Balancing the edge.

IMG_4396 What keeps me on the right side of the edge?  Calms me when the apprehension of a new school year wrought with challenges starts gnawing away at me?  Helps me breathe more slowly and fully when I’m feeling worried, overwhelmed or frustrated with humanity?

Monkey Dog does all this for me.  If you’ve been reading my blog for long, this is no shocker.  She is my muse.  And her therapy abilities rival her monkey counter-surfing abilities, believe it or not.

Her office where this therapy takes place is in this little corner of my patio where I can listen to the sounds of the small song birds at my nearby feeder which hangs on my favorite tree, with her by my side.  Lucky for me, she requires no copay.

This is what keeps me from getting too close to the edge.

And why I am truly grateful.

Word Press Daily Prompt:  On the Edge. http://dailypost.wordpress.com/2013/08/19/daily-prompt-activity/

Open letter to a Barbecue Lay’s Potato Chip

chipsDear Barbecue Lays Potato Chip,

Tell me why, after all these years, have you found me again?  Now I’m afraid I won’t be able to forget you again for a while.

I have resisted your temptation for a few years now since my boys have become obsessed with you.  I have often stared at your bag in the pantry where you live with all of your relative chips.  Even though I try to store you out of my sight, I still see you.  You have just politely and quietly stared back, almost knowing that you were my forbidden fruit and having mercy on me.

Maybe it was the way that our grocery store has been recently remodeled so  beautifully, making that chip aisle damn near impossible not to stare dreamy-eyed down the aisle of shiny bags, with you now perfectly positioned at eye level upon approach.  I think I heard harps playing in the distance as I pushed my cart down that aisle the other day.

You made me buy a couple of bags of you for the kids.  I didn’t want them to run out, after all.  I brought you home, and tried to position you  in the pantry so that I couldn’t make eye contact.

But then the other night, as I was perfectly perched with my soft blanket and dimmed lights, ready to watch my trashy Sunday night Housewives TV series (that makes my life look ever so simple, which is a good thing), I heard you calling.

Maybe it was Clone’s fault for being so nice and asking me if I wanted him to get me anything after grinning at the TV screen, knowing how awful the TV show was that I was about to spend an hour with.  My household loves to make fun of me for this weekly vice.

Whatever it was, I gave in.  I ate way too many of you.   So many that I might even be able to forget you for a while since I satisfied my craving so sufficiently.  If it weren’t for the orange powdery residue you left under my nails.  That makes it harder to forget you.

You were good.  I thank you for that.

If I smoked I would have had a cigarette afterwards.

Thank you for the great Lays, my friend.

Are you FOMOphobic?

fomoAre you thinking about what you might be missing out on while you’re reading this post?  If so, you may be suffering from the psychological affliction called FOMO, which stands for Fear of Missing Out.

Social media, which has enabled us to know things that we have no need or real desire to know … about every member of our entire social media network… at the exact minute it happens, 24/7  … is fueling this phenomenon at a frenetic pace.

A New York Times article found that we are virtually enabling this to happen by creating a ‘collective compulsion to document our lives and share them online combined with the instant gratification that comes from seeing something you are doing or experiencing get near-immediate approval from your online peers.”

One recent study revealed that 56% of adult social media users suffer from FOMO.  Another revealed that many social media users would rather have a root canal, spend a night in jail, or sit in traffic for four hours while listening to polka music than to give up their social media profile.

What’s more, a study conducted by British psychologist Andrew Przbylski looked at the connections between FOMO and social media and found that people who felt lower levels of autonomy, competence, and connectedness had more severe FOMO and used social media more.

Many believe this is hindering our ability to stay in the present and live fully in the now.  And it’s just getting started.

Don’t get me wrong, there are numerous positives of social media.  I myself like to know what’s going on in pop culture and social media is great for that.  I also like to share sayings and quotes and share an occasional photo. I also truly appreciate social media for helping me stay in touch with those I might not otherwise be able to stay in touch with.  And it’s good for business and for writers.  I get all that.

Yet each time I open Facebook, I have to weigh the odds of reading a post that makes me uneasy at the potential FOMOphobia it may be fueling against the odds of reading a  funny or thought-provoking quote or article posted by a friend.  Or of seeing a sweet post of a moment from a friend’s life.  Or of connecting with a family member. These are the aspects of social media that I love.

Often at social events I’m fascinated by the fact that when someone’s smartphone camera comes out and the word Facebook is mentioned, it’s like a drop of blood has hit the water and suddenly everyone around me has their smart phone out in a frenzy to capture a photo to post on social media to document their attendance.  At what point are we so worried about posting about all the great things that are happening to us that we actually are starting to become absent from our present lives?

Fortunately most of the time, the funny and  semi-personal connecting moments through social media outweigh the occasional quasi-narcissistic outbursts that I can only assume fuel the FOMOphobia epidemic.  Some days it’s a toss up.

But don’t you just have to wonder what will happen if the pace of  technology which is bringing us closer and closer to knowing way too much about each other’s activities at all times one day matches the pace of the rapidly spreading FOMOphobia epidemic?  Will the intersection of these trajectories cause us to combust?  Or to just reboot with the concept of living in the moment a thing of the past?

‘Ignorance is bliss’ never made more sense.

Related articles:

http://news.yahoo.com/social-media-addiction-based-fear-missing-143357943.html

http://www.livescience.com/31985-fear-missing-out-dissatisfaction.html

What do you hope someone knows? Tell them.

templife

This beautiful moon presented itself to me from my driveway last week.

MacGyver lost his dad a week ago very suddenly.  He was only 66 years old.  We are still processing the shock of it all and our hearts are swollen with sorrow.

One of my best friends lost her dad the very same week.  And I heard two stories just yesterday of people who lost their young fathers suddenly.

I lost my sister when she was 36, my mentor when he was only 57 and one of my best friends when she was only 32.

I’m always saying that life is short but even I often  lose sight of just how fleeting and temporary it can be. We’re so lucky to be here right now and to have those in our lives right now.

One of the blogs I follow had a post recently that stressed the importance of focusing on the wonderful in those in our lives and not missing chances to tell people about the things in them that we appreciate.

I think MacGyver knows how much I appreciate, adore and respect him because I tell him constantly.  But I hope he knows I mean it with every ounce of my heart.

I hope my kids know the unmeasurable amount of love I have for them and how very proud I am of the young men that they are, even though we frustrate each other so often.  And how my heart breaks for them when they struggle,

I hope my Dad knows how wicked smart I think he is and how much his drive and determination inspire me. And I hope he knows how much I appreciate all he has done for me and taught me and that I wish I still lived down the street. I hope my Stepmom knows how much I appreciate that she is in my life and how much she has taught me through her grace and loving heart.

I hope my Stepdad knows how much I love and appreciate him and the way he has stood by my Mom.  And I hope that my Mom knows, or knew when she could, how much I appreciate all the sacrifices she made for me, all the love that she gave me and all the things that she taught me which helped make me who I am.

I hope my friends know how much I appreciate them and their thoughtfulness, support and patience with me despite my myriad of idiosyncrasies.  How much I love to hear their voices or read texts or notes from them, and to learn from them and laugh with them until my face hurts.

I hope my oldest niece knows how much I treasure our relationship and that she realizes how wonderful I think she is.  I hope my nephews know how impressed I am with the young men they have become and how proud of them that I am.  And that my young nieces know how much I love them and look forward to watching them become young women.

I hope my cousins know how much I appreciate their efforts to stay connected and how happy I am to be part of their family tree.

I hope my Mother-in-law knows how much I appreciate how she raised such a wonderful man.  And that I appreciate her and love her.  And that my sister-in-law knows how much I love and care about her and wish we lived closer.

I know that my sister knows how much I miss her and keep her in my heart every day because I can feel her with me.  For that I am truly grateful.

And I hope that my father-in-law, who I called Big D, knew how much I loved and admired him.  How much I learned from him … not only about how to hang sheet rock or tile a bathroom at record speeds, but more importantly about keeping a positive mental attitude and always being willing to roll up his sleeves and give a helping hand to anyone who needed it.  I wish I had told him all that and more.  And I hope that he knew it in his heart.  I think he did.

What do you hope someone knows?  Tell them.

Something to help that ‘not so fresh’ feeling

FreshThere I was, sitting in the waiting room for my annual gynecological exam a few days ago.  (My puns are out of control here so don’t  worry – this isn’t going to be gross.)

At any rate, this visit is not my favorite of visits to make each year but something that feels good to check off the list.

But this visit seemed different than other visits before.  This time after I checked in with the perky but tired receptionist, I had to scan the very large waiting room for several minutes before finding the one, single empty chair surrounded by giddy and emotional pregnant 20- and 30-somethings staring at their ultrasound pics giggling.  I was literally surrounded.  And I was the only one taking advantage of the freshly brewed strong black coffee most likely because my days of having babies are a distant memory punctuated by the fact that next year I will have two kiddos in high school.

I sighed and texted a couple of friends to express how suddenly I felt like a yogurt in the fridge that had gone just past its expiration date.

When the nurse who I call Wonder Woman because she looks like Linda Carter (even though the waiting room full of preggos are too young to even know who that is) took my blood pressure, I asked her if I was the only non-pregnant person there.  She replied, “Yep, except for those of us who work here.”  I sighed and we giggled together as she assured me us ‘regular patients’ were still welcome.

So I was happily surprised to learn of something very fresh today. My last post,  “Recipe For: Life on Wry” has been Freshly Pressed!

To put this in perspective,  I tried to research a bit on Google about the odds of being Freshly Pressed, and VERY coincidentally found a conversation where someone was comparing the odds of being Freshly Pressed (the Holy Grail of Blogging, so to speak) to being the one sperm out of 200-600 million sperm that makes it to the egg.  Which I thought very appropriate given my not-so-fresh analogy.

To help me further grasp the odds, I discovered that there are currently 68,600,151 WordPress blog sites in the world. There are 37 million new blog posts each month. And WordPress editors select 8 of them each day to be Freshly Pressed. Being Freshly Pressed sends your blog visits and views through the roof and exposes your blog to oodles and oodles of other bloggers out there.

The odds of being Freshly Pressed are said to be about 12 per million on any given day.  And to have it happen for a second time in less than a year (my last one was “If you aren’t registered to vote, quit reading my blog and register”  last September – only published because I deleted the all caps DAMN IT at the end of the headline most likely – just kidding) … well that’s just math I don’t even know how to compute (I’m a Journalism major, after all).

So thank you WordPress,  and thank you patient and kind readers.

Remember, it’s all wry.  Otherwise life would be way too boring.

Can you spot a truly confident person?

This is a cactus-like weed I walked by in the park with my hot dogs. Unassuming and beautiful.

This is a cactus-like weed that I walked by in the park with my hot dogs. Beautifully unassuming.

I’ve always found that the easiest way to spot insecure people who lack confidence is to look for the ones in the room who are bragging the most and talking so much that others can’t get a word in edge-wise.

They feel the need to make sure that everyone knows how smart they are because I think they need reminding.  They want to be sure you know that they were really the ones who came up with just about every idea first.

And often when they ask you a question they start reminding you of  their expertise again before you can finish answering their question.  This can be exhausting or humorous (laughing on the inside kind of funny).  It depends on my mood.

Most of it comes down to listening which is a skill that I try to be mindful of and catch myself when I am talking more than listening.

I just read a great article on LinkedIn about the Nine Qualities of Truly Confident People.

These were my favorite points from the article:

-Truly confident people listen ten times more than they speak.

– Truly confident people don’t brag, instead usually they appear quiet and unassuming.  … ” They already know what they think; they want to know what you think.  They ask open-ended questions that give other people the freedom to be thoughtful and introspective: They ask what you do, how you do it, what you like about it, what you learned from it… and what they should do if they find themselves in a similar situation.” (best line of the article.)

-Truly confident people realize they know a lot, but they wish they knew more… and they know the only way to learn more is to listen more.

-Truly confident people can feel when the spotlight is starting to shine on them and they are able to adjust the spotlight so it shines on others, even if they did a lot of the work. They don’t need the glory because true validation comes from within.  And letting others feel the spotlight helps others build their own confidence. Which is a good thing if you’re already confident.

-Truly confident people own their mistakes and can admit when they are wrong.

-Truly confident people only seek approval from people who matter.  Another great line from the article: “You say you have 10k Twitter followers? Swell. 20k Facebook friends? Cool. A professional and social network of hundreds or even thousands? That’s great. But that also pales in comparison to earning the trust and respect of the few people in your life that truly matter.”

I remember insecure bullies at school when I was growing up.  They bragged, jumped up and down to get the spotlight, didn’t let others talk and were fine with making others feel less than.  They also weren’t my friends.  Unfortunately school age bullies often grow up to be adult bullies, but I try to avoid the breed as much as possible.

Truly confident people are beautiful people.

How confident are you?

Something to think about.

experienceI saw this sign while shopping with a friend yesterday. We went to a shabby chic haven of small stores selling a plethora of clever items that we could have made ourselves if we only had thought of the ideas first.

At any rate, this sign caught my eye and its message gave me pause.

My first thought after reading it was actually ‘Oh geez, what has the last year been preparing me for? Seemed like a frightening thought after a pretty exhausting year of events.’

But on the flip side, it makes sense that each experience prepares us for the next.  And that’s a good thing.

Because life gets easier the more we do it.  Just like we get better at playing catch the more we practice.

We learn how to relax and get into a rhythm with the ball.  How to position ourselves for successful catches by reading the ball and predicting where it might end up.

We also learn to recognize and dodge those fast balls that could really hurt if they nailed us. And how to catch the next hardball differently so it doesn’t sting so much.

And most importantly we learn how to be open — and unafraid —  to catch certain curve balls that can change our life forever.

What about you?  How do you think each experience prepares us for the next?

Oh, tell me what you want, what you really, really want …

dandy3In my 200th post – I’m shaking things up a bit and making this post all about you.

This blog is about a lot of things.  The common thread is usually some kind of either wry or raw perspective that I have gained from my journey through this thing called life.

I have almost 600 followers now and this blog has been viewed by people in 91 countries — all of which blows my mind.  And makes me very grateful.

dandy4Which is why I want to know…

What do you like to read most here?  What about this blog do you most feel a connection with?

Do you like my posts that are about gratitude (like my first 100 when this blog started)?

Or ones that are sarcastic or self deprecating? Or about parenting or being part of the sandwich generation?

Or ones that are filled with what is sometimes pretty raw emotion?

Short posts or long ones?  Posts where I participate in a Worpress challenge or writing prompt exercise?

Or simply posts with nice pictures or paintings (no judgement here…)?

You tell me.

And thank you for being part of this blog!

dandy

STOP. It’s all relative, my friends.

susieWhatever you’ve been griping about this morning (if you’ve griped about anything this morning or were getting ready to), stop and rethink.

Susie, a hilarious, inspiring and supportive  fellow blogger and author of Susie Lindau’s Wild Ride is undergoing a double mastectomy today, right now in fact.

You can follow The Boob Report here where she talks about “offing” her breasts, which she decided never really matched anyway.

Go Susie.  You are a badass in my book.

Ode to My Grandfathers

gdadBoth of my late grandfathers had May birthdays, and I am particularly fond of May birthdays, as some might know.

With one of these birthdays upon us today. I decided  to honor them both.

They were both kind, patient and good men, and parts of them make me who I am today.

And for that I am truly grateful.

 A Southern Gent

An inventive sort, this Southern gent.

Able to fix anything thrown his way.

An understated man, only said what he meant.

Quietly observing  the day.

Happy to let the spotlight shine,

On his wife, for a fuss he thought quite the bore.

Calming the waters throughout their life,

A loving man, with patience galore.

And a Northern Gent Wally

The grandfather I never knew,

Walked softly, kind and tall.

To his girls,  forever true,

His heartfelt words touched them all.

His love letters made his true love blush,

Funny, sentimental and smart,

He lives on in us,

His wit, all a part.

 

What’s the first thing that comes to mind when you think of the word Grandfather?

A Fairy Tale of Vintage Charm and Vintage Plumbing.

When the pipes on the other side had to be replaced.

Spring in Colorado may take a bit longer to arrive, but its perfection makes every extra day worth its weight in gold.  And working in the yard delightfully distracts me from all the other things I need to be doing.

Yesterday as I was clearing leftover leaves from my garden,  I came across a torn piece of paper towel in the mulch, which brought back vivid memories of a little old house with vintage charm that I once knew …fairytale

Once upon a time, long, long ago, when life was carefree and butterflies danced in the air to fairy tale music, MacGyver and Wry bought their very first little house.  They had a very little budget with MacGyver continuing his education and only Wry working, so they wanted a very little house that needed a very, very big  amount of work to be done so that they could get a very, very good buy.  After all, they were quite handy, and they had quite kind and generous, able-bodied and skilled parents to help with the fixing up.

house

This little old 1927 Tudor Revival style house was in a little old neighborhood called White City, named after a dairy farm with white buildings long ago.  It had been on the market  for months as its condition looked so rough that most sane buyers kept on driving once they saw it.

A little old widow had lived in the house who clearly wasn’t able to handle the upkeep.

But Wry asked MacGyver to turn the car around and take another look.  She saw past the overgrown yard, the leaning white picket fence (for after all, it had a picket fence), the old blinds falling apart in the windows (after all, the windows were perfectly shaped and had wooden panes).  She saw past the swamp cooler falling off the side of a rotted window (for the window was surround by beautiful ivy) and she even overlooked the leaning detached garage (since after all, it was a garage).

house sign

Wry knew this little old house could be something grand. And that “a good deal” could quite assuredly be had. It was destined to shine like the gem it once was.

Its bones were beautiful, with arches in almost every room and golden oak floors begging to be set free from the weight of their fifty-year old sweater of carpet.  But this little gem also had very old electrical wiring, very old fixtures and a funky old swamp cooler that Wry and MacGyer didn’t dare try to revive.

Its green, flat wool carpet with swirl designs also had holes that had been burnt in a circle in a spot in the living room where clearly the little old widow or her late husband had smoked carelessly in what was probably a little old chair.  But most importantly for this little tale, this little old house had very old plumbing.

flower

Naked Lady flower.

What the little old widow lacked in home maintenance skills, she made up for tenfold with her love and care of her flowers. The long and cracked driveway was flanked by a thick wall of pink Crepe Myrtles on one side and a flower bed the length of the whole little house on the other side.  The flower bed was brimming with peonies, luscious lilies, cheery patches of daisies, mounds and mounds of pink Sweet William, even some flowers called Naked Ladies and gorgeous roses of all variety.

Wry knew little of flowers and was thrilled that this garden that brought a smile to her face each time she drove up the long cracked driveway seemed to flourish all on its own.

She never thought about why the flowers did so well or just how fertile that ground must have been.  Until, that is, she began finding a little old scrap or two of paper near the beautiful rose bushes day after day.  And it seemed peculiar to her that they kept appearing right outside the window of the quaint little bathroom with little bitty, checkerboard black and white tiles that made her heart sing.

Fearing the worst, MacGyver asked Wry to go inside and flush the toilet (which was surrounded by the little black and white tiles that she loved to see).  He crawled under the little old house in the dingy, damp crawlspace and waited anxiously for the flush. Then a scream was heard and their fears were realized. MacGyver escaped the dark crawlspace unharmed, but quite wet and sad.

pipe fix

A proud MacGyver moment.

MacGyver and Wry learned that the little old sewer pipes of this little old house were made of a fibrous material which a grand inventor thought a good idea at the time of their invention.  These pipes, called Orangeburg, were later found to completely disintegrate over time and their use was discontinued long before this fairy tale began.

So, the mystery of how all those little flowers grew so very well along the side of the little old house with the picket fence and wooden pane windows had been solved.  The soil was the richest in the land, indeed.

After much toil and trouble, the little old sewer line that ran from that cute little bathroom with the little bitty black and white tiles all the way under the long cracked driveway and past the pink Crepe Mrytles was anew.  Wry and MacGyver lived there happily ever after until years later when they outgrew their little old house.  By then the garage and picket fence stood proudly upright, the golden oak floors gleamed, and the little black and white tiles, even with a crack or two, remained perfectly in tact.

And the moral to the story?  Never underestimate the unpolished and the unrefined. It’s often worth a second look.  With a little love, a lot of labor, and a square or two of toilet paper, it just might bring you years of joy and little old memories.

The End.

Seven bad things from my Madrid trip.

IMG_3983Here we go.  The only seven ‘bad’ things about my trip to Madrid:IMG_4025

1. One pound gained from wine.  At least. Because I didn’t want to be rude and therefore was forced to participate in the Spanish tradition of five o’clock all the time.IMG_4013IMG_3980

2. One pound gained from ham, ham and more ham.  Same rationale.  Jambone everywhere –  legs of it hanging in bars and on racks everywhere.  See photo where gal is slicing it off of the leg on the rack connected to the counter.  I know my vegetarian friends are passing out right now, sorry.  It was damn good ham.

3. One pound gained from the dessert cart on my upgraded business class flights. Embarrassingly excessive amount of food and drink offered.  No excuse readily available.

IMG_4039

4. One pound or so gained from official tapas including stuffed mushrooms, squid in its own ink sauce, you name it.  Again, I did not want to be rude. (Probably lost a few of you on that squid in ink thing too, but it was actually tasty.)

IMG_4082

5. One pound gained from the yummy, soft white bread that was served with everything.  Couldn’t hurt any bread baker’s feelings.

6. One pound gained  from olives and peppers galore that usually came with beer which I’m sure had no calories at all. Sometimes the skewers were topped with big furry looking anchovies to boot.  (Sorry, now I’m just messing with my squeamish friends.)

7. I’m telling myself at least one pound gained in water weight from being in a plane for so many hours.

I must say, those were the best seven pounds I’ve ever gained and I would gain them all over again.  Life is altogether too short, as I am reminded often.

What were the best pounds you’ve ever gained?

ps: Check out the awesome clouds that rolled in and changed the sky background in the last photo, taken from the same spot as the first.IMG_3986

Conversation with a Tree.

solo treeTrees that stand alone,

Of all ages and types.

Whisper to me,

And remind me to breathe,

With perspective anew.

Silent and strong,

Unwavering against the wind,

Trying to bend and break.

Reaching up to the sky,

And the gracious sun.

Thankful to be.

Do trees speak to you?