Not on my watch….

I have to preface this story, so that all of you will have a complete understanding and appreciation for what I am about to tell you. First and foremost, I am an animal lover! I melt when I see little animal babies. I continue to be amazed at an animal’s power of reasoning, their sense of family, and their ability to show unconditional love, affection, commitment and fierce loyalty. I am that lady who will take stray, hurt animals to the vet for care. Animals seem to know this about me, as they will come directly to me, a complete stranger, when they enter a room full of people.

The second thing you need to know is that I am a highly allergic person…to almost anything and everything. So whenever I complete any type of cleaning, I have to use all natural cleansers, or I have to “uniform up”….coveralls/paint suit, mask, gloves, and goggles…Quite a sight to behold! Now, to this week’s story….

I live on a lake in East TN. The Smoky Mountains are my back yard. It is such a beautiful place, and I feel so blessed to be here at this time in my life. I live in an area that is surrounded by nature. On a daily basis I get to see deer, foxes, otters, bald eagles, ospreys, ducks, geese, woodchucks, and yes, even skunks, possums and raccoons. I am absolutely in heaven; course, I could do without those skunks…  

On this  particular day, last summer, it was time to pressure wash and clean the pier and dock. I had all the necessary equipment and supplies. Because of the cleansers that I would be using, I was, of course, “decked out.” I had my white coverall suit on, galoshes, gloves, mask and goggles. I looked like an official ghost buster! I’m sure the neighbors take pictures when I am not looking to send to their relatives back home…with captions like, “see, we TOLD you…”  

I had just finished cleaning one section of the dock, and had turned the pressure washer off so that I could refuel. As I was standing there, taking a breather, I heard a very agitated, desperate duck quacking at the top of its lungs, as if there was cause for great concern. I kept turning around, searching for the source of all this commotion. I looked across the way and saw a mother duck, swimming along with her four, very tiny, babies. All of a sudden, out of the corner of my eye, I saw the source of distress. A magnificent, bald eagle was soaring in the sky, just above the family of ducks. Much to my horror, I saw the eagle circle, and then drop to make the approach, with talons open, to snatch up those babies for a meal. I ran to the end of the dock, screaming, “Nooooooooo!! Stop!!” I was stomping my feet, clapping my hands, and screaming like a wild banshee!!! I looked as if someone or something had taken over my body….like I had just had a “come to Jesus meeting,” and was so filled with the Spirit, that I had lost all control of my bodily functions. Nothing worked! That eagle kept diving. With each attack, the Mama duck would raise up out of the water, spread her wings over the baby ducks, and quack hysterically loud in fear and protest. I knew that she could not last much longer, and that I had to do something.  

I ran very quickly to the front yard and got my best friend. By this time, I was a little hysterical myself. I told her, “Come quick! You HAVE to help me! We have to save them!!” As we were running to the dock, I explained the situation. I told her, “you have to get in your kayak and row over to protect those babies.” It was the fastest kayak launch I have ever seen! She could have medaled in the Summer Olympics! She was a wonder to see! Fast, strong strokes brought her and the kayak close to the little family of ducks. She positioned herself just behind them and began waving her oar around to ward off the eagle attacks. At first, the eagle did not want to give up, but finally, he or she saw that baby duck lunch was NOT going to happen this particular day…not on my watch! My friend had to follow the little family quite a distance before Mama duck found a safe location from the eagle. Whew! Disaster averted…and even more surprisingly, I had not drawn the usual crowd of curious onlookers…  

We are presented with situations each day in which we must make decisions regarding appropriate actions that should be taken (or not taken) on our part. We have to decide if we want to become involved, impact a result, or let “nature take its course.” So many people just stand aside and let injustice or unfairness take place, even when it is within their power to affect the outcome. I don’t want to EVER be that person who just stands on the sidelines and lets the vulnerable be attacked, harmed or abused, whether it is a woman, man, child, elder or animal. I will defend, protect, advocate, help and love, as long as there is breath in my body. NOT. ON. MY. WATCH. Not going to happen! Not even to baby ducks… Won’t you join me? Just for this week….

“I love all people….”

Happy New Year!! I hope that everyone has a year filled with hope, excitement, love, success, etc., etc., etc… (You catch my drift, right?) I hope that each of you attain your heart’s desire! And…it looks as if I am going to keep blogging past my one year’s commitment. We will just see how it goes…So, for now, keep checking in each week to learn of my latest adventures and/or misadventures…

Working in aging services, I have always questioned the credibility of certain tests and evaluations utilized to assess an individual in specific areas, especially those used for the assessment of cognition and mood state. I think the “scores” of said tests can label and stereotype an individual. The person becomes defined by how well, or how poorly, they did on the test. They  become a “score,” as opposed to maintaining their autonomy and individual  uniqueness. Because of professional standards of practice, and mandated requirements, I have given the Mini Mental Status Questionnaire more times than I can remember. I know all of the questions by heart. So when it came time for my own Mother to experience this test, I was anxious! I knew how the score would be used.

It was our very first visit to the neurologist, and I knew that they would need a “base scoreline” to determine the progression of her disease, as well as utilize the data to determine appropriate medications and treatment. She wanted me to stay in the room with her, so I got to listen as she responded to each query. If sheer will could have affected the outcome of the test, she would have scored 100% accuracy, simply on my nervous energy alone!! With each question, I would sit there, willing her to state the correct answer. In my head, I found myself trying to come up with suitable answers that would be convincing enough to assure someone that I had all of my faculties about me. Under duress, and immeasurable anxiety, it was a lot harder than you can imagine. I found that I was not really sure of the actual date, or the day of the week. I did know the year!

The last item of this test states, “Write a complete sentence.” Now, I’m sitting there, thinking and thinking…”what would be a good, intelligent sentence to write?” I pondered and pondered; however, my Mother wrote down a sentence almost immediately! That first test, she did rather well! On the drive back home, I asked Mother, “what sentence did you write down?” “I couldn’t think of anything!!” She laughed and said, “I just wrote, I sure hope I pass this test!” I was laughing so hard that I almost had to pull to the side of the road. How incredible a response!!!

As her disease progressed, the tests increased, and the scores began to worsen. She began to dread going to see the neurologist. She would ask, “Are they going to give me that test?” She knew that she was having more and more difficulty coming up with the correct answers. And we both knew what that meant…With each test, I was always interested in that very last directive – “write a complete sentence.” She never used the same answer twice, but with each test, her sentences became shorter and more simplistic. On this particular day, we did not know it, but it would be her last visit and her last test. As before, on the drive home, I asked what sentence she wrote. On this occasion, she smiled sweetly and said, “I love all people.” And there, in that one sentence, was the defining truth for my Mother, for she, in fact, DID love all people.

I wonder how many of us can remain true to who we are in the midst of physical and mental decline. That even when we are debilitated, and see the losses that are occurring, can we be certain that the “pure self” – who we really are on the inside – will be evident to us and  others? I want to live such a life, that even when, or if, I cannot direct my thoughts or actions, that my sweet spirit, and “true self” will come through naturally. For you see, just like my Mother, “I love all people.” Won’t you join me? Just for this week…

Are you hungry?

In just a few days we will welcome in another brand new year! 2014. Can you believe it? It seems that it was just a “short while” ago that I was introducing you to my project for the year…this blog. I cannot believe the year has gone so fast, and that this week’s post will be my 52nd article. As you know, I began this blog in an effort to focus my mind on some “positives,” week by week, to help me through a difficult period of pain and loss. It has helped me more than I can say, and if the comments, support and encouragement received are indicators of your enjoyment, the effort was more than successful! So, I would like to say thank you to everyone who has followed me in my journey for the entire year. With the passing of one year into the next, what better opportunity to write a story about time?

Have you noticed that all of us complain about not having enough time to get everything done? It seems that the faster I go, the “behinder” I get. Not long ago, I asked a close friend whether she thought I was getting slower, or did I just have more “demands” for my time coming across my desk. Ever the diplomat, she said, “Well, we’re all getting a little slower, but you DO have a lot coming across your desk.” Hmmm…I can remember when I first started my career. I was part of a corporate team responsible for 101 nursing homes in seven states. I was wired!! I could do 3-4 tasks at a time, and not bat an eye. I was in a different city or state every other day. I moved…and I moved fast…I got the job done! I lived and breathed by a watch, clock, and calendar! If I sat down at home to “relax,” I was doing several things at one time while sitting. I could not just sit still, doing nothing for even ten minutes. I was always checking that watch, to make certain I would meet a deadline, or to determine when and where I needed to be next.

When I finally resigned from the company that I had worked with most of my adult life, and started a business with a friend of mine, I was determined that I would truly stop rushing all of the time and learn how to relax. It was one of the hardest things I have ever attempted to do in my life. I really could NOT sit still for ten minutes. So, I was determined…I began timing myself…it was MISERABLE! I tried and tried to relax and have more time for doing the things I enjoyed, but I was not being very successful.

One day I was with a friend, and I had forgotten to wear a watch. I kept asking her what time it was. She asked me why I needed to know the time. I told her that I needed to know if it was time to eat lunch. She looked at me with a perplexed expression, and asked, “Are you hungry?” And at that very moment, with that very statement, everything slipped right into perspective for me! I realized that I was letting a little electrical mechanism control every second of my life! Did I really need a small attachment to my wrist to tell me when I should eat, or go to bed, or do anything? So, the watch came off! And it has stayed off! I only use it now to make certain I begin and end my speaking engagements on time. The change in my life was wonderful! I can now actually sit for long periods of time relaxing. I now make choices on how I truly want to spend my time, and with whom I want to be with. I make my time count…for me. 

Time is so precious, and is gone before we realize it. All of us have the very same amount of time each day…24 hours. What makes the difference in what can be accomplished in that time is YOU and your CHOICES! You can choose to take on so much responsibility that you will never get it all done. You will always come up short, because simply put, you have too many irons in the fire! Or, you can decide what is truly important and worthy of your precious time, and use it wisely to pursue those efforts. In other words, make your time “count.” One of my favorite sayings comes from the prophet, Kahlil Gibran, who said, “For what is your friend that you should seek him with hours to kill? Seek him always with hours to live.” “Hours to live…not to kill…” What a wonderful statement and premise. This year I’m not making any resolutions. (I never have done that, to be honest.) I am simply going to spend my time with “hours to live,” and I am going to keep the watch off of my arm, and eat when I am hungry. Won’t you join me? Just for this week….

The gift that wouldn’t fit into a box…

Due to the recent storms here at home, I had no Internet for the last few days…That is why I am late with this post. For those of you who have been following my blog,  you probably realize that I have only two more posts to make, and my one year’s commitment will end. Because of the many comments and requests that I have received, I have a proposal for you. I have created a FaceBook page entitled, “Just for this week…” If you would enjoy my continuing the blog for another year, please go and “LIKE” the blog on that page. If I get enough “likes,” I will continue… I’m not going to set a goal for the number of “likes” I want to receive, but of course, the more “numbers” I get, the more motivation I will have to continue. Sooooooo…what will it be? Please go to:  www.facebook.com/justforthisweek and “LIKE” us!! Thank you!

I hope all of you are going into this week with a sense of peace, wonder, celebration and love, and that all of your shopping is finished! I hope you are NOT frazzled and frustrated, wanting to just “get through” the next few days. We get so caught up in finding the “perfect gift,” that some times we miss the real “value” of what we are giving, or the value of what we could give. So, this week I will share a story about the “perfect” gift…

I am part owner of a company. Owning a business certainly has perks, but it can also be very demanding, and at times, not very profitable. A number of years ago, we found ourselves in dire straights…no income for a really long stretch of time! (Actually, about two years, but then, who’s counting??!!) During that time, Christmas came around, and I realized that I would not be able to purchase ANY gifts. (And you have probably already figured out that I can be a Wild Woman at Christmas time…) I LOVE giving gifts that individuals want, but would never buy for themselves; something that a person voiced interest in during the past year, thinking that no one was listening… So, to not have money at this special time of year was horrible for me. I tried and tried to figure out how I could get gifts for all of those whom I love. There was no answer or solution.

I was really depressed over the situation, especially not being able to have gifts for my parents. However, all of a sudden, I came up with an idea…what if I wrote them a letter from my heart? What if I told them how much they meant to me, and how thankful I was for the life lessons they had taught me through gentle guidance and example? In this letter, I listed specific, wonderful memories… I detailed actions that I had observed; actions that helped shape my character, integrity, honesty. I explained that through their lives they had taught me to love God, and in turn, to love others. I thanked them for the wonderful childhood they had given me. I told them that each day I made certain that my thoughts and actions met their standards and expectations…that I lived by their instructions…and that I was proud to do so…that the lessons they had taught me allowed me to live a full, vibrant, satisfying life. They had empowered me to do so! I told them that whenever I did anything, or completed a task, I would step back, look at the accomplishment and think…”just like Mama…” or “just like Daddy…”

I watched as they opened the envelopes and read the individual letters in their entirety. I knew Mother would cry, because she was always so expressive with her emotions. However, I wasn’t sure how  Daddy would respond to this gift. I watched and when he finished reading, he gazed out into space for a moment, and then he broke down into sobs…great heaving sounds that took my breath away. He was crying so hard that it was hard to make out his words: “This is the best gift I have ever received!” I can count the times that I have seen my Father cry on one hand. That this letter moved him and touched his heart so deeply, spoke volumes to me. And in that moment, I was so glad that I did not have any money to buy Christmas gifts…

So, you see…it is never about the monetary value of a gift. It is the meaning and love behind the gift. We don’t have to give presents each Christmas that cost a lot of money. Whatever you offer sincerely from your heart is simply enough! Give of yourself this season. Let people know what they mean to you…how wonderful they are…how you cannot imagine a life without them in it…That’s what I try to do. Won’t you join me? Just for this week…

I Don’t Need Thanksgiving To Be Thankful…

Well, I’m sure by this time everyone has had enough turkey, dressing (or stuffing), cranberry sauce, desserts, etc., etc., etc., that we’ve all had to unbutton that top button on our pants, and loosen that belt just a “little…” I hope that all of you had quality time with friends and family, and that you made a lot of new memories to fill your heart and mind. I have watched, with great interest, all of the FaceBook postings each day in November, regarding what others were thankful for. It got me to wondering if those who know me, know what I am thankful for, without my having to post it in a public venue.

I try to live my life fully, each day, never taking for granted the blessings that have been given to me. You see, while I absolutely LOVE the holidays, and gatherings with friends and family, they come too few in number, too far “in between,” and don’t last nearly as long as I would like them to. And if I wait till just those times to give thanks, or be reminded that I am truly blessed, then I think I am falling short of what is expected of me…by God, and by others who look at me as an example. I find it comforting to acknowledge and be thankful for those “everyday” blessings…well, every day! Why should I wait for a particular month, or holiday, to list those blessings, and to be thankful for them? (And don’t get me wrong, I don’t think there is ANYTHING wrong with doing that during the month of November. I think it is wonderful that a lot of people gave much thought to posting 30 things that they were thankful for during November. I enjoyed reading each of them!) However, I think that for many, we get caught up in “life happenings” to such a degree, that we tend to overlook those “everyday” people, events, and “things” that add meaning and purpose to our lives. And I am not too sure that we give proper thanks on a regular basis.

Many of you know that I travel quite a bit. One of my main “connecting” airport terminals is located in Memphis,TN – the home of St. Jude’s Childrens’ Hospital. I cannot tell you the number of times that I have been waiting for my next plane, and I see the children…extremely pale, dark circles around their eyes, no hair, sometimes attached to a piece of equipment, and parents trying to stoically act as if everything is normal. I say a quick prayer for them and their parents, and then I thank God that all of my nieces and nephews are healthy and vibrant. It could have been different… On another plane, I saw a married couple in front of me getting ready to deplane. He stood up, placed crutches under both arms, reached up to strap a carry on bag over his chest, and then he leaned in to assist his wife in getting out of her seat. I said yet another prayer for that couple, and then I thanked God for my health…that I had two good legs to carry me. It could have been different… Whenever I board any plane, I say a quick prayer for the crew and pilot, and our safety. When we land, I thank God for that same crew and another safe flight. It could have been different… Each morning that I wake up and am able to get out of bed, I thank God. It could have been different…Whenever I open my refrigerator and find various foods in there for the “choosing,” I thank God. It could have been different…When someone contacts me for a speaking engagement, I thank God that I can work, and for the opportunity. It could have been different… Whenever I open a book, and am able to see to read the words on each page, I thank God…It could have been different… When I look out of the back windows of my house, over a beautiful lake, and see the mountains, I thank God. It could have been different…I thank God that I was “given” to parents who loved me, and taught me the “right” way to live life. It could have been different…There are so many other things that I could list, but I would run out of space…sisters, brother, family, friends. Thankfully, I don’t have to keep a list, because I give thanks EVERYDAY!!

So you see, I have been blessed in a countless number of ways. We all have those “little” miracles in our lives every day, many times over within a given day! I don’t want to be found guilty of not expressing that appreciation and gratitude for what has been given to me. I am thankful everyday, and will continue to be so. I count my blessings every day of my life. Won’t you join me? Just for this week…

Is she OK?

It has been a wonderful week! A brisk, “nip” to the air…hearing from old and new friends…celebrating life and renewal with those I love…What more could you ask for??? Hope your week was wonderful also!!

Because I travel a great deal, and because I find human beings to be so wonderfully odd, interesting, bizarre, motivating, frustrating….I do a lot of “people watching.” I try to figure out their “stories,” as I am observing from my “viewing seat.” I have been offended, reassured, surprised, disgusted, delighted, and my heart has been touched at times by the actions of other people…”casual strangers,” if you will…

Until recently (when a new grocery store opened closer to my home), I did most of my grocery shopping in town at a large franchise grocer. I will admit, on occasion, I did like to get one of their deli lunches and eat “on site,” before hitting the aisles for groceries. This particular store had an outside covered dining area that was very pleasant. A friend of mine had come with me on this trip, and we had decided to get us a bite to eat before shopping. As we were eating, we noticed a much older Asian woman sitting about two tables from us with her buggy and purse. She was not so much actually sitting at the table, as she was sleeping at the table. She would occasionally rouse up, look around and go back to sleep. Of course, with my background and field of work, she was like a “red flag” waving in front  of me, calling for my attention. Not wanting to assume that there was something wrong with her, or that she was lost and did not know where she was, I had observed her for a while to determine what my action should be. Before I could get up to check on her, a young lady came from inside the deli, and asked if she could sit down with the older woman. The woman said, “Yes.” I was interested in where the conversation and interaction was going, so I did indeed eavesdrop. 

The young lady, with kindness, respect, and empathy, began talking with the older woman. During their conversation, she found out all of the necessary information to determine if the elder woman was lost, in distress, or needed help or assistance of any kind. She spent a good amount of time with her, just “visiting.” She never exhibited any condescension, impatience, or lack of respect as she interacted with the older woman. Finally, after apparently being satisfied that nothing was amiss, the young lady took her leave, thanking the older woman for giving her time and conversation.  After a few minutes, the older woman rose from the table, got her buggy and purse, and approached the entry door back into the grocery store. We stood up to help open the door, and the woman started a conversation with us. She said with a chuckle, “You know, I think that young lady thought there was something wrong with me. I had come to shop for groceries, but it looked so nice out here, I thought I would just stop and rest for a moment. She was so sweet to check on me, but everything is fine.” I chuckled along with her and commented that wasn’t it nice someone cared enough “just to check on you.” You could tell that she was pleased at both the concern and the interaction that she had experienced.

The young lady could have handled this situation so much differently…she could have “fussed” at the older woman for napping at one of their tables…she could have assumed that the lady was lost, and could have insulted her…she could have assumed that because she was older, that she was not capable of making “sound” decisions…Any of these scenarios would have ended up badly, because there really wasn’t anything wrong with the woman. It made me wonder how others might have handled the situation. Do we automatically assume the worst, when we see that an older person is involved? Do we automatically assume that an older person needs our guidance, that they don’t know what to do and can’t make decisions? Do we automatically speak to them in that child-like, sing-song voice, as if they have no sense at all??? Oh my, I think many of our elders just chuckle to themselves, and humor us… As I teach in my sessions, don’t label a person by age, race, ethnicity, gender, geographic region, religion or medical diagnosis – just to name a few…Get to know the person individually, and give them the opportunity to show you “who they are,” and what their capabilities, strengths, and needs might be. Look at the person as an individual…a real, live human being, who should be treated with all the respect and dignity that you can provide. That’s what I do! Won’t you join me? Just for this week…

I Need To Look Beyond Myself….

As you can see, I am really late in my post this week. It has been about 10 days of various hotels, numerous states, and either poor Internet connections or no cell service at all. I finally have enough of a signal tonight to try and get this posted. So sorry for being late….

A while back, when all of the fires were burning so terribly in Colorado Springs, I flew up to New England to speak at a conference. I had gotten off the plane and was in line with a number of people, waiting to obtain my reserved rental car. As is usual in this type of situation, a lady standing next to me began a conversation. She commented that she hoped she could get a car…that she did not have a reservation. Before I could really offer a comment, she explained that she was from Colorado Springs, and had just lost her home to the fires. She had flown clear across the country to stay with a friend, and attempt to rebuild her life. Although she had lost everything, she showed me a picture of her and two friends, holding posters, thanking the firemen for trying to save their homes. I was so impressed and humbled by this woman’s spirit! We talked a while longer, hugged each other, and went our separate ways…her hoping for a new life, amid much sadness…and me, hoping and praying that she could rebuild a life from the losses she had experienced.

Sometimes when we experience a loss, even as severe and complete as hers was, that’s all we see. Maybe we should stop for a moment, in the middle of everything, look around, and really see the people who have invested themselves in us, and are either trying to help us, or save us. Those are the ones who believe in us, and know that we can overcome anything…with the right kind of help. They are the unsung heroes in our everyday lives. I am going to look beyond myself and see the individuals who have invested a good portion of their lives in me. I love and thank each one. Won’t you join me? Just for this week…

Arghh!!!! I Have Monkey Lips!!!

Today is the first day of Autumn! This particular season used to affect my mood in a negative way…I got all melancholy, nostalgic, and a little depressed when I saw the summer’s end. Now, however, Autumn is one of my favorite times of the year. I love feeling the brisk “nip” to the air and seeing all of the beautiful leaves turn into such vivid colors that no photo can ever do them justice. This time of year also holds such fun and sweet memories of the State Fair…

Years ago, my uncle and I worked with the youth in our church. We were always getting the kids together for fun events and wonderful, Christian fellowship. I think the kids loved us a little extra because we did not act like “adults.” I would like to think that we made a positive impression on their young lives; and actually prevented some from choosing a life of hardships and mistakes. 

Each year, when the State Fair came to town, we would plan a night to take all the kids for fun, food, and rides. As was the usual routine, we entered the fairgrounds and began to walk around to determine the night’s schedule – what we wanted to ride, side attractions we wanted to see, and of course strategically planning out all of the food stops. As we were walking, we came across an organ grinder who had the cutest little monkey, dressed in a red coat and a little red hat. The little monkey would dance around, and then “work the crowd” for handouts and tips. He would come up to you, remove his hat, and hold it out for the money. If you gave a dollar, the monkey would shake your hand. For $5, you could actually hold the little fella. Well….animal lover that I am, and the monkey being as cute as he was, I certainly wanted to hold him!! The church kids were egging me on to do so. I pulled the $5 out of my pocket, and waited for the organ grinder to see me. I was SO EXCITED!! That monkey was one of the cutest little animals I had ever seen.

His handler took my money, showed me how to hold the monkey, and then handed him over to me. I had no sooner gotten him in my arms, when that monkey wrapped his arms around my neck and gave me the biggest ole’ kiss right on my lips. I’m thinking, Arghh! I have monkey lips!!! I was so surprised, and the monkey was looking around at everyone grinning from ear to ear.  (Don’t ask me how I knew he was grinning…you would have had to see him…but he WAS grinning!) Everyone found my situation very humorous, and our church youth were beyond reason with laughter! Well, apparently, this was not standard behavior for the monkey. The handler was frantic and came over immediately to get the monkey. That’s when we ran into problems. When the monkey saw the handler coming over, he gripped my neck with both arms, and would NOT let go! By this time, a huge crowd had gathered to watch the antics. I’m not sure whether they thought I was part of the act or not, but they sure got a free show that night! The harder the man attempted to remove the monkey, the stronger and tighter those little hairy arms got. The monkey’s cute face was right next to mine, and he was hanging on for dear life. I suddenly began to notice a few things that I had not paid attention to earlier…his teeth did not seem so small when they were about an inch from my face. In fact, it seemed his teeth were growing longer and longer by the minute. I was standing there thinking, this little monkey really likes you! And I was not certain that I should be pleased with this knowledge, or a little concerned that a wild animal had taken a liking to me…Finally the handler was able to pry the monkey’s fingers and arms from around my neck, and was able to get him back under control. I bowed graciously for the audience (who was hooping, cheering and applauding) and made my way back to our group, who could not contain themselves!

I find, that in life, people make choices without giving much forethought to the end result of their decisions. I don’t think people truly “think things through.” They make decisions, even huge, life decisions without considering all the possible outcomes, both positive and negative. You see, I made a decision to hold a monkey for $5. It never crossed my mind to consider what might happen, once I had the monkey in my arms. I had just looked at the first immediate outcome, and that’s all I saw. But, my actions precipitated a series of events that could have caused me or others harm. The story is certainly good for a laugh, but I think the moral of the story is better. When decisions or choices need to be made, I am more careful now. I ask the “what ifs?” I try to determine if there are more than one possible outcome. I try to look at every possible scenario…and I follow the decision all the way through BEFORE I act. It doesn’t make me any less adventuresome, but I would hope that it makes me a little wiser. And so far, I have only been kissed by one monkey….I’m going to continue to THINK before I ACT! Won’t you join me? Just for this week…

You’ve got WHAT in your pants??!!

WOW!! It’s the middle of September! Autumn is about to descend upon us…and then winter will be here before you know it! Every year, around this time, a national “tradition” begins…FOOTBALL! So…I thought it would be more than appropriate to share a football story…

Most of you know that I have lived much of my life in Mississippi. You probably also know that we do not have a professional football team in the state. Years ago, someone made arrangements to bring in two professional teams for an exhibition game…the Buffalo Bills and another team, whose name escapes me at the moment. (You can tell how important this was to me…it is “telling” that I can’t recall the name of the other team…) Anyway, I, and a couple of good friends, decided that we wanted to go to the game. Just as an aside, you should know that our standard modus operandi for football or baseball games was to “eat our way” through all available snacks/refreshments, and then leave!

As this was a “pro” game, we felt that it was absolutely necessary to stay for all of it! A huge event for our state, the game was booked solid, with thousands attending. As we were sitting there in the stadium, enjoying the game, I could not get comfortable. It was “body to body,” and I kept thinking that “something” was crawling on my legs. My friends kept “humoring” me, giving assurance that they could not see anything crawling around my feet or legs.

When the game was over, we all stood up to leave. As soon as I took one step, I knew something was wrong…I felt a sharp stab on my thigh. I stopped and jiggled my leg around, found nothing, so we continued walking down the bleachers. Then I felt the sharp stab again, and again. I saw a little bump under my jeans and realized that a bee or wasp had crawled up my leg, and was now stinging the fire out of my thigh! I didn’t know what to do. As long as I stayed still, I did not get stung; but the minute I moved, the little rascal would sting me. My friends had been walking just a little ahead of me and had no idea of my dilemma. I cupped my hand and placed it over the bee (who was having a great time under my jean leg….), in an effort to keep it contained, and made my way up to my friends. One look at my face and they knew something was wrong. I shouted, “There’s a bee in my pants!” They both burst out laughing! I told them that I was going to have to get it out, but that I could not let go of it, or it would sting me even more. So they asked, “how are you going to get it?”  I replied, “I’ve got to take my pants off!”  Of course, their response was that I could not possibly do that, out in the middle of the stadium bleachers, with literally thousands of people milling about. I convinced them that if they got on either side of me, and held their jackets “just so,” I could do it. It took a little coaxing on my part, but I eventually convinced them that taking off my pants was the only solution. So there, in the middle of thousands of people, I cautiously pulled my pants down and got the little bugger  off my leg. Not one person noticed! AND I did not get arrested for indecent exposure…

Some times, when people are in trouble, and need our help, we don’t always respond as quickly as we should because we can’t see their plight. Maybe we simply need to trust their words, and provide immediate assistance or support to prevent additional harm. I am going to start listening closer, and responding faster to those who might need “to take their pants off.” Won’t you join me? Just for this week…

Are YOU talking to ME????

Throughout my career, I have had the pleasure of going to every state within the United States, with the exception of Alaska (on the bucket list…). Within each state I have found wonderful, caring people, who have been supportive and loving throughout the years. I have NEVER met anyone, from any part of the country, that “fit” a TV stereotype. I think that most people are inherently good and honest, and will treat you, and respond to you, in a like manner if you extend your own warmth and hospitality. However, I do have some stories…

We were traveling around the country on business in our motor home. We were in one of the states that won’t allow you to fill your own gas tank. You must wait in line, the attendant will motion when they are ready for you, you pull up, and they will fill your tank. We had been driving for quite a while, and as we were motioned up to our “spot,” I got out to stretch my legs and talk with the female attendant. As we were talking, a couple in a convertible BMW whipped out of line, went ahead of several other cars, and pulled into the spot right in front of our motor home. As they did this, the attendant said something under her breath very derogatory about the persons in the car, and their actions. The female passenger in the car heard the comments, and thought I had said them. She almost did not wait for the car to stop…she hopped out with a look of pure hatred and anger on her face…and strode right up in front of me. She did not even give me a chance to say hello or any other type of greeting. She began “cussing” me up one side and down the other. As I stood there listening to her ranting and raving, I began to get angry myself, and thought, “just who does she think she is?” and “I did not do or say anything…” So as she was ranting and raving, I realized I had a choice. I could get caught up in her anger and negativity, and let it ruin the rest of the trip for me, OR I could have a little fun with the situation. 

When she got through with her tirade, I looked at her kinda perplexed and went into my “dumb Southerner routine….” (You already know I have a southern drawl, but did you know I can ACCENTUATE that particular “asset” when necessary?) I looked at her for a moment and said, “Ma’am, Ah am soooo sorry, but Ah dint quite ketch whut you sed. Cud you tell me agin so I can get it?” She was so startled that she began repeating everything again!! She was so upset, spittle was spewing forth from her mouth! When she got through with the second tirade, I scratched my head, a little like Forrest Gump, and said, “Ma’am, Ah don’t mean to be stoopid, but Ah still dint get everthin you sed. If youns would tell me one more time, I promise to concentrate really hard and try to get what your sayin.” She threw up her hands and walked off! As she walked off, under my breath, I said, “Got cha’!” It has been a good story and a lot of laughs throughout the years.

Every day we make choices about how we will act or respond to others. Some times they get the best of us, and drag us down to their level. Other times we take the higher road and choose not to let the other person impact our day negatively. Understand this, you are ALWAYS in control of your reactions and responses. You are the only person making the choice. I don’t know about you, but I will NOT be driven to make choices that are not my own. My actions will NOT be determined by another person…that will ALWAYS be up to me! I think I will continue to take the “high road.” I will sleep better each night, and I will always have something to laugh about. Won’t you join me? Just for this week….