Such a conundrum.  I synchronized my watch with Terry's...same time.  Went back to the Southwest app and checked flight time....nothing changed.  By now it is 3:30 p.m.  Madison then texted that she was didn't think we needed to check in for another 30 minutes.  I asked the all important question....what time do you have?  BINGO.  She had 4:30 pm which meant regardless of what my watch, IPhone, Terry's Apple watch and IPhone said.....We did not know what time it really was.

Okay, so we waited.  And then about ten minutes later, I checked my watch and instead of 3:40 pm, it now said 2:40 pm.  Terry had the same thing.  I think we all know what this means.  Terry and I have officially been designated as time travelers (still not sure what direction we were going).  I wish I could say it stopped there.  Seriously, the next 20 minutes were 2:45 now 3:50 now 2:51 now 3:55....I think you get the drift.

Finally at 3:00 pm (or 4:00) but more importantly at 5:00 pm Central Standard time (AKA Madison time), we had the opportunity to check in.

That's when we lost our phone signal.  Sigh.

No worries - the happy ending was that Madison was still watching and got the job done.

Until next time,

your time traveler,

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Sticks and Stones

Who remembers chanting these words (or a variation thereof) when called a name?   "Sticks and Stones may break my bones, but words can never hurt me."   I wonder if we ever really believed it - or it was just what it was.  A handy comeback.

And even as we get older (and realize how much words matter...and hurt), we still tell others (even our kids) to "buck up"; "what they call you says more about them then you"... and so it goes.  And the words still hurt. 

Many people hide behind the statement "I am just stating a fact."  MANY years ago, I started telling my kids "just because something is true, doesn't mean it needs to be said."   Given the explosion of false news and "facts", now I say "just because something is said, doesn't make it true"!  Both can apply.

When I think of all the subjective words we use (and represent as gospel), I am embarrassed.  And it seems that now, more than ever, if we use a word to describe someone, that is all they become.  And we all are so much more than just a word.  Yet the more we focus on a word, the more that is only what we see.

Word(s) can be so heavy.
An example that I have witnessed (and certainly been guilty of myself) is how we describe our kids or grand kids, to others.  I have noticed over the years, the word(s) we apply, become the personalities we accept. (expect?)  So now words become labels and anything "less than" could be cause of disappointment.  If you have a (grand)child that you always label as smart, when they confront something that they might not do as well in, are they now stupid?  Lazy?  Irresponsible? 

What about your child/friend/spouse with a sunny disposition?  Are they never allowed to have a bad day? 

Of course not.  Yet our minds tend to quickly arrive at the conclusion "what you see is all there is." 

The other day Terry and I were having a conversation with another couple about the City of Austin.  Someone mentioned a negative (subjective) about the city which started the discussion.  It would have been easy to focus on that one aspect but that day, I felt compelled to list all the things we LOVE about Austin.   The entire conversation ended on a more positive note.

What if we explored all aspects...of people, of situations......OF EVERYTHING, before we reached a conclusion?   And once we reach a conclusion, what if we allowed a reassessment from time to time?  And were open to change?

Am I crazy?  (or so much more)

Until next time,

your pal,


Wednesday, September 27, 2017

We do this everyday!

What do we do everyday - no matter our age, our gender, our station in get the drift?  HINT:  I did this many times today already.  And will continue to do this all day long.

No, it's not breathe (although that is a necessity of our being).  It's about decisions.  Decisions take many forms and begin either when we wake up or shortly thereafter.  Some of our decisions effect the future and some determine how we view the past.

Decisions can be automatic, bad, good, easy, indifferent, life changing (and so much more).  Yet it seems there are times when we pay no more attention to our decisions than we do to our breathing.  Why do you think that is?

It is your decision,  Make the best one!
I believe if I were asked, I would state that my intention is to make the BEST decision, every time.  And I suspect y'all would feel the same way.  If that is our intention, then why don't we do it?

Example:  Yesterday, after minimal deliberation, I decided to set my alarm for 6:00 a.m. this morning.  Since I needed to be ready to go by 7:00 a.m., this seemed like a good decision.  What I did not factor in was the number of times I would feel compelled to hit the "snooze" button before actually getting up.  While this wasn't a life changing factor, it did have me "picking up the pace" because I didn't actually get up until 6:20 a.m.  Then, when I was looking at breakfast options, I made the BEST decision since I went for the oatmeal versus all the high carb, high calorie options that were also available.  Two decisions that would impact my day before 7:30 a.m.  And I didn't even talk about the decisions on what to wear, how to respond to emails, etc.

Unfortunately, I don't always make the BEST decisions on eating choices (or life).  And when this happens, there are always consequences, some of which can be life changing.

It seems when confronted with a decision, we (speaking generally here-don't put this shoe on unless it fits) tend to think in terms of black and white, right or wrong, this or that.  Yet MANY times, we have the opportunity to think of different alternatives, we just don't.  We also fail to factor the bias inherent in all of us regarding any particular decision.  I like to say we all arrive at a situation wearing our own pair of shoes, and we change shoes all the time. 

At times, we (still general) tend to judge our decisions based on outcome.  This is giving our 20-20 hindsight full credit and we all know it contains information we might not have had when the decision was being made.  If we decide to ignore the speed limit and don't get a ticket, does that now make speeding a good decision?  Of course not.  All it makes us is lucky.  The next time the outcome may be different.

Right now our world is divided on many fronts.  And when I read about all the things where we differ, it seems each side is all or nothing.  And as we arrive at our decision, we arrive with the shoes WE are wearing at that point in time.

I don't know about you, but I have always preferred options.  This will not change for me.

Starting tomorrow, I will set my alarm for 5:30 am,  to allow for my snoozing.  It doesn't have to be get up or be late.  We need to look for options.

Until next time,

your pal,

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Don't cry because it's over

One myth I believed when I was younger (and not really that much younger) was this.  As you age, the only thing that changes is your appearance.  BAHAHAHHAHAHAHAHAHA.

For the days when I still had a filter, I am thankful!
If you don't laugh, you might cry.  I have found that there are many opportunities for modification as we get older. Now, please understand, I still believe that getting older is a blessing, I am just now able to more accurately identify what is first to go.

Contrary to popular belief, hearing is NOT the first thing. At least not for me.  Recently, I have noticed that in quick succession, I have lost both tolerance and my filter. Whoops.

Tolerance is a much used word these days, and something many people strive to develop.  So how can it be that I have lost it?  Let's look at the definition.

Tolerance can be the capacity to endure pain or hardship.  I still solidly support that definition.  How about "the sympathy or indulgence for beliefs or practises differing from or conflicting with one;s own"?    I am very tolerant of those difference from me - whatever the difference may be.  We are all different.  Finally, tolerance can be the act of allowing something  - and herein lies the rub.

The act of allowing something...I have some specific areas of concern.  My fuse is considerably shorter as it applies to stupidity (always struggled with that one), complaining (in the big picture of things, we have so much, and seriously, what does it change?), rudeness (I will call you out), the "gimme gimme" attitude (there is always something we can do), lying (again, now that I am missing my filter....), habitual tardiness (disrespectful), being disrespectful, (wow) and this list is not all inclusive.

Some days, aggressive drivers might make the list (depends on how many of the above were experienced prior to my driving experience).  Did I mention people who just talk to hear their own voice?  And it's generally those same people who ask for information, only to follow up with their own experience (bigger, better, greater, faster, more expensive,.....)

Wait, what about those who think nothing is good enough (until it is their own idea?)  I am on a roll now.

I just remembered how I have no tolerance for ungratefulness, for entitlement, for greediness of all things.

Yet, I would not consider myself an "intolerant" person.  Maybe up to this point, I have allowed those things to happen, considered them "noise" in the background.  So instead of losing my hearing, I am really listening now.  Maybe I am still very tolerant (big picture).  I am just now more sensitive to how it can be applied.

But the filter....GONE!

Until next time,

your pal,

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

There is always something to be done.

Next in my Dr. Seuss series
When I was first promoted to a leadership role, I really began to appreciate the nuances in every day language.  The difference between "You can't do that, can you?" versus "Tell me what you can do" invite entirely different responses....all driven by attitude.

When I replaced the word "challenge" with "opportunity", my view of whatever was before me became possible.  Too often we start with negative words or connotations at the beginning of a task.  And don't get me wrong, it's so easy to do.  But a person can become a prisoner if they focus on "I can't do _____."

Right now in Texas, the effects of Hurricane Harvey are being felt by over 30 counties (already being declared a state of disaster) with over 30,000 individuals and displaced families being housed in shelters.  That number will continue to grow as more rain moves into the affected areas, causing additional flooding, levees giving way and failing infrastructure.  It seems overwhelming.

And that is where we all come in.  All of us!  While we may be sitting "high and dry", we cannot remain unaffected by the plight that has struck our friends, our neighbors, our family of man.

The Red Cross is in full swing, committing 100% of all donations to these victims.  Whether it is $10 or $100, every dollar will be needed.  While churches and community centers in the affected areas are opening their doors to house those in need, churches and communities around the country are gathering socks, diapers, clothing, water....everything.  Because everything is needed.

Many businesses are donating a percentage of profits for a product, or on a given day, to support the relief efforts.  You can be a part of that by ordering a t-shirt or going to a restaurant on that specific day.

Can you give blood?  The supply situation is critical.  Now is the time.  Look for local drives being held in your area.

I have had many conversations about this dire situation, and the feeling of helplessness by so many of us is pervasive.

But there is always something you can do.  And always something to be done.

I will start with prayer.

Until next time,

your pal,

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

How did we get to where we are?

Fair question.  How did any of us get to where we are?  The devil is in the details - right?  The other day, someone said to me "you are so lucky (to be where I am at in life)  What is my secret?  For me, the simple answer is "choices" but in detail, this is what "my luck" looks like.

Since I was 10 years old, I have had an unwavering faith in God.  My faith has lifted me during some low times and also paved the path I am on.  Not all my choices have been the right ones, yet God's Grace bought me back.

Thank you, Dr. Seuss
I have worked since I was 14 years old.  That was the summer I had my first babysitting job (that I got paid for - siblings don't count).  This job was 7:00 am to 5:30ish and it was for three children, ages 10 (girl) 8 (boy) and 6 (boy who was deaf).  No, I did not know sign language.  Every weekday I walked about 1.5 miles to their house. The expectations were to make sure they were fed breakfast and lunch, have the house straightened before mom/dad got home, and to make sure that the children didn't do serious bodily harm to each other while all this was going on.  For that, I was paid $20 per week.  At the time, I thought I had "made bank".

By the time I was starting high school, my working had evolved year-round; still part-time but easily 15-25 hours per week.  I made less than one dollar per hour initially but by the time I graduated high school, I was up to $2.25 per hour.  Once I (and all my siblings) began high school, we paid for our clothes, fast food, gas money (after paying off the loan for first car) and shenanigans.  This wasn't anything less than expectations.  Thankfully, we weren't burdened by the now perceived necessity of pagers - then cell phones, and now basically handheld mini computers that are seldom used for calls.

I have worked full-time (and then some) for most of my adult life.  I have a couple gaps in time that never exceeded 8 months.  Those were more than made up for when I found myself working at times 2 jobs, sometimes 3 - during my adult life.  My mom also worked two jobs during that expensive time when she had five kids entering their teen years.  Again, this was the expectation if one needed a little more income to make ends meet.

I was able to stop working multiple jobs when I finally went back to school.  I took advantage of an educational incentive benefit offered by my employer, which allowed me to return to college and receive partial reimbursement. After the first semester (6 hours) I went full-time during the year and still took holiday and summer classes.  I took one semester off when I had Madison.  It took me seven years to get my Bachelors degree, but I got it done without going into debt.  I never quit.

Within one year, I realized I wanted to earn by Master's degree.  This time, it was without employer assistance and internships of 750 hours would be required in addition to the  60 hour core program.   This was completed in three years.

In a nutshell, that simple answer of "choices" is reflected above.  Those choices involved sacrifice, determination and hard work.  It also included what I call "stick to it iveness".  There were many times, I was tired, but I never quit.  Not mentioned through all of this is while working full-time, going to school full-time and getting the homework required done, I was raising a family.  Yes, I missed a few things, but I got the job done.

So...I encourage all of you (whether "lucky" or "unlucky") to do this simple exercise of "How did you get to where you are"?   The answers may surprise you.  And it's never too late to make a different choice.

Until next time,

your pal,

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

We are family!

Back in the late 70's,  (1979 to be exact) the song "We are Family" was released by the American vocal group, Sister Sledge.  This time frame was when I was in my early 20's.  Fast forward XXX amount of years, and this song is still VERY popular today.  It's the best theme song for ALL families.

We are family (the originals)
This was about the time us five kids were coming (or had already arrived) at the legal age that allowed us to go to clubs.  For those of you from Topeka, who remembers "The Old Way Station"? This was our first go-to club for music and adult beverages.  I am certain my brother-in-law remembers this old haunt since Erik, Lori and I took him for a night out when we first met him.  Both Katy and Tony were in the Air Force and Tony braved the first family intro meeting alone. Apparently we should have told him what happens in Topeka, stays in Topeka.  Yes, I got a call from mom the next day that started out "I hope you kids are proud of yourselves...."  Enough said about that experience.  But I feel certain that we all danced to our song.

Then there was another favorite "Rainbows".  Since Lori and I both worked there part-time, we always had the opportunity to request our song and get out on that dance floor (without waiting to be asked) whenever "We are family" was played.  Why?  Well, because we are!!!

Since that time, we have all danced together at parties, receptions, weddings, bars, in the house, or....even in the grocery store....whenever two or more were gathered and heard that song.

Recently, my niece got married.  It was just a matter of time before our song was queued up.  This song peels away time and years like nothing else.  Of course, my sisters and mom  (and me) hit the dance floor, but now I looked around at the different generations that joined us:   our own kids, grand kids, nieces and a nephew (plus a great niece and nephew) that all danced to this song as if it were just released.

Then we were joined by friends who are like family and the circle continued to get bigger until there really was no room left on that dance floor.  And as we sang and smiled and carried on like dancing fools, we could almost pretend that we were all there.

I don't know about the rest of my family, but for me, whenever I hear that song, in my heart, we are all still dancing together.

Until next time,

your pal,

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

I believe it has arrived!

It's all good!
Middlescence.  It historically has been defined as the middle-age period of life, especially when considered a difficult time of self-doubt and readjustment.  Wow.  What a Debbie Downer description of aging.  

If you would have asked me at 20 what middle age looked like, I am sure I would have said "oh, anytime after 40". I think I increased it by 10 years by the time I hit 30, but as it turns out, I didn't realize it arrives when things basically go to hell.

Happily, we all know that times, they are a changing.  And how we look at getting old(er) is much more optimistic.  Some people now define middlescence as the second adolescence. (WHOOHOO)

As evidenced, at 60, I haven't slowed down at all (well, not much).  In fact, it is safe to say that I am enjoying more adventure with less fear, than at any time in my life.  No difficult time of self-doubt and readjustment going on here.

This past year I have zip-lined (first time), skied (first time in 35 years), jet skied (first time) and snow-mobiled (first time - won't likely happen again).  We snorkeled while in Mexico (multiple times)  and most recently crossed the Royal Gorge in a gondola.  I actually also wanted to zip-line across the Gorge but they wanted too much money for the 30 second thrill.  

Where was all this interest and bravado when I was young(er)?  When I was a child, I didn't like to cross bridges (any bridges) and would typically hold my breath and close my eyes until we were across.  Once I started driving, I had to open my eyes but breath holding was still available.  

During that same time period, when the opportunity presented itself, I would go to Haunted Houses, ride roller coasters and watch scary movies.  However, I never liked being afraid and all those things inspired fear in me.  That is another great benefit of where I am at now.  It is obvious that I do more than I did in the past, AND,  I absolutely refuse to do anything that is not FUN to me.

I was talking to my sister a week or so ago and she said "why would you want to go zip lining?  We are too old for that!"  Apparently, I am not!  

Some of the same questions that plagued us when we were younger (where do we fit in this world, what will the future bring) have been answered, or at least, are evolving.  Based on my own experience, my sense of self and identity (while open to change) is now who I am.  This time of life can be very fluid as changes occur that impact relationships, health, job security, and financial status.

Yet I have never felt this serene. I believe this is because I know who I am, I know who I belong to and I recognize this world is not our home.  

When I think of self-doubt and readjustment, that seems to describe that time period for me which included my 20's and 30's. I recognize now the major flaw then was that I relied too much on my own understanding.  

I don't know about you, but I plan on celebrating my middlescence right up until "old age" (yet to be defined).

Until next time,

your pal,

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Don't ask me that!

Talking about the meeting!
I am sure you have all heard that popular saying "there are no stupid questions".  When it comes to meetings, (which I love to hate), I beg to differ.  Despite the very nature of meetings, there are some questions that should NEVER be asked.

Meetings make up a major part of my day.  It is not uncommon for me to have back to back meetings all day.  Once a meeting is on my calendar, that time is reserved for whatever topic that needs to be discussed.  I like the idea and structure of meetings.  Yet I find myself often disappointed.

Here is a typical scenario.  Let's say a meeting with seven people  (as shown on my calendar) is from 10:00 a.m. to 11:00 a.m.  Based on response, everyone is attending.  What this means to me:  I arrive a few minutes early and get settled, so the meeting may promptly start at 10.

What this means to 2 or 3 others:  Show up whenever it's convenient.

What this means to 1 person - With no notice, don't show up at all (keep them guessing).

What this means to the meeting leader (and this is where the first stupid question gets asked of the group).  "Should we wait?"  Once this question is asked, you have now told me that the offenders time is more valuable than mine.  Even though I am the one ready and willing to get started.  At this point, I can feel a sharp incline in my blood pressure.  I promise you, I typically assume the question is being directed at me and my answer to this question is always an emphatic "No".

If my answer is accepted, the meeting then commences.  Fast forward about 10 minutes.  Now we have the late attendee entering the room.  Second stupid question/comment - Should we take a minute (never a minute) to catch everyone up?  PLEASE DIRECT THAT QUESTION TO ME.....(see emphatic first answer above).  Translation:  we are now going to reward the disrespectful behavior by catering to the latecomer's clock and we will now have those who respected the meeting organizer and meeting sit there and listen to the same spiel for the second time.  THIS CAN HAPPEN MORE THAN ONCE!!

As we near the 11:00 hour (which has been imprinted on my brain and soul) as the planned time of conclusion, I can already tell that we are nowhere near finished (because we have had to start over at least once). OMG!

Call me a clock watcher, but my time is reserved and now I have options - miss the conclusion of thi
s meeting - or disrespect those who scheduled to see me at 11:00 a.m.

As God is my witness, I will gather my things and exit that room, regardless of who is running the show (or attending the meeting).

Then - I get the quizzical glance - eyebrows raised, like WHERE IN THE HE#* ARE YOU GOING?


Ok, I feel better now.

Until next time,

your pal,

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Too many words

Recently, I have been on a committee that is reviewing old guidelines, handbooks, etc. and there is one thing that became crystal clear right away.  When comparing what we have (or don't have) to other agency's, we tend to go all or nothing.  Meaning, 50 million words to describe a process, or none at all.  Sigh.
What a mailbox used to look like!

Unfortunately, the same holds true for meetings.  Have you ever noticed how much is said at a meeting that is unnecessary?  Out of context?  Repetitive?  Repetitive?  Repetitive?

Seriously, some meetings sound like this?  Participant:  "I think the sky is blue".  Me:  "I understand what you are saying, but if you look out the window, today it is purple".  Participant:  Okay, I think the sky is blue".  Not. kidding.  There are times when no matter what is said, one (or more) people will have the same answer for every comment.  WHY????

I will tell you why.  Listening is optional.  If you don't listen, you don't have to change your tune.  

IMHO, that must be why so many people like to "tweet".  It is a continuous process of 140 characters (not counting quotes, pools, videos, or images) at a time, shouting out....well, basically, whatever.  This is a huge upgrade from normal conversation where both parties are typically engaged, and some even listen.  

The other day, I was reviewing some different Twitter accounts I follow.  Here is what I found.  For those who are heavily involved in this one-sided conversation, you can learn all you need to know about what's going on with them....and not one word is exchanged.  Now, before I call, I can check certain accounts and quickly find out  - They are up, they had coffee, they are at work, they hate work, they want to go to lunch.  It's lunchtime.  They love a sports team.  Later, they are mad at same sports team.  It's beer o'clock.  Time to leave work.  Meeting friends .....(catch my drift)

And those are the individual contributors.  Every politician, magazine, newspaper, 501(c)3, etc etc also have to tweet what is going on with them.

Social media has changed how we communicate (and therefore, relate) to each other.  It is another form of instant gratification.  One can't expect to have intimate conversations with friends and family once they "go live".  It is a one stop shopping experience.  

Don't get me wrong.  I am not complaining (for the most part).  It's just an observation.

Maybe I should tweet that.

Until next time,
 (just saw on twitter that you can fill a water balloon with anything, it doesn't have to be water) 

your pal,

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Excuses, Excuses

Enough said on this!
Have you ever noticed it seems we live in a world of excuses?

Starting as a kid, we quickly learn the necessity (value) of a good excuse.  First, our parents (and other adults who love us) make excuses for us.  The screaming toddler in the grocery store - she missed her nap.  The quick reflex grab of a toy from another child - he doesn't like to share.

It all starts out simple enough.  And then as kids, we learned from the best, the value of just the right excuse.

Sometimes kids don't always get the excuse right.  When I was very young, my mom came in when my brother and I were both crying.  When asked what was wrong (basically who did what) I quickly got the first words in "he hit me...back".  Sigh

And all these excuses have led to the demise of a sincere apology.  I am so sorry but it wasn't my fault.  What does fault have to do with an apology?  Is fault the sole factor?  I think not.  Sometimes our behavior has unintended consequences and we need to own that also.  Accidents happen (and should be followed by regret).

As we get older, we may even start qualifying excuses for others.   Have you ever heard "There is no excuse for how John acted, but let's not forget who he has to live with".  So now what are we saying? Apparently John can't be assigned any responsibility for actions as long as he can be led by the nose? It's basically the other person's fault because we don't care for them and certainly don't want to assign any blame to the person we love?

IMHO, once a certain age of accountability is reached (may differ depending on maturity), ownership of one's behavior and choices belongs to no one else.  The word "but" should never follow any type of ownership or declarative statement.  (Think - I am sorry but....I love you but....)  I call it giving with one hand, and taking back with the other.

And one more thing, do people today not recognize the sheer power of the apology?

Enough said on this.  This definitely ranks high on my pet peeves so many categories.

Until next time,

your pal,

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

You can't have the cake!

There's the opening I was looking for.
When us five kids were growing up, there were many times we wished we could have something.  Rather than use the rather crude saying of "Put out both hands and wish with one and poop in the other.  See which one fills up first", we had a little saying.  I don't know where we got this saying, but I have used it on my kids and I still use it today.

You can see the cake, you can want the cake, but you can't have the cake!

No, this is not just about the food category, cake.  Though I am certain there were times when it did involve something as simple as dessert.  We liked to say this line to our siblings, complete with different accents, squeaky voices, hand gestures...whatever drama seemed applicable for the situation. That way, every time we said it, it was like the first time we came up with it.  And you can use this saying for just about any situation.

Next time someone starts with "I wish...." (and you know with absolute certainty that whatever is being wished for, ISNEVERGOINGTOHAPPEN) roll out your best Italian accent and drop that line. It is basically the kinder, gentler (and sometimes even humorous response that says, "that ain't never going to happen".

But the best part of this line is in the fact that you aren't TELLING them (which tends to fall on deaf ears) but more you are generally speaking of what you believe to be true.  This allows reflection on the other person's part - and may result in them reaching that same conclusion on their own.

So much energy goes into "wishing" sometimes.  One of my favorite quotes by Helen Keller comes to mind when I find myself focusing too much on what is not.

When one door of happiness closes, another opens; but often we look so long at the closed door that we do not see the one which has been opened for us.

At any given time, we are only experiencing an "episode" in the great TV show called life.  When an episode stands alone, we are missing out on the context of impact for the life as a whole.  And unfortunately, we can't fast forward to where our understanding finally intersects with our acceptance.

And sometimes all we want to do is understand.  But in reality, many things happen in life that we will never understand.  The best case scenario is to work towards acceptance.  This does not indicate agreement or because we even want to.  It allows us to quit staring at a door that is closed...and look around.

So for me, I will continue to scan the room for openings, even if I shut that door myself!

Until next time,

Your pal,

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

All these books, so little time....

Wow!  I am just coming off a 10 day vacation and I had the best time.  What goes perfect with long days at the lake (or pool)?  Late nights and lazy days?  You got it - reading.

I have loved to read for as long as I can remember.  When I was growing up, we had a bookmobile that came once a week during the summer, parked in the local grocery store lot.  I would walk the four blocks every week - with the first week signing up to read 25 books over the summer.  Nothing electronic then.  We signed up (really, on paper with a signature) and were given a list that was numbered one through twenty-five.  The only thing I could fill out immediately was my name and grade.  Then I got to reading.

Vacation Fiction
Through fifth grade, one of my favorite times of the school day was right after lunch.  We would all file in and take our seats, and then our teacher would read aloud to us for 15 minutes or so.  (It depended on how long the chapter was).  I distinctly remember in 5th grade, I was so interested in the book, I had to go check it out so I could read ahead.

In my junior high years, I went through a long period being very interested in all things biographical. Not only did I enjoy the reading part, I was learning as I went.

To this day, one of my favorite things to do is read.  As a "non-traditional" college student, I had to set aside my pleasure reading to keep up with my homework (and full-time family and job).  But the minute that last final was taken, I would be at the bookstore (notice the subtle shift from book borrower to book owner).

My kids liked to read also.  I have clear memories of Marissa in about 3rd through 6th grade.  She loved to read and also loved to skate.  Another match made in heaven.  We lived on a cul de sac with sidewalks so she would skate in circles, holding a book up to read as she skated.  This was the same girl that would have a book handy and pick it up to read during a spelling test - in between words!

Given the choice of a good book or television, a good book always wins,  Before DVR, I was more likely to watch the TV show and read during commercials.  But with the advent of DVR.....not so much.

Once the Kindle came along, I knew what true instant gratification was.  This has probably made the biggest dent in the impulse buying category of my budget.  Now if I see a book I want, or someone tells me about a MUST READ, all I need to do is go on my Kindle (or let's face it, even my phone) and order up the must have for immediate delivery.  That is even quicker than Amazon Prime (another weak spot for me).

In the pool (sans book)
So over the past ten days, I leafed through five magazines, finished a book I had started before I left, followed by three more fiction and two more of what I will call "self-discovery".  This took me up to my last day when all the "real" books and magazines had been read.  Not to worry, I had my Kindle with me that has at least a dozen unread (but ready to read) books in the queue.

The best thing about a Kindle is that you can have access to hundreds of books without the weight and space that real books take up when packing.  I still like to handle a real book on occasion and I bought all the books I took with me well before vacation.  Just a little teaser on the counter to look forward to,

So, what is your favorite book of all time?  There is no way I can limit myself to just one but I will toss out a couple, "The Book Thief" by Markus Zusak and "I Know This Much Is True" by Wally Lamb.

Until next time,

your book reading pal,

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Death by Qualifiers and/or Comparison

Taking a walk earlier this week, I found myself going in circles, literally.  It was too hot and humid to walk outdoors and 11 laps around the first floor lobby equal one mile.  I was walking at a fairly brisk pace and there was two people walking that I lapped not once but twice (once I started noticing). When I compared myself to the speed/progress they were making, I felt pretty good.  Yet for all the comparison, did it change one thing about my progress?

So I had to start thinking about comparison.  And here is the deal.  Depending on how you use it, you are either trying to make yourself feel better about who you already are....or tearing yourself down for all you are any given category.  And at the end of the day, comparisons do not effect change.

It starts out innocently enough.  As new moms, we might compare where our children are at in their development.  Fair enough.  However, I remember a story my mom would tell me about my dad.  He was very concerned that a baby around my same age had more teeth than me.  He didn't feel better until mom pointed out that developmentally, I was much more advanced (crawling).  And so it begins.  By the time kids reach the teenage years, a parent might say "my kid is no saint, but at least he isn't as bad as her kid."

Upon further reflection, the things I battle with are the things I tend to "shop around" for comparisons.  This could be age/weight related, how well I do my yoga (or not well), my clothing choices, height, degree of happiness....the list could go on and on.

What is the gain?  Why do you or me need to feel better (or worse) when compared to another person? What does it change for/in us?

with no qualifier or comparison!
Don't get me wrong.  Not all comparison is bad if used properly.  For example, if you are comparing a fruit dessert versus an ice cream sundae....forge ahead.  I would say there is NO COMPARISON but that depends on what you want to accomplish.

And while we can make ourselves feel pretty darn miserable by playing the solitaire game of comparison, there is something worse.

Have you ever had something you did (or didn't) do, something you are (or are not) compared to someone/something someone who allegedly loves you?  (Think - why can't you be more like your _______?)

Even a hero is determined by comparison to others and their actions (or lack thereof).

This was really brought home the other day when I was listening to a podcast called "Where should we begin" featuring the iconic relationship therapist Esther Perel.  She is sharing conversations with ten participating yet anonymous, couples who are seeking to better understand the details of "their story".  The stories all varied but some of the questions asked by the therapist still haunt me.  One line in particular was  "How does it feel to be someones disappointment for almost 20 years?" Another question she asked, and I continue to ponder is "Do you want to be right, or do you want to listen?"  Wow.

That brings me to the "almost" apology.  It starts out strong..."I am sorry" and then it is all taken back with the word "but".  I am sorry but...if you would listened; if you would have told me; if you would have....quick, get rid of any accountability at this point and render your apology worthless.  The same thought for comparison can begin "I love you, but".  ARGH.  What part of unconditional love is missing from this equation?

And finally, if it's not bad enough that we compare, and are compared, when we are just a tad more confident, we qualify what we are saying.  "Wow, you look pretty good for a ___year old".  Why can't we just look pretty good?  Or even better, pretty???  Or, "you look pretty good for someone who just had a baby?"  Again, same thought process.  Maybe if we have to qualify, we should just downgrade our initial assessment to more accurately reflect reality.  How about "Wow, you look ok".  Or maybe just "wow".

Can you imagine what the world would like like (assuming I am comparing it to now) if we spent as much time on our manners, our actions, choosing our words, being the answer to someone else's prayer for that day, rather than worrying about who might be smarter, prettier, thinner, happier (etc etc)?

I can't speak for the masses but I will say this for me, I have got to be kinder to myself.

Until next time,

your pal,

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Bikini Bias

In listening to podcasts, attending conferences and just reading for self improvement for fun, I have recently been confronted with (fill in the blank) bias.  It could be opportunities to test for racial bias, male (or female) bias, you get the drift.

I need truth in advertising
It's all very interesting to me because we all like to believe that we are cool with everyone, regardless of race, ethnicity, religion, politics, etc.  It's just not the case.

When taking the different quizzes, it quickly becomes apparent that some decisions we make are solely based on all the wrong things.  It could be a deep seated thought or feeling that was instilled when we were young,

And sometimes, what we think and feel, pop up at the most interesting times,  

Just when I thought I was able to recognize all things about me....biased, I had to confront a recent revelation.

What are those bikini bottoms called where there really isn't any "bottom" at all.  You know what I am talking about...the small triangle of fabric preventing frontal nudity but the bottom is basically a string that disappears once it is worn.

Okay,  I am not a prude and I have become quite familiar with seeing all types of swimwear (both male and female) while at the beach, on cruises or even at the local water park.  But I feel justified in drawing the line when I am out to dinner.

So here is what happened.  We (Mr. French and I) are out of town and just walking around looking for a "local" spot to enjoy adult conversation and dinner. Anything "chain" was eliminated because we always want to go for the experience.  We certainly got an experience that night,

We saw a very popular Sports Bar and Grill (judging by the parking lot) so we approached.  Two waitresses were sitting out front to greet us.  They did have on long sleeved halter type tops but hey - no big deal.  After exchanging pleasantries, I said "having a good night?"  One of the girls said "ehhh" so I just said "it's never fun when you are working."  She said the sweetest thing..."No, it's not that, I just see you two holding hands and I would really like a boy to hold my hand."

So nice, And we still do hold hands.  So in we went to the restaurant.  Mr, French was already looking at all the TV;s with a plethora of sports featured as we quickly grabbed a table.  Our waitress handed us the menus and took our order.  Once she turned to go walk away, a few things quickly became apparent.  SHE ONLY HAD ON SWIM SUIT BOTTOMS.  And by SWIM SUIT BOTTOMS, I mean what I referenced earlier,  Terry's face was as red as the ketchup bottle on the table.  He quickly immersed himself in the table top design.  I, on the other hand, began to take stock of my surroundings. Right away I saw I was severely over dressed for this venue.  In fact, for most of our time there, I was the only woman customer.

All the girls were very young and very slim.  We discussed the type of body you would have to have in order to work there,  This was validated when we saw a "normal size" girl relegated to clearing off tables, fully dressed.

And that is when I became aware of my bikini bias.  

Unless there was a Olympic sized pool in the center of the bar, and all channels were turned to swimming, I had a hard time justifying why this was still allowed (and happening without warning) in this day and age.  Comparing this sports bar to Hooters, makes Hooters look classy, and I have never been in one.  

And could have gone a long time before going in this type of "sports" bar.  Not conducive to the young girl outside just wanting to hold hands,

I felt bad for the girls (and they couldn't have been much more than 21 - if that).  I felt bad that they thought this okay for them.  All this while attending a conference and even speaking on a panel regarding women leaders - how far have we come?

I would have to say - not far enough.

Until next time,

your pal,

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Proceed with Caution!

Proceed with caution!
As we were coming home from church on Sunday, we noticed the entrance ramp onto the highway was closed,  There were detour signs posted and we mindlessly followed the postings.  Right away, we realized we were heading in the opposite direction of where we were supposed to be going.  Mr. French said "What kind of detour is this?".  We stayed with it and after a couple of miles out of route, we were back on the highway, heading in the direction of home.

This week when I went to the dentist, I was scheduled for a cleaning only, however, x-rays revealed that a few old fillings were failing and needed to be fixed.  The doctor said they could work me in RIGHT THEN if I was so inclined.  Instinctively I wanted to say "NO".  This was not the direction I envisioned for my day.  However, by allowing myself to say yes to "the detour" I avoided much of the anxiety associated with an upcoming dental visit.  I pondered this as I enjoyed the loud sound effects of the drill while my mouth was propped open with a "mouth assistant".

So then I had to start thinking how many times we have a plan for a day, vacation, career, family....heck, life in general.  And things just don't go as planned...or don't work out at all.  At that moment in time, wouldn't it be such a blessing if signs instantly appeared saying "detour"?  We could then quickly divert and just follow a new route.

Because eventually, we do follow another path when things don't work out.  We may intentionally think the situation over and try to make sense of next steps.  We may prayerfully seek guidance. Other times we simply react.  This can lead us to take the scenic route or the road less traveled.  We may bypass all the detour signs that life has thrown at us and prefer to go off-road to make it work.

Eventually we will have to stop.  Stop and review the situation.  Consider how we got to where we are now.  Consider other routes.  Obviously, the detour on the highway coming home did not stop us from wanting to get home.  It just changed the way we needed to go.

Not all detours are as bad as they initially seem.  Before Mr. French and I met, we had each traveled different roads.  We had no idea when the roads we were on ended, where life's detours would take us. Yet here we are.  Together.  Twenty plus years later, still loving (and liking) each other through the many seasons of marriage.  We are a result of previous life detours.

And now we navigate life's detours as a couple.  It's funny how things work out.

So, when life (instead of baseball) throws your a curve ball, shift your perspective.  The outcome of what happens next, will depend on the choices you make.

Until next time,

Your pal,

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

You are never too old.

At various times in my life, this thought has crossed my mind "I am too old for ____" (fill in the blank).  As I reflect on some of those things now, I realize just how wrong I would have been and what I would have missed) if I stayed with that mindset.

Starting young, we become "too old" quickly.  That transition from 6th grade to junior high was harsh when one realized we were now "too old" for recess!!

Then I thought I missed my window of opportunity when I did not go to college immediately following high school.  I didn't even revisit that possibility until I was 36 years old.  Working full-time with two daughters at home, I started slow.  Taking two classes to see if I could "still keep up".
Obviously this is "before class"
In my twenties and working at my first "adult" job, I remember a couple of women fast approaching 30.  The conversation revolved around hair cuts.  They both had longer hair and we all knew that once you reached 30, you were "too old" to wear long hair.  I actually laughed out loud when I thought of this the other day.  Why would we even think that?

There are so many things you will never be "too old" to accomplish.  I know several women who battled with their weight for the majority of the time I knew them.  Yet once in their 50's (and possibly coinciding when their children were grown), they successfully began a healthy routine that for them, resulted in weight loss.

Another woman I know began taking piano lessons (again).  I am not just talking about myself here. What a delight to be reminded of a joy that was left by the wayside many years before.

Sister Nori, while perhaps not as active in sports as I was when we were growing up, started with the "couch potato to runner" app  a few years back and is now a regular runner.  Not just running for fun (is that an oxymoron?) but actively competing in marathons of various lengths.

This past year I have done many firsts (and a few repeats from VERY LONG AGO) that I had decided at some point in time I was just "too old" for.  Jet skiing, snow skiing, snow mobile rides (probably won't do that again unless I am driving), snorkeling, zip lines....SO MUCH FUN!

But wait, there's more.  I entered the world of Yoga recently.  I have dabbled with this in the past but because my flexibility is like that of a giraffe, I never stayed the course.  When the opportunity to participate in yoga was made available at work, I joined in on this two times per week adventure. I felt pretty good about my level of participation, etc.

Until last night.

Since Madison is home for the summer, we made a "Bucket List" of many things we would like to do together.  I included cleaning out the refrigerator (since I hate to do that alone) and she indicated she would like to take Yoga together.  After talking about it, and researching different studios, we made our move last night.  It was then I realized that my midday forays into Yoga were only child's play compared to this class.

And we loved it.  I may have been the oldest one in our class (jury is out on one other woman) but what I realized was....I am not TOO OLD to do this.

So, in typical fashion, we have signed up for four more classes.....this week.

Until next time,

your pal,

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

For the next 60 seconds - THIS IS ONLY A DRILL!

When I was a kid (back in the olden days), our school conducted two drills per year - a fire drill and a tornado drill.  Besides being guaranteed to get you out of class for close to an hour, the thought has always been that if you know what to do, you have the best chance of survival.  And the more you practice something, the better you will know it.

I still remember the tornado siren sounding at noon every Monday.  This was when the sirens were routinely tested in the event they were ever needed.  People who live in Kansas and Missouri relied on these sirens.  In Texas, sirens are scarce and we rely on the news (really scary).
You can run...and hide!

I also remember the radio and TV tests conducted periodically for the Emergency Broadcasting System.  "For the next 60 seconds, our station will be conducting a test for the Emergency Broadcasting System.  This is only a test.  In the event of a real emergency, you would be instructed...." . Obviously I heard this one frequently enough to have it permanently tattooed on my brain.  Thankfully, all I have ever heard is "the test".

That part really hasn't changed in today's world.  What has changed is the number of drills you now have to be prepared to know.

Today I attended a Lunch and Learn on Personal Safety and Active Shooter Awareness.  WOW!  This is a far cry from exiting the school single file (no pushing or shoving) for a fire drill.  

Active Shooter Awareness, along with Workplace Violence weren't commonplace during my time in school.  Not so much when we were raising our older kids either.  But now, today's generation will never know a time when this didn't happen with such frequency that it requires practice.

Yes, today I learned that fire and tornado drills are not enough.  We need to regularly participate in an Active Shooter drill.  And before we ever practice what we would do, we need to know what we should do.  Unfortunately, this does not apply to only one scenario.  Whether we are at work, at school, church, the movies...any place we go in this world, we need to have a plan.  As it has become increasingly apparent, there is no such thing as a safe place.  

I also learned that the philosophy surrounding personal safety (in any situation) has changed significantly.  Growing up we were taught, "don't resist, do what they say" which now basically translates to "hope for the best".  Today we were told to FIGHT, FIGHT, FIGHT.   That means a lot of different things (and there is no one right way) but basically, do not give in without doing all you can.  It's ironic, because I have always told my girls, if someone approaches you with a gun and wants you to get in the car, RUN, RESIST, SCREAM,  Because people who want to do you harm, are going to.  Make sure you do not go willingly.  And now that philosophy is here.

The reoccurring theme in today's training was  -don't be a victim.  That thought process interests me in so many different themes of life but today we are only talking about one.  It made me think about how crime is reported.  Affected parties are labeled crime "victims".  It would seem our terminology makes it easy to fall in that category but our presenter from Public Safety says otherwise.  He made it clear - you might get hurt, you might get killed but do so from a position of resistance.  Do not be a victim.  Maybe we need to differentiate between "victims" and "resisters".

So my takeaways - be aware of your surroundings always (don't text or play with your phone).  When you are out and about, identify your exits and don't let yourself get boxed in.  You have three choices in an emergency situation "run, hide or fight".  If you can do either of the first, go for it.  Otherwise, FIGHT (and make it loud).  You will want to be heard!

Until next time,

your pal,

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Fake news!

Sometimes the things we see on TV cause us to pause....and maybe ponder "is that really happening?"  "Did that really happen?"  "Will that really happen?"

Mainly because (as I have discussed before), if you don't like the 10-day weather forecast, or the slant on news being reported, please just change your channel.

Lately we have been hearing much about cyber attacks in our country and around the world. Apparently, a criminal no longer needs to take human hostages in order to demand a ransom.

For example, it has been reported that hospitals have had to cancel surgeries, appointments, etc. when a cyber attack was launched on their system, with many $$$ being demanded before the system is "freed".  Obviously, no one wants to negotiate with cyber terrorists, as this just sets the stage for more demands.  And there is no real guarantee that you will ever get your system back intact as before.

On a more personal level, a computer in our household was taken hostage this week.  We even received a call from the attacker, telling Mr. French to pay  $2,500 in Itune gift cards (must be the newest form of untraceable currency).  He was even provided with a convenient location close by to make the purchase. Wow!  How is that for customer service?

Now, no one's life was threatened and no operations had to be put on hold, but I am here to tell you, this is a damn inconvenience.  It is not just his computer that was locked up.  We had unauthorized transfers appearing on our bank accounts that needed attention immediately.  Fortunately, Mr. French drove straight to the bank and had all accounts frozen.  We spent quality time changing passwords on every type of account we have ever opened.

I will mention at this point, that changing passwords may be the worse thing that has happened. Apparently at some point in time our memories must have been taken hostage since we can't seem to remember anything anymore.  Or maybe it's just our ability to memorize new passwords.

Ok.  We will survive this heinous attack but there are some lessons to be learned.  If this should ever happen to you, DO NOT give any personal information.  Thankfully, Mr. French did not.  Another tidbit, your computer is not ruined.  Take it to any reputable (think geek squad) IT business and they can clean up this mess.  (for a fee, of course).

Until next time,

your pal,

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Be aware (or wary) of your surroundings....

Think about it!
The conversation went something like this...."Hey, what are you doing?  Are you having a good day?"  I couldn't quite hear the response but it must have been funny as it elicited quite a chuckle.

Before you get all fired up about my bad manners and eavesdropping, let me explain my surroundings in more detail.  Because I can promise you, for a quick minute, I thought I might be in the wrong room.

BUT NO!  I was right where I intended to me - the Ladies room.  Also know as the lavatory, restroom or "down the hall".  Typically, said room is reserved for bodily functions that do NOT include talking on the telephone.  I wish I could say this has only happened once (it has not) or that the chatterbox in question was relaxing on the sofa in the "sitting area" part of the restroom (they weren't).

The first time it happened, I thought they were talking to me.  After I realized the situation, I thought it would be humorous if I put a sign on each stall that said..Please do not confuse this confined space with a telephone booth.  Before I got too far down that road I was reminded that not everyone appreciates my sense of humor.

Count me "out"
The next time I was privy to private conversation in a private place. (sigh) I was curious.  Keep in mind, the phone did not ring. This tells me that our mystery guest behind Door #1 did not feel compelled to answer.  The call was placed after our contestant was "seated".  What must the recipient of the call think, when they hear awkward noises (intentionally vague) followed by loud flushes?

I try not to be intimated (like I was the first time) by a phone conversation.  Yet it happens.  I catch myself pausing before I flush, trying to time the subsequent whoosh with the conversation.  Why must I feel this way?  It's almost as if I AM DOING SOMETHING WRONG.

If I were to compile a list of acceptable behaviors in the lavatory, it might include some of the following:  Actually using the facilities as nature intended; washing hands; looking in mirror to check appearance (including teeth); comb hair; brush teeth (if you must); change clothes; get water for plants.  Have I forgot anything?  You will immediately note it does NOT include "talking on the telephone".

Don't get me wrong.  In the big scheme of things, this is just one of life's little mysteries.  Please don't read this as a call to action.  It's not something we need to gather signatures for, stage a sit-in, or call the local TV station and ask for the "problem-solvers" department.

I won't speak of this again.....unless I see Clark Kent change into Superman because of his confusion over what that stall really is for!

Until next time,

your pal,

P.S.  Just tell me Face Time is NOT part of this equation!

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