Monday, October 18, 2010

Bubble, Bubble, Toil and Trouble

Yesterday I had lunch with my Mom in Champaign. We went to a 'new place' to eat, so I was looking around at the restaurant, taking in the setting.

The hostess, after seating us, went to 'work' stringing up this HUGE fake spiderweb Halloween decoration across the booths facing the entrance. She was diligently pulling on the cottony stuff as we ate. When we were almost finished, my Mom looks for a moment at the huge spider web and the gal on the ladder and Mom then looks at me and says very matter-of-factly, "She's been working really hard on that piece of crap."

I cracked up at that comment. Laughed out loud for like, 37 minutes. The waitress came over and asked if I was okay. And, for a moment, I considered going to California and plugging my own show-"BLEEP my Mom Says!".

When I finally calmed down, I agreed with her. Because you see, my family is not 'big' into Halloween decorating. We just haven't ever really gotten into it like some folks do. So I totally understood what Mom meant. It was a lot of time spent on something very 'unimportant' and 'unnecessary' in the 'grand scheme of things' (at least in Mom's eyes).

That statement got me to thinking though...about how we all have opportunities to 'work really hard on pieces of crap'. Now, piece is going to look different from yours...but I am humbled by the thought of how we use our time. About the thoughts that occupy my important is it for me to nurse that grudge I've got? How much have I failed to grasp because my hands were too busy holding onto bitterness?

I realize that much like the hostess picking and pulling at that batting, I can pick and pull at the people in my life. I can stand up on my own ladder and look down at folks. I very hard on a piece of crap.

My friends, there's nothing wrong with Halloween decorating. There is, however, a finite amount of time in each of our lives. What can you do today to benefit those around you?

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

But I haven't lost my cool!

"Give me your phone!", my husband says.

"Why?" I ask.

"I've lost mine."

"Well, you're not getting mine! I don't want you losing it too!" I reply. (See, I wasn't born yesterday!)

"I want to call my phone and see if I can find it that way," he patiently explains. He dials his number. Listens to hear it ring.


He lets out a disgusted sigh and heads out to the garage to look there.

I know what this means, people. Because we've been through this same thing before. With other items. Spaniels with money.

(okay, that last one was made up. I'll admit it.)

It means, quite simply, that 'm going to have to find his phone. You see, I'm much better at finding stuff. Seriously. Stick me in the mountains with a barrel of whiskey or something around my neck and I'll locate some lost skiers for you. I'm that good!

But if I honestly look at myself...well, I should tell you, my friends...that I can lose things just as easily as my husband.

In the past I've lost my place in a book because I was interrupted 452 times by children wanting to know important pieces of information. Questions like, do we have any glitter? What happens when you flush a Lego creation? Can I feed the dog peanut butter?

I've lost my place in line at the grocery store because I suddenly remembered that I needed tumeric.

I've lost my voice cheering for my favorite team.

I've lost track of time sipping coffee at the Steeple, chatting with a friend.

I've lost my temper trying to parallel park my minivan.

In fact, the one thing I DON'T seem to be able to lose is ten pounds. Go figure.

However, what I can lose the quickest is my perspective. Especially if I begin to worry. Looks a little like this:

'What if my husband can't find his phone? It's a company cell phone. He'll have to pay for it! We don't have the money for that! I'll have to get a second job and sell the dining room set on craigslist! And what else has he lost? What if he loses his job over this? Where will we live? What if we have to live in the minivan? Worse yet, what if I have to parallel park???'

See what I mean? When I worry...I get lost.

My friends, worry doesn't help. It's a poor excuse for control. You're better off if you sit down, take a deep breath, and stay in 'the now'. That's how you keep your perspective. Don't go rushing off into the future...just sit still for a moment.

Wait a second. Am I sitting on something? Hey! Guess what? I found his phone! What did I tell you? I'm good!

Monday, August 9, 2010

The plane truth about change

When I find something that I like, I tend to hang onto it.

You know, like the doorhandle when my sixteen year old drives. Or that one Valentine's Day card my husband purchased for me in 2000.

Let's face it. I'm not a huge risk taker. I am not a speed demon. I don't bungee jump.
I haven't wrestled an alligator. I don't even like taking 11 items into the Express Lane.

There was this one time, though...when I took a deep breath, closed my eyes, and held desperately onto my seven year old daughter's shoulders as we slid down a snowy hill.

Well, halfway down. The incline wasn't that steep, now that I think about it.

I tend to play it safe. And I know what I like. My favorite ice cream? Vanilla. My favorite purse choice? Your basic black.

Don't get me wrong though. I'll try new things.

Just not 'risky' new things.

There was one time in my life when I did do something totally out of my comfort zone. And it changed me forever.

My Dad was working on his pilot's license and offered to take me up in an airplane.

Now there are two things you need to know: One-I'm really afraid of heights. Two-my Dad believes that a couple of tiny bicycle-like seats and a small sheet of plexiglas surrounded by a layer of what appears to be red tinfoil is 'an airplane'.

To this day I do not know what possessed me to 'get in'. But I did. I remember finally getting enough courage to look out the window and down. The cars on the road were like Matchbox cars! Meanwhile, my stomach was trying to exit my body through my left elbow. In fact, I had just enough wits about me to scribble my "Last Will and Testament" on a gum wrapper from my pocket when we landed back on the ground.

Relief doesn't even begin to describe how I felt. However, I cannot even look at a Matchbox car!

Recently, I've been dealing with a couple of different changes in my life. It hasn't been easy for me. I am a creature of comfort. I actually don't mind a bit of a rut. Predictability is okay with me.

But once again, I've made the decision to step out of a comfort zone and try something different.

Am I frightened? Yeah, I am. Not 'is that huge growling Marmaduke of a dog on his leash or not?' frightened...but I'm nervous. And I think my stomach is aiming for my right elbow this time around.

However, once in a while, you need to get out of that comfortable rut and do something daring! My friends, we can't really understand what our potential is until we stretch a little and stick our neck out.

So try something different today. Don't drive that same boring route to work. Wear your hair down instead of up. Ask that cheerleader on a date. Get some whipped cream in your Starbucks. Say hello to that neighbor you've never met. Let your daughter give you that makeover. Buy some mint chocolate chip ice cream! And get that new purse. I hear taupe is the new plaid...

Monday, July 12, 2010

I spy with my Magic Eye

I can't curl my tongue.

Can you? Lots of people can do it. I am not one of them.

One day in sixth grade, I spent about fourteen hours just trying to curl my tongue. It was totally frustrating me that this apparently simple task was not something I could succeed at doing.

"You do it like this," my friends tried to show me. To no avail.


It has bothered me for years. Well, until the 1990's anyway. That's when I discovered that I had a 'cooler' talent than tongue-curling.

No, it's not acid washing jeans. No, it's not dancing the Macarena.

I discovered that I can figure out Magic Eye 3D animation.

It all started one innocent morning at my job. I was on break when our computer guy came running in with a large framed poster. He set it on a table in the breakroom against the wall.

"Can you see it!?" he asked, excitedly.

"Can I see what?" I responded, sipping my soda.

"The rocketship! Can you see it?" he was rubbing his hands together and kind of bouncing up and down. I hadn't seen Mark this excited since he'd gotten a new supply of floppy disks and a color computer monitor.

"What I see is a lot of weird designs," I said. I looked at the poster more closely.

"Focus on the center," he instructed.

"Okay," I said. And I stared at the center of the poster. My break was almost up but I was afraid that if I tried to leave, Mark would freak out on me. Suddenly, there it was! A rocketship! And not only a rocketship...but a 3D rocketship! How cool was that??!!!

"Well?" he asked, anxiously.

"I see it!' I cried out. And that was when Sandra walked into the breakroom. I grabbed her arm.

"Can you see it?" I asked, just as excited now as Mark. Both of us were bouncing now. "Can you see the rocketship?"

Sandra looked at each of us like we were crazy and looked at the poster. "I don't see any ship." She glanced at us again. "What is that goofy picture supposed to be?"

"It's a rocketship," Mark said. "It's right there!" I pointed at the picture.

"I don't see it!" Sandra said. And I tried to help her. "Look at the picture like you're looking through your car windshield. Look THROUGH the picture."

"Look through the picture?" she rolled her eyes at me. "Girl, you need a longer break." and she walked out the door.

Mark left the poster there in the breakroom and at lunchtime I was back...looking at the rocketship. Several people came in to see it. And two groups began forming. Those who could 'see in 3D'...and those who could not.

It began to get a little ugly at work.

"IT'S RIGHT THERE!" I said, trying to outline the ship for someone. "RIGHT THERE! CAN'T YOU SEE IT?"


I was stunned. It was so simple! How could people not see the hidden image? What was wrong with them?

And that, my friends, is what is wrong with the world. Not that people can't figure out Magic Eye posters...but that I think there's something 'wrong' with them.

We all have different talents and abilities. We all have something that we are good finding rocketships...and we all fall short in other areas. Like tongue-curling.

One ability is not better than another one. One talent does not make you more 'special' than having another talent. What's important to remember is that there is SOMETHING that you are good at doing. Focus on that.

Can you see it?

Don't spend too much time trying to curl your tongue. Or find a rocketship. And don't think you're better or worse because you can or can't do those things.

The world would be a boring place without 3D images and tongue tricks, wouldn't it?

Thanks for reading!

Monday, June 28, 2010

What's in your disc player?

I think my daughter is actually excited about our vacation.

It was 'touch and go' for a while there. She wants to see the ocean. We're not doing that this year. We're going to see hills instead. Which did not please her at first.

However, the other night, she had an attitude adjustment.

It all started at dinner, when we were discussing some of our plans for the trip. At one point the topic of music came up.

"I could make a mix CD for us to listen to on the way there!" my daughter said. My hubby, (whose musical tastes are NOT the same as those of a fifteen year old girl) promptly piped up with, "I ain't listening to that stuff you listen to the whole way there!"
(He doesn't have the grammar skills of a forty two year old woman either!)

My daughter cracked up at his statement. And she determined then and there that "I ain't listening to that stuff!" would be the title of the mix CD. She's been working on it for the past 3 days now. I think she said yesterday that it would actually be a boxed set of three CD's. Vol. 1-3 of "I ain't listening to that stuff!"

I gave her some suggestions for songs that her father would listen to and it's been funny watching her select the music for our vacation.

Music has been a vital part of my life since I was eight years old or so. That's when I got the 45 record player and my Mom's collection of 45's. I hadn't heard of any of the artists before, and didn't know that there was an A side (the 'hit song') and a B side of a 45. I played the songs with the most interesting titles.

I distinctly remember coming across a song called "Chicken Necks". It was by two guys called Don and Juan. I put the needle on the record and in an instant was captivated by them. The lyrics were incredibly funny to me. "...chicken necks is all I eat!" was just one phrase in the song.

I loved it. It made me laugh. And so I played it a lot.

One day I'm in my bedroom, singing at the top of my voice with Don and Juan about their precious chicken necks, when Mom walks in.

"What are you listening to?" she asks.

"You should know," I reply. "It's your record!" She goes over to the record player and picks up the 45. "I never listened to this!" she claimed. "I listened to the song on the other side. What's Your Name. That was their hit song."

I had no idea I wasn't listening to the 'hit'!. Friends, I listened to the 'hit song'...and I must confess...Chicken Necks was WAY BETTER! The other song didn't make me laugh. And, it did NOT have a beat you could dance to...

Lately I've felt that I've been listening to the 'wrong side of the record'. I've been struggling with some big changes in my life, and not handling them as well as I'd hoped. The '45's' in my head weren't the music I needed to hear. We can get so caught up with the negative side of life that we have a hard time focusing on the positive. When I heard my husband declare, "I ain't listening to that stuff!", it made me remember that I have a choice regarding the 'voice' I listen to each day. I can listen to the 'stuff I don't want to listen to'...the negative one...or I can choose the positive B side of the 45.

My friends, choose wisely in your circumstances. You can choose to be upset with your family because you can't go to the ocean or you can turn that frown upside down by finding something to focus on that gives you joy. Like making a mix CD for your family. You can go with the crowd and listen to the boring hit song or you can dance the day away to a rousing rendition of "Chicken Necks". It's up to you.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Plant Pondering

I have several things planted in my vegetable garden. There's cucumbers, tomatoes and weeds. I've got onions, peppers and weeds. Oh, and some green beans, lettuce and weeds.

Okay, so I didn't technically plant weeds, but for crying out loud! How do they get in there?! I did not put them there! And how do they manage to grow so quickly when the rest of my garden seems to take YEARS to grow?

It's a mystery that my little Nancy Drew brain can't seem to get a clue about weeds.

While we're on the subject though, here's another thing I can't stand about them. You have got to keep pulling them or they'll take over the garden. Some weeds, I've noticed, are somewhat easy to get rid of...but others are tough! I've tried pulling some weeds that I would swear have been taking steroids and have a greater muscle mass than I do!

Weeds are sneaky as well. Some of them disguise themselves to look like a vegetable plant. I pulled one the other day that had a reddish root on it and thought I'd pulled a radish up! Conniving weeds...trying to trick us into thinking that they are 'good' for us...when they're not.

Ask any of my gardener friends and they'll tell you to get rid of those weeds when they're small. Because once they're well-rooted, you have to really work to pull them out. Sigh. Some days it's almost discouraging for me to go out to the garden because the first thing I'll notice is the weeds. Not the plants. I sigh heavily as I consider the hard work ahead of me. I'll think, "Why did I plant this stupid garden in the first place? It's WORK!" Sometimes I think that my garden is the ONLY one out there with weeds. Some days I just want to think about eating those Big Boy tomatoes with some bacon and lettuce. I don't want to think about putting on gloves and getting dirty pulling weeds. Where's the fun in that?

You know, our lives could be compared to a vegetable garden. Let me ask this: How do you handle the weeds in your life? Are there some little, niggly weeds that you find you have to routinely pull out? Are there some that look like they're beneficial plants but aren't? Maybe you've got some really tough, tall weeds in your garden that you can't seem to pull out on your own because the roots are so deep. You might want to get the help of another gardener for those. One thing is for sure: regardless of the size of our gardens, or how long we've had a garden, we all need a weed whacking system in place!

Because every garden has weeds...I'm off to my garden now. You know, maybe I'll try pushing those weeds instead of pulling them. I might get a better workout that way!!

Monday, May 24, 2010

I'm positive that you're my only hope!

My blood type is B Positive.

Or, as I like to call it...the optimistic blood type. And I'm not sure it's the one I should have, due to my personality. You see, most days I feel like, 'I'm A Negative person. But I try to B Positive.'

Yeah, some scientist out there has a really, weird sense of humor.

Recently my mother had to get some blood before she has a surgical procedure. We were talking about our blood types and we were trying to figure out, on our own, which ones were the universal donors and which ones were rare, etc. Very fascinating stuff, I know! When I got her home, I went to Wikipedia and found some information on blood types.

Because that's the kind of geek I am!

I wanted more information. I wanted to know the facts. I wanted to have more control over a situation than I felt I had. Knowledge is power, and I felt a little powerless about how to help my Mom at the moment.

After I found the answers to the questions we were looking for (and I'm not going to bore you with those here, you can find the answers on your own!), I started to surf for something to watch on her tv.

And I came across Star Wars. The first movie. The one that all of us over the age of thirty refer to as "Star Wars".

It had just begun. And I stayed there a moment, watching R2D2 and C3PO get across the laser fire-filled hallway to the other know, where they meet up with the princess.

"Help me, Obi-Wan Kenobi. You're my only hope."

Don't know who Obi-Wan is? Don't understand why he's Princess Leia's only hope? Then I suggest you try Wookieepedia, the Star Wars Wiki.

Because that's the kind of geek I am! about pressure! Her 'only hope'. Princess Leia was trying to fix a situation, and put her hope into the one person she could think of that could help her. And if anyone could handle pressure like that, it was Obi-Wan.

So often, my friends, we will put our hope into things that really can't, in the long one, fix or control our situation. We rely on money, or jobs, or people that aren't Obi-Wan. And we end up disappointed. Disappointed when we lose that job, when the relationship ends, when we try to give blood and find out that our iron count is too low and so we can't give that day and we have to come back another day, but it's okay because at least now we know what our blood type is, right?

It's hard to be positive when you're in the midst of disappointment. When you're wanting to fix or control something that requires more than the resources you have available. Negativity can rush right in, can't it?

Don't give up. When you're down and disappointed, stay hopeful. There is One, my friends, who can handle things WAY BETTER than Obi-Wan. That's one thing I am positive about...! New hope may be just the thing you need!

Incidentally, when they came out with the newer Star Wars films, they began calling "Star Wars" something else. They began calling it "A New Hope".

I learned that from Wookieepedia.