Monday, June 6, 2016

Common Sense Rule #7

Never underestimate a girl's love for her vehicle.

Friday morning I woke up and the first thing on my agenda was to take my car to West O in Milford to block off parking spots for the food truck since we would be arriving after they opened.

There was nothing in that 14 mile drive that gave me any cause for concern. I parked the van, pulled the keys, and got in the car with Mark...who immediately told me I parked in the wrong spot so he got out to put the van where he thought it should be. No big deal and still no concern over leaving the van.

About 3:30, we arrived back at West O for our evening event. I went to move my vehicle and realized that (oops) I had left the keys in the other car. Not a big deal, I have an extra key in a magnetic container under the vehicle for those moments when I lock my keys in the van.

I put the extra key in the ignition, the van started, and promptly died. Strange, so I tried again. In fact, I tried about six times, ago with the same result.

I went to Mark, told him the problem, so he went to check for himself. Conclusion: starter finally kicked the bucket. At 259,000 miles Mark is sure that this is a sign of repairs to come.

It's not pretty anymore. My black sheep has a cracked window. The rear passenger door doesn't work. The air doesn't work. The rear window wiper doesn't work. And those are the obvious issues.

When Mark told me there was probably going to come a day, soon, where it was decided that the repairs weren't worth being made, I teared up a little.

This van has 142,000 miles of my life on it. Four and a half years of college. Vacations. Ball games. Happiness. Tears. Laughter. This has been a second home for me.

I love my black sheep. It's not pretty anymore, but it's still mine.

So for now I'll enjoy the time I still have to drive it. I'll roll the windows down, sing Raspberry Beret at the top of my lungs, and embarrass my boys. Hopefully I will have one more summer to play race car mom before the natural progression of life, and cars, make yet another change I can't control.

Sunday, October 11, 2015

Common Sense Rule #6

Becoming offended by any and all ideas doesn't strengthen us, it only serves to weaken us.

I saw a new post this week and, generally, I keep scrolling with nothing more than glance and sometimes a head shake at the gullibility of people: how they can get so hung up on so much, and really, do nothing about a situation but post social media images and bitch about social injustice.

There are so many examples I can use here, but I'm going to stick with the one that actually bothers me the most.


I'm guessing you want to know why this particular post bothered me enough for blog post.

I get why these things irritate people. They claim that by "saving the ta-ta's" we are focusing on the body not on the woman or man that breast cancer is affecting. They are angry about who is actually receiving the funds (ie - it's not those that are sick). They think that beautiful cheerleaders can't be good spokeswomen for those that have been maimed by a horrible disease.

I can also appreciate why some breast cancer survivors feel that it undermines their diagnosis.

But what about the many survivors who are comforted by the fact that people are coming together for a specific cause. A cause that brings their diagnosis out where people can talk about it, learn about it, and how to test themselves for it.

Pink Out does not have to signify one company's attempt at fundraising. Pink Out has become an accepted term around the country that school's and business's use to get their students and employees to contribute to society. Many times THOSE funds stay local. Many times those funds DO go to our family and friends during their time of need.

Campaigns talking about saving the ta-ta's or how much we love boobies brings a taboo topic out in the open. It gives youth a reason to talk about it, a chance to learn more about a diagnosis that one in eight women share.

By sharing social media posts that denigrate the intentions of those people, you have simply giving people one more reason not to care. One more reason not to participate. One more reason to weaken our society.

Now, I'm not saying that the pictures of those who have truly suffered, who have scars, who face this demon aren't enough to bring us together. No. Those men and women are heroes. They are amazing people who deserve our caring and support.

Some of those very men and women are the ones who are comforted by those same campaigns. They are comforted by the fact that people notice them. That breast cancer, or any cancer, is no longer a hidden disease. Something that is whispered about behind closed doors.

Why does everything have to be an argument? Why can't we just realize that, as a society, to get past our PAST and be present in the future, there are times that we just need to focus on being there for each other. For the sick and the healthy. For those that care for and those that need to be cared for.

That's what makes us more than a nation. That's what makes us family.

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Common Sense Rule #4

Multitasking is a lie we make up to let people THINK we are actually accomplishing more than we are

Professors from MIT and a recent NPR study report that people don't “multitask” as well as they think they do.  No matter what I used to believe, I find that often in myself, and in others.

Sometimes I will THINK I’m doing this great job getting all these things done at the same time when, in truth, nothing was really done at the “same” time, just all in one day and usually in multiple little clumps of time because who can really browse Facebook, study, and text your friend about what you have going on tomorrow all at the same time?

Try as I might, I really can’t.  No one can.  Your brain can do millions of things but the only thing you can truly multitask is body functions…your heart and lungs are always working while you are doing other things. 

Your brain simply cannot give the same amount of attention to three different conversations at the same time.  You may be IN three conversations, but your brain isn’t. 

Have you ever been talking to one person, texting another, and looking at Facebook when you hear the person you are talking to say something and all of a sudden something catch a snippet that proves you should have been paying more attention? Obviously you weren’t IN the conversation like you should have been.

Or what about at work? You have three jobs sitting on your desk (I actually do right now: blog, August paperwork, a deposit that needs to be made). While you are busy moving between each of them, doing little bits here and there on each, you miss something big. A number gets transposed or forgotten. An email gets a reply all instead of a private reply. Any number of mistakes can happen.

We need to give ourselves permission to realize that, in order to do every job correctly and give it 100%, we need to put away our distractions. Don't answer that email the minute it pops up. Mute your Facebook notifications. Only have one job on your desk so you don't get distracted by another. It really is OK.

And I promise you. You will find that you have a far more productive and meaningful day without multitasking.

Sunday, August 30, 2015

Common Sense Rule #3

Never say Never because Technology Moves On...

I am not a “digital native” although it feels that way as connected as I am. I remember learning how to make the dots race across the screen of our Macintosh computers in junior high and typing class in high school.

I also remember taking a typing class in college (my first time around) saying to myself: “Why the hell do I need to learn this? I am going to hand write everything for the rest of my life. Why would ANYONE want to mess around with this damn computer?!”

That was then. Twenty years later, I am the one my parents call if there are problems with the computer, they want to know how to do something, or where to find something. I tend to be more connected than my brother who is 10 years younger than me and, incidentally, IS a digital native (he was born the year CDs were introduced).

I’ve used a word processor, played games on a Tandy computer, learned the Internet (which, incidentally, opened to the public my sophomore year in high school) from the beginning, and enjoy social media. I like being connected and my control freak tendencies like being connected. 

Knowing how my addictive tendencies are, I knew that if I started buying technology for the kids, we'd all end up paying more attention to that then each other. I swore I wasn't going to do that, that I would limit the time the kids spend on their devices.

And then I bought an iPad. Next, was a phone for the older kids. Then iPods. Oh, and don't forget that second iPad and laptop. What about that gaming system...

And the technology war took over.

Many times I look up and we have the TV going with five people sitting in the same room all using their own personal devices, and wondered what is wrong with this picture?  Is this just my family?  Are we just that unconnected from each other or is this what many families look like today.

No. It's not just my family. It isn't every family. And it isn't even every day at my house. Does it mean we are unconnected? Nope. We still talk. We still tell each other stories. We still hug and say I love you.

Am I worried too much tech time is bad for my kids? Not really. Do I monitor every site they go to? Nope. I trust my kids and we talk about what they are watching, seeing, checking out. Technology moves on and they need to keep up with the times too. There is so much out there for them to learn. Who knows? One day they may be the next Steve Jobs.

Saturday, July 11, 2015

Common Sense Rule #64

When Life Gives You Blueberries, Make Mojitos!

This past weekend, I had the honor of going to Michigan with a friend for a handbell festival. Yes. I said handbell festival. Don't worry, if that makes you giggle, you are not in the minority as many people thought that I was one of the world's biggest nerds when I told them this was my plan for The Fourth of July.

Back to the blueberries though (I'm sure I will have more on the handbells and other escapades another day!)...

Saturday we arrived at our hotel about 1a. Not too big of a deal,except for the fact that we had a total of over 15 hours of practice time over the next three days ahead of us and we had no idea what to expect from the people we would be meeting in just a few short hours.

Fortunately, Day One was a success and we made new friends! You can never beat that.

When Sarah and I went out for supper that night, we walked through Grand Rapids doing a little exploring before finding that perfect restaurant. We finally settled on the Sundance Bar & Grill. We got some chips and dip. Ordered a drink. Finally, we decided on our meal for the evening. I chose a Green Chili Cheeseburger (minus the bacon, of course).

This cheeseburger was delicious! Well, technically, the burger itself wasn't quite as good as Mark's, but the green chili sauce? To die for!

I made it all the way to my last couple bites and as I looked at the burger for potentially the last time, I noticed something under the cheese.

A blueberry?

I picked it out. Looked at it. Said to Sarah Beth: "I think there is a blueberry in my cheeseburger."

We got a good chuckle out of it. The waitress, while slightly mortified, was glad that we were finding it humorous instead of getting angry, so she made jokes as well. She told us that, after speaking with the kitchen, they agreed that I could have the blueberry no charge. We were especially grateful for that fact.

Sunday was our super-long day practicing. We decided that, for lunch, we would hit the gift shop in the hotel and grab a sandwich and head back to our room for a nap and homework. As we were decided what we wanted, a new blueberry caught our eye: Blueberry Lemonade Smirnoff! Our Blueberry Weekend continued!

Monday came around and this time we had lunch at a Thai restaurant around the corner from the hotel. While Sarah and I were enjoying the scenery, I noticed a guy leaving with what looked like blueberries in the bottom of his drink. So I had to ask!

Turns out he was not having a blueberry drink, which was a little disappointing. We thought for sure our Blueberry Weekend had come to a close.

And then we went out for drinks after the concert and I found Blueberry Mojitos!

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Common Sense Rule #63:

No matter how well liked you are, if the right person doesn't like you, it won't matter.

I'm a firm believer that not everyone will like you. I get it. I understand it. I accept it.

Sometimes it's easy to understand why a person doesn't like you. Maybe your personalities just clash. Maybe they don't feel you are in the same "league" as them. Maybe they are just cranky.

But what about those times when you have absolutely no idea what you could have ever done to cause someone to dislike you? Dislike you so
much as to push you out of a position without reason.

I'm struggling with that right now. I know they say a door is closed to give you the ability to see a better opportunity approaching. It doesn't make the hurt, the anger, and yes, even the embarrassment any less though.

Three weeks. That's how long it's been. And just when I think I've settled into my new "normal", someone asks me what happened. All those bitter feelings resurface.

I want to be happy for those that weren't affected. I want to enjoy what they have going for themselves.

I want to crush them between the palms of my hands.

Did I mention I'm slightly bitter?

It wouldn't be so bad if I hadn't enjoyed myself. If I hadn't thought I was doing a good job. If I hadn't heard I was doing a good job.

So what do I do?

Well, after a day of tears (or multiple days if I'm going to be truthful on the matter). I pulled up my big girl panties and began to make the best of my new normal.

I shuttle my kids to their activities, something I was going to have to pawn off on family members if I was working.

I work on building my husband's catering business. And I've been quite successful on that feat, garnering him day jobs with his trailer and fielding calls to schedule other events as well.

I work on projects around my house that have been neglected. Well...I pretend to at least. I'm getting to them slowly.

And I run. I run to remember. I run to forget.

And I know I will overcome yet another hurdle in my life.

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Common Sense Rule #62

Firebugs are not necessarily arsonists.

I am a self-proclaimed firebug and proud of it. I have been setting fires since I was young. We burned our garbage. We burned ditches. We burned our driveway. We burned pastures (not always on purpose).

Why did we burn so much?

Fire can be helpful and beneficial to the ground and vegetation. When you burn ditches, you burn off the old grass that can clog drainage areas that allows standing water which will attract bugs and disease. Burning also warms the ground and helps wild asparagus begin its growing season. Plus, after burning, grass grows back greener and nicer looking.

I bring this up because???

I love fire. I love how is smells. I love how it grows and burns. Burning ditches is one of my favorite spring traditions, but I haven't been able to do it lately. But I came home from work the other morning and got to take advantage of the lack of wind to burn the branches in my yard.

All it takes is some dry leaves and the whole pile just goes up in beautiful flames. The heat from the flames takes a chill off a cool spring morning.

Of course, I did have a helper for the day. Zeus likes to play fetch, although his idea is to chase the stick, chew on it, and not bring it back. He is also a fan of rakes. He's not very helpful with raking, but he does find them extremely fun to chew on and play with.

I spent time raking leaves in the vicinity of my fire, throwing them in, watching it grow bigger. The feeling you get when you think you control something that is really not under your control can be a rush.

Sounds like something an arsonist would say, doesn't it?

I come by my firebug gene naturally. Just one more gift my mother passed on to me. She's slightly crazier though because she'll burn a ditch by herself and I find it to be a two-person job, mostly because you never know when the winds will change and leave you with a much larger fire than you anticipated.

And when that happens? Fire trucks.

But I'm still not an arsonist. I swear. :)