Let’s Face It

We’ve all seen them, men and women alike, who one day appear ten years older than they did a month before, and the reason is obvious.

The tell-tale curve at the corner of the lips, the eyes that just aren’t sitting right. I’m as vain as the next person, well, probably smack dab in the middle of that scale, but what I’ve seen tells me to stick with the face I’ve been given, as much as I may think it’s betraying me at times.

That betrayal goes both ways, and it’s more costly when it comes from my brain.

Me & Bobby Feb 1996I was getting carded well into my 40s (which embarrassed the bejeebers out of my then-boyfriend, something I always appreciated about him) and looking at this picture, taken when I was 36, I can kind of see why. The little guy sitting next to me, my cousin Bobby,  just graduated from college, by the way.

I’ve still got an advantage. I continue to look younger than I actually am (although the gap seems to be narrowing), which makes disavowing plastic surgery seem easier.

(She says as she writes this post between Googling the latest procedures available — and their cost. Anything that comes with a potential $500 discount if you call today! is so far out of any price range I can dream of I may as well…stick with the over-the-counter lotions and such.)

Of course I don’t have a career that depends on youth and good looks, so I’m not as susceptible to that trap of false hope. But I have to wonder. When Britney Spears looks in the mirror (oops! that name slipped out!), does she realize she looks 45?

Hopefully, so do I. Look 45, that is.

Indulge me. It was my birthday two days ago, and due to health issues in my family, I was kind of overlooked. So I’m feeling sorry for myself, looking at signs of aging in the mirror, taking selfies until I get one that is JUST RIGHT and sitting home watching romcoms with my cats. WAAAHH.

Believe in Me Before I Fade Away

Years ago my friend Lois told me she looked at other people and felt inferior to them because they all seemed to have it all together. She listed one quality or another each of them had she felt she didn’t have.

She left out a few qualities on her list. Those she had, and many others don’t, that made her a wonderful friend.

Being Outsider

It was the first time I realized how easy it is for each of us to take for granted our own uniqueness, what sets us apart from the crowd, or worse yet, to believe that those things you think make you weird, unlovable. Paired with the feeling of being on the outside looking in is the belief you fade away because of your lack of a certain level of “specialness.”

In a world where we often stand alone rather than cry out “I’m lonely!” to those near us, it can take a long time to realize that together with an offbeat sense of humor or appreciation of horror shows may be a deep sense of compassion, empathy and sensitivity to the lost and lonely. The tendency to lend a hand to someone who tripped and fell.

No one is more sensitive to the plight of the downtrodden than the one who’s been there. I was in a situation I never expected to be in a few years ago, where I was frightened, somewhat in shock and forced to make decisions inconsistent with the life I’d been living.

The men and women I met during that time have my heart now, and whatever I can do to help them, I will. Granted, it isn’t much, and sometimes I need to keep quiet or my emotions get in the way of the logic and reason of statements I make on their behalf.

I’ve learned to intercede in other ways. I could have come out of that time feeling like mud mixed with slime, sticking to the bottom of everyone’s shoe, but instead I feel more whole today than I ever have. A lot of that has to do with those who believed in me, regardless of what anyone else may have said or done.

A lot of it has to do with choosing to believe in myself.

I think eventually Lois realized her own worth, although much to my regret I’ve been out of contact with her for years now. I hope anyone who thinks everyone else “has it all” is given a friend who will bless them with a list of their unique combination of qualities that sets them apart.

You have them.

Colorful Child's Handing Hands, Cartoon People Silhouettes 3D Il

Photo Credit: (gummy bears) © ivanmateev – Fotolia (paper dolls) © Bigstock


Writing, No, Dreaming Without Limits

I love to write, or I wouldn’t be blogging.

In fact, that’s part of why I started blogging, this incessant need to write. I had a journal, but that wasn’t enough. It wasn’t doing quite what I needed it to do. I wrote on my computer about various and sundry things, but those stories would sit on my hard drive and languish there.

Until this blog came along.

I always knew I loved to write, from the time I was six years old. For years my mom had a very simple story I wrote in the first grade that had impressed my teacher, who wrote, “Good Writing!” across the top in big, bold letters. I’m sure that story was on the refrigerator for a long time.

All through grade school, even into college, it felt like cheating if an exam was written. It was almost a certain “A” for me, if I could write on the subject.

I was a journalism major and started out as a reporter. I did well those first couple of years, but decided to pursue public relations and communications instead. The problem with that line of work is, you don’t do as much writing. There’s a whole lot of other stuff thrown in the mix.

Of course there’s plenty of other stuff to love in life besides writing.

But among other things, writing is how I dream. So I can never give it up.

Things happen and we don’t always get to do what we want to do, be who we want to be. We get sidetracked from our dreams for a time. That doesn’t mean we stop dreaming. I’ve had some setbacks in recent years, and I thought I was doomed, quite frankly, to a minimized life.

I no longer believe that. Yes, reality limits us. But dreams can come true, and life can be good again. You never know what day will bring the magic.

Learning Style

Image Credit (background) © GraphicStock; (fairy) courtesy of Pixabay

Help for Helping Your Kids With Math

There’s one blog I follow that stands out from others in its purpose, and for parents of elementary school children, it can make an important difference.

You’ll find creative ways to make learning about math FUN for you & your kids. Which isn’t always easy.

The blog is How I Help My Elementary School Children With Math, and the woman who writes it is pursuing her Master’s in Math Elementary Education. She knows what she’s talking about, and is passionate about it.

She also has two children, ages 4 and 7, so she’s got some practical experience in this as well. And she’s darn nice.

Math is important, and a lot of kids struggle with it. What’s more, many parents have difficulty helping them. This blog can help everyone find ways to look forward to learning about numbers.

As a child, I was lucky. My dad was a math major in college and he also was a good teacher. Yet even I had hard time learning the basics. So I appreciate any tools for this key subject.

Check this blog out. Check out a number (pun intended) of the posts. Let your friends with elementary school children know about it as well!

Math is Cool, and Math is Important!


Image credit: © Gstudio Group – Fotolia

It’s Late, and I’m Worried

I’m up late, way too late. I have to go to work early tomorrow…make that later this morning. But my mom is in the hospital 700 miles away with a blood clot in her lung, and I don’t know if she’s going to be okay.

jerry me beth julie morgan
My stepdad Jerry, me, my sister Beth, her friend Julie, Julie’s son Morgan. c 1987

Nearly 30 years ago my stepdad died after heart surgery when a blood clot traveled from his leg to his heart and stopped his heart in the middle of the night. I remember getting that call, making the call to his ex-wife so she could tell his children, my mom in shock, unable to talk to anybody. I remember Jerry’s niece Rita calling. She couldn’t talk, she could only cry. Rita lost her husband on their honeymoon later that summer, and she herself died only a few years after that.

Funny the thoughts that go through your head when you’re feeling helpless.

Will I be making the long drive to see my mom again, or will she be able to take care of herself? She should have been taking aspirin after her surgery. Aspirin is a blood thinner. I don’t know if she was.

She called the doctor’s office because of what she described as a “knot” in her back, and they told her to go to the emergency room. She called me and said, “well, I don’t have a ride.” I told her to call 911. She said “okay, but I have to get to the bank first. I have a ride to the bank.” I told her to promise me she’d call 911. She promised.

Fifteen minutes later she called me and said the ambulance was on the way.

mom thom
My mom and my brother in 1999

I called my brother. He’s taking over the phone calls in the morning. I’m grateful. I called him right after I talked to my mom, and we didn’t hear from her again for four hours.

He lives on yet another side of the country, so he can’t get there quickly either, plus he has a family.

I called him after my mom called me, and my niece, who’s 16, answered. I told her, “Grandma’s in the hospital,” and she gasped. I forgot, she’s just a kid. I quickly reassured her it was just for observation, downplayed any seriousness. My brother said she was okay. The kids lost their other grandma a few years ago and it was really hard for them. They don’t want to lose my mom, too.

Neither do I.

Here’s to All Things Cute

I apologize to the Lop-Eared Lionhead Bunny. First time I saw a picture of him, I burst out laughing.

Then I just wanted to take him home. This is one of the darn cutest animals I’ve ever seen. I had to look him up since I’d never heard of a Lop-Eared Lionhead Bunny, rather, rabbit, and it turns out Lionhead Rabbits are a relatively new breed. Understandably, given the natural draw to all things precociously cute, they’re very popular.

What is it about this little guy that just makes me want to hold him forever and ever? It was the same thing the first time I saw my cat Walter. He was the cutest ball of fluff ever to walk this earth. I wasn’t able to take him home at that time; he was my neighbors’ cat until they abandoned him. Then I couldn’t stand it anymore. Combine cute with cold and hungry and you’ve got a home.

Well, when I have one to offer.

I think it’s a redeeming quality in so many of us that we want to care for others, especially the forlorn. There are those who are drawn to homelier helpless animals because they have the added disadvantage of possible rejection for their looks. They actually look cute in their own sad way.

We don’t think of it as admirable, perhaps, because it’s natural. Turns out it’s more natural than some of us might realize: we’re what some call “hard-wired” to protect cute things, because they’re generally, by definition, young (did you know baby animals have proportionally bigger eyes?) and unable to care for themselves, and wouldn’t survive without us.

It’s understandable we’d want human babies to survive, or as a species we’d soon die out. But why would we care about bunnies?

elephant-55255_640Okay, pet owners could list dozens of reasons why, but the reality is, part of their survival depends on being…cute. Same for kittens and puppies and little bear cubs. Elephants, with their big ol’ ears and sweet soulful eyes, are endearing at any age, so we get angry when we hear they’re killed for their ivory. As we should.

I love that nature protects its own.*  Whether you believe its by design or evolution (or a complex combination of both), you have to appreciate such a vast system that cares for and perpetuates itself.

And creates new species, perhaps with a little assistance from mankind, like Lop-Eared Lionhead Bunnies.

*Of course we all need to do whatever we can to protect animals.

Photo Credit: (lop-eared lionhead bunny) © Viorel Sima — Bigstock

Our (less than) Perfect Stories

(c) kaalimies DollarPhotoClub

In one of my favorite episodes of the television classic, “The Dick Van Dyke Show,” neighbors Millie & Jerry are puzzling over why Rob (Dick Van Dyke) and Laura (Mary Tyler Moore) ruined their party.

“Sure they have their faults,” Millie says at one point. “Everybody does. People would be pretty dull without them.”

I like that thought. It’s forgiving and human. Yet it implies perfection of character is dull, and I challenge that. Of course to challenge it properly I’d have to define perfection and I’m not sure I can do that adequately.

I speak here of the everyday interactions of most people, not the extreme behavior of the handful who destroy without remorse. When it comes to truly evil behavior, I think we all can agree a little more perfection is desperately needed.

The devout will tell you perfection is our nature without sin, but when it comes right down to it, is sin black & white or does it come in shades of gray? Forget it, I’m not having that conversation.

To others being perfect means fitting a standard of beauty, intellect, achievement or the like, but that doesn’t address character. Something to consider if your definition includes being measured on a scale.

Still others will say being perfect is being complete, having the sum parts required for the whole. That’s a hard concept to grab hold of and make practical, and again, I’m not going there.

Here’s what this comes down to in day-to-day terms: Perfection seemingly wouldn’t create conflict, and conflict is needed for good storytelling. At their heart, most stories need to have a good guy and a bad guy. Some stories need a particularly fiendish bad guy.

We like our stories. It’s one way we know to distinguish and measure our lives against others. Therefore, we need our conflict, and in that way can grudgingly accept our imperfection.

How many of us have heard someone say, “I’d rather go to hell than to heaven; hell is going to be a lot more fun”?

I disagree. I don’t think perfection would be dull. I think it’s unknown.

All major religions seek God, seek perfection, yet at their heart recognize it won’t be found here on earth. So until we find that place where we are our perfect selves, I guess our faults are part of what make our story compelling.

This post is an updated version of a post originally published in May 2015.

Image credit: (dandelion) © kaalimies – DollarPhotoClub.com (background) © Amandee – Dreamstime.com