Channeling Mr. Rogers. Gratitude Experiment: Day 46


After a wonderful weekend with friends in the mountains, I’m breathing a little lighter and my shoulder muscles aren’t begging  for more Advil.   It’s amazing what a change of scenery, friendship and ridiculous laughter can do for the soul. (As well as good food and wine.)

And how terrific it is to be reminded that I live not far at all from mountain scenes that are living oil paintings and sunsets that songs are written about.  It gives me an even clearer idea about that high John Denver was singing about.

I know is sounds like Mr. Rogers has taken over my keyboard to describe his neighborhood.  And I might as well ask  “won’t you be mine, won’t you be mine, won’t … you be … my neighbor?” But I’m completely serious.  We all have plenty of doses of splendor and beauty not too far away if we make time to notice.

I finally got to witness the glory of autumn’s bright yellow Aspen trees dotting the majestic Rocky mountains as the sun was setting. The pictures I took on my phone through my cloudy car windows didn’t do them justice at all.  The colorful displays were more spectacular than I had imagined and I tried to take it all in. Don’t worry, I wasn’t driving.

I got to drive from one side of the Rocky Mountain National State Park to the other, all the way up and over the Continental Divide,watching the tips of the Divide’s snow topped mountains weave in and out of view.  I saw more Elk than I could ever imagine and heard their crazy orchestra of bugle calls to each other (think Ricola commercials but with huge elk making the noises instead of the Swedish guys in plaid shorts).  It’s mating season and the bugles are blaring.

I was able to swallow my fear long enough to peer out my car window into canyons far below over the steep sides of mountain pass switchbacks without a guardrail in sight.  I got to laugh with friends and family, and forget about house projects, work deadlines and school projects.  I even got to ride horses against scenery more breathtaking than I can describe during an afternoon that made my heart fuller and my eyes a little wider.

The business of life takes over in my little suburban world, and I forget about all of the natural splendor in my proverbial backyard. I also forget how to not sweat the small stuff, as the popular book says.  It really is all relative and it just takes getting outside of yourself long enough to realize it.

For this reminder, I am truly grateful. And for channeling Mr. Rogers.  Won’t you be mine?


My clothes are rarely freshly pressed, but now my blog is. Gratitude Experiment: Day 45

Holy cow! (And I’m saying cow because I’ve been cursing too much on my blog lately.)

I’m officially Freshly Pressed. Which is a big deal to bloggers.  For nonbloggers, this means that WordPress has selected one of my posts to put on their main Freshly Pressed page for all bloggers who follow it to see.

This has made my day, maybe my month. Hell, I think it made my year.  It’s been one of those years.

Supposedly getting Freshly Pressed is a 1 in 80,000 chance. Wordpress editors pick 19 posts per day to feature out of 451,713 bloggers, 934,065 new posts, 1,367,589 comments, and 212,837,940 words posted daily on

Clearly someone was asleep at the wheel when they selected my “If you’re not registered to vote, quit reading my blog and register” post. Just kidding, it’s more likely that they agree that this is an important issue.

We’ll see how much  my blog traffic stats change after this new found, short lived fame.  I’ll try not to get a big head.  Any bigger than it already is, since my head is bizarrely large and the Sienfeld episode –where Elaine walks in the park and birds fly into her head because her head is so big and the birds can’t miss it — was based on my head size.

PS: Have you registered to vote or made time on your calendar to make sure to vote?

Today I am thankful for getting Freshly Pressed!  And for my loyal readers.  Thank you.

National “Think Before You Reply-All” Day. Gratitude Experiment: Day 44

I hereby declare today as National “Think Before You Reply-All to Emails”  Day.

It tends to happen a lot on kids sports team emails for some reason.  And a lot of work emails.

Pass the word.  If it’s not necessary to reply to an entire group on an email, please resist the urge.  And only reply to the person who actually needs to know that Johnny has an eye doctor appointment because his stye has been oozing for two and a half days, so he’ll have to miss practice today.

You get the idea.  This will save me from poking my eyes out repeatedly.  And most likely many others.

Today I am grateful that everyone I come across in the blogosphere seems pretty smart and they probably already know this.

Happy Friday.

Bill Nye the Science Guy Messes with Fox. Gratitude Experiment: Day 43


Getty Images

So I remember Bill Nye the Science Guy from his show ten years ago that my kids used to love to watch.  He did cool experiments and helped kids learn to like science.

I heard a rumor that he died and I hadn’t heard anything else about him in a while, so I figured it was true.

So I was shocked to see him on the TV when I was helping at my Mom’s the other day on a Fox news morning show.  Note:  I don’t want to get political or anything, but this is a channel that is not watched often at my house and I only see it when my stepdad has been watching it at their house.  I always check it out it for a bit before I start flipping channels.

As I watched, the show cut away to Bill Nye and I could tell he was getting a little hot and bothered about something.   As I listened I could tell he was going on in a bit of rant … about global warming…. on a Fox channel news showl.  These things don’t go together well.

The co-hosts looked very nervous and they were trying to get him to stop talking without making a scene.  This didn’t go with the channel’s overall point of view.  The fact that any channel has a point of view so strong that it is undeniable makes me crazy in the first place (for either political side).  I went to journalism school where we learned that news is objective.  But that’s beside the point, sort of.

So the co-hosts kept nervously trying to get him to talk about a web resource for kids that he was supposed to be promoting — instead of global warming.  They said “thanks Bill for sharing your ‘theory’.”   But Bill wouldn’t stop.  He was telling them that it wasn’t a theory.  That it was a fact, and he didn’t understand why so many thought it was merely a theory.  Now it was getting just plain fun to watch and they kept calling it his ‘theory’.

Finally they got him to change gears when one of the co-hosts said, “Well, Bill, we want our children to believe what we believe, so let’s move on.”

Seriously, that was said.  I kid you not.  My jaw dropped.  And Bill Nye begrudgingly went into his spiel about whatever he was supposed to be promoting.  And probably poked himself in the eye when he got home.

As I grabbed the remote to change the channel I thought about the whole exchange. Again, I don’t want to get political here folks, but saying that global warming is a theory and doesn’t exist baffles me.  Why believe scientists for some things that they prove and not for others? Especially if it has to do with the quality of life for all of us and our health.

Bill Nye and I suspect that it’s because if we accept it as truth, that would really hurt a lot of oil and gas companies, and other companies who don’t put the environment at the top of their list.  And those companies pay lobbyists a lot of money to get the our congressmen and women to believe that global warming is just a theory.  Or to go along with it.  And the Fox news channel is known to cater to that group of constituents.

It is a fact that Fox News pays contributing guests who actually work for one political party’s campaign to “analyze” top issues. How anyone could not see bias at work is beyond me.  Most news channels I watch bring in guests from both sides.  Fox News also regularly has to list multiple corrections and apologies at the end of shows for incorrect facts and misrepresenting data.  Again, this goes against everything I learned in Journalism school.

At any rate, the funny thing is that according to “Bill Nye’s Climate Lab at Chabot Space & Science Center”.Video on YouTube, Bill Nye is the face of a new permanent exhibition at the Chabot Space & Science Center in Oakland, CA.  According to Wikipedia, the lab features Nye as commander of the Clean Energy Space Station, and invites visitors on an urgent mission to thwart climate change. Beginning with a view of Planet Earth from space, visitors explore air, water, and land galleries to discover how climate change affects Earth’s connected systems, and how to use the Sun, wind, land, and water to generate clean energy.

This, my friends, is what the programming manager at the Fox morning news show forgot to check out.  And my guess is that someone is in hot water if they still work there.

But it all made for absolutely terrific entertainment.  And for that, I am grateful.


I’m really not sure any b… can cook. Gratitude Experiment: Day 42


I was given the “Any Bitch Can Cook” Cookbook as a gift.  It’s a great cookbook with lots of basic cooking info and good standby recipes that are easy to make from everyday ingredients.  It’s made for people like me who are a little intimidated by cooking and frankly a little mystified by the appeal of performing planned, time consuming cooking feats for consumption.

The book is one in a full line of “bitch” books…” Any Bitch Can Party,” “Any Bitch Can Lose It,” “Any Bitch Can Drink,” “Slow Simmering Bitch,” etc.  The word ‘Bitch’ in these books stands for ‘Babe In Total Control of Herself.’  The books are great for people like me who are always seeking to amaze people with what great meals I can prepare with the least effort possible.

I think my dad and stepmom secretly hope that someday something is going to click in my head and I am going to enjoy cooking and going to an extreme amount of work shopping for and preparing a meal. They give me wonderful baking dishes, pans, tools and recipes that make a world of difference and make everything taste better.

And my wonderful stepmom teaches me cooking tips every time I am around her.  I am truly grateful for this, but I’m not sure if I’m ever going to be able to naturally convert.  It’s like I’m missing the gene.

Don’t get me wrong, I like to prepare meals that my family enjoys. And I certainly love to go out for great food and can appreciate fine cuisine. But luckily I married a guy who is more than satisfied with having a night or two during the week when we do pizza or sandwiches, and the rest filled with standby casseroles, spaghetti and Costco cuisine.

He knew what he was getting into when he married me.  That I really wasn’t into the cooking scene and most likely wasn’t ever going to be with my whole heart.  And he knew that I was a far cry from being able to master the more gender stereotypical domestic pursuits.  And that I was probably the most highly functioning ADD type personality he’d ever met.  I think he wanted the challenge.

I’m happy to do the dishes and let someone else cook.  Someone who is much more particular about how it is done.  It seems a tad futile to put that much work into something that will be overwith in 30 minutes to an hour.  Clearly I don’t get it.  Again, I appreciate it in others, but I don’t get it.

Is this nature or nurture?  My mom was not a great cook.  She mastered standards like porkchops and rice a la chicken and rice Campbell’s soup and other such varieties that I remember eating in our harvest gold kitchen. But something about her beef stroganoff has stuck with me and the smell of that dish to this day does not bring back good memories.

So it could be nurture.  Or quite possibly it could have been nature for my mother and subsequently nature for me?  Just not in the DNA.  Something to think about.

At any rate, I am truly grateful that I have many great cooks in my life who love to cook wonderful meals for my family.  And also that my family loves my simplified standby variety of meals that I make while typing a blog, finishing a work project and working on a last minute painting idea.

And frankly, I’m grateful that we have food to put on the table.


If you aren’t registered to vote, quit reading my blog and register. Gratitude Experiment: Day 42

While more countries than ever around the world are fighting for the right to vote, the United States has one of the lowest voter turnouts of any comparable wealthy countries.

According to Pew Center Research, 51 million people are eligible to vote but are not registered.

Of those polled by CNN, 26% said they were too busy to get themselves on the voter rolls. Twelve percent said their vote wouldn’t count anyway, and 10% said they just didn’t want to get registered.

Even more sobering are estimates that only 75 percent of registered voters will actually cast a ballot this fall.

In a USA TODAY/Suffolk University Poll of people in the United States who are eligible to vote, eight in 10 say the government plays an important role in their lives. Yet these same people say that the odds are 50-50 that they will even vote.

The main reasons cited are that they are too busy, they just aren’t excited about either candidate, they think their vote doesn’t really matter, or my favorite – nothing ever gets done anyway.

However a look back at history not very long ago shows just how many have fought and sacrificed to establish the right for all citizens in our country to vote.  And it makes this lack of concern distressing, to say the least.

When the US was founded, only white men with property could vote. By 1869, the 15th Amendment guaranteed the right to vote to black men (but it wasn’t until 1965, after much suffering and violence, that literacy tests, as well as many other tactics to dissuade voters of certain races or colors, including violence, were banned).

And it wasn’t until 1920 – less than 100 years ago — when all women in the U.S. could vote, after 50 years of suffragists being beaten, jailed and treated like traitors for wanting the right to vote.

So when I hear that the top reasons given by unregistered voters and by registered voters not planning to vote is that they are too busy or they don’t think it matters, it gets me a little hot under the collar.

Today, on national register to vote day –  as voter registration deadlines loom –  I am grateful for my right to vote and the fact that I realize it does matter.

(For information on voter registration and where candidates stand on various issues, see For your state’s voter registration deadline visit:

Better Luck Next Time Pinterest. Gratitude Experiment: Day 41

Okay, so I’m trying to figure out this Pinterest thing.  I’ve got an account and a few bulletin boards.  I don’t use it much at all, but I look around on it every now and then.

I did create a board for how I want my funeral to play out.  Can’t decide if that’s too weird.  I’ve got the perfect song to be played, and poem to be read and flowers for my attendee’s viewing pleasure.  It’s possibly a little darker than your average Pinterest board about decorating or cooking, but you’d be surprised how many “repins” I’ve gotten on that board.

And after a few months of minimal use I start to notice that, just as with most social networking these days, the site was clearly harvesting my user habits for a profit somehow.

So I wasn’t surprised the other day I got an email addressed to me by name from Pinterest. The subject line read “Hi, Pinterest has some great boards that would be of interest to you!” Cool, I think. My ADD personality doesn’t want to really meet my deadlines today, so I’ll open the email and check out these boards they picked out just for me.

First suggested board — “Tattoos.” Uh, nothing against them, but I’m much too fickle to be able to commit to any one tattoo image for a whole week, much less a lifetime.  And the thought of having one stretched over my eighty year old skin someday makes me throw up in my mouth a little. So I really don’t want to spend time looking at pictures of  tattoos people have gotten of their dogs, girlfriends and photography equipment. Who knew camera tattoos were so popular?

Next up –“Birds.”  If you’ve read my post that talked about birds, you know that I am pretty much terrified of them.  I’ll never forget being dive bombed by a family of cackling Blue Jays years ago.  Barely made it out with both eyes. So  looking at pictures of birds with sharp, grimy claws up close and personal wants to make me run for the hills. Even though learning how to make a bird house out of a cowboy boot would be pretty awesome procrastination material next time I’m avoiding a work project.

And lastly — “Fun Crafts with the Bible.”  Hmmm. Not sure how to put this, but I really don’t want to learn how to make crafts based on Bible characters.  Although next time I need to know how to carve Noah’s ark out of a watermelon, I’ll know where to look.  And the twelve disciples do appear to fit nicely into an egg carton.

Better luck next time, Pinterest. I can’t wait to see what you come up with for me next time.

Today I am grateful that online data mining doesn’t always work.  Because it’s pretty entertaining when it doesn’t.

For real. Gratitude Experiment: Day 40


Whew. I am wiped.  What a weekend.  Wonderful time with my dad, stepmom and niece in town. One of the best weekends I can remember in a while.  I am so grateful that they all battled the craziness of the airports to come for the weekend.  Truly thankful.

But I do feel almost guilty for how heavy my last post was.  There’s that subconscious Catholic guilt again. But I just had to get all that out there, and it helped.  Thanks for muddling through all this self-discovery with me.  It’s way cheaper than therapy.  So I owe you.

September 22 is always a weird day, not only because my sister died on that day, but also because it is my Mother’s birthday.  For real. Yes, I know.  That is messed up with a capital M. In a big way.  Don’t even get me started on that.

At any rate, my out-of- town company family left this afternoon and then a few hours later, my mom and stepdad came for dinner to celebrate my mother’s birthday (a day late but trust me, she’s not counting — sorry that was awful).  I could tell she thought the whole cake and presents thing was fun, but she really had no clue why we were all singing to her. She was very puzzled (Alzheimer’s has a tendency to do that). And when it was time to leave, she went to the laundry room.  In total, she said about five or six words tonight. But she faked it pretty well.  Glad she can still pull it off.

For years, my sister and I always co-hosted dinner for my mom on her birthday.  We would flip a coin as to who would host and then sort of whine and complain all the while because it was always a little bit of an awkward night for reasons hard to explain.  But none of those nights hold a candle to the out of body experiences I have like tonight with my mom.  It’s like I’m watching a movie of someone else’s life in partially slow motion, and with German subtitles that I don’t understand.

But anyway, back to the gratitude which has really affected everything in my life, for real.  I am grateful for my family that visited and the wonderful time we had.  And that dinner with my mom went so well,  and that she seemed genuinely happy.  Thanks for reading.


Grilled cheese with pickles. Gratitude Experiment: Day 39

Thirteen years ago today I woke up and started the day with my sister just a few miles away.  When I went to bed that night, I no longer had a sister a few miles away, or even many miles away.  Still seems so strange, to have someone in your life one day and taken from you the next.

It was my first day back from maternity leave after my youngest son. And my first meeting that morning.  I was getting the full-on data dump from my coworkers who had covered my clients and projects while I was on leave.  They were happy to hand them back over.

As I sat, asking questions, taking notes and trying to catch up, the call came in.  Our office manager had a serious look on her face as she walked into the conference room to tell me there was a call.  I asked if she could take a message and the slight shake of her head side to side signaled to me that something wasn’t right.  The room cleared.

My stepmom was on the line.  She told me that my sister had been in an accident and I needed to get to the hospital, now.  I don’t remember what else was said on that call but I remember the sound of her voice as the words came out and made my stomach feel sour. I can still remember the tan linen blend suit I was wearing and the black shoes that I looked down at while I was processing the words floating in the air.  I found my purse and flew out the door as my coworkers offered me a ride, worried for my worry. My thoughts raced.

When most people have a car accident, they get hurt and then they heal and go home.  I was prepared, we could handle whatever kind of injuries we needed to adjust to.  I could help her however I needed to. All this ran through my head as I drove robotically to the hospital that sunny fall morning.

But as I walked into the emergency room and was directed down a hall, I was greeted by the hospital Chaplain.  I now know that if you are ever greeted by a hospital Chaplain, you better buckle in and hold tight because you’re getting ready to hear something you don’t want to hear.

The next few hours are a blur with family members huddled in the hospital prayer room, taking turns in and out to see her.  I had to hear her injuries described to me a few times before it really sunk in.  Actually I don’t think it sunk in at all that day.  But she wasn’t leaving the hospital.  I think that’s what they were saying.  I was hoping I was understanding it all wrong.  But no, she wasn’t coming home.

I got to say goodbye to her that morning and I think she could hear me.  I really do.  No, I know she did.  The nurse in the room with me pointed to the movement on the machines tracking her vitals which were connected to the machines keeping parts of her body going.  She showed me how they changed as I spoke and told her what a wonderful sister she was.  And what a wonderful mom she was.  I told her that her daughter was going to be there any minute.  I said all of this over and over, in between sobs, as if on a loop.

Her daughter made it to the hospital, being pulled from her junior high class by her dad.  It was as if my sister was holding on until she could her daughter’s voice.  It was right after that when even those few vital signs ceased.  My niece told me she saw a bright light in the hallway outside of that hospital room.  It was her Mother.

We all went home that day with a hole in our hearts that remains today. I know she is with me, with all of us, all the time.  And I am at peace. But the hole remains.

My niece and parents are in town this weekend and we celebrated my sister by being together.

She loved grilled cheese sandwiches with pickles from Sonic. I’ll be making a stop by Sonic tomorrow for sure.

Today I am grateful for the wonderful memories I have of my sister that make me smile, for the time I had as her little sister, and for the joy she still brings us.

Update on keep your shirt on. Gratitude Experiment: Day 38

This post is from yesterday.

On weekdays my husband and I get so busy that sometimes we’re lucky if we just exchange an email or two.

So when I heard his telltale footsteps downstairs at the end of the day, I knew he was home. When I went to find him to say hello, I ended up in the garage looking for him. And there he was, at the workbench, pretending like he was working on something, shirtless.

Apparently he read my ‘put your shirt on’ post. If only there had been a Bud Light by his side instead of a Stranahan’s.

I’m grateful that my husband has a sense of humor, along with most people in my life. Life would be all too boring otherwise.

I’m no prude, but put your shirt on. Gratitude Experiment: Day 37

As I’ve mentioned in previous posts, I live right by a beautiful state park. And I live in the number one state to make you feel like a lazy pathetic slug.  Seriously, the ninety-nine-year-olds run uphill marathons here. I’m doing good to take the stairs at a fast clip.

So every day when I drive through my neighborhood there are easily four dog walkers and two or three runners in my line of sight. Today, two men were running without their shirts on.  I had to do a double take in my rear view window on one of them because for a second I thought it was a woman running topless.

Now I have never been called a prude. And frankly, I’m known to occasionally blurt out some purely shocking and crude stuff just to mix things up. But come on guys, put your damn shirt on and leave your nipples for your girlfriend’s viewing pleasure. I don’t want to see them. Or anything else under your shirt, sorry.

Women don’t walk around without any pants on just because they don’t have an extra piece of equipment.  So why should you just because most of you don’t have boobs?

Even if you are some hot hunk or you have fabulously cut muscles, no thanks. I’m sure there are some circumstance where it might be okay in public like at the beach, but I find it pretty skeevy most of the time.  And it immediately makes me think you’re not very smart. And even if you’re just mowing your own lawn, it still makes you look like a tool.

And you know that saying about how women who leave a little to the imagination tend to be a little more classy? It applies to you too, jogging hairy boob chest man, sorry.

Today I am grateful that my handsome husband doesn’t jog, bike or mow without a shirt on and because the thought of doing so really doesn’t go through his mind at all.

There’s an Alien in the Coffee Shop. Gratitude Experiment: Day 36

Okay since I used up my Kleenex writing my last post, let’s get some things clear.  This post is not going to be a) heavy, b) depressing or c) lengthy.   Okay maybe a little lengthy because I can’t figure out how to get my posts to be shorter.  Thanks for your patience.

So early this morning I went to get my hair colored because this new getting gray hair thing just plain pisses me off.  Along with needing reading glasses.   No one told me that my body would start immediately deteriorating at warp speed the minute I turned 43. This isn’t funny.

So I’m in the salon waiting the allotted 20 minutes as my color processes and I check my email.  Two emails are friends letting me know that the Denver Post printed my letter to the editor in today’s paper.  Crap, I forgot to check my paper before I left because I was running late.  Not surprising for me.  And before I left I had a client sending me messages with RED FLAGS of importance for matters far from urgent.

I clicked on the email link to the paper.  Cool, they really printed it.  But it just looked like a blog post.  I wanted to see it in real life because that’s the closest thing I’ve had to a byline in years.  Since they don’t let me add bylines to my data sheet copy selling underground fuel storage tank monitoring equipment.  (Yes, my work is Sexy.) I wanted a paper.

I looked at the timer that my stylist had set next to me and then I looked in the mirror.  I have never had so much dye and so many crazy looking foils all over my head in my lifetime.  I’ve gotten highlights before but this time I was switching things up with my color, so she had to empty the store room of color product in order to apply it all over my graying head.  And all the foils where gathered and gooped together into a column pointing up and out the back of my head.  I looked like that creature from Alien, but without all the spit.  I was looking hot.

But I wanted a paper, damn it.  I looked at the lady in the chair next to me.  I asked her if she thought I would frighten people if I walked over to Dazbog Coffee to ask if they sell papers.  Her eyebrows raised and she suggested I have one of the receptionists at the salon go get a paper for me.  But I was perfectly able.  And I’m sure Dazbog would be nearly empty at this time in the morning.

So I grabbed my purse and headed out.  I now had 14 minutes and I wanted a newspaper.  And I didn’t want to wait.

I walked down the sidewalk past people having coffee and got some stares. No biggie.  Then I walk in, with my sassy salon smock and Alien-shaped-hair-color- foiled head.  The place is packed.  With business people. Really? I made a joking comment to the lady in front of me in line so she wouldn’t be frightened if she turned around and wasn’t prepared.  I looked across to my left and at least four or five men were motioning toward me and staring, among plenty others there.  Maybe guys really have no idea what we go through to look so freaking fabulous? Good grief.

Another lady walked up and totally got it.  Time is money.  Gotta get stuff done.  Next, Dazbog girl points me in the direction of the newspapers in the middle of the cafe loungey area.

The clock was ticking.  I was over it. I grabbed a stack of papers, pulled over at a table near the line and started looking through the sections to find my letter. Then I get the feeling that someone close is watching me even more closely.  I turn my head slowly and see that there is a little three-year-old girl who is squeezing her Mom’s hand and staring at me with her jaw dropped.  Just like the kid  in the  Monsters, Inc. movie.  I think she may have wet herself, I’m not sure.  She was scared to death. I apologized to her Mom and told her I was worried this might happen.  She told me it wasn’t a problem and she does the same thing sometimes.  Yeah right.

The Dazbog gal told me I could keep the paper so I sprinted back to the salon, passing more tables of people staring.  I was over it by now and wanted to pull a foil out, hand it to them and keep on walking.

Mission was complete: hair turned out okay, I looked a little less mommish and I had a pretty good time freaking people out, except for the little girl who may have wet herself.

Plus I got my paper and saw my name in print.  Oh, and helped my cause. For all this, I am grateful.

The long way home. Gratitude Experiment: Day 35

This post is from yesterday…  forgot to hit publish.

Once in a while I purposely take the long way home.  Usually it happens when a great song is playing and the car windows are rolled down or the top is down.  Overcast or misty days are the perfect settings for this.

There is a great winding road near my neighborhood that cuts through part of our state park.  It feels like it’s miles from nowhere yet it’s not at all.  It branches off from a much more direct route to its end, so there are usually few cars on it. And right when I reach my neighborhood entrance, it’s like my car sometimes knows when I need to recharge for a just a moment or two.  And when I need to keep going straight and follow this road, making an extra loop before returning home.

I’ve decided this little road is sort of like my own little spiritual retreat.  Like a drive through recharging station.  This is where I crank up whatever song that most likely inspired me to blow off my original turn.  Usually Janis Joplin is whaling about Bobby McGee, Rod Stewart about his sexiness or the Beatles about places they remember.  Any old song that makes me a little sentimental.

And as I make the wide bend of the road (the best part when I go a little too fast) and refocus, I almost always notice a flock of birds in formation.  I’m always in awe of how these birds can perform such a complex and scientific maneuver. Did you know that birds can fly 70% further with the same amount of energy when in formations like this?

I must admit that I have very little affection for birds.  I had a really bad Blue-Jay experience once when my dog found a baby bird, so I am pretty much terrified of most birds.   I’m not sure what kind of birds these are, but I would assume geese or ducks.  And they never cease to fascinate me when flying in formation.

I love that there always seems to be that one little guy at the end of the formation who can’t quite seem to figure it out, probably losing out on much of the drag reduction benefit of the whole exercise.  I always wonder if his cohorts are giving him a hard time for being a slacker and that just stresses him out even more.

And then at that moment I remember a reference in one of my favorite poems.  A poem that I have given to many dear friends in their times of sorrow.  It’s called “Do Not Stand” and the author is unknown from what I can tell.  It’s written from the perspective of someone who has passed on speaking to someone they’ve left behind in this world.  They urge the reader not to stand at their grave and weep, for they are not there. They are a thousand winds that blow, the diamond glints on the snow, the sunlight on ripened grain, the gentle autumn’s rain. And the swift uplifting rush of quiet birds in circled flight.

I can feel my heart leap up as I watch the formation pass over me and I think of my sister. Maybe somehow I connect with that little guy at the end of the formation. Like it’s my sister reminding me that everything’s okay, even for the little guy trying so hard to keep up.  I think a therapist could have a heyday with the psychological theories that might explain this series of thoughts.  Probably many theories would be spot-on, or maybe I subconsciously want to be reincarnated as Janis Joplin’s uncoordinated pet bird?  I’m not sure, but I suspect there’s more to it than that. I’ll be sure to save up for that  session.

Then as I turn my car around at the traffic circle and head back home the opposite direction, through this same stretch of winding road, I breathe a sigh and I am renewed.

Today I am grateful for my long way home.


RUOK Day. Gratitude Experiment: Day 34



Photo from

One of my lovely followers who lives in Australia liked the post I made about depression the other day after my friend lost her son (the funeral was today). This blogger mentioned Australia’s national  RUOK Day. I was intrigued and had to look it up.

According to the website, R U OK? Day is a national day of action dedicated to inspiring all Australians to ask family, friends and colleagues, ‘Are you ok?’  The day encourages reaching out to one another and having open and honest conversations in order to become a more connected community.  And in the end, to help reduce the country’s suicide rate.

The day is celebrated on the second Thursday of September (last Thursday).  The site explains that in the time it takes to have your coffee, you can start a conversation that could change a life.

RUOK? is a not for profit organization that works wiith various Information Partners to provide national focus and leadership on suicide prevention by empowering Australians to have open and honest conversations and stay connected with people in their lives.

R U OK? Day was inspired by the son of Barry Larkin (1940 – 1995).  The day is dedicated to his father and all people who have died through suicide, as well as the family and friends who love them. The first RUOK? Day was in 2009 and after only three years an estimated 58% of the Australian population knew about the national day of action. By last week, which marked the fourth year, I’m sure the number had increased.

The website provides resources for connecting with people in the workplace, schools, health facilities, universities and community and sports clubs.

The Aussies are onto something.  I’m not aware of a single, unified suicide preventive effort like this here in the U.S., and I think we could use one.  And frankly, the more we rely on technology to communicate, the more disconnected we become. And the more we need a day like this to promote awareness for the importance of staying connected.

We should all think about asking R U OK? more often.  We never know when we could impact a life with a just few more moments of connection, listening and empathy. 

Today I am grateful for the many inspirations that come from my fellow bloggers, like this heartwarming and sensible concept.

For more information about the organization, as well as steps for how to reach out and start these conversations, visit