Friday, September 29, 2017

Momma Always Said

There are many things that "Momma Always Said." I am sure that we all can agree on that. Things that we heard as we were growing up repeated to us over and over. Things that we said that we would never say to our own children when we had children. Yet, as we grew older, some of them just slipped out of our mouths. Is it in the DNA? Just a part of the gene pool? Maybe so. Or maybe, it is just one way to teach life lessons that many still need to learn. Just look around you.

Today I really just want to write about one phrase in particular. If I came home to ask if I could go someone or do something with a group of friends and my Mom said, "No," my first response would always be that all of the other kids are going. Or perhaps, all of the other kids are doing it. You know exactly what her response to me was: "Well, if Suzie jumped off the bridge would you follow her and jump?"

There is no way that as a kid, I would win that argument. Somehow, I had to find a different approach to try to talk my way into what I really wanted to do. Sometimes other ways would work, and sometimes not. She had her own reasons. The lesson learned from this cliche that all parents use is that you should try to be the leader. Instead of following the crowd, let the crowd follow you. 

Sometimes we would get in deep conversations about how following a crowd is just a way of not following my own heart and having my own dreams. This advice did take me in a few different directions than some of my friends. Not that their ways were wrong, just that it was not my chosen way. What I took away from our talks was a valuable life skill. The kind of life skills that all parents should be teaching their children. It is not a class that you can sign up for in school, although many outstanding teachers use this lesson to help their students get a better outlook on life.

Albert Einstein said it best in his quote, "The one who follows the crowd will usually go no further than the crowd. The one who walks alone is likely to find himself in places no one has ever been before."  I believe that not only as kids, but even adults feel they have safety in numbers. This may be somewhat true in some cases. Think about the multi-millionaires and entrepreneurs that took their own road.

I believe that making a difference is what life is all about. Usually people of all ages can and will make a difference by continually trying to improve. They do this through collaboration with others. It does not mean you have to always walk alone. Sharing ideas and ways to better the world, as well as ourselves, is a positive way to make a difference. All of our time and energy should not be on what was or what is, instead we should be focusing on what can be.

Stand up and be the leader for yourself and the good of others. This is using your influence in a positive way. Showing others what you are committed to is a way to share responsibility without acting like The Pied Piper. If you are truly operating from your heart, soul and brain, then you are putting it all together for the betterment of others, as well as yourself. It is a win-win solution. Momma was right on this one! 

Monday, September 25, 2017

To Coin a Phrase

As a writer, I try to always be very careful with my basic grammar. There are specific 'do's and don'ts' that we all learned in English classes, year after year. Some people got it, while others obviously were off in a daydream or else chose not to follow the grammar rules. I won't say that I never make the errors, I do. My excuse is that it happens when I am in too much of a rush or else it was a typo. It really does drive me crazy when I see to, too and two or their, there and they're used incorrectly. (not to mention the other ones out there)

There is yet another part of writing that I must always pay close attention to. There are expressions or phrases that many times are used incorrectly. Sometimes they have been used incorrectly so often that we tend to never know the true way of expressing them. I was actually shocked to learn of some of the sayings that I had been using incorrectly. I now know better, so shame on me if I slip up. Many of the sayings that I listed below, I did already know, yet have heard others use them incorrectly or did not know their origin. I suppose that it is what one gets used to seeing in print and hearing? I always like to know where the phrase came from or what the meaning was originally if I am using it.

  • for all intents and purposes  -  I have heard this verbally expressed as "for all intensive purposes." Rarely will you find it in written form, as it does not make it usually past the edited edition. 
  • he has another think coming  -  If you believe it  is, “you’ve got another thing coming,” then you have misheard the expression, “you’ve got another think coming”.   
  • spit and image  -  spitting image  - trick phrasing here because the original was spit and image but throughout the years spitting image has become the accepted phrasing
  • I could care less  -  I couldn't care less  - slightly confusing because of the double negative (not and less - maybe not negative technically but in meaning), but if you think about it does make sense.  
  • Back to square one  -  Early BBC radio commentaries did help listeners follow the progress of football (soccer) and rugby games by dividing the pitch into eight rectangles. Commentators described the play by saying which 'square' the ball was in. The Radio Times, the BBC's listings guide, referred to the practice in an issue from January 1927.
  • What a load of codswallop  -  This is a new vocabulary word for me. It was used in a movie that we were watching the other night. It is most definitely a British slang word meaning nonsense. There are lots of myths about the origin of the word. It showed up in print post WWII in British press. This word is going in my list of favorite words. It is just plain fun to say.
  • Getting up on the wrong side of the bed  - We all use this to express waking up in a bad mood but did you know that long ago innkeepers actually pushed the beds up against the wall on the left side because the left side of anything was considered sinister. This way the guests had no other option except to get up on the right side of the bed. Sinister is Latin for left-handed but there is no other real explanation given in my research.
  • Show your true colors  -  The song, True Colors, by Cindi Lauper, does reflect in a way some of the original meaning of this phrase. It is to reveal one's true nature. Warships used to fly multiple flags to confuse their enemies. The rules of warfare stated that a ship had to hoist its true flag before firing in order to display its country's true colors.
  • Go the whole 9 yards  -  It is to do your best based on World War II Fighter pilots receiving a 9-yard chain of ammunition so therefore, when a pilot used all of his ammunition on one target, he gave it "the whole  9 yards."
  • Don't throw the baby out with the bathwater Simply means hang on to valuable things when getting rid of unnecessary things. During the 1500's people bathed very infrequently. When they did, the whole family used the same tub of water starting with the males of the house and moving on to the females with babies being last. The water was cloudy, as you can imagine so the infants' mothers had to take care not to throw them out with the bathwater. One can't make this stuff up!
As a writer, I like to know where expressions that I use originated from. I feel that if I am expressing myself in a particular way then I should be able to explain, if asked.

Friday, September 22, 2017


"Don't ever be ashamed of loving the strange little things that make your weird little heart happy." This was my positive mantra for the day that I posted this week on my Facebook page. It is a quote from Elizabeth Gilbert. Let's face it. We all have strange little things that make our weird little hearts happy. Hopefully, they don't drive other people crazy. If you love someone totally and unconditionally, you realize that each one of you have some quirkiness within your personality. Embrace it if you can or be prepared to overlook it if it is not hurting anyone.

My husband is able to overlook that I adore Jimmy Buffett and all of his songs. I sing Margaritaville at the top of my lungs each time it is on the radio. I have all of his albums, much to Steve's dismay. Some dear friends went to a Margaritaville Restaurant/Bar and brought me a beach towel, along with a mouse pad for our desktop computer. When Alan Jackson teamed up with Jimmy Buffett to sing It's 5 O'Clock Somewhere, my dear sweet husband had another song to listen to me sing loudly and proudly. 

There are other songs that I can totally rock out on to his embarrassment. It's Raining Men,  Bohemian Rhapsody, Knock Three Times, Pretty Woman, I'm a Believer and oh so many others. Out of all of these songs, I truly believe that something is seriously wrong with anyone who can't chime in at some point to Bohemian Rhapsody. Just my own humble opinion.

There are other quirks that I will share and you can see just how unashamed I am that these are my quirks and I am proud of them. You need never to be embarrassed by what makes you the true YOU.

  • the bed MUST be made in the morning
  • dirty dishes in the sink for no longer than it takes to empty the dishwasher 
  • stepping on cracks in the sidewalk
  • spices organized in alphabetical order
  • can't eat foods with certain textures such as cottage cheese, ricotta cheese, jello
  • writing in my journal using the color pen that my mood is for that day
  • my tongue is out when in deep concentration
  • I talk to myself and even answer when working on certain projects, usually frustrating ones involving technology
  • most of the time I get no enjoyment from watching a movie the second time - except at Christmas, when the month of December is the time to bring out all of the Christmas movies we have seen, as well as viewing a new one if released
  • the bills in my wallet must be in order (ones, fives, tens, etc) and all facing the same way
  • directionally challenged - if my 'gut' feeling is to turn left to go where I need to be then I should go the opposite way
  • changing my signature based on my mood (I am sure that the bank loves this one)
  • when people watching, I love to guess their occupations
  • if I pick out my clothes the night before, my mood may change when I wake up and I must start all over again

So my question to I weird? Am I too quirky? All I can say is that it is me and I believe we should all just be accepting of one another and what makes us tick. In fact, I dare say that many people reading this have some of the very same quirks that I listed for myself. If you ever want to realize just how normal you really are, google some really famous people and read of some of their bizarre quirks. Some of which I would tend to put in a totally different category from quirkiness to ludicrous. 

Monday, September 18, 2017

Quitting Is Not an Option

In my book, quitting is never an option! Is it an option that runs through my mind now and then? Of course, yes, I am a human being. We all have our limits. After I vent some, to myself or to significant others, I am ready to step it up a notch and move onward and upward. Not quit! It may mean a change of plans, however not just change to be changing and quitting totally - it is a change for the better.

This theory on quitting fits almost every category in my life. Sometimes, it is a fear deep inside me that is urging me to just quit and go inside my comfort zone more. This is one of the hardest for me, yet so far, I have managed and in some cases never let it slow me down. Some perfect examples are moving to different parts of the country, taking jobs that may not be what I was expecting to be doing in life and most definitely not my own choice. Perfect opportunity to say, "I quit!" Instead, I persevered. Tried it out for a fit and to my surprise, most of the time it did work out. For those times that it did not, I had to find ways to move around and through a few hoops so that it was not a way of quitting. Michael Jordan's quote rang loudly in my head, "If you quit once it becomes a habit. Never quit!" My motto is to just fight the fear. 

It is sort of like a double edged sword. You know that you are more than likely about to succeed when the pressure is building. When there is no pressure steamer going off, there is usually not enough energy to succeed. It is the perfect time to breathe in and breathe out - keeping calm and letting it go. Somehow, it all works out once you put things in perspective and stop feeling sorry for yourself. I know that taking risks is a way for me to grow as an individual. I also know that I can't fake is something that I must grow in to. I must allow myself the time to confirm how I am feeling and then validate through reasoning where one road will take me vs. the other road. 

Thinking that the world owes me something is a way of copping out, just as expecting immediate rewards. One major concept that I had to come to grips with is that there is no way to make everyone happy. Doing what I needed to do, in order to meet my successes and not worry about what I was not in control of, only what I could control was what I had to keep uppermost in my thoughts. Being nice to me and keeping me happy is important. Using up my energy dwelling on the past or trying to change others is a waste of my time. As Conrad Hilton believes, so do I: "Success is connected with action. Successful people keep moving. They make mistakes but they don't quit."

Adding some of my thoughts on aging to this blog; never, ever quit trying to age gracefully. We all go through the aging process. No one promised us a rose garden. In fact, just look at some of the mistakes that plastic surgeons have made on some of the more famous people in the spotlight. 'Tis much better to age gracefully and not give up on what life throws your way, because even a 5 star General such as Douglas MacArthur believes that age wrinkles the body, quitting wrinkles the soul. 
(By the way aging gracefully does not necessarily mean telling your real age!) 

One last detail that I feel that I must mention is that I believe whole-heartedly in celebrations, however small. Giving myself little rewards along the way is a definite motivator. A Starbucks coffee or a MacAlister's extra large unsweet iced tea with extra lemon will spur me on to greater things and help me know that I am not to ever be a quitter. 

Friday, September 15, 2017

To Be or Not To Be

To be or not to be happy and positive all of the time, that is the question. It is totally impossible to be happy and positive all of the time. We may appear that way to others. I know that many friends, former co-workers, relatives and acquaintances believe that is the real me. For the most part: it is to a certain degree.

However, there is a dangerous line between sharing with others your true feelings and going around always happy or always woe is me bottled up inside. First, I know for myself, that I must have a time for me to be quiet and think through my emotions, pick a positive mantra for the day to help get me through a tough time. That is the first very important step for me. 

Secondly, I need a quiet time to write in my daily journal exactly how I feel. It is okay, I have learned, to have a moment of self-pity. I must be honest with myself in knowing that I am not Wonder Woman (that is a whole different emotion and fantasy that we won't go into just now).

Once I have taken control of the basics of what I am feeling, paused for a moment and acknowledged my true feelings, then I need to talk and share with my husband, my daughter or my son and even sometimes a close friend. It may surprise a few people to learn that others receive joy in being able to help. Nothing bad is going to happen to you when you share with others. The warning that I would give is to be careful who you share with. Most of the time, getting it out in the open helps you see a problem through a different set of eyes. It helps to know that it is okay to not always be feeling peachy and to stop worrying about what others may think.

It was a hard lesson for me to learn that a tremendous pressure to try to always pretend to be a-okay when you are not can be lifted from your shoulders. It was one big waste of my emotional energy. In journaling, I learned that either I would beat myself up when I let it slip that I was not okay. Then I just moved on to telling what I call, 'the little white lie.'  "Sure! I am just fine. Why wouldn't I be?" Either way is not being true to myself.

I know that I do not aspire to be a phony, nor do most other people. Moping around all of the time and feeling sorry for myself is not the answer anymore than being on top of the world 100% of the time. Both can be detrimental to your mental and spiritual
well-being. I have learned that smiling more than frowning helps my spirit and even becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy in some respects. This is true for me when I find a balance to being the real and totally authentic me. 

How many of us know someone (sometimes more than one someone) who you dread to say, "Good morning and how are you today?" The reason being is that the person will go into a long winded conversation about some kind of gloom and doom that they are going through at the moment. By the time they finish, if they even finish, they have managed to depress me. I consider myself a fast learner and have reworded how I address these kind of people. Let me say again: BALANCE is the key! One special co-worker had a great reply to the question about how are you today when her day was not going just right? Her reply was, "I could complain but it won't do any good." She smiled and went on about her business, even adding a sass to her walk.

Embracing my wholeness and forgiving myself is a more gentle way. A self-hug and a kiss for my brain is what is needed. There was a particular mantra that I posted on FaceBook yesterday. I share these posts to get my emotions out. If they sound like Little Miss Sunshine, then know that I may be struggling with something where I need a positive thought to hold in my heart for the day. Sometimes, it is just how I feel for the day. I keep social media just what it should be for me. No religion, no politics, no bad-mouthing others, in other words I try to stay out of the BMW Club (B-itch, M-oan and W-hine)

~ Life is takes sadness to know happiness, noise to appreciate silence and absence to value presence. ~


Monday, September 11, 2017

Not a New Phenomenon

All of the above pictures are natural disasters. These horrible events have been happening since the beginning of time. Some years more occur than other years. The U.S. Geological Teams have reports of this fact based on when historians first began recording events. They insist that weather related disasters come about when certain atmospheric conditions are present. For example truly massive flooding occurs around the world, usually every 100 - 200 years in different geographic locations. The cause is likened to what they term as atmospheric rivers which are narrow bands of water vapor about a mile above an ocean that may extend for thousands of miles.

Hurricanes have a 'season' for a reason. The ocean water warms to certain temperatures, some years higher than other years; add in other conditions and we end up with many hurricanes in a particular location. Other years, there may be none. There are no crystal balls to predict when the year of the hurricanes will hit nor where they will hit. Each early Spring, meteorologists come out with predictions that it will be a catastrophic year for major storms. Why not? They have a 50/50 chance of being correct. 

My brother used to work on off-shore drilling rigs in the Gulf. He would have late summers and falls where there were rarely any evacuations off the rigs and then other years it almost seemed like a weekly event with the threatening tropical storms and/or hurricanes approaching.

With hurricanes, of course, come the torrential rain, storm surges and tornadoes. There is a warning for hurricanes and tropical storms. It just seems that not everyone takes them seriously. If one lives on the coast, any coastline, be prepared to evacuate. Have a plan in place. 'Things' can be replaced. Lives can't. 

Blaming global warming on the reason for all of the tornadoes, hurricanes, wildfires, tsunamis, earthquakes and any other natural disaster is the trend nowadays. I, for one, tend to be a little bit skeptical. The question that comes to my mind is then how long has global warming been going on since recorded hurricanes, many in one season, have been recorded for over 200 years. (probably longer, this was as far back as I searched) As for the wildfires, most were discovered to be caused by humans not using common sense with their camp fires or fireworks.

I am not exactly sure why I chose this particular topic to write about today, except that with Hurricane Harvey and then Irma just passing through, it was on my mind. Also, on my mind was what happened on this date, September 11, 2001. This was not a natural disaster. Although, we can't control Mother Nature's forces, it also becomes difficult to control forces of terror. Governments are trying to put what they know in place to help prevent some of the terrorist groups from causing vast destruction and death. It has not put an end to their evil ways, although it has deterred some. 

These are the times that we must come together as a community, as states, as countries and the whole world to help one another. As stated by Jack Ma, "There are big problems that change the world. If we are working together, that will make us understand each other, appreciate each other, help each other."

Friday, September 8, 2017

Just Click It

There is one errand that takes up a huge amount of our time, energy and money  -  grocery shopping! The title of this blog is called, "Just Click It." That is because now this is how we shop. It is so convenient and so worth every moment that we save going inside to shop. 

First, let me explain to those of you who are not familiar with this concept. The customer goes to the 'Click It' website to register, then weekly, or however often you wish, you type in what items you want to purchase. As you add to your cart, the item appears with the amount. There are digital coupons to use, just as you used the old paper coupons. Also, there is a special section to write specifically what you want for your produce, such as 2 bananas that are not overly ripe. Perhaps, from the deli department you want your 1/2 pound of black forest ham sliced very thinly. There is even a box to click that you want no substitutions used if they are out of stock for your brand of peanut butter or whatever else you are particular about.

The next step is to check out, review your list and put in your payment information, along with the time you will be at their Click List parking spots to pick up your order. It is set up in hour increments. When you arrive, you call on your cell phone, tell them your name and just like magic, within 5 minutes someone is out to your car with your groceries. The employee reviews anything that was out of stock and loads up your trunk. 

Now I ask easy is that? The only thing that would be easier is if they actually delivered it to your house and brought them in to your kitchen. I can take over from there because I am a bit OCD on where the items belong on the shelves and fridge.

No longer is going to the grocery time consuming. The things that come to my mind when I think of how we used to spend about two hours (driving to the store, shopping in the store, checking out, loading the car, driving home and unloading the car)! It is a quick and painless errand now.

I have a very loving husband who would want to go up and down every aisle just in case he saw something that he thought we were out of and needed. This is how we sometimes ended up with 4 jars of light mayonnaise in the pantry, etc. Our weekly bills are now one half to three quarters lower than ever before. There is now space on the shelves in the pantry.

If we shopped on Saturdays, we had to deal with the crowds and long lines. Parking was a nightmare. Those high ceilings and terrible fluorescent lighting just added to the feeling of my personal space being invaded. If that was not bad enough, I felt like other shoppers, as well as the cashier judged what we were buying based on how they stared in our carts and then leered at us. Even some bold cashiers would ask us what we would do with ginger or bleu cheese olives.

Is there a rule for all grocery stores to rearrange their merchandise every few months or so? Just as soon as we seemed to know where to find everything that we needed or wanted -- BOOM! The manager had his workers move items, I am sure it was to make the shoppers spend more by going up and down searching for what they need, yet stopping here and there to pick up something that was not even on their list.

When our son worked in high school at a grocery store, they spent time training him. Baggers today seem to throw whatever all together in the bags. Click List baggers actually must put refrigerated items together, frozen items together, etc. This is due to shopping for it in advance of the customer arriving, they must store it in the appropriate locations until the customer arrives. Flagship stores were popular at the time he worked in one so the baggers had to take the groceries out to the car and load them for each customer. He made some very good tip money.

The stores seemed to be friendlier and more fun to shop in back in the day. When you walked through the produce section the mist that came sprinkling out on the veggies automatically made the tune of "Singing in the Rain" come on. This is how you started your shopping. By the time the customer reached the Dairy section, auto-motion caused a rooster to cock-a-doodle-do at the egg section and a cow to mooooooo when the door was opened to get a gallon of milk out. 

Those were the days. Well, now I am saying these are the days. Just Click It! The marketing idea is clever. Each customer gets the first four orders without a fee charge. After that it costs $4.95 for this service. It is a fee well worth it. Even with that fee added on, our grocery bills are slashed. On the up side, every couple of weeks there are free items or the fee is waived if you download it to your account. 

This will never be the two of us again! 

Friday, September 1, 2017

Rethinking Retirement

In my own humble opinion, I firmly believe that people work when they should bite the bullet and go ahead and retire. This way they are able to move on toward their next adventure in life. Retirement should be the best time of your life. It does require planning ahead, which possibly means working with a financial adviser so that your financial accounts are in order to help make your dream come true. If one can work this out, you may be able to retire sooner than you had originally anticipated.

First of all, not to be morbid, but we all are human beings. The future is not written in stone. We don't always know what our future holds or how long we will live. Most people who wait until 70 or 75 believe that they have lots of years ahead of them and hopefully we all will. It is one thing (sad but true) that some of us MUST work to this age just to be able to pay the bills. This is not the case for all, especially if you plan ahead.

Retiring earlier than later has given me a chance to enjoy many more work-free years than I expected. It did the same for my husband. At one point, he was saying that he would work until he was 70. I could not be happier for him and for us when he changed his mind. Actually, both of us had a hiccup on the road of health soon after retirement which came unexpectedly. Being retired gave us the freedom to take care of our health with no worries of a 9 - 5 job. We did not have to hurry back to work before we regained our health back up to 100% again.

We want to be able to choose active lifestyles, which include traveling and the ability to work on improving our health without having the stress of work on our shoulders. No longer do hear an alarm clock before we are ready to rise because we get up when we want to and do not have to contend with the daily rush hour traffic. We are able to actually get 8 - 9 hours of sleep each night, waking up refreshed. We are able to eat more nutritious meals and have time to prepare them. That horrible feeling of drudgery waking up at 5:45 AM, dressing, driving to work and then returning home at 5:45 PM, working out a short time, showering and preparing dinner at 7 PM, eating at 8 PM is no longer there. Repeat that schedule 5 days a week and watch the stress levels rise. That was our lives while working. Now we set our own agenda. It is so much easier to be spontaneous, which is ingrained deep in us both. It can be stifling to an individual who by nature is much more spontaneous. 

NO MORE! Now our top goal is taking care of ourselves and family. We are working on nutrition, exercise and doing what we both love to do...writing.
Hopefully, one of us or both of us will be published. The good news is that we are working from home and we are our own bosses, therefore we make the hours and days that we work when it suits us. It is much more enjoyable and creative and productive. 

Retiring is not just all about sitting down and reading the paper from front to back, or going to the matinee movies during the week when everyone else is out working (although, this is a huge plus)! It is not about sitting in a rocking chair on the front porch.

Retiring, especially early, may mean as it did for us that we now have time for a puppy dog!
Our hours did not allow for such a luxury of having this special addition to our family. It means that we can be as creative as we want in every aspect of our lives; from the way that we dress, cook, exercise, socialize, sleep, and plan vacation getaways. We now have the opportunity to put all areas of our life in proper balance. Retirement is most definitely the beginning of life, not the end.