Friday, December 23, 2011

Being 40: A Christmas Gift Giving Guide

Christmas is two days away and if you are like me at all, struggling to get into the Christmas spirit, you still have two or... five... more gifts to pick up. If one of those gifts is for THIS 40 year old gal, let me give you a few suggestions.


My nephew has suggested that I need a security system and a gun or other weapon of some sort. I would prefer a friendly companion. A dog perhaps. And I'd like a big dog who is cuddly and lovable but has a demonstrative bark. I have a friend at Purina that told me if I rescued a black dog, she'd give me free food so... keep that in mind as well.

I don't believe that all the good men are taken. I just, frankly don't have time to hunt one down, tie him up, throw him in the Jeep and bring him home. So it would be hugely helpful if you could take that off of my plate. I'm thinking Hollywood. I'm thinking hot. He doesn't have to be able to carry a good conversation but taking out the trash and pulling the car around when it's raining will be required. Zach Levi might be good. He's so unexpectedly yummy. Or Shemar Moore who is obviously yum but surprisingly single. I hear Edward Burns is married to Christy Turlington but may you could talk to her first. He just seems like such a stable guy. I know, I know... you're thinking, "No Puerto Ricans or Cubans on the list?" I've been that route. Many times. And while Latino men in general still rank in my top ten, it seems you can't hold 'em down for too long. I don't need someone who is going to escape quickly.
I saw a quote yesterday that said, "There's a fine line between cuddling and holding someone down so they can't leave." All I can say about that is... YES.


That's right. Show me the money. Whatever last minute thing you were going to pick up for me at Walgreens is lovely, I'm sure. But I would honestly prefer the cash value. I just bought a house and I'm feeling a little house poor right now. And if I am going to be adding a puppy and a Hollywood hottie to my household, I am going to need a few extra bucks laying around. I take checks too.
I hope that helps and doesn't send you completely back to the drawing board. But I know how difficult I can be to shop for. Be careful out there! I don't want to see any of you on the news. And enjoy your holiday weekend.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Being 40: I Loved a Boy

I loved a boy who loved me back once. He made me smile. He made me laugh. Butterflies flitted around in my stomach when he got close to me and then I'd melt into his hugs because they felt like home. Safety rested in his arms and  they were the one place where I felt like I belonged.

I loved a boy who loved me back once. He understood me. We talked for hours, sharing dreams, conspiring, hoping and wondering. Moving away from his gaze seemed impossible because deep inside his sparkling eyes I could see that he just... got me.

I loved a boy who loved me back once. He put me first, ahead of everything else. Being the center of his world scared me but then I made him the center of mine because we were meant to be. Life without him became unimaginable.

But one day my whole world came crashing in on me. The boy I loved no longer loved me. I cried for what seemed an eternity because I'd lost my home, my safe place, the one place where I belonged. No one understood like he did... or like he used to. I missed his eyes, his arms, his smile, the laughter.

Then I grew up. And I forgot that boy. Until I met a man who soon I grew to love. And he loved me back.

He made me smile. He made me laugh. Butterflies flitted around in my stomach when he got close to me and then I'd melt into his hugs because they felt like home. Safety rested in his arms and they were the one place where I felt like I belonged. He understood me. We talked for hours, sharing dreams, conspiring, hoping and wondering. Moving away from his gaze seemed impossible because deep inside his sparkling eyes I could see that he just... got me.  He put me first, ahead of everything else. Being the center of his world scared me but then I made him the center of mine because we were meant to be. Life without him became unimaginable.

But one day my whole world came crashing in on me. The man that I loved no longer loved me. I cried for what seemed an eternity because I'd lost my home, my safe place, the one place where I belonged. I missed his eyes, his arms, his smile, the laughter.

Then I remembered the boy. And I thought about the man. And I wondered... Were they ever really real? Or had I made them who I wanted them to be in order to find things I was too afraid to find on my own? Joy and laughter. Safety and confidence. Hope. A world in which I was the most important being.

And then I grew up. And I forgot the boy. And I forgot the man. And I became the woman I am today.

Being 40: Being 40 is almost OVER!

Only two months left of my 40th year! I can't believe how quickly time has passed. I am now officially closer to being 41 than I am to being 40 and I still have a few more items to cross off of my TO DO list for my 40th year. That said, it's been pretty good!

Here is a short list of some of the things I've done in 10 months:
  • Gotten a new job (And I am working on stuff that really matters!)
  • Volunteered for the Animal Rescue Foundation
  • Raised money for CARE
  • Donated truck loads of food and clothing to worthy causes
  • Took my family on a road trip to Memphis & hung out at the King's house
  • Visited Washington D.C. for the first time with my adorable 9-year-old nephew
  • Spent time in Indiana, Kentucky, Virginia, West Virginia, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Maryland and Georgia too
  • Sang the National Anthem at more than 10 events
  • Bought a house!
  • Found my brothers and sisters on my birthfather's side of the family
  • Saw the Cardinals win the World Series. (That was my 3rd trip to the World Series, by the way.)
And I spent hours and hours of quality time with friends and family, including friends from grade school, high school and college. Took a few more classes toward my Masters degree and coached two 7th grade volleyball teams, one of which came in first place in the league. I didn't get married or have a baby... But there's STILL TIME! In fact, I have THREE big items left on the list. Three big things in two months? Wouldn't be the first time!

All I have to say is, if it gets better from here, 41 is going to be AMAZING.

Being 40: Going It Alone

Henry David Thoreau talked about how much he loved to be alone and Ann Landers once said that it's better to be alone than to wish you were...

I can tell you firsthand, after living in my new house for only a little more than a week. That, while I am good at being alone and have often preferred it to getting hurt, I was not made to be alone. Because I am keenly aware of this, I do my best to stay connected and involved in as many groups as possible. I keep my social schedule pretty packed too. So,  I am rarely alone.

That said there is a big difference between being alone and feeling lonely. People talk about the sensation of feeling intensely lonely even when surrounded by people. I am very familiar with this. Right now, I find myself a member of three very distinct families, I have a work group and various cliques of friends but I feel profoundly lonely. And I feel incredibly alone. I don't think there's a soul out there who can relate to exactly to this phase of my life.

But man... it would be nice! Even just for a day... To not feel like I'm just going it alone.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Being 40: Baking Love

Throughout my father's childhood, his mother and grandmothers baked all of their  bread, made noodles from scratch and poured love and tradition into every meal. Somewhere along the route of my youth, I picked up on the joy of tradition in cooking and learned how to bake a little love into every one of my creations. Today, I use the baking boards that were used by my grandma.

While the baking process is often therapeutic, it serves a greater purpose for me. Baking is an outward expression of how I am feeling. As I mix together the ingredients, I also pour a lot of emotion into my breads.  And as I knead the dough, I think about the people for whom I am baking. I imagine a delicious and delightful outcome. I hope they will not only enjoy my bread, but they will appreciate the feeling behind it.

One cannot bake bread for those they don't like or for whom they have no care or concern. Baking is born of pure enjoyment. It is filled with love and adoration. It isn't a mindless act. It is very much the opposite. It is a concentrated effort to create with one's hands a gift that will provide a positive and pleasant experience for another.

There is no quicker route to happiness for me than to be able to create with my hands and give to others.

Months have passed since I've been able to bake bread. Life had grown too busy. Other tasks were more important. The number of my responsibilities seemed greater than the hours in my days. I did what most of us do when I got busy. I shelved my hobbies and set aside the four things that provide the most enjoyment in my life: painting, writing, singing and baking. But when we stop doing the things that fill us with joy. We have no joy to give away to others.

I don't know what the resolution is to having too much to do. And I have not figured out how to add hours to the day. But this weekend, I baked. I didn't work on my house (because it was against doctor's orders). I didn't go to one volleyball game (because the season is finally over). I didn't work (and didn't worry about it most of the weekend). I didn't help my parents do... anything (except hang a shower curtain). I didn't study or clean or pack one box in preparation for moving.

I just baked.

I floured my grandmother's board, I kneaded dough and I focused on the people in my life. I baked for Thanksgiving and I baked for work and I baked for the love of it.

Sunday, November 06, 2011

Being 40: Buying a Home

There's no greater satisfaction in life than doing something that many people thought you never would or never could. On October 26th, in my 40th year of life, I bought my first home. All. By. Myself.

People buy homes all the time. I know a lot of homeowners. It's not uncommon. It doesn't warrant a gold star or a giant trophy. In fact, it's not really even worthy of a pat on the back. I mean, really... Who rewards or congratulates someone who willingly gets themselves into hundreds of thousands of dollars in debt?

However, it is not a decision to take lightly. And boy, did it take some time! But, I am finally the keeper of the keys to two units in south St. Louis, close to the neighborhood where I grew up. I am a landlord. And, I am a homeowner.

It's the scariest thing I have ever done in my life. Oh, but there is so much more to come!

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Being 40: Fan vs. Heckler

Fan: a person with a liking and enthusiasm for something, such as a band or sports team.
Terms that can be used in place of "fan" (synonyms): aficionado, supporter, devotee, enthusiast, fanatic, lover, admirer, backer, friend, promoter, follower, expert, patron, champion, etc.

Heckler: a person who causes repeated emotional pain, distress, or annoyance to another
Terms that can be used in place of "heckler" (synonyms): belittler, mocker, needler, harasser, insulter, attacker, trash-talker, victimizer, taunter, persecutor, torturer, etc.

Are you a fan or a heckler? I believe there is a time and place for a little heckling now and then. Mid-season when the game gets a little slow, it's fun to spark a "conversation" between the crowd and the opposing team's outfielder or to bang on the boards at hockey game when the other team's big fighter passes by. However, as the fan of any team, it is important to put more energy into your team than it is to throw all of your focus and attention into the opposing team.

Who am I to dictate fan behavior? What makes me an expert? Well, I've not only been a fan for most of my life but I was an athlete through college and for the past 20 years, I have been a coach. I understand sports. I understand motivation. I fully understand the difference between support and harassment.

Last night, during the NLCS game between the St. Louis Cardinals and the Milwaukee Brewers, a row of "Cardinal fans" in the right field bleachers spent the first 3 innings heckling Corey Hart, berating their own team and screaming in my ear. If you watched the game you know that Jaime Garcia pitched a gem through the first three innings but he was not exempt from those "fans" disappointment. Matt Holliday broke out of his short-lived hitting slump by racking up three hits last night but he apparently didn't hustle enough in the outfield for those "fans." They were rude and disrespectful.

The saddest part of the entire situation was that those "fans" were a father and four young boys. The father demonstrated the art of annoying nearby fans by shaking his rally towel over their heads and near their faces. The kids followed suit. The father stood up and screamed at the top of his lungs "Corey Hart you suck" over and over. The kids followed suit. He yelled at other fans around him. And the kids, once again, followed suit. They were like little bullies in training.

Who are you when the game is on the line or when your team is in the playoffs? Better yet, who are you when your team is 10 games out of first or your pitcher can't find the strike zone? Are you the fan or are you the heckler? Are you the supporter or the bully? Whoever you are, your kids are watching. The children around you are paying attention. And they are imitating you. They are becoming you.

You can be a fan who tosses out a good one-liner now and then. And you can certainly get vocal in the bleachers! But recognize that if you are a heckler sitting in the right field bleachers and your 13 year old son tells me to shut my mouth and sit down, you won't be a heckler in the right field bleachers for very long.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Being 40: Top Ten Differences Between Me & Nyjer Morgan

The 2011 NLCS shouldn't be about the bad or ridiculous behavior of one Milwaukee Brewer but it's always fun to have someone on the other team that riles you up a little bit and fuels the fire you have for your team. Kind of the same way that Nyjer Morgan dislikes the whole St. Louis Cardinals team. 

Just for fun I thought I'd see if Nyjer and I could be friends in another situation. Honestly, I did find some similarities. We are both loud. We are both confident. We have both dropped the F-bomb in a moment of excitement.  On the other hand, there are some pretty big differences. Here are the top ten differences between me and Nyjer Morgan.

10. Let's get the obvious ones out of the way. He's a man. I am a woman. He's not so tall. I am very tall. He's a cancer. I'm a Pisces.

9.  Nyjer hates the Cardinals. I love the Cardinals.

8.  Nyjer not only chews tobacco but he also throws it at people. I'd rather chew on cake or ice cream (as evident by my fabulous physique)and I am certainly not wasting it throwing it at other people.

7.  I respect the police. Nyjer taunts them.
Steve Mitchell-US PRESSWIRE

6. Nyjer has four alter egos: Tony Plush, Tony Hush, Tony Tombstone and Tony Gumble. I am just me. And I think that's enough.

5. I can spell.

4. I don't have to break into BEAST MODE to do my job well.

3.I don't have to steal the microphone to be heard. I am frequently hired to be on the mic. (

2. I've never been spanked by Pujols.

(US Presswire)

1. My team has won the World Series 10 times.

Tuesday, October 04, 2011

Being 40:Visiting the Dentist

Jamming the metal hook between my wisdom tooth and my gums, the dental hygienist lectured me about the importance of visiting the dentist every six months. "It's not so we can remove the tarter from the back of your teeth Michele; it's so we can clear out the bacteria that grows in the gums and prevent gum disease," she said. Again, she dug into my gums with her metal tool. I felt like she was trying to hurt me so I wouldn't wait so long the next time. Granted, it had been two years...
But it's hard for me to make a visit to the dentist a priority. The older you get and the more responsibility you have, the more likely you are to push things to the back burner that aren't really urgent needs. I have never had a cavity. I have had two tooth aches in my lifetime. Both ended up being related to my sinuses. So the dentist... well... I don't really think of him very often. He's a nice man. He's hygienists are marginally kind. But I don't feel an urgency to visit them.

When I have a free moment that might be a good time slot for a doctor of some kind, I am more likely to see someone who can fix one of the many things that do ail me, like my creaking knees or my sore neck or... these ridiculous sinuses. DENTIST is at the bottom of the list.

The fact that I can go every two or three years and get out of there in under 45 minutes with clean teeth, a new toothbrush and some floss that I will likely only use after I've eaten ribs or corn on the cob, does not make the dentist's chances of getting a little Michele time any better.

And, for the record, ripping my gums apart with a metal hook in an effort to demonstrate how painful gum disease might be is a sure fire way for me to toss that 6 month reminder card in the trash on my way to the car.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Being 40: The Flu is... Still the Flu

I am not a good sick person. Doing nothing is difficult for me and when I am sick, I am non-functional. I lack focus for anything beyond soap operas and infomercials and I feel so weak I can hardly lift my big fat arms. But, when you are blowing noodle chunks through your nose, it's time to admit you have the flu and just sit down and relax.

Unlike many other things in life, the flu does not get easier with age. When I was a kid, my mom would set up a comfy bed of pillows and blankets on the couch in front of the television in our family room. Beside me she would set a big plastic olive green bowl. It was the puke bowl. And a TV tray with a cold rag, the thermometer and a small glass of coke syrup sat within arms reach. Every now and then, between wiping up the floors and ironing my dad's handkerchiefs, mom would come through the kitchen and into the family room to check on me. She'd plunge the glass thermometer filled with mercury into my mouth and jam it under my tongue and after a couple of minutes she'd remove it just as quickly. Then she'd make me take a sip of that coke syrup. Soda without carbonation that she'd get and Venker's drug store up the street... Mom would clean out the puke bowl and bring me a fresh cold rag and change the channel on the television to a new show (because back then... WAY back then... we didn't have remote controls for our televisions). I was sick and I was uncomfortable but I was taken care of and it was nice. I could sleep all day without worrying about how far I was falling behind at work. And within days, I was like new!

Today, after puking through my nose and choking up a glass of water, I curled up on the couch and took a couple of calls for work, answered some emails, had a conference call with a client and then I fell asleep. I woke up in a panic because I can't imagine how much work I have to catch up on tomorrow after two days on the DL (that's disabled list for you non-sports-minded folks). I ate some Jell-o and I hate Jell-o. Then I had a Diet Dr. Pepper and some mac & cheese. There was no fluffy bed of pillows and blankets. There was no temperature gaging or coke syrup. My mom wasn't around... and I thought... that's the problem!

Without our mom's we aren't forced to be good sick people. They made us stay in bed or on the couch. They forced fluids in us until we practically floated. They told us when we were better and it was ok for us to go back to school. It doesn't matter how old you are... The flu is still the flu. And sometimes, I suppose, you still need your mom.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Being 40: The National Anthem, Ten Years Later

After, the September 11th attacks ten years ago, I decided that it was my responsibility as a singer of our country's national anthem to take a step back and reconsider how I performed the song. At that point, I had been singing the national anthem at events for about 15 years. There was rarely a situation in which I didn't panic about remembering the words to the song or get butterflies before singing.

So I sat down and wrote out the words. I studied the story. And I realized that, while we emphasize the phrase "and the rockets red glare, the bombs bursting in air," the anthem is really about more than the fighting. It's about coming through the battle and surviving. It's about being the side that is STILL STANDING when the smoke clears. It's about perseverance and victory.

In honor of the men and women who served before, during and after 9/11, here's the anthem as I sing it today. The crowd was small but that doesn't change the importance of the moment.

Friday, September 02, 2011

Being 40: Wonderful, Wonderful People

It has been my experience that most people only remember the bad things you've done. It has also been my experience that in situations of conflict most people do not look deeper than what they see and hear on the surface. And it has been my experience that once you've hurt someone, directed your anger toward someone (or even seemingly so), revealed your vulnerability or exposed your flaws to others, the person you are in that single moment is the person you are to that person or those people for the duration of your relationship. 

Over the last few days, I learned a very big lesson. I learned that there are people who will take the time to get to know who you are, who will remember your heart, weigh the whole of who you are and not just a single moment and love you in spite of your flaws and vulnerabilities.

People I've known for just six months demonstrated more faith in me and more loyalty than people I've known for many years.

There is an exception to every rule if you are willing to recognize it. There are some wonderful, wonderful people in my life right now and I count myself very lucky.

Begin 40: Online Dating Tips for Every Guy

This is the blog that almost wasn't... It started out as the Top Ten Things a Guy Should Never Do. But, who am I to tell guys what they shouldn't do? However, the idea came out of my online dating experiences and the more i live in this online dating world the more I believe this should be shared.

Here are my top seven tips for any guy who is dating online:

1. User Name/Screen Name: There are certain words you should not include in your screen name. One of them is "lonely." It gives you an air of desperation and even if you are desperate a woman doesn't want to know that. It's too scary. Also, steer clear of names like OhMeSoHorny and ThisOnesHung. If you insist on names like those, then just steer clear of me (from now on).

2. Photos: Make 'em current. And in order to avoid confusion, by current I mean within the last year. The more recent, the better. When you post your Marine photo from 1989 and your date arrives to find a 40-something guy with a scruffy beard and his belly hanging over his belt, it's a... well... it's a surprise.

3. Make It Plain: Your profile description is an opportunity to let the world know what you like and what you don't. So just make it plain. I am not going to promise you that it will keep 60-year-old women who are posing as their 30-year old-daughters on the site from contacting you or that the women who are absolutely not your type aren't going to fall in love with that Marine photo from 1989 but... Being honest in your profile and taking the time to really fill it out completely will sort of cover your tail. You can always point back to it as proof that you were up front from the beginning because it's all in writing.

4. Answering the Big Questions: Most profile templates include drop down menus or check boxes for you to complete so you can be specific about your physical desires, your compatibility with regard to activities or lifestyle and your preference for the type of relationship you want. They are seemingly small and trivial but... they are the BIG questions. Complete these. Most guys have a preference for a particular body type. Most guys know if they prefer a woman who is shorter or taller. Also, many women want to know if you want kids or not. That's kind of a big deal given that we do the birthing and some of us really want kids and some of us really don't. And the truth is you know if you want kids or not so just say it.

5. Initiating Contact: When you send the first email to a girl, typing "hi" and hitting send isn't enough. In fact, "Hi, How are you?" isn't enough either. Tell her what caught your eye and why you're emailing. Give her a reason to respond.

6. Knowing When to Say When: If a woman doesn't respond or tells you she's not interested. Let it go. Don't keep emailing her. Period.

7. Anything is Possible. Or is it? While I don't think you know if someone will be interested in you unless you try. Take a woman's profile into consideration before taking the first step. If she's young enough to be your daughter or old enough to be your mother, think first. If she says she really wants kids but you don't, don't waste the time. She isn't going to change her mind. If she says she is more comfortable staying within 50 miles of her home don't email her from 3 states away. Anything is possible. Sometimes. Just keep that in mind.

Up next, all you ladies... Man I've heard some horror stories. You are not exempt from the rules.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Being 40: Facebook Status

My facebook status is not an opportunity for you to bash me or rip me apart. It is not your long awaited chance to teach me a lesson or give me the "what for" or preach to me. My facebook status is mine.
That tiny window which captures a moment... MY moment... at the top of my Facebook page is not your moment. It's not a blank canvas awaiting the addition of the colors of your mood or pictures from your past. My facebook status is mine.

You do not know what the minutes leading up to that status were like for me. Perhaps they were joyous and fulfilling. And maybe they were sad and disappointing. I've seen other statuses that were tragic and pain-filled and some that seemed exciting or thrilling. All feelings I can appreciate and understand even if I have no idea what events lead to that person's posting.

You don't know how my day went unless you asked but most of you don't. In fact the majority of you have no idea how my life has gone except for what you see on Facebook.

My Facebook status is not an open door for you to judge. My Facebook status is mine. It should be taken at face value and no deeper than that. There are no hidden messages or meanings. It's a moment in time. It's a thought. It's sometimes incomplete but if I wanted to put the entire thought, I would. I just don't sometimes because... Well, honestly, it's because I write the whole thought and then I delete most of it because I feel that it may be inappropriate or it might hurt someone's feelings or it will cause me to get a flurry of emails from people who are judging me based on my Facebook status.

It's just my Facebook status. It's a sliver of my day, my month, my year, my life. But it's mine.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Being 40: Placeholder

I am not a placeholder.

I am not a placeholder until you find a better date. A prettier girl. A smarter girl. A girl with a better body or what you think is a better body.

I am not a placeholder until you find better plans. A party. A friend you like better. A date with a guy who is looking for a better date.

I am not a placeholder for the other friend. A friend who always agrees with you. A friend who pays for dinner. A friend who always shares the perks of her job with you.

I am not a placeholder for your other daughter. A daughter who did everything in the right order. A daughter who rarely disappoints. A daughter who is good.

I am not a placeholder for the future doer of my job. A worker who is a morning person. A worker who stays inside the box. A worker who will stay for thirty years.

I am not a placeholder for anything that is not me. I am not a placeholder for anyone who is not me. I am not a placeholder.

I am the date. I am your plans for tonight. I am the friend and the daughter and the employee.

I am not. A placeholder.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Being 40: Experiencing Life

If I had unlimited funds, I would spend my life giving other people experiences. I don't have a lot of material things but I have seen more and had more experiences than I can recount. Not all of them were joyous expeditions but I can honestly say that there is only one I would take back if I could. The rest, I believe, have made me who I am today. (OK, maybe they are ALL a part of who I am today but I'd still like to kick that one to the curb.) I count myself among the richest of the rich because of all I've been able to see and do.

For my nephew's birthday every year, we try to have some kind of an experience together. And this past Christmas, I decided that instead of giving gifts, from now on, I am giving experiences. Often it's not much but by doing this, I benefit too because I get to spend my time with the people I love.

So far this year, I have traveled to Memphis for the weekend with my family, saw the sites of Washington, D.C. with my nephew, sat 11 rows away from the beautiful men of New Kids on the Block with friends and listened to the croonings of Journey's new front man Arnel Pineda from the grass at Verizon Wireless Amphitheater. I've had dinners, seen movies, gotten pedicures and manicures and selfishly spent many a precious moment with some very dear people.

Maybe I am doing this for me, more than for everyone else... But I hope there are many many more experiences ahead for all of us.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Being 40: Making the Top Ten

It should come as no surprise to most of you that my 9 year old nephew is PURE JOY in my life. I have written about him a time or two or three in this space before because he often teaches me little things I wish I would have known years ago and which are sometimes so simply profound that I am stunned.

From the moment he was born, Kirk and I have had an amazingly close relationship. Before he could speak we were fascinated with each other. I was his favorite lady. And then one day, someone decided to show him the movie Mary Poppins. I don't remember who the movie sharer was but on that very day, my life changed forever. Julie Andrews floated through the sky with a parrot on her umbrella and captivated my boy. A few years later, Kirk could have held post at the top of the Julie Andrews fan club as she danced atop the green hills of Austria and right into my nephew's heart in The Sound of Music.

Within the last three years, Kirk has taken a liking to a few other women of Hollywood as well. The humor of Betty White tickles him as do the musings of Ellen Degeneres and Wanda Sykes. Recently, thanks to the internet, Kirk discovered that Julie Andrews is friends with Carol Burnett, another funny lady, who he add to his mental list of favorite women.

Finally, I had enough! Too many women were encroaching on my nephew time and he didn't seem to think I was silly enough or pretty enough and it was no longer ME he wanted to sing for him. Gently, I pulled Kirk aside and asked him, "What is the fascination with all of these women, buddy?" I told him they were all too old for him. And he told me that "age is just a number" and he pointed out that "anything is possible."  Then he encouraged me saying, "Don't worry Aunt Michele, you're still in my top ten."

Whew! What a relief!  I'm still in the top ten for now. Recently Kirk has become aware of Lucille Ball and Amy Poehler and Tina Fey. What happens if the latter of those three fill the 40-something heterosexual demographic in my nephew's life?

Suppose it's true that one day... gulp... I will not be in Kirk's top ten any longer? I guess I should feel happy and satisfied that I led the way to his appreciation for funny, talented women and be thankful that only I get rewarded with hugs when I do make him laugh. For now anyway... still making the top ten.

Being 40: Dating. Again.

When I was a little girl, I imagined that I would grow up and fall in love (whatever that meant) and I'd live a cute little house cooking and ironing and darning socks for my husband and my kids. I had no idea how that all really happened but I was fairly certain of the end result that I wanted.

This story is not new to most of you. The story of my dating life is not new either. Especially to those of you that followed my blog Dating Michele over the course of my 6 months completely dedicated to dating. But the hows and whys and what fors on the journey to find happily ever after have changed in each phase of my life and, naturally, with the ever-changing technology that the world offers us. For example, I can now participate in "online" dating from my phone. Hundreds of men virtually at my fingertips. A dream come true for a girl like me... or not.

Now that I'm 40, the reason behind my dating quest has changed as well. I am no longer in a mad dash to find true love and have babies. That would obviously be wonderful. But dating for me now is more about finding someone with whom I want to share life, spend time and just be.

I can tell you that it doesn't get easier just because you get older. I think that dating, no matter your age or circumstance, is hard. So take comfort in the fact that the person you are dating is just as freaked out by it as you are even if his reason is different. And there is always doubt about being good enough or measuring up to the expectations of other people. That's why I believe it is SO IMPORTANT to really know who you are before you bring anyone else into your life.

The day before yesterday, I received a flurry of emails from a guy who had contacted me online after I told him "Thank you, but I'm not interested." But, he continued to contact me. I reminded him that I was not interested. And then he proceeded to send a stream of abusive messages referring to me by a name that starts with B and ends with H and is CLEARLY not Michele. Twenty years ago, I'd have felt horrible about myself for days. Instead, I deleted the messages without response, blocked the man from my profile and got on with my day. Had I not known who I am and that surrounding yourself with people who build you up to be the person you know you can be is what's most important in relationships, I'd have worried myself to death wondering if maybe he was right about me.

So I'm looking for a decent guy. Someone nice. Someone NOT mean and angry who can't remember my name. I am completely and totally freaked out by it and I wish it happened just like in the movies. But it doesn't so... I'm dating. Again.

Monday, July 04, 2011

Being 40: Justin Matisse, Where Are You?

Why has Justin Matisse never walked into my house, sanded off my front porch, built some shelves and pulled me out of my love sick wallowing? 

In spite of my greatest efforts to grow into an independent woman who makes her own money and takes care of herself, all I've ever wanted was to be swept off my feet. In fact, deep in the heart and soul, I think most women just want to be carried away by a dashing and competent man.

But we work so hard to prove we can stand on our own two feet and buy our own shoes to put on those feet and often times pave the road upon which those feet walk that it seems as if there's no room for a man to swoop in and do the sweeping.

Filmmakers in the 80s and 90s are partially to blame for the conundrum I find myself in today. I grew up watching girls in movies pining over guys with whom they had no chance in hell. And at the end of every movie the guy showed up wherever that girl was. Just out of the blue! He chased her down, did the work and met her right where she was! And instantly her life changed from sad and pathetic to practically perfect! 

As I watched those films over and over, I believed that anything was possible for me too. Why wouldn't the guy of my dreams suddenly realize that I was THE ONE for him and just show up? 

For years, I have said that I would know a guy was the one for me if he just showed up. If he was leaning on a red porsche across the street from church waiting for me to exit through the front doors... If he was holding a giant boom box over his head playing our song for me... If he was taking our friendship for granted but later ditched his date to seal our relationship with a kiss... If he left the prom hastily because he was so in love with me he couldn't bear it... Oh wait. That's not right. 

The point is... I haven't really been waiting for Justin Matisse or Jake Ryan. I've just been waiting for a guy to make the effort and meet me where I am. Sometimes a simple gesture is the greatest one. Showing up. Doesn't
cost you anything but time.

Friday, July 01, 2011

Being 40: Say a Little Prayer

Does anyone ever offer to say a big prayer for you? Why is it always a little prayer? What if I need more than a little prayer? What if my circumstance is going to require a slightly larger intervention or something not too big but at least fair to middlin'? Is there such a thing as a plentiful appeal or a hefty supplication? How about a heavy duty invocation?

I appreciate it when people pray for me. There are days when I forget to do it myself. And unlike many others who say it only as a cliche, I mean it when I say "I need all the prayers I can get." But I'm not sure a little prayer is going to do. Maybe that's why some things are taking so long to come to pass...

How many little prayers do you think it takes to add up to just one regular prayer. Maybe y'all could say one regular prayer for me the next time you think of it so I can get caught up.

Hmm... now that I think about it, how many regular prayers do you think it takes to make a giant one?

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Being 40: Some Things Never Change

Although I have 4 months of BEING 40 under my belt, I'm still not quite an expert. I fear that I won't really get the hang of it or understand it fully until... well, until I turn 41. While I wait for the differences and the changes to reveal themselves in this new decade of my life, there are a few things I know for sure right now. The main thing being that... some things never change.

Here are the top ten things that are unaffected by BEING 40 (in no particular order):
  1. I still need ten hours of sleep to feel completely rested. I guess that whole "wake up bright eyed at 5AM and eat dinner by 4" stuff doesn't really start for another 30 or 40 years.
  2. I still struggle with my weight but I still see myself as beautiful.
  3. Being a strong woman doesn't mean you are unfeeling. My feelings are just as easily hurt now as they were when I was 39.
  4. I care what people think and I want people to like me.
  5. Women are still catty and mean after 40. I don't think it's something that we, as a race of people, ever really outgrow. And it usually only makes me sad when someone is being nasty to me. I usually don't think about it when I mock someone's silly dress.
  6. There are days when I still think I only have 4 good reasons for needing a man: 1) to pick me up at the door when it rains; 2) to share the chores (specifically trash duty & lawn mowing); 3) to lift really heavy stuff; 4) ahem... intimate adult interactions.
  7. There are days when I still think all I need is a good man.
  8. I still want babies. 
  9. I still want my parents to be proud of me. And not just when I am singing in front of thousands of people.
  10. People in St. Louis suck at driving. I am the only one doing it right.

Being 40: Doubly Blessed in the Breast

When I was 10 years old and in the fifth grade, I burst through the school doors as the bell rang to find my mother on the parking lot discussing training bras with the mothers of two of my classmates. They exchanged horror stories and comforted one another and I was HORRIFIED.

It took months for my mom to convince me that it was time to get used to wearing the undergarment of restraint even though I didn't really notice much of a reason for it. But when she finally got it on me, I refused to take it off. I was embarrassed by my blossoming bosoms and wanted to hide them as best I could. Keeping them covered in layers made me feel better but didn't make my changing body any less obvious.

By 14, I'd been felt up for the first time. Well, not quite. A certain boy, who shall remain nameless, tried to put his hand up my shirt and I freaked out. I will never forget it. I was in the driveway at the back of church and I was wearing my favorite white sweater and I said he was just my friend but I really liked him. And then it happened! And I screeched so loudly I nearly burst the stained glass windows across the way. He laughed. And again, I was so horribly embarrassed.

Those good for nothing boobs were a constant source of "OH. MY. GOD." for me. Total angst. I didn't want boobs. I didn't care what they were for or that boys seemed to like them. They got in the way when I tried to play ball and eventually, I could hardly sleep on my stomach any more without adjusting and shifting.

But no matter how hard I worked to hide them or strap them down and no matter how many nights I prayed that God would JUST MAKE THEM STOP GROWING, I had boobs and they weren't going away. Not only did I have them but I seemed to be doubly blessed in the breast.

Clearly I have adapted to the situation since I was 14 years old but the fact of the matter is that the grass is always greener on the other side. You always want what you don't have. And sometimes you don't want what you've got. But boobs are a part of being a woman and I am thankful for my healthy set. I am grateful for my girls. That said, if I could pick anything else to be doubly blessed with I might.

NOTE: I've never used this space to endorse a product. Until now... When you are well-endowed in the upper body region or doubly blessed in the breast, finding a bra that will stifle the jiggle and jump so you can workout without discomfort is nearly impossible. I recently discovered ENELL sports bras. When I say they secure you, I mean they LOCK YOU DOWN IN PLACE. I didn't realize what a problem I had until I put on this gear. I am moving faster than I have in years and I am able to work out harder so if you are a bigger busted woman looking for a sports bra, try ENELL!

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Being 40: 60,000 strong

 Last Saturday, I had the opportunity to walk in the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure with some very dear friends, one of whom is a five year survivor. Along the route, we connected with another friend of mine who is a ten year survivor this year. As we walked among the more than 60,000 participants, I was moved to tears a few times. The camaraderie and the unity of the people who packed the streets of downtown St. Louis was not only heart-warming it was also sometimes overwhelming.

Women walked with their daughters and sons, with their husbands and sisters, with their grandchildren and neighbors and coworkers. Some women proudly revealed their bald heads, the result of chemotherapy. Others were pushed in wheelchairs. There were pink tutus and pink wigs and dogs in pink tutus and wigs. Babies perched on parents' shoulders or rode along in wagons or strollers. The walkers were black and white, men and women, old and young.

It was a true representation of the disease. It is no respecter of persons. It affects everyone of us in one way or another. What an amazing experience! I am proud of you St. Louis. And I am thrilled to be celebrating with you Terri and Tammy! I hope that someday we are all just walking in celebration because a cure has been found.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Being 40: Greeting the End

As I sat beside one of the partners of the firm where I work, I repeatedly mistyped information into our travel planner. She laughed as she looked at the address I used. The numbers were right. The street name was actually our company name. Clearly, the change in my diet, the decrease in calorie intake and my over-tiredness had a marked effect on my ability to function at my job. Just another example of learning that came from the Live Below the Line challenge this week.

Today, as the challenge comes to a close, I honestly greet it with open arms. While visions of giant cupcakes from The Cup dance in my head, it is not my intent to rush right out and go back to living in excess. My hope is that I will be able to continue on a path of less in a healthier manner and to be conscious of my over-indulgence. Not because I think my extra food is going to save the world but because I feel  like it is the considerate thing to do in light of the very little that others have.

The difficulties of the week were the same every day but at varying levels. My struggle with hunger dissipated as the week went on and I eventually had to force myself to eat. It took only a couple of days for that to happen. Along with that came my inability to stomach the items I had at my fingertips. I am certain that had I never been exposed to peanut butter and chocolate and peanut butter-chocolate ice cream living below the line on tortillas and noodles would have been less difficult. You don't know what you don't know. And sometimes what you do know is a hindrance to success. So I battled with the tortilla until the very end. 

I was sleepy throughout the week with the worst day being Thursday. I lacked focus and had trouble gathering my thoughts at times. My head hit the pillow early every evening and I slept on average for 10 hours each night. I would have slept longer had I had the option, quite frankly.

There are many who don't understand why this was so tough. There are others that think this kind of action is a waste of time. Success may be defined by funds raised. I met 91% of my goal which is satisfying and I am extremely grateful to those who demonstrated their support financially. Success may be defined by creating awareness. Over the course of the week, thanks to CARE and Live Below the Line, my blog has drawn more traffic than it had in the previous two months. And I am so thankful that that those of you in Australia, the UK, Canada, Kuwait and many other countries took time out to visit for a moment. (Please keep coming back!) For me, however, success will be defined in how I move forward from today. My perspective has changed; my awareness has grown; and my desire to continue to help others wherever possible has increased.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Being 40: Passing the Roadside Sobriety Test

This morning on the way to work, quite the disturbance brewed on HWY 370. Three police cars and a tow truck were parked on either side of the center of the highway with flashing lights blaring, while an officer conducted a sobriety test on a young woman. I caught only a glimpse of the test as I was speeding past in the far right lane. (Yes, I was speeding.) But my immediate thought was, I am so tired, there is no way I could follow that officer's finger from left to right and back again in front of my eyes. In fact, wonder if I could pass that test at all.

Day three of the Live Below the Line Challenge proved easiest so far. I am afraid I have reached a point where I am not even hungry anymore and I lost just a pound yesterday which says to me that my big ol' body is not getting enough calories to even function.

All this time I've been saying I would be the perfect contestant on SURVIVOR because I could outlast those skinny broads. But now I wonder. No amount of sleep makes me feel rested and for the first time this week I'm crabby. I just endured a conversation about buffalo chicken with bleu cheese sauce and I've been craving cupcakes which makes me even more irritated.

There's been a lot of talk over the last few days about how these so-called "pretend to be poor" experiments are good for nothing. I beg to differ. This is an experience like I've never had and like I hope to not have again. I cannot imagine going forward from this week and not making every effort possible to help those in need. Not that I haven't done it before but sometimes recognizing crisis is not enough to make a difference. Having a feeling in the pit of your stomach or ingrained in your being motivates you to take the steps necessary to bring about change. When you've been there and you know what it was like, no matter what IT is, don't you want to help others so they don't have to experience it too?

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Being 40: Mad at the White Corn Tortilla

Eating to fulfill hunger is not really something I can comprehend. I have never eaten because I felt hungry and I've never stopped eating because I've felt full. That's quite the revelation, isn't it? And quite the confession. I eat because I feel like it and because I can. I eat because it tastes good. I have a sweet tooth for days and I love spicy flavorful foods. I eat with my family a few times a week. It's our time to catch up. I eat with my friends. Again, we catch up or we celebrate something or we do it just because. Food is the center of much of my life. There isn't much thought behind it at all. It just is what it is.

Even three days into the Live Below the Line challenge, I eat when it's time to eat, not to hush my grumbling stomach. And I dread the white corn tortillas. I am mad at them in fact for not tasting like fluffy white bread or an asiago bagel from Panera or ANYTHING ELSE THAT DOESN'T TASTE like a white corn tortilla. I think that because I have been so fortunate to eat what I want when I want that I am not grateful for the little bit that I have this week. Today, I barely choked down half of my lunch. I couldn't eat it any more. I would rather go without than eat another corn tortilla.

It is safe to say that on day three, I've learned to manage being hungry. It didn't take long to figure out that the busier I am, then less hungry I am, which explains why moms I know are always saying things like "I forgot to eat all day!" I have NEVER had an instance in my life when I've FORGOTTEN to eat. Can't imagine it. (Reminds me of friends I have who say "I didn't even know I got paid last week." Well, then you have TOO MUCH MONEY. But that's a blog for another time.) While I've learned to control the hunger, I have yet to grasp the idea of eating for nourishment or fulfilment. I don't know that a week will do that for me. And I don't know that I could do this longer than a week at a time because I am exhausted. I have very little energy.

There is a profound sadness that accompanies this experience. I do not completely understand what life is like for a woman living below the line every day but I am starting to get a sense of how helplessness can impact the choices you make and how you live out your days.

This week, I have very little food. I lack energy. It would have been easy for me to stay in bed today rather than going to work. I have lost six pounds in two days. I can stand to lose probably another fifty pounds but a women much smaller than me would probably really be struggling at this point.

Perhaps by Friday, the corn tortilla and I will have made up. And that may only be because I've had my fill of Ramen noodles and eggs.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Being 40: You Have No Choice

Yesterday's Breakfast/Lunch was 2 corn tortillas, 2 slices of cheese, 
1 egg & 4 slices of Buddig ham.  I ate half at 11AM and half at 2PM.
I lost 4 lbs. I was hungry and I had very little energy.
The first day of the Live Below the Line Challenge was nothing less than challenging. Anyone who has ever followed a diet that required food tracking understands that most of the time we are unaware of all that we consume until we see it on paper or on the computer screen. And, for me, food journaling curbs my food binging as well. I don't want to see certain things on paper. I don't want to look like I am eating for three on paper. I don't want to lie to the paper. Ok, the third reason may seem lame or ridiculous but it's true. It's easier to lie to myself if I'm not writing "everything" down.

Going into this, there were two obstacles that I thought would hinder my success. The first was the obvious decrease in the amount of food I would eat every day. I essentially dropped from about 1800 calories (shut it) to about 800 every day. The second was caffeine withdrawal. I drink about 44oz. of caffeine OR MORE each day.

But, yesterday a realization hit me about half way through the day. Women who live on $7.50 a week don't have the OPTION not to do so. They don't have the choice to cheat. They can't just grab an extra egg or let someone buy them lunch. They don't LIVE BELOW THE POVERTY LINE because they are frugal or they are trying to lose weight. They don't have choices.

Today, my co-workers asked me to lunch. They offered to pay, in a charitable effort of their own. I declined. If I was really living below the line, the chances that someone would do that would be slim to none. If I was really living below the line, I would not have that option. Besides, I only have to live this way for one week. Others live it EVERY SINGLE DAY. I can go a week without a choice so that someday other women may actually have one.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Being 40: $7.50

In my 40th year, I want to change the world. A long time ago, I realized that we all have the power to change the world even if we do it in our own homes. But this year, I want to make an outward effort that goes beyond my every day life.

This week, the Live Below the Line challenge begins. Participants have a budget of $7.50 to buy food and drink for the week. As much as I hate Wal-Mart, after doing some pre-shopping research, I realized that I'd get the most bang for my buck there so, tonight I did my challenge shopping.

Leading up to this week, I kept hearing others talk about how most of their week would consist of rice or oatmeal or chick peas. I didn't get this body by eating the same bland food over and over again. I clearly love variety. And I know that I would be less likely to succeed if I spent my whole $7.50 on a bag of rice and a box of oatmeal. It took me about 40 minutes to pull my meals together but I was able to get a little bit of variety & a few pieces of fruit. I have $.56 left which I will save for later in the week. I may be able to splurge on an apple or a can of vegetables.

If I didn't have the week ahead of me, the experience of shopping with only $7.50 in my hand would have made a profound impact already. But the week awaits. I will remember how tough it was to get enough food for the week when the thought of quitting crosses my mind. Women everywhere live like this every week, after all. And I'm doing this for them.

Thank you in advance to those who have sponsored me. Your support means a lot to me. If I get to 100% of my goal, I will extend this effort and go an additional three days. I am at 79% right now. If you would like to sponsor me, go to

Wish me luck! Better yet, wish  good luck to anyone who will have to be around me while I am caffeine free this week. God help them!

Sunday, May 08, 2011

Being 40: Women Helping Women

I didn't have to turn 40 to udnerstand that life is not just about me. I understand that my world is better thanks to the people around me. And I know that by giving to others, we essentially give to ourselves.

From May 16-20, I'll put myself in a MOTHER'S shoes. I will LIVE Below the Line & raise money for an organization called CARE. The following information was pulled from the LIVE BELOW THE LINE website to help you understand what this effort is all about. If you'd like to support this effort & my week of living below the line, go here:

"Founded in 1945, CARE is a leading humanitarian organization fighting poverty in more than 70 countries around the world. CARE places special focus on working alongside poor women because, equipped with the proper resources, women have the power to help whole families and entire communities escape poverty. Women are at the heart of CARE's community-based efforts to improve education, health and economic opportunity. Of the world's 1 billion poorest people, 70% are women and girls. With such a large portion of the population struggling, CARE sees immense opportunity to empower women to contribute to their communities.

Live Below the Line is a fundraising campaign started in Australia in 2010, the movement quickly spread across 3 continents and is now catching on in the US. 1.4 BILLION people are forced to live every day on $1.50. Food, drink, health expenses, housing, transportation, education - all living costs must be covered by this amount. It's a feat impossible to imagine - but it's the reality for nearly one quarter of the world's population. The good news is we can effect change in this area.
May 16 – 20, 2011, is Live Below the Line Week. During those 5 days, thousands of people across the US will spend just $1.50 per day on food. In doing so, they will bring the issue of extreme poverty to the attention of their households and workplaces.

We'll all be challenged. We'll all struggle without caffeine. And we'll all have that not-quite-full feeling for 5 days. But we will do so because there are 1.4 billion people for whom doing without is not a choice, and that situation must change.

Saturday, April 30, 2011

Being 40: Oh To Be A Princess!

She woke up that morning, just a girl from a town outside of London. Throngs of people lined the streets to catch a glimpse and perhaps a wave from her as she rode past them on her way to church. Then the world watched as she floated down a red carpet in a lacy white gown and diamond tiara, escorted by her father and surrounded by a sea of hat-wearing admirers, to marry her prince.

"You look beautiful," said the handsome prince as she took her place beside him. She smiled.

She went to sleep that night, a princess.

The coverage of the royal wedding has been exhausting for some but inspiring for many. We may not all marry princes. In fact that may not be the goal for most of us. But the idea that you can wake up one day as just a girl and be a princess by the time your head hits the pillow is no longer just a fairy tale. It can happen. It did. Yesterday.

Who did you wake up as today? And who will you be when you go to sleep tonight?

Thursday, April 21, 2011

What Makes Cardinal Fans the Best in Baseball

For years, Cardinal fans have been called the best fans in baseball. The title was bestowed upon us not because we consistently cheer for our team but because, overall, we have a knowledge base that exceeds the fans in other cities. We appreciate good baseball. We recognize history in the making and acknowledge the impact that the past has on our present.

St. Louis is notorious for applauding good plays by players on other teams and for welcoming home guys who have moved on to other teams with standing ovations. We are smart fans. We love it when our coach defends his players in the face of a bad call. We get caught up in the emotion of a close game or a bench clearing brawl. We feel like WE win when our team wins and we feel like WE lose when they lose. Those are some of the things that make us the best fans in baseball.

St. Louis fans are also set apart from other fans because we show up. We fill the stands. We sit in the rain and the cold and the heat of July. We arrive at the ballpark early and we stay until the last pitch of the last inning. We endure losing streaks because we believe our team will turn it around. At least that's how it used to be. We do not boo our own team like they do in other cities. We do not applaud bad play but we show our displeasure by not being an active and vocal part of the game. We save our booing for the umpires and the protests of our opponents.

Yesterday, one of our guys voiced his displeasure with the St. Louis fans who booed him. I submit that ten years ago, fans would not have done that. I would also suggest that we have forgotten what makes Cardinal fans the best fans in baseball. We are not Yankees fans who regularly boo their own team. We are not Braves fans who don't even show up during the playoffs. We are not Reds fans who only show up for the playoffs. We are not Dodger fans who arrive by the 3rd and leave in the 7th. We are Cardinal nation. We are embarrassed by bad fan behavior. We feel an obligation to be there for our team, to be a part of the sea of red, to wear our Cardinal pride on our sleeve. We are loyal and true. We understand that the definition of a  fan is quite simply "an enthusiastic devotee" or an "ardent admirer" and that doesn't mean "only if they play well."

Being a St. Louis Cardinal alone does not entitle you to cheering. Wearing the birds on the bat is not enough to endear throngs of fans. It is not enough to win them over. There is a high level of expectation that comes with the uniform. The Cardinals have a long history of not only good baseball but also personal pride in efforts on the field, a love for the city for whom they play and a determination to succeed, whatever it takes.

Although there is a high level of expectations for our team and we expect effort that goes above and beyond our competition, being a St. Louis Cardinal fan does not give you the right to boo your team. It does not require that you cheer either. We might believe that giving 100% on the field honors the players that came before you and that a city that loves it's team as much as St. Louis does deserves nothing less than the best; however, we cannot expect to receive anything more than we are willing to give.

Call me crazy. Or delusional. (And many of you have already done so...) But I think it's time to get back to our roots and to remember what makes us the best fans in baseball.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Being 40: A Letter to Parents: The Internet is the Future

Dear Parents,

Do you remember the first time you heard someone say "the internet is the future?"  I'm not sure when I heard it first but I know I've heard it often. And in the last 30 years the technological advances I've witnessed have exceeded extraordinary.

When I was a kid, we didn't have the internet. In fact, we didn't have computers until I was nearly through elementary school and even then, it wasn't a fully interactive experience. Back in those days, there was no immediacy online. We couldn't gain information instantly. We couldn't play games with people on the other side of the world. We couldn't express ourselves online twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week. Whoever predicted that the internet is the future was right.

I submit, however, that the internet is also your child's future. And how they handle it now should be closely and carefully monitored by you. The advances made in the last 30 years will pale in comparison to the changes we see in the next 30 years. And right now, your children are creating a lasting impression online that can and will have an effect on their futures. Schools are monitoring social media activity to reach out to prospective students. They are also checking in on that activity when deciding whether or not to admit those students. Prospective employers look in on hiring candidates as well. Social media activity can hinder job acquisition. Social networking creates an environment where birds of a feather can more easily flock together too. What kind of people are your children attracting and with whom do they surround themselves on these social platforms?

Parents, I implore you: if you have children who are active online, ask yourselves the following questions:

Do I know the social platforms on which my child is active? (Social media is much further reaching than Facebook. For example, the 12-17 & 18-24 year old segments are the fastest growing groups on Twitter.)

Do I know who my child is talking to online? And who is talking to him or her? (This is not limited to chat rooms. That's old school. Who are they playing games with or getting tweets from on twitter? Whose blogs do they read?)

What kind of language does your child use online or what kind of pictures are tagged with your child's name?

Is your child "checking in" to various locations online? (Now the whole world can know where you are and when you are there? Do you want the "whole world" knowing the whereabouts of your child?)

Educate yourselves. Do the research. And participate in social media WITH your kids. Then it won't feel so much like spying. And you won't get a surprise text from Aunt Michele telling you that your kid's been dropping the F-bomb on Facebook left and right.

The internet was and still is the future.


Someone who wishes she knew then what she knows now.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Being 40: I am me

It seems like every other day random samplings of my Facebook friends are posting the same sayings or phrases or paragraphs in their status. Sometimes the statuses thank a wonderful husband. Other statuses recognize amazing children or a rewarding relationship with a parent. I am always tempted to write my own that says something like "if you've never been married to a wonderful man or had amazing kids but your single sassy and satisfied, repost this as your status." There are moments when I feel a little left out of the sharing. Being 40 and single, without a family of my own, is really hard some days.

But today, many of my friends were posting this: "I'm not beautiful or gorgeous. I haven't got an amazing figure or a flat stomach. I'm far from being considered model material~but I'm me. I eat junk food and love to wear my PJ's and no make-up around the house. I'm random and crazy. And I don't pretend to be someone I'm not. I am who I am, love me or not. I can't change ME!" And I thought, "Finally a status that is almost me!" Almost... Not quite exactly right... And it might vary from today to tomorrow to next Friday... But I think now I'd rewrite this  REPOST-THIS-IF-YOU-RELATE status to say:

I am beautiful though it may not be obvious to you. I am gorgeous inside and out. I might not have an amazing figure but I have a sexy attitude and a beautiful mind. I'm far from being considered model material because I'd never give up ice cream or french fries or peace of mind to show my stuff on the catwalk. I like to wear my sweats and sometimes I can't wait to take my make up off but I also love to get all dolled up. I get my hands dirty and I work hard. But I play hard too. I am random and crazy and spontaneous and adventurous. I don't pretend to be someone I'm not. I am who I am. Love me or not. I won't change me. Not for just anyone. I am me.

Tuesday, April 05, 2011

Being 40: My Cell Phone is Everything to Me!

How many times have you heard someone say, "my whole life is in there" when talking about a cell phone or pda? I'm guilty. I've said it many times. God love the inventors of the iPhone for making me more dependent on a small electronic device than any human being should be.

It houses the contact information of hundreds of people including the guy who fixes my car, the gal who does my hair, a great psychic and my gynecologist. It maintains my schedule without which I wouldn't know if I was supposed to be at a baseball game tonight or in class or picking up razor blades and dark chocolate at Target. It tells me when I'm ovulating, alerts me when the Cardinals win (which is rare these days) and keeps me abreast of the latest changes in the St. Louis weather. It occupies my time when I'm bored, helps me stay overly involved in the lives of people I have "friended" on various social media platforms and tells me when the New Kids on the Block have scheduled another concert. I am very fond of my phone. I might even love it. A little bit... It could be said on occasion that my cell phone is everything to me.

But once a year, I have made it a practice to clean out my phone. I've written about my spring cleaning rituals in the past so this is not a surprise. However, in this older and wiser frame of mind, I am thinking I may have been a little quick to pull the trigger in some cases. If indeed my whole life is in my phone, perhaps I should consider that piece of my life before I carelessly erase it from memory.

Recently, I've received a few phone calls and text messages from numbers I didn't recognize because... I had deleted those people from my phone. Frantically, I searched to see if there was any way to figure out who had contacted me. What if it's that guy that I said I never wanted to see again even though that wasn't completely true and I've kind of been hoping he'd eventually come back around? Or what if it's that old friend I haven't heard from in years who is too prideful to apologize even though she knows I'm right and she finally wants to say she's sorry? (GASP!) I may have altered the path of my life forever by deleting part of my WHOLE LIFE from that silly phone.

The advent of instant contact has provided so many conveniences in life. It's amazing how connected we all are. To think there was a time when a man rode a horse across the country to deliver messages written on paper with a feather blows my mind. All I have to do is press a button to reach someone now. Yet all of this technology has also made it easier for us to dismiss people from our lives. We can unfriend them or delete them in the click of a button.

While there are a few folks who I will not name that have been deservedly deleted from my phone and therefore from my whole life, there are others who may have been dismissed too soon. I joked today at work that I sometimes struggle to know whether a moment calls for a hug or backhand. In some respects though, that might ring a bit true. I guess the moral of the story is that we should take a little time before deciding to permanently wipe people out of our phones and out of our lives for good. And we should ALWAYS leave a message after the tone just in case we are the ones who have been deleted.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Being 40: Time Heals

"Time heals all wounds." There are many variations of the phrase but it was first mentioned by a Greek dramatist around 300BC. He phrased it as "time is the healer of all necessary evils." When you look at it that way the meaning is much more powerful.

I believe we are to endure certain things in life--necessary evils, perhaps-- to help us become who we are intended to be. I believe that the test comes not in the midst of those evils but in how we come through them and get on with life. And I know that it all makes you stronger if you let it.

Sara Evans has a new song out called "A Little Bit Stronger." When I first heard the song, I had two thoughts. The first was that Missouri makes awesome singers. The second was that I knew exactly what it was like to be in a place where you have to wake up every single day, take joy in tiny bits of progress and recognize the moments when you are stronger than you were the day before. Every time I hear the song I think about how far I've come from breakups and losses and tragedies in my life. And, how, even now, I'm a little stronger every day. I don't think that time heals all wounds. But I do think that time heals. And that we all have the opportunity to find strength in adversity.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Being 40: Express Yourself

Being expressive has gotten me in a lot of trouble over the years. Some people think I don't know when to keep my mouth shut. Others say I should just let some things go.

But the people who really know me and the people who really love me know that my expressiveness comes from a good place.  I am a deeply feeling person. I feel strongly and powerfully whether the emotion is joy or sadness or shock or surprise. I love to laugh and sometimes I need a good cry. It helps trust me. I do not supress anything and when I try, I feel lke I might implode. 

Today, my friend Mark of brackenphoto, dropped off a dvd full of pictures from my 40th birthday. I love them even though my double chin made a prominent appearance in some of them. I love them because they are mostly candid shots of people that I adore who were having a good time. And I love them because they captured the essence of me. It's a me that I think many people don't stick around long enough to know or just don't care to take the time to know. It's a me who some people embrace and who others can't understand.

If there's one thing I know how to do, it's express myself! And so does my double chin!

Sunday, March 06, 2011

Being 40: One Week Down, 51 To Go!

I'm ba-ack!

Welcome to all of you who have been following the days that lead up to my 40th birhtday. It seems that learning what it means to be 40 is going to take a while. So we are going to spend the next 51 weeks right here, talking about it and talking about life in general and maybe music and food and I'm sure we'll talk about men because I love men.

Until we get started, here are some of my favorite entries that will help you feel at home!

Thanks for being here!

Monday, January 24, 2011

40 Days 'til 40

In an effort to take my delusional importance in the land of the interwebs one step further, I've decided to take up writing another blog. That's right. I'd guess this is about number seven but this one has a short shelf life. It will only last 40 days. Until I turn 40 years old...

I hope to keep AS I SING IT going during this time. But if you're missing me you can find me here