Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Early Detection Can Save Your Life

Shortly after breast cancer awareness month ended, new US guidelines for mammograms were announced. People across the country joined forces throughout the month of October to remind women of the importance of breast health. We walked walks and talked about breast self exams and encouraged women to get mammograms in an effort to increase early detection and save lives. And then THEY tell us, we shouldn't really worry until we're 50. 


Last month, I found three lumps in my right breast. Because I make a regular habit of pretending like everything is just great, I considered ignoring them for a moment. But then I remembered my friend and my cousin who are breast cancer survivors. Both of them found lumps before they turned 50. My friend was in her early 40s and my cousin was in her early 30s. I remembered my aunt who is a breast cancer survivor as well.

I remembered when they shaved their heads as they endured chemotherapy. I remembered when they were too weak to walk the walks themselves. I remembered when they were scared and when I was scared for them. I remembered their courage and their defiance toward the disease. And I remembered the early detection which is what ultimately saved their lives.

Here are a few quick facts from the American Breast Cancer Foundation:
  • More than eighty percent of women who develop breast cancer have no family history of the disease...one out of eight American women will get breast cancer.  
  • When breast cancer is found in its earliest stages, your chances of surviving are at least 90 percent or better.  
  • While it is true that the majority, up to 78%, of the disease is found in women in [their 50s], there is still a significant number of cases found in women under the age of thirty. In fact, most cancer found in younger women is more advanced. 
  • Most breast cancers have been present for 8 - 10 years before a lump is found. 
I am happy to report that I have fibroid cysts, not cancer. I am very fortunate. Eliminating the option for mammograms before 50 and essentially making light of the importance of early detection is criminal as far as I am concerned.

Keep doing those self exams ladies. And keep pushing your doctors, your insurance companies and your legislators to encourage early detection and mammograms for all women.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Life Online

The internet is good for so many things. The world wide web literally brings the world into your home. It opens the door to far away lands, new perspectives and innovative ideas. It introduces you to people whose paths you may have never crossed. Ideally, the internet expands your horizons, enlightens and educates you and makes life a little more fun.

Because it's so cool, the internet can suck you in and consume your time. In fact, in some instances it may consume your life. And after hours and hours online, meeting people and chatting and sharing ideas, the internet can become a big part of your life.

The beauty of the internet is that it's faceless. Of course, people post pictures and build profiles but the internet allows you to be anybody you want to be. Often it's easier to talk online too. It's sort of like going out for a night on the town in a foreign city that you'll probably never visit again. You let your guard down. You let your inner self come out without fear of judgment or repercussion. Online it's easier to piece together what you'll say because you get to type it and delete it and type it again before you hit send.

And because of the newness and the easiness, people are just more likable online. You get to know them quicker without all of the nonsense of every day getting in the way. Before you know it, your friend count has dramatically increased.

The problem is, that is just your life online. These are your online experiences with your online "friends." And it is real life... But real life also includes face to face, tactile experiences.

People will disagree with me but you cannot live your whole life online. You just can't. And I think doing so gives you a warped sense of reality, sometimes of what's appropriate and it bolsters your expectations sometimes making them quite unrealistic.

Life online is good. But it is not the only life. And it should not be your whole life.

Monday, November 09, 2009

Belly Bomber Birthday

Normally, I would bake cupcakes or cookies for an office birthday. But when the birthday boy or girl doesn't have a sweet tooth, one must find a suitable substitute. That was the situation at work today and  I thought a White Castle Crave CaseTM might hit the spot. 

When I was a little girl, White Castle burgers were a treat. Once every few Fridays, on our way home from a night with the family at my grandpa's, my dad would announce that we were stopping to pick up some "belly bombers." I loved the cheeseburgers with no onions which goes totally against the concept of the White Castle sliders. But dad would order them and we would wait for an eternity for my special order to come up.

Today's special treat took roughly 15 minutes and, as expected, it did hit the spot. I've heard it said that you don't have to tell people that you're cool if you're really cool. And now I know it's true. All you have to do is bring a Crave Case into work for some guy's birthday.

White Castle Crave Case is a trademark of the White Castle Management Company.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Deep Breaths

My chest tightens.
My heart pounds deeply.
Tension wraps around my neck.
Deep breaths.

Psychology and physiology
wage war on the battle ground
that is my body.
Deep breaths.

Deep breaths fail
to release me from the grips
of my own anxiety.
Deep breaths.

The more I think
the more desperate I feel.
Why can't I make it stop?
Deep breaths.

Deep breaths.
Deep breaths.
Deep breaths.
eventually help me escape.

Give What You Want

I've heard it said that we attract what we project. And I've heard it said that if we desire change for our lives, we must emit positivity into the atmosphere. Give what you want, in order to get it.

While I like the idea and I believe in the power of prayer as well as the power of positivity, I struggle to figure out how I repeatedly end up in certain situations. There are so many days when I look around and wonder "how is this my life?"

What signs do you project when you consistently command the attention of dirty, drunken men over 50? How do I stop emitting the "don't-worry-I'll-cover-your-ass" vibe? And is there something about me that screams "she's not very smart?" Because certain people keep trying to pull one over on me.

I don't see the world through rose-colored glasses and my cup is not always half full. But if this keeps up, I may pull those glasses on and view my cup from another perspective.

Sunday, October 04, 2009

Baseball's Best Times

They were some of the best times. And they revolved around a sport I never played and a group of strangers who became like family. They were some of the best times.

On any evening of the week, we would gather on the worn, gray wooden benches in section 509 of the old Busch Stadium in St. Louis. The gamers, the regulars, the season ticket holders occupied rows one through 12, seats one through six. Our seats were located next to the shallow, dirt-filled pit where the relief pitchers stayed in wait for their turns to take the mound.

Little space lived between the rows. Often times, the person in front of you sat square between your knees and if someone wanted to pass through, you’d have to stand atop the bench. Close quarters, to say the least. And it was the proximity of those strangers that accelerated the getting-to-know you process. Before long, we not only knew each other but we cared about one another.

Back then, the fans and the baseball players got know each other as well. The bullpen sat level to the bleacher section. Players often meandered over to the fence and chatted with the fans. They rarely signed autographs but they engaged season ticket holders in conversations, shook hands, laughed at jokes and interacted on a regular basis with the people who supported them on a regular basis. And just as we had gotten to know each other, we eventually got to know those players. We knew their families and signed cards for their birthdays.

In the good times, we celebrated together. A couple of years in a row, the team clinched their division at home. Each time, there was a party at our bar. I remember one year, standing at the bar and a line of players walked through the door, stopping to hug me as they passed. There was a unity between the players and their fans that was unbelievable. They were a part of our community, citizens in our world. And in turn, when tragedy hit, like the deaths of Darryl Kile and Jack Buck, we endured the pain together.

Then we moved into the new stadium. Our location is similar yet we are considerably further away from each other. There’s more room in the bleachers and the new metal benches now have backs on them. Someone can pass by in the row without you having to move an inch and unless you make the effort, you will never meet your neighbor in front of you. The bullpen is huge and deep in the stadium and too far away to even say hello.

Last Saturday, the Cardinals clinched their division and later some of the players walked into a bar where many Cardinals fans were celebrating. They stood in a group down the bar and eventually gathered at a few tables for a celebration of their own. They did not shake hands or share a toast or offer a "thank you" to the people who support them day in and day out and across hundreds of miles.

It reminded me of days gone by. And I missed the way it used to be. They were some of the best times.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Field of Dreams

Slowly, we made our way down a narrow gravelly road nestled between corn fields and corrals inhabited by smelly but beautiful cows. My 7 year old nephew was enthralled. So much different than home... The colors were so vibrant and rich. The smells? Well, they were... strong? The sound of the wind rustling through the corn fields was unfamiliar but calming.  My nephew and I agreed that we really liked Iowa.

Suddenly, the rustic beauty of the farm country was interrupted by... baseball! 

This year marks the 20th anniversary of the movie THE FIELD OF DREAMS starring Kevin Costner. The original set of the movie still sits in the middle of farm country in Dyersville, IA. It's become quite the tourist attraction over the years. 

The boy and I unloaded our baseball mitts from the back of the car, pulled on our sunglasses and hit the outfield for a little game 
of catch. Then, we headed into the edge of the corn field to get our pictures taken. 

"I'm melting!" he laughed, quoting the movie.

Later, we picked a spot on the bleachers to watch a family that was running the bases and taking a few swings at the plate. We ended our visit with an expensive visit to 
the gift shop where we bought gifts for everyone back home and my nephew collected the spoils of a child who had been accidentally nailed by a fly
ball that his aunt had thrown. (Yes, I hit him. ON
the Field of DREAMS. I know...)

What a great day that neither of us will ever forget! A dream come true of sorts, right in the middle of a field of corn...

Friday, September 11, 2009


Today is the 8th anniversary of the day the world stopped. Or seemed like it stopped. 

Eight years ago. I was working as a traffic manager at an ad agency. Every morning before I left for work, I would sit in front of the TV, watching the today show & eating my breakfast instead of working out, which was my intention nearly every morning when I woke up. Shortly after flipping on the television, I watched as the 2nd plane plowed into the side of the World Trade Center. It was completely unreal. I thought maybe I hadn't seen it right or it was a figment of my imagination. But then the news anchors started shouting and asking each other if, indeed, that was a plane. And then life shifted to slow motion. And reality unfolded right before our eyes.

I went to work that day anyway. But we all huddled in one office, listening to the radio that belonged to our senior art director. There was speculation around our city that various buildings would be closed in a national security effort. And throughout the morning, an uneasiness settled in my stomach. I just wanted to go home and be there. Finally our senior art director stood up and said, "I'm taking my son [one of our production artists] and we're going home to be with our family." Soon we all followed suit. Nothing seemed more important at the time.

It was a day that changed the way I looked at so many things. It reminded me of how much I loved my family, of the pride I have in country, of the joy I find in my freedom, of how short life is and that we should do our best to truly LIVE and leave a positive imprint when our time is up. It reminded me to be thankful for every day and for the hard work and dedication of others. And it taught me that we have a responsibility for self but also toward each other.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

The Shape of the River

"My boy, you've got to know the SHAPE of the river perfectly. It is all there is left to steer by on a very dark night. Everything else is blotted out and gone. But mind you, it hasn't the same shape in the night that it has in the day-time.' a passage from "Life on the Mississippi" by Mark Twain.

In the moments when you think you know everything, you must step aside and discern if you understand it all in context. Do you know what to do with that EVERYTHING that you've acquired over the years? How is that knowledge to be used in the broader sense or in big picture of life?

No matter your age or experience or purpose, I think we all reach points in life where we wonder what is left to learn or we feel like we may have reached the pinnacle of our expertise but a grad school professor reminded me last night that in these technology driven times, it's easy to think you've grasped a concept completely. The world wide web has placed new ideas and information at our fingertips. But to replace the benefits of person to person learning with web surfing would be a grave mistake. To substitute online learning and research for opportunities to be educated by those that came before you could be a devastating error. 

There are things that people know that the internet does not. You can learn a lot by observing people, shadowing your mentors, emulating their behaviors and the tactics that worked for them. There are secrets people can share, if you are so lucky. There are little tricks along the way. 

A time will come eventually when even the old people grew up with computers in their homes and laptops instead of spiral bound notebooks in school. But those times are not yet. And there's still so much to learn and so much to be passed on.

I love technology. I am here, right? But there's something in the history, in the old ways of doing things that is so pure and individualistic. And there's a learning that comes from others that relates all things to life and not simply to the task at hand.

My teacher reminded me of Mark Twain's "Life on the Mississippi." It's a memoir of Twain's life as a cub pilot on a steamboat that traveled the Mississippi. In it there is that passage, mentioned above, in which Twain is schooled on the importance of understanding the shape of the river. Much like life, when you work the river, knowing how to drive the boat is not enough. Knowing how deep the water is or how many miles you must go is not enough. Knowing the route or mapping out your journey is not enough. You must understand the context in which you are doing those things. You must have a full grasp on the big picture. You must know the shape of the river so that even in the darkest night or the fiercest storm , you can find your way.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Go to Bed!

Me: "I'm getting sleepy. I can hardly keep my eyes open."

Him: "Well, go to bed."

It was a simple comment. Just a comment. Not a plea for assistance. I said, it not to invoke my father's advice but just to say it. But with his father's ears, he heard a dilemma that cried out for a solution. He heard a problem that needed a fix. And so... In a serious and direct tone, he responded as best he could.

My dad's always been a sort of no nonsense kind of guy. He has a bit of a sense of humor and he laughs once in a while. But he's about the business of the day. And he sees no cause to complain or whine or whimper when nearly every situation in life has a quick fix like, just going to bed, for example.

I never really caught on to this no nonsense approach. I am more of a good time Charlie. I like to have fun, I love to laugh and I've found that it's the not-so-funny parts of life that provide the most humor. In other words, I talk just to talk sometimes and I complain because it's funny.

Dad doesn't think I'm funny at all. He just wants me to quit my whining and go to bed. I think that's hilarious.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Second Chances

Perhaps it is because I have been given so many second chances in this life that I believe in giving them to others. Where would I be without a second chance? I could have been an orphan, to start. I may have never graduated college, given that I was kicked out with only 12 credits left to complete. I'd probably be unemployed since last year was such a giant cluster.

Three years ago, I wrote a blog about being remembered for the good you have done in life. Often times, the only way that can happen is if we are given opportunities to right the wrongs we've done. In that blog entry, I wrote a bit about my high school friend, Kathy Donaway. (Read that entry here: 

For years I had lived with the feeling that I had mishandled our relationship and I wondered if I would ever see her again, much less talk to her. Thanks to the dawning of the social networking age and the brilliance of Facebook, Kathy and I reconnected. We spent hours one night just talking and we got down to the heart of some very important matters in our lives. And I'm proud to say, thanks also to a second chance, Kathy and I have renewed our friendship.

It's so easy to carry hurts of the past on our shoulders and to enter into second chance opportunities bound with preconceived notions and almost a determination to fail. It didn't work before. I messed it up the last time. People don't really change. Many thoughts can prevent us from giving a situation or another person or ourselves a second chance.

I realize that not everyone will have my experience. And the outcomes may not always be rosy. But proceeding with an open mind and an open heart can lead you to discover things and people that you may have missed. You may be presented with experiences that result in cherished memories. And, if nothing else, you may find within yourself the courage just to try.

Wednesday, August 05, 2009


We are all familiar with the idea that if you are told something enough, you will start to believe it. The concept can work both positively and negatively.

When one of my Goddaughters was little, people complimented her regularly, telling her how beautiful she was. Because she was painfully shy back then, she'd smile sheepishly and hide behind me when others talked to her. Then one day, as we stood in line to check out at Target, the cashier looked up and said, "You are so beautiful." My Goddaughter leaned toward the register and responded, "I know."

After years and years of hearing how pretty she was, my Goddaughter began to believe it. And the words of others sounded more like fact to her than compliments. She responded with confidence, not conceit. She had been told over and over that she was beautiful so it must have been true.

At the opposite end of the spectrum, the mental toll that negative words can have on the human spirit is astounding. Research shows, in simple studies, that if a person is told repeatedly to think about something, their "thought energy" shifts and their brain waves change to reflect those thoughts. So if someone is told that they are no good, worthless or a failure on a regular basis, their mindset changes to such a degree that they can become no good, worthless or a failure.

I don't believe that we are aware in many cases of the affect of what we say to the people around us. And, I am often amazed at how cruel we can be when it comes to inflicting hateful words on others, especially strangers.

I think the greatest demonstration of this behavior occurs in the sports arena. If a team or a player is slumping or having a rough time, otherwise happy, cheerful fans can become mean. Perhaps they think that reverse psychology will light a fire under those athletes. Or they forget that athletes are people too. But I have to wonder, if someone came to your job every day and, while you tried to work, yelled and screamed about how bad you were at your job, if you'd get much done. If the people around you constantly yelled that you suck or you should just go home, wouldn't you want to just... go home?

In my younger years, my tongue was much sharper. But my compassion for others has grown recently and I have become very aware of the importance of compliments and the value in kind words. Negativity breeds negativity. Positivity breeds positivity. We should choose our words wisely.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Rain Delay

You spend so much time preparing. Learning. Studying. Practicing. Then, just when you've gotten started and everything seems to be progressing well, the rains come. And it's time to pull on the tarp and wait out the storm.

Sometimes it comes as a surprise but even when you see the clouds rolling in, you can't help but be a little stunned. And you may even be in awe as you just sit and watch it pour. You pay close attention to the speed and the intensity of the drops as they fall. You feel the water roll down your face and drip from your chin as you head for cover.

You distract yourself for a while. Conversation. Nap. Food. Games. Television. Music. Anything to pass the time. Perhaps you study a little. Try to learn from past mistakes or the experiences of others. Practice what you'll do next. Practice makes perfect, right?

There are days when the rains come right on time. You know you're not as prepared as you'd like to be. You're not ready for the situation. And the storms sort of bail you out. Buy you some time. And there are days when you feel so ready, like nothing could stop you. You feel better than you've every felt. Then the skies open up and put your day on hold.

But in that "everything happens for a reason" way, you do what it takes to get through it. Eventually, the clouds scatter and the sun reappears. And when the tarp is pulled back, you run back on the field and get back into the game.

It was only a rain delay after all. Not the end of the season...

Thursday, July 09, 2009

From Engelbert to Paul...

My grandmother had a thing for Engelbert Humperdinck. According to my aunt, Grandma always used to say, "Engelbert Humperdinck can put his shoes under my bed any time." My mom says she loved Paul Newman too.

I didn't know my grandma for very long. I was 10 months old when she died. But she sounds like a woman after my own heart. She didn't really have a type when it came to men. She loved the dark-haired Indian with the silky smooth voice and the blue-eyed dreamy actor and she married my grandpa who was tall and skinny and had a sense of humor that was out of this world. 

Grandma and I would have been great friends, I think. And we certainly would've enjoyed talking about men.  Not only because I don't really have a type either when it comes to men (and not just because I also think Engelbert and Paul were very hot); but also because I love a man for who he is and the characteristics he offers, not simply because he fits a mold. 

Maybe it's because I don't really fit a mold myself that I don't hold others to a certain set of requirements. I'm not sure. But I do know that finding the right guy when you really don't have a list isn't always easy. And everyone and their brother wants to fix you up with everyone from Engelbert to Paul in the hopes that you will stumble upon someone suitable in the process. 
And it's as taxing as it is exciting.
And I understand the frustration of the people around me who just want me to quit complaining and find someone to spend the rest of my life with.

I don't know who the right guy is. I don't know if he's dark and mysterious like Engelbert Humperdinck or dreamy like Paul Newman or spontaneously funny like my Grandpa. The possibilities seem endless. And once you settle on one, the possibilities just end. 

I wonder what Grandma's advice would be.

Sunday, July 05, 2009

Freeze Pops on the Front Porch

We got lost somewhere. I'm not quite sure when it happened. But we made a wrong turn.

I remember the Friday nights at Grandpa's, playing wiffle ball in the alley or chasing the dog around. There were lawn chairs set up in a huge circle. I can still see the smiles and smell the cigar and cigarette smoke. I remember Richard mostly and his wild head of curly blonde hair. He could always be found in the midst of the fun.

I remember sleepovers. Hot rollers in my hair and disco music on the record player and everyone dancing... "And if you can stay awake, Michele, you can watch Saturday Night Live in the boys room." I never saw it. Not once.

I remember vacations. I remember fishing and pontoon boats and cannon balls into the pool.

I remember feeling like I was the luckiest kid in the world to be surrounded by such amazing people. And I still feel that anticipation in my stomach when I'm on my way to a family gathering because I hope that when I open the door, it will be just like it was back then.

I remember freeze pops on the front porch. I remember wagon rides. I remember wishing at one point in time that I could be each and every one of you for one reason or another.

But we got lost along the way. Just as people do. We each wandered in our own direction and for some, other things and people became more important. For others, life sucked us in and away and distracted us.

I can't help feeling like we made a wrong turn. I can't pinpoint it. I know life got complicated for each of us in our own way. I know life got complicated for me. And it's not the same now. I miss the excitement of just being together.

Today, I sat around a table with my aunts and uncles and listened to stories about my grandparents and great aunts & uncles. And they laughed like they used to in the yard behind the tavern that Grandpa owned. They said things that I'm sure would have been whispered back then so that "the kids" wouldn't hear. And I laughed. What a gift! What a golden opportunity!

And I worry that if we don't get back on track and figure out where we went wrong that the story telling will end with them. And that my kids won't know you, cousins. I worry.

This family is all I've got.

Our Flag

on the front porch of my parents' house... God Bless America!

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Obama at the All-Star Game

Reports came out today announcing that President Obama would be throwing out the first pitch at the 2009 All-Star Game in St. Louis, MO. The President will be the fourth president to have the honor, joining John F. Kennedy, Richard Nixon and Gerald Ford in the baseball history books.

I am also scheduled to be at the 2009 All-Star Game. The St. Louis Cardinals who are serving as this year's hosts for the Mid Summer Classic mistakenly forgot to invite me to sing the National Anthem. So I will be sitting in my seats in the bleachers. If I can get in the door...

I have been in this very place once before, my friends. The excitement of a new day had been building for quite some time. A St. Louis Cardinals opening day, in fact... I had placed my ticket under my keys by the door the night before, ironed my shiny white jersey with the birds on the bat across the front and barely slept a wink in anticipation for said day. FINALLY! The sun rose and the hours passed and, along with my bleacher buddies, I hurried to the stadium... TO WAIT IN LINE. For three hours.

You see, it was 2004 and now, former President George W. Bush tossed out the ceremonial first pitch for the St. Louis Cardinals home opener. It was a security nightmare. The snipers on the roof were fascinating but the lines to get inside were ridiculous. I don't remember when I actually got to my seat but I can tell you that I never saw that first pitch and I certainly didn't hear the National Anthem.

St. Louis Cardinal history is filled with Hall of Famers who are worthy of the first pitch honor. Why not give it to one of them? Why not Lou Brock who was an all star himself 6 times or Bob Gibson, the 8-time all star? How about Red Schoendist, the 10-time all star or Ozzie Smith who was selected for 15 all star teams? There are plenty of other viable options for the duty. And they are options that will not require the city to turn upside down completely in the name of safety and security.

The last time St. Louis hosted the All Star Game was 1966. It was reportedly 105 degrees that day and spectators were passing out in the stands. The game went 10 innings and the National League won, 2-1. Brooks Robinson was the MVP. I have no idea who threw out the first pitch.

Monday, June 22, 2009


A man with integrity is a man who is incorruptible. He is a man who does the right thing simply because it is the right thing and not because he will gain from it.

A man with integrity is an honest man. He is a man who lives by a valiant set of values or rules without wavering.

A man with integrity stands up for the truth and those that represent it even in the moments when it may not benefit him.

And I believe a man with integrity is often a generous and considerate and caring man. For these things go hand in hand.

When a man lacks integrity in any part of his life, the fallout spills over into every nook and cranny. The outcome effects not only him but also his family, his friends, and the people who surround him on a daily basis.

Eudora Welty, a short story writer, once said, "Integrity can be neither lost nor concealed nor faked nor quenched nor artificially come by nor outlived, nor, I believe, in the long run, denied." I believe what she means by this is that integrity is something that comes from within and while it may not be recognized immediately, the actions of a man who possesses it will be recognized eventually. And she makes it seem like integrity is a rare find. I might agree with that.

Some days, it may not seem worth the risk, to act with integrity. As a people, we are far more concerned with advancement and success, with money and material items, and with fame and notoriety than we are with being truthful and honest and doing the right things.

Integrity is the little voice in your head, the angel on your shoulder, the feeling in your gut that lets you know you're on track. It's a knowing deep inside of you.

Alan Simpson once said, "If you have integrity, nothing else matters. If you don't have integrity, nothing else matters."

Friday, June 12, 2009

Tavern on the Green

Recently, I was notified that one of my photos of Tavern on the Green had been chosen for the New York guide by schmap.com. Here is the photo and the link to schmap.com!


Tuesday, June 09, 2009

Repost: "You Mustn't Mess Me About..."

This was originally written and posted in October of 2005. I am reposting it for three reasons. One, I don't have the energy right now to think up another witty but impactful blog. Two, this will sadly always be relevant. And three, until men stop thinking it's funny to pick on the fat girl or to make a joke of her, I will stand up, fight back and, dammit, I'll be heard.

Being a big girl isn't easy. Any big girl can tell you that. Usually you don't come to the realization of your bigness on your own. Someone else or maybe a group of others helps you along. And for many girls of the FAT persuasion, that reality is soon followed by a diligent effort to build up a fort of trustlessness. Walls designed to keep out the evil fat-girl-haters and that can only be penetrated by a handful of family members or friends who love you EVEN THOUGH.

34 years into my big fat life, comments about my size still hurt my feelings. Even implications that I am large is a pretty big blow. Recently, I got into an argument with a guy because he said, "You could probably kick my ass." I lost it. Why would he say something like that? Perhaps he said it because he could see the muscles in my arms bulging through my shirt or because I appear to be athletic and agile. No, no... He said it because I am a big girl and as you know ALL big girls can kick ass... Right?

In another recent incident, a co-worker of mine commented that I "look better when [I] wear [my] clothes looser." As opposed to when they are just too damn tight? I am sure she had the best of intentions. She just wanted me to know I looked nice that day... Right?

Dispelling common beliefs about big girls could be a lifelong campaign. And I don't know that I'll ever reach enough people to [make waging that war worth it.] But right here, in my small corner of the world, I will say this: Having more of one thing doesn't mean you have less of anything else. The extra weight has not taken the place of feelings and sensitivities. And contrary to what you may have heard, the added pounds are not accompanied by thicker skin.

Although for years we big girls have laughed it off, looked the other way, pretended like it doesn't really matter... It is not funny. We look the other way because it's too painful to listen. And yes, it REALLY DOES matter.

I think Bennie in the movie CIRCLE OF FRIENDS said it best when she said, "You mustn't mess me about. I know I may look like a rhinoceros but I've got quite a thin skin really."

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Old New Friends

Tonight I learned that your friends, your true friends, are always your friends. Time and circumstance may separate you. Others may invade or occupy the space that friends once filled. Careers and new opportunities may create distance between you. But when the time is right... when you really need them... not simply when you THINK you really need them most, but when they are supposed to be a part of your life, they will be. Your true friends are always your friends.

Twenty years may pass. But it's comforting to know that once you're all back in one room, the conversation may have matured or changed due to life experience but the friends are still the same. The phrases you once shared still work. The laughter is familiar. Some of the old jokes still stand. And your friends are still your friends.

And at the same time, it's all new too. Your old friends, after twenty years, are your new friends. They are your old new friends. With new stories and different experiences that have brought them through your time apart to get to now.

Twenty years ago, when you were 18 years old, you couldn't imagine life getting any better. You were surrounded by your four best friends, laughing and plotting and planning the future and pulling off seemingly impossible but unforgettable moments. Life was joyful and fun, even when it was painful. Because it doesn't get better than five friends on a new adventure every day.

But it does get better. Time and circumstance may separate you. Others may invade or occupy the space that friends once filled. Careers and new opportunities may create distance between you. There are births and deaths and divorce and a lot of other things you'll never discuss. But when the time is right, your old friends will be new again. And the hugs will be better. The sincerity of emotion and feeling is stronger and more solid. Ashley still won't get the jokes. Cammie will still giggle until she's red in the face. Sylvia will tickle you with her stories and catch phrases. Mikki will spout off all the "what's meant to be." Roxanne will stay quietly committed. And your friends... Your true friends... will still be your friends.

Thank God for that.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Finding Yourself

There is no one schedule to follow on the journey to find yourself. There is no one prescription to cure your ills along the way. There is no one path nor one map for that matter...

For some of us, it seems a never-ending voyage, a rocky road filled with disappointment due to either poor choices or unsavory circumstances. And often times there are few answers to the hundreds of questions that weigh on our minds.

The easy part of finding yourself is having the power to define or create who you are. The hard part of finding yourself is deciding who you will create. There are people who seem to know who they are from the moment they are born. I am not one of them.

Knowing what I like and understanding where I excel comes easy but I have lived my life by trial and error. Settling down is taking me longer than I anticipated (and probably longer than my parents wish it would have). But I think I've done enough testing. I have had plenty of highs and hit enough lows to know, now, what is good for me and what is bad and where I belong.

I have yet to completely find myself; to create the loving, caring, wildly successful & exceedingly happy woman that I want to be. And until I do, I will keep living. Really living.

"Be patient toward all that is unsolved in your heart and try to love the questions themselves like locked rooms and like books that are written in a very foreign tongue. Do not now seek the answers, which cannot be given you because you would not be able to live them. And the point is, to live everything. Live the questions now. Perhaps you will find them gradually, without noticing it, and live along some distant day into the answer." ~Rainer Maria Rilke, Letters to a Young Poet

Sunday, April 19, 2009

2-1/2 is Normal

I park on the 2-1/2 floor. That's right. 2-1/2. Not the 1st floor or the 3rd floor. Not even just the 2nd floor. I park on floor 2-1/2.

And I think my parking habits are generally a good reflection of how I operate in the rest of my life. Simple isn't really my thing and neither is normal or standard. I enjoy different, slightly left of center, not quite right.

I love quirky people and odd cars and I think fat babies are happy, no matter what the media tells us. I also think skinny girls are just mad because they're hungry; they're not really stuck up.

I have a thing for the ugly guy in the group. I don't know why. It just happens. (No offense, of course, intended to guys who are aware that I have liked them.) I love to laugh and my humor is not always appreciated by others because I can find humor in just about anything including death and religion. My Jesus t-shirt is evidence of that. (It about put my mom over the edge.)

I've never heard people say, "that girl's just not right," but I'm sure it's been said. And that's ok.

I could eat collard greens for breakfast and I love the smell of a sweaty man with beer on his breath. I would sit for 12 innings in the rain just to see a Cardinal victory, especially if they were playing the Cubs. I sleep with 6 pillows which is not only weird but it says something sad about my love life; and I wrap myself up like a burrito in my blankets in the winter. When I was a kid, my favorite chore was scraping "bone dust" off of the meat in my dad's butcher shop.

I love to be barefoot but I hate feet. It's my greatest contradiction in life. I hate rules but I love process. That's my second greatest contradiction. How does the top three round out? I am extremely claustrophobic but I love to be hugged.

In this life, the greatest lesson I've learned is that everybody's normal is different. We cannot judge one another by the standards we have set for ourselves. Lifestyles, tastes and the way we do things vary based on our normal, how we grew up, where we've lived, what we've learned. The fact alone that we were raised in different homes, under different circumstances makes our normals different. The fact that you'd rather park on the 3rd floor or the 2nd floor because parking on 2-1/2 is not quite right makes our normals different.

2-1/2 is normal. It's my normal. Even if it makes you a little uncomfortable...

Thursday, April 09, 2009


Everything is preparation for something. Or so I've been told. I think people say that to help you see the lesson in troubled times or to make the best of a less than stellar situation. The first time I heard anyone say that, I had been sitting up all night with the worst sinus cold of my life. The wife of one of my pastor's told me it was God's way of training me for the long, miserable nights when I would be awake with sick children. If that is, indeed, true, I have had an awful lot of preparation for parenthood. And, at 38 years old, I sometimes wonder why because I don't have any kids yet. 

For the last two days, I have taken care of my friends' kids. Watching more than one child, in my parents' home taught me quite a few things.

The first lesson was that I don't want to have children AND live with my parents. It's too much work. Even when my parents think they are helping, they are really just getting in the way of my process. And, unfortunately for my parents the baby, who they were dying to hold, was not having it so there wasn't much they could do. In reality, babies go through phases where they only want one person so, it was sort of a test for me. And my mom.

Secondly, having two children to wrangle confirmed my belief that above all else, organization is key. Preparing for the next phase of the day while they sleep is critical. The only thing I can't figure out is how I will live without TV. And what I mean by that is how I will live without putting my kids in front of the TV so they will be occupied while I do normal every day things like shower and use the facilities and perhaps sneak in a drink of water.

Finally, it became crystal clear to me that staying up until 2 AM is not a good idea when you have to be showered, dressed and fed before the kids are up. I also realized how much I missed my long hair and being able to throw it in a ponytail as well as how over-rated these acrylic nails are.

Believe me, prior to this week, I had plenty of practice with motherhood. I helped raised my 2 Goddaughters who are now 16 & 18 and there was many a weekend when I had their 5 siblings as well. But I don't know how I could do all that and work outside the home. That revelation was a little disappointing given the tremendous amount of consideration I've been giving to having children on my own, without a spouse or significant other. 

So much to consider... Maybe all things are not preparation. Maybe some things are pop quizzes to see if your ready for the big exam that lies ahead.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Play Ball

It seems my ball playing days are over. I am profoundly saddened by the idea given that I have played one sport or another every year since I was 6 years old. That's 32 years of sports under my belt! And now, I am a player without a team.

When I was 6 years old, I played my first year of softball. I remember practicing in the parking lot of school. I think my coach was Mr. Turner and I vaguely remember red helmets. Although, I could be wrong about that. Two years later, I started volleyball and basketball. By the time I was nine years old, all I wanted to do was play ball.

I grew up in a time when sports was competitive at all ages. There were winners and losers. Winners got trophies. Losers watched as the winners collected their trophies. Parents filled the stands and cheered loudly but nobody berated the coach because their kid didn't get enough playing time. Parents wanted their kids' teams to win.

I also played in an era where there were "A" teams and "B" teams. I played on the "B" teams but I never had a chip on my shoulder about it. And looking back, I am proud I wasn't on the "good" squads. What the "A" team coaches neglected to see in me was the fire I had, the desire to learn and a little bit of natural talent that I just needed help finding. I ended up playing ball all the way through college so I guess it didn't matter that I was only on the "B" team after all.

During my first college volleyball game, I tore up my left knee pretty badly. Badly enough, in fact, that I've had several procedures just so I can walk. And about 6 years after college, I injured my back which resulted in a lame left leg. So, I don't run well anymore. I don't run at all... really. It's somewhat painful but it's also hard to carry this big ol' body around on one leg.

Even though I am not the ideal candidate for a team, and most teams would rather not reserve a spot for me when it could be occupied by a girl who's more agile, I have never wanted to give it up. This will be my first summer with no sand volleyball and no softball. The thought of hanging it up causes tears to well up in my eyes.

I suppose I am lucky that my "career" in sports lasted this long. And I am truly thankful for the experiences I have had, the friends I have made and the person that sports helped me become. I told my Goddaughter the other night that when you keep asking for more rather than being grateful for the gifts you've already been given, you are ungrateful. I don't want to be ungrateful but it's hard. Maybe I'll do better tomorrow.

Painting & Passing Time

Since losing my job 5 months ago, I've been doing a lot of soul searching, trying to decide what I should do with my life.

Applying and interviewing for job after job wears on me psychologically and emotionally and the discouragement is overwhelming. I keep saying that something has to change soon and I try to hang on to the belief that I will be working again very soon but there are days when it's not easy.

So I have tried to turn my focus to doing things that I love to do and I've been working on ways to actually make money doing them. Unfortunately, you don't get paid to sing the national anthem so in between anthem gigs, I've been painting. I paint children's furniture and nurseries, mostly, along with the occasional painting for a bathroom or something odd like that.

I enjoy painting. It relaxes me. I don't really have a mind for business unfortunately so I haven't firgured out how to make a living doing it. There's a small part of me that is afraid if I relied on my painting to pay the bills, I wouldn't enjoy it as much. And, I figure there are a lot of folks out there who are actually trained to do things like this that are clogging up the market. (Man, I can't wait to get a job...)

But! I thought since I have very little to blog about right now, I should at least promote how I am passing time. If you know anyone who needs something painted, let me know!

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Looking Out for Mom and Dad

I remember her hand-made dresses and high heels. I remember her matching jewelry and painted lips. I remember going to the salon with her every week to get her hair done. But I don't remember when she traded in her stylish duds for elastic pants and her pumps for white leather sneakers.

It seems I woke up one day and my mom was old. I don't mean that in a disrespectful or hurtful way. She is in her seventies now and comfort is king in her world. As she swapped styles, my mom also seemed to lose a little confidence. She seems more fearful now, needs my dad by her side more and stays home a lot more.

Watching my parents age was never as difficult for me as it became when I moved home two and a half years ago. Now, I witness changes from the front lines. And it scares me. It also makes me very sad. I am hyper-sensitive to their quirks and to the way they do things so when something is the least bit different, I worry and I ask a lot of questions. More questions than my dad likes me to ask.

I remember when life was easy. I remember when I didn't have to worry about anything because my parents did all the worrying. I remember when I was just the kid. But I had no idea that would all change one day and I would be looking out for my mom and dad.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Birthday Time Again

The sound of jingling bells echoed through the halls. Following the sound, I turned a corner. Louder, the bells rang out. Quickly, I raced to the last door and peeked inside. A large woman sat in a chair in the corner. Beside her was a bassinet. The bells rang again and I caught a glimpse of two little white shoes kicking up above the edge of the bed.

That was the first day I met my sister. I was four years old and she was about two months old. And those jingling bells were tied to the laces on her shoes so every time she kicked, they rang.

Shortly after adopting me in 1971, our parents applied for a second adoption. It took over three years for them to get the call about my sister. During the initial meeting at the adoption agency, the social worker asked me if I wanted a brother or sister and I chose a sister. Growing up in a family in which my dark hair stood out like a sore thumb, I longed to have a sibling who resembled me. So I also told the woman that I wanted my sister to look just like me. She assured me that our new baby would have dark hair and big brown eyes just like her big sister.

That day, I left the office thrilled that soon we would have a new baby. My excitement grew ten-fold by the time she arrived. And there was an added element of excitement when I found out that her birthday was the day after mine. How cool would that be?

This weekend marks the 34th time that I have shared my birthday with my "little" sister. Four years my junior, much smaller in stature and nearly my polar opposite, Denise will always be my little sister. And every year, I remember that first meeting.

Slowly, I approached the bassinet and pulled myself up on the side. Looking over the top, I sized her up. Falling back on my heels, I turned to my mom. "This isn't our baby, Mom," I said. My parents laughed and reassured me. Up on my tip toes again, I reached in and touched the baby. The baby with the fire red hair and big blue eyes was indeed our baby, and, my sister.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Root! Root! Root for the Cardinals!

In just over one month, a new baseball season will dawn with another fun-filled opening day at Busch stadium. My friends and I will set up a tent (hopefully with the tent top) on the parking lot across from Al Hrabosky's bar and sit back for three or so hours before the game to reminisce about years past and make projections for 2009. We will drink many beers and much on snacks and Jim and I will toss the ball around a bit. And it will be a good day.

Will the season be just as good as day one? Well, that remains to be seen. But if the Cardinals walked into spring training with all their birds in a row, so to speak, and without a doubt or care in the world, I'd be more concerned. I can't remember a season as long as I've had season tickets when the Cardinals roster has been built from all the right players in the prime of their careers. And, the teams who have seemingly bought perfection in recent history have been disappointed come playoff time.

So, I'm not worried that the Cardinals don't really have a second baseman. I am not concerned about our starting rotation that was plagued by injuries last year and whose most solid guy is former reliever, Todd Wellemeyer. It's not like he's a former groundskeeper or the beer guy. He's a good pitcher and has, to this point, proven himself as such. I'm not even worried that Joel Piniero is crying about not being selected for the Puerto Rican team's starting rotation nor that his biggest gripes at the moment are with a coach on the Cardinals staff. I'm not concerned because I am banking on Piniero being a professional and letting his actions speak louder than his words.

Last year, the Cardinals launched a new advertising campaign called PLAY LIKE A CARDINAL. And throughout the season, the campaign (done so eloquently by Waylon Ad in St. Louis, by the way), revealed what that statement means. In my mind, playing like a Cardinal goes far beyond the expected dedication and effort. It means that the seemingly impossible is possible and that the word CAN'T is not part of your vocabulary. It means that your belief is greater than your potential and you never quit or give up. It means that you not only love the game but you respect it. It means that sometimes you even surprise yourself with the things you are capable of doing in that uniform with the birds on the bat.

So being a Cardinal means you're the greatest? Well, yeah, in a sense. And being a Cardinal fan makes you pretty great too.

Monday, February 23, 2009

at the end of my rope

Today I feel as if I've reached the end of my rope. The problem is I'm not quite sure of the positioning of that rope.

If it is dangling from the edge of a cliff and there are miles of sharp rocks below, I am definitely in some trouble. Letting go could mean death.

If it has been cast to me in a body of very deep and dangerous water, my survival increases tremendously because I have a very buoyant head (not to say that it's hollow or empty) and I just don't sink. But staying in that water for too long could cause painful pruning of the skin.

If the rope is horizontal, then my chances of reaching the beginning of the rope ever again are fantastic. It would probably entail a simple one-foot-in-front-of-the-other strategy.

To be at the end of one's proverbial rope implies that all course of action have been taken, there is no more help to be acquired and there's just nothing left to do.

I could try pulling myself up hand over hand, I suppose. But I am afraid if I let go, even for a second, I won't even have this little bit left. And then what? What happens when you have no rope at all?

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Why Does God Make Tornadoes?

I believe in God. And I believe that God gave us all free will. I also believe in His grace, that we are forgiven before we ask and that sometimes God allows bad things to happen to bring out the best in us.

Last night, my nephew interrupted our conversation about people of different ethnicities when his train of thought jumped tracks to tornadoes. "Aunt Michele," he said, "why does God make tornadoes?" Leave it to a six year old to test your knowledge and beliefs on a calm Saturday evening drive.

I had never really thought about why we have tornadoes. But after a minute or two of pondering the question, I realized that it's another one of those scary and sometimes tragic events that we are allowed to go through in order to bring out the best in people.

Bad things happen to people who don't deserve it. And sometimes good things happen to people that we don't believe deserve it. And in all things, we are given the chance to respond. We can choose to respond in a way that is helpful or kind or loving. Or we can choose to respond otherwise. Every one of us has had ample opportunity to respond to various situations in our lives, some personally and some through the hardships or blessings of others.

In my own life, I have had some really crappy experiences and there have been moments when I have been very angry at God for allowing them. And in every situation there has been that one person that comes along and says, "you know Michele, everything happens for a reason." As difficult as it is to hear and understand in the midst of tragedy, I know that it's true. I have had to go through each and every experience to learn what I've learned and to become who I am.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Cheater, Cheater, Pumpkin Eater

Expert M. Gary Neuman has written a new book titled, THE TRUTH ABOUT CHEATING* and was featured on The Oprah Winfrey Show. Neuman's twenty years of counseling sparked the book idea and the statistics he shares on the number of married men who cheat on their wives is discouraging. According to Neuman, 1 in 2.7 husbands have affairs and the reasons Neuman gathered during his research rarely included better sex or a prettier woman. Most often, their reasons revolved around feeling under-appreciated or taken for granted.

In my experience as well as based on what I heard from M. Gary Neuman, it's all just selfishness. Isn't it?

He goes to work day after day after day and provides for his family. And eventually, it becomes a part of his routine and his wife forgets to acknowledge him for being such a good provider. So he cheats. He spends his Saturdays cutting the grass, washing the cars or shuffling kids from soccer game to soccer game and sooner or later he starts to feel like just another thing that happens on Saturday because his wife neglects to hug him or pat him on the back or stroke his ego. So he cheats. When his life becomes routine, he starts to feel routine. He needs to feel special. And then... he cheats.

So what makes him feel appreciated and special? Sex is on the list but time alone with his wife and a newlywed-type interest from her is important as well. Doing the things you did in the beginning of your relationship gets lost in the shuffle of the daily responsibilities of house and home and children but they are still important to most men. And as women, it's hard for us to understand because women perform the same duties and tasks listed above, not for rewards or accolades or sex, but for the love of their families. And that should be enough, right? Well, apparently it's not.

To be fair, I did a bit of my own infidelity research and found that on average, studies show that 40% of married women cheat too. Unfortunately all these male and female cheaters aren't married to each other so 80% of marriages today are affected by infidelity. EIGHTY PERCENT.

We live in a country that constantly debates what constitutes a marriage but the truth is that 80% of married people don't even know the definition.**

*Neuman's book is available for FREE for a limited time on Oprah's website so if you are interested in the details of his studies, go download it today. Once you've read it, please come back to post your comments or send me an email. And don't forget to answer the questions to the polls on this blog. I will write a follow up blog with the results and comments from all of you.

**For the record, Merriam-Webster defines marriage as : "the state of being united to a person of the opposite sex as husband or wife in a consensual and contractual relationship recognized by law" or "the state of being united to a person of the same sex in a relationship like that of a traditional marriage." And united is defined as "made one" or "being in agreement." It's an institution built upon the relationship of TWO people. Not three and certainly not four.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Miss You Much

Tomorrow is the one year anniversary of the death of my friend, Phil Williams. It's rare that a day passes that we don't think of you, Phil. Reminders sneak up on us and we smile. Miss you much!

Valentine's Day

Last week sometime, my mom hung a new wreath, decorated with red & pink hearts and a teddy bear, on the front door. Valentine's Day is just around the corner. Candy and flowers and cards will be sent from one to another across the country that day. And pink & red will be the colors of the day.

Some historians say that Pope Gelasius declared February 14th St. Valentine's Day around 498 A.D. The oldest known valentine still in existence today was a poem written by Charles, Duke of Orleans to his wife while he was imprisoned in the Tower of London following his capture at the Battle of Agincourt in 1415. There are rumors that he didn't write it himself but thanks to Hallmark most of us don't write our own love notes today either.

I'm not a huge fan of Valentine's Day for the simple fact that I believe we should be celebrating love every day and telling each other every day how we feel. Dates should be special all the time and not so rare. Flowers are grown year-round so why wait for February 14th to send them? And despite what they'd like you to think, card companies create beautiful cards filled with lovely words quite regularly.

While I won't be stimulating the economy much this holiday by sending gifts or cards, I hope I've sent a clear message already to those who are near and dear to my heart. Love to all of you today, tomorrow and of course, on Valentine's Day.

Thursday, February 05, 2009

February 6th

I don't know how many February 6ths there have been. Mostly because I don't feel like figuring it out. But there have been a lot of them.

I have done just enough research to know that a lot of history has been made on February 6th. For example, in 1862, Ulysses S. Grant scored the first US victory in the civil war when he and his troops captured Fort Henry and in 1891, the Dalton gang pulled off their first great train robbery.

Babe Ruth was born on February 6th, as was Ronald Reagan, Tom Brokaw and Bob Marley. And February 6th is Bob Marley day in Jamaica and Ethiopia. It is also National Frozen Yogurt Day.

In spite of the many good and fascinating things that have happened on this day, my personal list of February 6ths has not been so wonderful. Nine years ago, this year, was scheduled to be the best February 6th of my life and it became the polar opposite. And year after year, it has been a painful and difficult day. History repeats itself but I believe it does so because we allow it. So after eight years of painful difficult 6ths, I decided that this February 6th was absolutely, positively not going to suck.

From here on out, it will be remembered as a special day. Not only will it be the day of the first US victory or the birth of one of the best baseball players to ever play the game or a day to nationally recognize yogurt, it will also be a day that represents potential and possibilities.

Today is February 6th. It is a good day. Happy birthday little guy.

To Delete Or Not To Delete

To delete or not to delete? That is my biggest question at the moment. Everyone should be so lucky as to have such simplistic things upon which to dwell, right? Although it seems less than complicated or fairly straight-forward, deciding whether or not to delete is an arduous, mind-bending process for me. 

Much like cleaning out that old box of crap from high school that you have carried from apartment to apartment and house to house, scouring the unsavory parts of your past from your life (as much as that can be done) demands your time and thoughtfulness. Most of the bad stuff in my life has been connected to plenty of good and as the old saying goes, you don't want to "throw the baby out with the bath water." 

These days, it's much harder to compartmentalize your life than it once was, thanks to technologies that have made the world much smaller. And it makes it harder to separate good from bad. Then comes the question, to delete or not to delete? 

Do I delete the people from my life that are still associated with someone I want completely removed from my life? Some of them are nice people. Some of them I know well. And the rest of them, well, they just remind me of stuff I don't want to remember. But it's not really their fault is it? That's where the dilemma comes.  Some folks were removed swiftly and without a second thought. But these folks in question... I hold onto them partly because I don't want to seem like a catty bitch and partly because I don't know if my reason for deleting them is valid. Also, because so many people are connected, once you start deleting, finding the end may be difficult. So do I delete them or not? 

Deleting can eliminate drama yet it can create so much more and in my effort to have a drama-less 2009, I want to make the right decision. 

To delete or not to delete?

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Say What You Need to Say

"So just letting you know, if I die, love you..."

The message came across my phone in the middle of a quiet, snowy afternoon. It came from my friend Lori. She and I have known each other for 10 years, this year. We have had dramatic ups and downs in our relationship including a two year hiatus during which we missed each other desperately but were too stubborn to make up. Lori and I frequently exchange energetic and highly emotional text messages so my initial reaction to this one was, "oh god, what kind of crazy shit is she doing now?"

And then my stomach sank. Something didn't feel right.

I responded quickly and she came back almost as fast with, "Sitting on 44. Waiting for police to come. In fast lane watching traffic come at me."

Overwhelmed and on the brink of tears, I called her. No answer. I called another friend, hoping she had heard something. No answer. I texted Lori again to tell her I was getting dressed and would be on my way. Where? I had no idea. And what I was going to do when I got there didn't matter. I just needed to go. But before I could leave the house, Lori called. The police had arrived and she was safe.

Lori's car had spun out, hit a median and landed facing oncoming traffic in the fast lane. Cars and trucks sped toward her while she watched and waited for something to happen.

I can't imagine how she felt in that moment but I can still feel the rush of emotion that I felt hearing what she was going through. My heart pounded and I cried at the thought of losing my friend. And I count myself lucky to have received that message from her, just in case.

Too often, it takes a brush with death or some other life altering experience to get us to the point where we can say what we need to say to the people around us. And in reality, we are being given daily opportunities to do so. There are reminders all around us of how short life is and how quickly it can change. We receive constant messages telling us to just whole-heartedly say I LOVE YOU to the ones who need to hear it and I'M SORRY to those we need to say it to.

Maybe what we need to say is I QUIT or I TRIED BUT I JUST CAN'T or simply, NO. Maybe it's I REALLY LIKE YOU that is yearning to burst forth or I'M NOT THE ONE FOR YOU. How about I'M SO PROUD OF YOU, YOU LOOK GREAT IN THAT DRESS, I'VE ALWAYS ADMIRED YOU or I'M JUST GLAD TO HAVE YOU IN MY LIFE?

Last year when the "Bucket List" starring Morgan Freeman and Jack Nicholson came out, John Mayer wrote a song for it. It's called "Say What You Need to Say." The lyrics are redundant but the tune is catchy and somewhat calming. It causes this sentimental feeling to bubble up inside me. But there's one phrase that I think sums it all up for us (other than the chorus). It says:

"Have no fear for givin' in
Have no fear for givin' over
You better know that in the end
It's better to say to much
Then to never say what you need to say again."

Don't wait until you're watching your life flash before your eyes or until your on the receiving end of a last phone call to say what you need to say.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Ask & You Shall Receive

The other day a friend of mine said, "if you don't A-S-K , you don't G-E-T." And she added that it proves to be true in both business and personal. This is a woman who seemingly gets what she wants and knows what she is talking about.

So for the last few days, I have been thinking about what I want, who I need to ask for it and how I will get it all. Although I realize that I'm probably a little behind schedule with doing something like this and I probably should have given this a little thought ten years ago (or more!), I suppose it's better late than never.

As I mull over the possibilities, I wonder is it really this simple? All I have to do is ask for something and I'll get it? If I want a date with a certain guy who already knows that I like him, do I just call him and ask or do I wait for him to call again? I mean I want to go out... There's a job I'd love to have and, in this economy, any job is hard to come by so should I just call the boss and ask for the job? While I'm at it, I'd like more money than I made at the last job so should I just ask for that too? I would also like for the kids across the alley to cut their band practices to under two hours, I want Reese's Peanut Butter Cups added to the "foods that are good for you" list, I'd like oil changes for life on my next car and I want a house with a yard and a garage AND a basement for a REALLY good price. So I just start asking?

Maybe I will refine the list and give this asking thing a try. In the meantime, what have you asked for AND gotten?

That's Some Weather Huh?

I don't want to be the person that talks about the weather with strangers in the elevator. I refuse to believe that talk about the snow or the heat or the third day of rain in a row is all the talk we can muster. I also don't want to be the person to bring up the new president or the old president or the war in Iraq because in spite of the open book policy I have on my life, I still think those are topics best had with people you know well.

On the flip side, I don't want to be the person staring at the numbers, impatiently waiting for my floor to light up and for the doors to open. I don't want to stand with my back to the rest of the crowd or lean on the opposite wall, taking up as little space as is possible for this big ol' body so I don't accidentally enter the personal space of the only other person in there. I don't want to wait uncomfortably in the back of an elevator that is packed full of strangers either. If you are going to graze my arm multiple times, we should have something to say to one another, I think.

So what is appropriate elevator behavior? Perhaps for some a half smile is enough sharing with a stranger. Maybe a nod of acknowledgement suffices. And even those gestures are better than completely ignoring those around you.

You'd think after all these years, someone would have written a handbook or a guide or something. Hmmm... do I smell an idea brewing? Perhaps... or maybe it's just this crazy weather getting to me.

Friday, January 16, 2009


Sometimes my impatience gets the best of me. Waiting for life to unfold in real time fills me with anxiety. It causes my shoulders to tighten to the point that they nearly touch my ears. And on the rare day when this life doesn't seem enough... when it falls short of the mark I've set... when it leaves a little bit to be desired... I just wish I could peer through the window to my tomorrow and find some solace in what I see there.

I want to know that the days ahead are filled with joy and that love is waiting just around the corner. I need to see that the efforts I am making at a job that isn't paying me are not for nothing and that my career will turn around just as quickly as it all came crashing down around me. I have to find a glimmer of hope on those days. I want to see a sign that I should keep believing in good.

ARRGH! If I could just remember where that damn window is!

Saturday, January 10, 2009

A year in review

I've decided not to wait until my birthday to take inventory this year. I want to reserve my birthday for only good things. Admittedly, due to various factors, my blog suffered in 2008. It wasn't nearly as funny as years past and my life wasn't exciting enough in the last year to evoke dramatic revelations. In fact, if I could wipe August of 2007 through March of 2008 from my history, I would. No offense to those of you who found joy in those months or who spent good times with me in that span of life. It's just the truth. (God, let's go back to August of '07 and start over...)

So, rather than giving an inventory of my top ten favorites, I selected the blogs that best depict my last year of life. (If you want my top ten favorites of all time from last year, please visit the February '08 archives.)



Looking Ahead

Usually, as the new year rolls around, I muster up some renewed optimism and make grand plans to change my life for the better. Not this year. This year, it is what it is. I'm neither going to complain about the lack of movement or seeming lack of direction in my life nor am I going to project great things as I look ahead.

I could do both. I could talk about everything I've been through in the last year and how glad I am that it's over. I could express fear about my future and ponder on the dismal outlook for our nation's economy and, in turn my career. I could tell you that I believe, in spite of it all, I am better off. I could say I have a small excitement bubbling up in me that I can't explain or that the little things give me a twinge of hope.

But I won't.

I am going to complain because it's what I do and it's damn funny. But I'll do so silently. I am going to project but not openly. I will acknowledge my fears and ponder the worries but only in my conversations with my God.

For the record, though, I am better off. So much. And I'm looking up and looking ahead.

See you in my future.