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The Car Accident

the-crashI have a confession.

While I am quite happy to have my son home from college for a few weeks during the holidays for the simple pleasure of having him close, I’m also appreciating a side benefit.

I have an additional chauffeur for my very busy, always doing something but not old enough to drive herself 15-year old daughter.

Such was the case on Monday evening when she needed a ride home from school at 5:30.

My husband, who had to get up and go to work shortly after midnight, was getting ready to go to bed, and I was still at my office on a conference call.

Thus, my 18-year old son was dispatched to get his sister, and I was able to get home without any worries.

Or so I thought.

I had just walked in the door and taken off my coat when Giles came running down the hall in a panic. He was wearing only his underwear and waving his phone wildly in one hand while attempting to shove Crocs on his feet with the other.

It was not a pretty sight for so many, many reasons.

“The kids were in a car wreck!” he yelled at me while bouncing unstably on his left foot while trying to shove a Croc on his right.

I am ashamed to admit that, while I did have a flash of concern for my kids, I was primarily focused on one thing: I could not let my husband leave the house looking like that.

And so, I took charge of the situation.

“Where are they?” I asked.

“By the hospital!!!!” he shouted still charging down the hall in all his almost-naked glory.

“I’ll go. You stay,” I said not even bothering to put my coat back on or wait for his response.

Before I continue this story, I must say one thing. Everyone thinks Giles is the calm one in our marriage. While I admit that I am high-strung and have a tendency to worry, I am the proverbial woman who will choke on a flea but swallow a camel. In other words, when I have to deal with a tough situation, I just deal with it. My husband, on the other has, has one extremely irrational fear: he does not trust anyone, except himself, behind the wheel of a motor vehicle.

When we are on a long trip, he practically hyperventilates if I suggest he take a break and let me drive. I don’t think he’s even been in a car when my son is driving. He left the responsibility of driver’s education to me and a paid instructor.  That’s why I knew that Giles was in such a state of anxiety that he wouldn’t have thought twice about jumping into my car to drive to the scene of the accident. In his underwear. And his Crocs.

Now back to the story.

Since we live in the neighborhood right behind the hospital, I arrived on the accident scene in less than five minutes. A quick assessment told me several things:

  1. No one had been hurt
  2. The accident appeared to be the fault of the other driver
  3. A hospital security guard was handling the situation until the police arrived
  4. My husband’s car didn’t seem to be badly damaged – unlike the other car
  5. I should have worn a coat as the temperature was well below freezing, and
  6. My daughter was crouched down in the passenger seat talking into her cell phone and looking thoroughly disgusted

After hugging my son, who seemed in complete control (unlike the other driver who was almost in hysterics), I checked on my daughter. She informed me that she was crouched down because the whole situation was extremely embarrassing and she didn’t want anyone to see her. She also told me that she was on the phone with her dad, but the phone battery was almost dead. I told her not to waste any more power and to hang up. I would call her dad to let him know what was happening.

But here’s the thing about me. I like to talk. A lot. And I talk to my husband all of the time. The accident scene provided a whole new set of characters with which to converse. I tried to calm the other driver by talking about her TARDIS hat. I had a lengthy discussion about music with the guy who had been behind my son and stopped to help. I even talked with the security guard about keeping the area safe. Then the police arrived. In other words, despite my promise to call Giles back, I didn’t. Which is why he had again called my daughter, insisting she stay on the phone to keep him informed.

I took the phone from her, tried to ensure my husband that the situation wasn’t that dire, and told him his car wasn’t very damaged.

“It’s mostly superficial,” I said.

“How would you know?” he asked.

“Because I can see it,” I replied. The grill is a bit broken, and there are a few dents. Other than that, it’s fine.” The music-loving guy chimed in.

“Yeah,” he said loudly. “I already checked it over. Nothing is leaking.”

“But is it safe to drive?” my husband asked. At this point, I know I rolled my eyes. After all, the entrance to our neighborhood was only a few yards away, and our house was less than a mile.

“Yes,” I said. “It’s fine.”

When Giles continued to express concern, I handed my daughter’s nearly dead phone to the police officer, who assured Giles that our son could drive the car home – once the other car was pulled out of his way by the tow-truck.

When the officer gave me the phone back, Giles immediately said, “That was embarrassing.”

I almost told him that it was much less embarrassing than if he had actually shown up on the scene, but I restrained myself.

Later, when we had all arrived safely home, I didn’t protest much when he tried to convince the kids that I had been as freaked out as he had when we got the call. They humored him by nodding in agreement.

Because they, like me, didn’t really care who had been freaked out. Everyone was safe, we had another family story to tell, and there was no long-term damage to anyone or anything.

In some ways, that car accident was like a strange Christmas gift wrapped up in torn paper and a wrinkled bow. It might not have been what we would have ever wanted, it certainly wasn’t bright and shiny, and it cost more than we would wanted to spend emotionally or financially. But it reinforced the bond that makes our family unique, special and, most importantly, always ready and willing to support each other… no matter how embarrassing each of us can be.

The Hater

the-grinchThe phone call came on Friday afternoon because, well, these types of phone calls always seem to come on a Friday afternoon.

The caller was warning me that a self-important person was bad-mouthing me behind my back.

I wasn’t surprised, nor was I worried. In fact, at this point in my life, I didn’t much care.

I’ve had others slamming me for my successes ever since I broke the curve on tests back in junior high school. Heck, I once had another woman spread horrible, untrue rumors about how I treat others just because I got the job she wanted.

So, on Friday afternoon, when I was informed that I was being disparaged for playing well with others to improve a situation, I was only slightly irritated and a little bit sad for the woman who was maligning me.

I wasn’t being criticized for doing anything hurtful, mean-spirited or even self-serving. I was being cut down for succeeding at something that the other woman, for years, has failed to do.

And so, before I hung up on my caller, I told her not to worry. The hater’s words and anger had nothing to do with me and everything to do with her own unresolved issues. For years, she has demonstrated a pattern of trying to undermine strong, accomplished women.

But long after the phone call had ended, I couldn’t stop thinking about all the hate that’s permeating our current social and political environment. I continue to be astonished that so many people feel bad enough about themselves or their own situation that they are compelled to embrace raw hostility toward others.

Despite my initial desire to respond to vitriol with my own harsh words and behavior, I can’t let myself fall into that trap.

Doing so will only contributes to a cycle of negativity.

I speak from experience. At a political forum just this past week I found myself reacting to the ignorance of local politicians with my own derogatory, side comments. And then I immediately felt bad about myself.

Does that mean I should accept bluster, disdain and outright cruelty? No. I refuse to do that.grinch-heart

Something has to change, and being kind in an unkind world seems like a long-shot.

Then again, millions of people have embraced the message of two beloved authors, Charles Dickens and Dr. Seuss, who both wrote stories demonstrating that material possessions can never make a person happy and that kindness can change the hearts of completely selfish individuals.

And if witnessing the compassion of others can turn the souls of  Scrooge and the Grinch inside out, then maybe, just maybe, there’s still hope for all the other haters in our country.

Which is why, when I go back to work on Monday, I’m not going to let the hater prevent me from doing what is right, saying what is true, and most importantly, living a life that I know would meet with the approval of Mr. Dickens and Dr. Seuss.

And I challenge any hater to say something negative about those two.

What Mom Never Said

Here arI deservee three truths that guide my life:

1) Perfection is highly overrated. I’ve never met a perfect person, and I certainly wasn’t raised by anyone who met the criteria.

2) We learn more far more from our mistakes than we will ever learn from accomplishments.

3) The best advice we receive isn’t handed to us wrapped in words of wisdom. Instead, the most meaningful lessons are often hidden in what we observe, what we hear, and, in many cases, what we don’t hear.

My mom has spent more than 51 years trying to impart these nuggets of truth on my brother and me.

When I was young, she sometimes interspersed her acquired wisdom into our conversations, but what went unsaid was always more powerful.

For example, my mom never once told me I deserved anything. NEVER.

I was well into adulthood before I realized that.

No matter what I achieved, she never used the word deserve. Of course she encouraged me and told me that I’d earned my successes, but she implied that earning something is entirely different from deserving it.

She never explained this, and we never discussed the matter.

But by not speaking that one word, deserve, she said volumes.

In matters of every day life, human beings don’t have the right, or the ability, to decide who is deserving of something. Because, in doing so, we imply that others are not deserving.

Life is one big poker game in which the draw sometimes determines everything. Yes, some people are better at playing the game. Yes, some people use their cards to gain an advantage. Yes, some people avoid temptations and are able to improve their chances. And yes, some people are so charming and engaging that they can cloud reality to sway the beliefs of others.

But in the end, some people are simply luckier, and luck has nothing to do with their character, their abilities, their  fortitude, their courage, or whether they are more “deserving” than others

So even though Mom never talked about why she threw “deserve” into her junk pile of words that are either misused or meaningless, she said everything through the life she’s led.

And for that, I will always be grateful.

Happy Mother’s Day, Mom.

Touched by an Angel

rubyFor several years, National Public Radio ran a series called This I Believe that encouraged listeners to share short audio essays about core beliefs that defined who they were and how they lived their lives.

I always had a secret desire to submit my own essay, but I never did.

I just couldn’t identify only one belief that defines  me.

I believe in karma.

I believe that the worst circumstances in our life are intended to teach us critical lessons that, in the end, will make us better people.

And I believe that angels show up in our lives when we need them most.

So it was last night when I got home from work in a foul mood. I was worn down by trying to do the right thing in a world often controlled by manipulative people. I was so angry that I had an almost physical need for everyone else to know exactly how I felt. I was already writing the words for this blog in my head,

But that was before I saw the package on my front steps.

My curiosity immediately overshadowed my anger. The return address was from my long ago babysitter, Carrie, in Oregon.

Growing up, I adored Carrie just as I had adored her mother, Ruby.

My childhood was spent living thousands of miles away from my own grandparents, and Ruby had stepped up and stepped into the role of foster grandmother.

Since Ruby had several daughters of her own, I never understood how someone as special as she was could possibly think I was special too. Not only was she was kind, gentle and loving, but she had the innate ability to draw into the light all the good in people while ignoring all that was ugly. When spending time with Ruby, you couldn’t be angry at the injustices in the world because you were too busy rejoicing in all its beauty.IMG_0161

When Ruby died in January  2007 at the age of 92, I never thought I’d hear from her again.

I was wrong.

The package on my front steps contained a photo album with the letters, announcements and photographs that my mother and I had sent Ruby over two decades. It also included a note with instructions.

As I read the note from Ruby and flipped through the pages of my life since I’d left Oregon, tears streamed down my face and my anger disappeared.

I had been touched by an angel who was reminding me not to focus on the negative. There is just too much in life to celebrate instead.

And so, thanks to Ruby, that’s exactly what I did.

IMG_0163

Without Clock or Calendar

For the last frock wall and gravestoneew months, something has been missing from my life. Its disappearance is particularly unnerving because I am given a sufficient supply of the missing element every day. But when I go to bed each night, I am left wondering what happened.

Time is that common yet mysterious element that belongs to everyone, plays favorites to no one, speeds up and slows down at the most inopportune moments and steals the occasions we treasure most while gifting us with memories.

When I was young, 24 hours per days seemed more than sufficient.  Now, it’s anythingalone but.

Which is why, on Christmas Eve, I felt as though I’d won the lottery. I had 11
days, or approximately 264 hours, without any significant appointments or commitments. And even though I had a long list of projects I wanted to tackle, part of me that just wanted to escape life as I know it.

Which is exactly what I did on Christmas Day.

After the presents were opened and the Christmas dinner was prepared, I escaped to find evidence that life is more than a series of events or accomplishments that are documented with time stamps and dates to remember.

lonely tree2I took my bicycle out on an unseasonably warm day, and, for the first time in a long time, I didn’t pedal to
cover a specific number of miles in a specified number of minutes.

In fact, I often didn’t pedal at all.  Instead, I stopped to investigate. I stopped to listen. I stopped to breathe. Most of all, I stopped to take photos on my phone and to simply appreciate life without the constraints of deadlines or appointments or expectations.

And what I discovered was that, unlike people, most of the world pays no attention to clocks or calendars. While everythingbarbed wire is affected by time, only people give it power.

The rest of the world just exists in the moment, adapts to the elements, accepts changes and stays committed to survival.

In other words, the rest of the world can teach us humans a thing or two.

And I’m ready to learn.
the sheep

the cow

headstoneorchard2

wrought iron fence

 

 

 

 

The Wise Women

women-power-quotes-sayings-famous-wise-3This time of year, wise men get a great deal of attention – as they should.

But as I look back on the past year, I find myself appreciating all of the wise women who were a part of it.

These are the women that may not have made a loud splash in my life but instead helped me quietly navigate both rough waters as well as the still waters of day-to day living.

Their experience, intelligence, kindness, humor and support refilled my toolbox with gems I will treasure for the rest of my life.

And just as the following gems have helped me deal with difficult people and tough circumstances, I have no doubt that the wise women in my life would want me to share them with others.

And so I will:

“The older you get, the less and less you care about what others think. That’s the beauty of getting older and the reason we can take joy in embarrassing our children on a regular basis.”

“Sometimes we just have to sit back and watch other people implode when their desire for importance exceeds their ability to actually be important to anyone else.”

“Men will never laugh so hard they pee their pants. That’s kind of sad.”

“Some people are intimidated by a strong woman, but that doesn’t mean you should stop lifting your intellectual weights. Take pride in the fact that they can’t win an arm wrestling contest with your mental muscles.”

“Keeping your mouth shut is sometimes much more powerful than saying anything at all.”

“We rub elbows with delusional people every day. These are people who think they are leaders but never turn around to see that not only is no one is following them, but many are running as far as possible in the opposite direction.”

“Being honest in a resume is far more important to the soul than getting a job based on half-truths.”

“There’s absolutely nothing wrong with sleeping in a pretty dress if it makes you feel good about yourself.”

“Mean and angry people are actually very sad, broken people who don’t realize how unhappy they are until they are standing by themselves yelling at an empty room or, even worse, standing silent in an empty room because there is no one left to listen.”

“Life is one big choice. Choose to embrace those things you love, forgive the people you don’t love and let go of everything in between. In the end, all that matters is that you weren’t hateful.”

As I review these gems, I can only look forward to yet another year with wise women who can once again fill my tool box.

The Crap Shoot

diceI am fortunate to have a job in which I am constantly reminded that I won the lottery of life and which gifts  me with examples of my luck on a daily basis.

Recently, my co-worker rushed to clean the seat of a chair where a schizophrenic homeless man sat unaware that his pants were so low they were no longer covering what should have been covered. When she gently told him to pull up his pants, he apologized and pulled the up. My organization’s ability to serve this young man is limited, and he walks the street every night. Several people are working with him to try to find adequate services that will address his needs and provide him with a safe place to sleep. In the meantime, he has nothing more than what he can carry in his arms.

At the beginning of the month, I spent hours trying to find a way to get a young man back to his family. He had lost his job and with it the income that allowed him to pay rent or buy food. While on the phone with his mother, the operator broke into the conversation with a call from a prison. The prisoner was the young man’s father, who proceeded to tell me what a loser his son was. He also told the woman with whom I was talking that she should not travel the hour to pick up her son because he didn’t deserve it. Sadly, the mother listened, and the young man remained stranded with no support system or resources.

This week, a woman with six children called our offices asking for help. The electricity at her house, a run-down shack, had been shut off, and she had no hot water for baths or showers and no way to cook or heat up food. Her husband, who had lost his job a few months ago, had recently found  employment but wouldn’t be receiving a paycheck for several weeks. Since the family had no electricity, and therefore no fans or air conditioning, they leave their windows open in hopes of a breeze. Because of that, the children’s bodies are covered in mosquito bites.

Every day, I hear conversations I cannot understand. My office is right next to that of our immigration attorney, so I listen daily to conversations in foreign language. Occasionally, I understand what is being said, and it is never heartwarming. I listen to families who came to the United States for political or humanitarian reasons and have no place to go. Just the other day, I witnessed a six-year-old child translating  for her mother. She was telling our outreach worker about the eviction notice her family had received.  At the age of six years, this little girl should be playing with dolls, taking dance lessons and swimming with her friends. Instead, she is doing all she can to prevent her family from being homeless.

Perhaps most controversial and yet most heartbreaking among the clients I encounter daily are the hundreds of people who live in generational poverty in the United States. Of these individuals, some were raised in families in which violence was a norm. Others lived in homes in which education wasn’t a value and in which routines such as dinner and bedtimes were foreign concepts. Some were born to parents who abused drugs and who neglected their children during the most crucial years.

Even though I come face to face with such poverty very day, I am also reminded that for every person who walks through our offices seeking assistance, there is another person who is pointing fingers and placing blame. I’ve heard it all:

“If people tried harder, they would have an education and a job.”

“Our country already has too many problems. Why should we help people from other countries?”

“If I can make it, anyone can make it.”

“I’m tired of my hard-earned dollars going to support woman who had kids just so they could live off the system.”

What many people don’t realize is that, as my co-worker says, “Life is one big crap shot.”

We don’t get to choose who are parents will be or where we will be born. We don’t get to choose how intelligent we will be or whether we will inherit a mental illness. And we certainly don’t get to choose whether we will be raised in an environment that values good judgement or in one where children are  just lucky to get through childhood alive.

There are days when I wish I could yell to the world. I want to say that I completely agree we should all do our best and we should all make good decisions. But I also want to yell that some of us are fortunate to have been raise to understand cause, effect and consequences. Some of use are lucky to have been raised with values on which we make good decisions. Some of us were raised to think about the future rather than just the moment at hand. And some of us were raised with people who want us to excel rather than pull us down.

If life is truly a crap shoot, then I was lucky enough to roll a good deal. I may not have a lot of money or the biggest house on the block, but I am an intelligent woman surrounded by people who support me. Even better, I am  surrounded by people who will do the same for a stranger who was never handed the same odds that I was.

My real fortune comes not just from having a job but  from having a job that allows me to witness people who truly understand that their skills, knowledge, education and general good fortune aren’t just good luck. They received these gifts so they could use them to help and provide for others.

Getting to witness such acts to benefit the less fortunate  on a daily basis makes me one of the luckiest woman in the world.

365 Reasons To Smile – Day 249

My daughter was still sleeping when I got home from walking the dog Sunday morning. Before I woke her, I simply watched her for a few minutes.

As my children have grown older, I’ve forgotten the joy of just watching them sleep.

There is something peaceful and reassuring about seeing those we love most in peaceful slumber.IMG_2591

That always makes me smile.

Day 249: Watching Those I Cherish Sleep  Day 248: Getting Back on My Bike after the Longest Winter

Day 247: “Don’t Worry. Be Happy.”  Day 246: Multiple Reminders of Beauty  Day 245: Being Nice to Total Strangers Day 244: The Perfect PhrasDay 243:  Little Girls With Attitude Day 242: The Soup Nazi  Day 241: Contagious Smiles  Day 240: Oklahoma  Day 239: Dr. Seuss’ Persistence  Day 238: Over-Dependence on Spell Check  Day 237: Only 28 days  in February  Day 236: Genuine Signatures  Day 235: Television Personalities Who Don’t Take Themselves Too Seriously Day 234:  The Words “Happy Birthday”  Day 233: Teenagers Who Care about Their Grandparents  Day 232:  “Morning Has Broken” Day 231: Avoiding Jury Duty  Day 230: Melting Snow after a Long Winter  Day 229: Hungry Teenage Boys   Day 228: Having a Dream Day 227: Mispronunciations   Day 226: Awkward Animal Moments Day 225: Shaking Hands With Scott Hamilton Day 224:  Having an Office With Windows Day 223: Watching Our Children Mature  Day 222: Getting the Upper Hand Over Life’s Challenges  Day 221: St. Teresa’s Prayer  Day 220: Children Who Are True to Self    Day 219: Frosted Sugar Cookies Day 218: Children with a Global Perspective Day 217: Enchanted  Day 216: Having a “secret weapon” Day 215: Jack and Diane  Day 214: The Volkswagen Beetle Day 213: Moments that Can’t Be Recreated  Day 212: “The Soul” Quote   Day 211: Rubber Ducky  Day 210: Tracks in the Snow   Day 209: Finding a Penny on the Ground Day 208: Kids who Use Their Manners  Day 207: Reminders of Warm Sunny Days  Day 206:  Dogs Playing in the Snow  Day 205:  Descriptive Phrases  Day 204: Arsenic and Old Lace  Day 203: Reminders of Resiliency  Day 102: Stephanie’s Ponytail Day 201: Being Asked to Help  Day 200: Boys and Their Toys  Day 199: The Most Important Person  Day 198: People With Courage to Do What is Right  Day 197: Being Pleasantly Surprised by My Children  Day 196: Being Told I’m Young  Day 195: Good News  Day 194: Meaningful Eye Contact   Day 193: A Sense of Accomplishment Day 192: Growing Into the Person I’ll Someday Be  Day 191:  Matt Groening  Day 190: Tuning Out Bad News and Tuning In to What We Enjoy  Day 189: Parents Who Encourage Independence  Day 188: Watching Young Minds at Work  Day 187: Funny Phone Calls  Day 186: Healthy Lungs  Day 185: Reality Checks Day  184: Coincidence  Day 183: Lame Attempts to Go Retro  Day 182: Learning From Our Mistakes  Day 181: Goofy Childhood Memories  Day 180: A soak in a bathtub  Day 179: Optimism  Day 178: The Year’s Top Baby Names  Day 177: Reading on a Rainy Day   Day 176: “Don’t Stop Believin'” by Journey  Day 175: Watching the Torch Pass  Day 174: Converse Tennis Shoes  Day 173: Family Acceptance  Day 172: Christmas Day 171: The Mr. Grinch Song  Day 170: Positive People  Day 169: Watching Movies From my Childhood With My Kids  Day 168:  Jealous Pets   Day 167:  Family Christmas Recipes  Day 166:  Church BellsDay 165:  School Holiday   164: Unexpected Grace  Day 163: Letting Go of Things We Can’t Control  Day 162: Anticipating a good story   Day 161: Hope  Day 160:  When Dogs Try to Avoid Embarrassment  Day 159: Surprises in the Mail  Day 158: Kids who aren’t superficial  Day 157:  A Garage on Winter Days    Day 156:  Real Christmas Trees    Day 155: Being a Parent   Day 154: Selfless People Day 153:  Nelson Mandela  Day 152: Memorable Road Trips  Day 151: Great Neighbors  Day 150: Oscar Wilde’s quote about being yourself   Day 149:  Love Letters  Day 148:  The first day of Advent  Day 147: The Breakfast Club   Day 146: Marriage and Shared Anniversaries 145: JFK’s quote about gratitude  Day 144:  Watching My Dog Play   Day 143: Having my Family’s Basic Needs Met  Day 142:  When Our Children Become Role Models  Day 141: Random Acts of Kindness  Day 140; People Watching  Day 139: Sharing Interests with My Children  Day 138: Eleanor Roosevelt’s Best Advice  Day 137: Weird Human Behavior about Garbage  Day 136: Postcards from Heaven  Day 135: Mickey Mouse  Day 134: Generous Souls  Day 133: I’m Moving On  Day 132: A Family That is Really Family  Day 131:   A Personal Motto  Day 130:  Mork and Mindy  Day 129: The Bears’ House  Day 128:  Veterans  Day 127: Doppelgangers  Day 126: Letting Life Unfold as It Should  Day 125: The Constantly Changing Sky  Day 124: When History Repeats Itself   Day 123: The Love Scene in The Sound of Music Day 122:  Helen Keller  Day 121:  The Welcome Back Kotter Theme Song  Day 120: Sheldon Cooper  Day 119: Having Permission to Make Mistakes  Day 118: A Diverse Group of Friends  Day 117:  Family Traditions Day 116: The Haunting Season  Day 115; Life Experience Day 114:  Changes  Day 113:  The Wooly Bear Caterpillar  Day 112: The National Anthem  Day 111: Parents Who Care   Day 110: Good Friends Day 109:  My Many Colored Days by Dr. Seuss  Day 108:  A.A. Milne QuotesDay 107: Spending Time Wisely Day 106: Parades  Day 105:  The Peanuts Gang Dancing   Day 104:  Sharing a Secret Language   Day 103:  The Electric Company  Day 102:  Doing the Right Thing  Day 101:  When Siblings Agree  Day 100: Being Optimistic  Day 99: Trying Something New   Day 98:  The Sound of Children on a Playground  Day97: Good Advice  Day 96: Red and white peppermint candy  Day 95:  The Soundtrack from the Movie Shrek Day 94:  Accepting Change    Day 93:  True Love     Day 92: Camera Phones   Day 91: Bicycle Brakes    Day 90:  HeroesDay 89: The Cricket in Times Square  Day 88:  The Grand Canyon  Day 87: Unanswered Prayers Day 86: Apples Fresh from the Orchard Day 85: Being Human  Day 84: Captain Underpants  Day 83: The Diary of Anne Frank  Day 82: In Cold Blood Day 81: Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry  Day 80: The Outsiders   Day 79:  I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings Day 78: The First Amendment Day77: People Who Touch Our Lives   Day 76:  The Rewards of Parenting    Day 75:  Improvements   Day 74:  Family Traditions   Day 73: Learning From Our Mistakes  Day 72: Live Music  Day 71:  Sleeping In  Day 70:  Grover  Day 69:  A Good Hair Day   Day 68:  A Sense of Community   Day 67: Kindness   Day 66: Living in a Place You Love   Day 65: Gifts from the Heart   Day 64: The Arrival of Fall  Day 63: To Kill a Mockingbird   Day 62: Green LightsDay 61:  My Canine Friends  Day 60:  Differences   Day 59:  A New Box of Crayons   Day 58: Bookworms  Day 57: Being Oblivious  Day 56: Three-day Weekends  Day 55:  A Cat Purring  Day 54: Being a Unique Individual   Day 53: Children’s Artwork  Day 52: Lefties  Day 51: The Neighborhood Deer  Day 50: Campfires  Day 49: Childhood Crushes  Day  48: The Words “Miss You”  Day 47:  Birthday Stories   Day 46: Nature’s Hold on Us  Day 45:  Play-Doh   Day 44: First Day of School Pictures  Day 43: Calvin and Hobbes  Day 42: Appreciative Readers  Day 41: Marilyn Monroe’s Best Quote   Day 40:  Being Silly  Day 39:  Being Happy Exactly Where You Are  Day 38: Proud Grandparents  Day 37: Chocolate Chip Cookies   Day 36: Challenging Experiences that Make Great Stories  Day 35: You Can’t Always Get What You Want  Day 34:  Accepting the Fog    Day 33: I See the Moon  Day 32: The Stonehenge Scene from This is Spinal Tap  Day 31: Perspective  Day 30:  Unlikely Friendships  Day 29: Good Samaritans  Day 28:  Am I a Man or Am I a Muppet?    Day 27: Shadows  Day 26: Bike Riding on Country Roads  Day 25: When Harry Met Sally  Day 24: Hibiscus   Day 23: The Ice Cream Truck  Day 22:  The Wonderful World of Disney   Day 21: Puppy love  Day 20 Personal Theme Songs  Day 19:  Summer Clouds  Day 18: Bartholomew Cubbin’s VictoryDay 17:  A Royal Birth    Day 16:  Creative Kids  Day 15: The Scent of Honeysuckle   Day 14: Clip of Kevin Kline Exploring His MasculinityDay 13: Random Text Messages from My Daughter     Day 12:  Round Bales of HayDay 11:  Water Fountains for Dogs    Day 10: The Rainier Beer Motorcycle Commercial Day 9: Four-Leaf Clovers  Day 8: Great Teachers We Still RememberDay  7:  Finding the missing sock   Day 6:  Children’s books that teach life-long lessonsDay 5: The Perfect Photo at the Perfect Moment   Day 4:  Jumping in Puddles  Day   3: The Ride Downhill after the Struggle Uphill    Day 2: Old Photographs  Day 1: The Martians on Sesame Street

365 Reasons to Smile – Day 149

On Friday, my parents quietly celebrated their fiftieth wedding anniversary. There was no party and no fanfare. Most of their friends and acquaintances probably didn’t even recognize the importance of the day.

But my dad did. In a blog he started only a couple of months ago, he wrote about his first date with my mom (My Parent’s First Date).

When I read it, it brought tears to my eyes and a smile to my face.

But then, a love that is still going strong after fifty years will always make me smile.

Day 140:  Love Letters  Day 148:  The first day of Advent  Day 147: The Breakfast Club   Day 146: Marriage and Shared Anniversaries 145: JFK’s quote about gratitude  Day 144:  Watching My Dog Play   Day 143: Having my Family’s Basic Needs Met  Day 142:  When Our Children Become Role Models  Day 141: Random Acts of Kindness  Day 140; People Watching  Day 139: Sharing Interests with My Children  Day 138: Eleanor Roosevelt’s Best Advice  Day 137: Weird Human Behavior about Garbage  Day 136: Postcards from Heaven  Day 135: Mickey Mouse  Day 134: Generous Souls  Day 133: I’m Moving On  Day 132: A Family That is Really Family  Day 131:   A Personal Motto  Day 130:  Mork and Mindy  Day 129: The Bears’ House  Day 128:  Veterans  Day 127: Doppelgangers  Day 126: Letting Life Unfold as It Should  Day 125: The Constantly Changing Sky  Day 124: When History Repeats Itself   Day 123: The Love Scene in The Sound of Music Day 122:  Helen Keller  Day 121:  The Welcome Back Kotter Theme Song  Day 120: Sheldon Cooper  Day 119: Having Permission to Make Mistakes  Day 118: A Diverse Group of Friends  Day 117:  Family Traditions Day 116: The Haunting Season  Day 115; Life Experience Day 114:  Changes  Day 113:  The Wooly Bear Caterpillar  Day 112: The National Anthem  Day 111: Parents Who Care   Day 110: Good Friends Day 109:  My Many Colored Days by Dr. Seuss  Day 108:  A.A. Milne QuotesDay 107: Spending Time Wisely Day 106: Parades  Day 105:  The Peanuts Gang Dancing   Day 104:  Sharing a Secret Language   Day 103:  The Electric Company  Day 102:  Doing the Right Thing  Day 101:  When Siblings Agree  Day 100: Being Optimistic  Day 99: Trying Something New   Day 98:  The Sound of Children on a Playground  Day97: Good Advice  Day 96: Red and white peppermint candy  Day 95:  The Soundtrack from the Movie Shrek Day 94:  Accepting Change    Day 93:  True Love     Day 92: Camera Phones   Day 91: Bicycle Brakes    Day 90:  HeroesDay 89: The Cricket in Times Square  Day 88:  The Grand Canyon  Day 87: Unanswered Prayers Day 86: Apples Fresh from the Orchard Day 85: Being Human  Day 84: Captain Underpants  Day 83: The Diary of Anne Frank  Day 82: In Cold Blood Day 81: Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry  Day 80: The Outsiders   Day 79:  I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings Day 78: The First Amendment Day77: People Who Touch Our Lives   Day 76:  The Rewards of Parenting    Day 75:  Improvements   Day 74:  Family Traditions   Day 73: Learning From Our Mistakes  Day 72: Live Music  Day 71:  Sleeping In  Day 70:  Grover  Day 69:  A Good Hair Day   Day 68:  A Sense of Community   Day 67: Kindness   Day 66: Living in a Place You Love   Day 65: Gifts from the Heart   Day 64: The Arrival of Fall  Day 63: To Kill a Mockingbird   Day 62: Green LightsDay 61:  My Canine Friends  Day 60:  Differences   Day 59:  A New Box of Crayons   Day 58: Bookworms  Day 57: Being Oblivious  Day 56: Three-day Weekends  Day 55:  A Cat Purring  Day 54: Being a Unique Individual   Day 53: Children’s Artwork  Day 52: Lefties  Day 51: The Neighborhood Deer  Day 50: Campfires  Day 49: Childhood Crushes  Day  48: The Words “Miss You”  Day 47:  Birthday Stories   Day 46: Nature’s Hold on Us  Day 45:  Play-Doh   Day 44: First Day of School Pictures  Day 43: Calvin and Hobbes  Day 42: Appreciative Readers  Day 41: Marilyn Monroe’s Best Quote   Day 40:  Being Silly  Day 39:  Being Happy Exactly Where You Are  Day 38: Proud Grandparents  Day 37: Chocolate Chip Cookies   Day 36: Challenging Experiences that Make Great Stories  Day 35: You Can’t Always Get What You Want  Day 34:  Accepting the Fog    Day 33: I See the Moon  Day 32: The Stonehenge Scene from This is Spinal Tap  Day 31: Perspective  Day 30:  Unlikely Friendships  Day 29: Good Samaritans  Day 28:  Am I a Man or Am I a Muppet?    Day 27: Shadows  Day 26: Bike Riding on Country Roads  Day 25: When Harry Met Sally  Day 24: Hibiscus   Day 23: The Ice Cream Truck  Day 22:  The Wonderful World of Disney   Day 21: Puppy love  Day 20 Personal Theme Songs  Day 19:  Summer Clouds  Day 18: Bartholomew Cubbin’s VictoryDay 17:  A Royal Birth    Day 16:  Creative Kids  Day 15: The Scent of Honeysuckle   Day 14: Clip of Kevin Kline Exploring His MasculinityDay 13: Random Text Messages from My Daughter     Day 12:  Round Bales of HayDay 11:  Water Fountains for Dogs    Day 10: The Rainier Beer Motorcycle Commercial Day 9: Four-Leaf Clovers  Day 8: Great Teachers We Still RememberDay  7:  Finding the missing sock   Day 6:  Children’s books that teach life-long lessonsDay 5: The Perfect Photo at the Perfect Moment   Day 4:  Jumping in Puddles  Day   3: The Ride Downhill after the Struggle Uphill    Day 2: Old Photographs  Day 1: The Martians on Sesame Street

365 Reasons to Smile – Day 93

A few weeks ago, my mom sent me an email with a link to her cousin’s obituary and told me to read the comments. Since I’d only met the man a couple of times, I didn’t immediately pay much attention. But, as I was cleaning up old emails, I decided to take a look.

I’m glad I did.

Apparently, Mom’s cousin Clark died while preparing to attend the visitation for his wife, who had just passed away. According to his son, he had his own idea about what the visitation meant and decided to go see his wife in heaven rather than at the funeral home. Others commented that no one should be surprised. The two had been married for 55 years, were joined at the hip and helped define each other.

I’m generally cynical about the concept of soul mates and destiny, but their story gives me pause. In a world in which celebrity break-ups make headlines,  an article in a small town newspaper (Clark and Shirley: A Love Story) captures what is truly important in life.

And that will always make me smile.

Day 93: True Love  Day 92: Camera Phones Day 91: Bicycle BrakesDay 90:  HeroesDay 89: The Cricket in Times Square  Day 88:  The Grand Canyon Day 87: Unanswered Prayers Day 86: Apples Fresh from the Orchard Day 85: Being HumanDay 84: Captain Underpants  Day 83: The Diary of Anne Frank  Day 82: In Cold Blood Day 81: Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry  Day 80: The Outsiders Day 79:  I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings Day 78: The First Amendment Day 77: People Who Touch Our LivesDay 76:  The Rewards of Parenting   Day 75:  ImprovementsDay 74:  Family TraditionsDay 73: Learning From Our MistakesDay 72: Live Music Day 71:  Sleeping InDay 70:  GroverDay 69:  A Good Hair Day Day 68:  A Sense of Community Day 67: KindnessDay 66: Living in a Place You Love  Day 65: Gifts from the Heart  Day 64: The Arrival of FallDay 63: To Kill a Mockingbird Day 62: Green LightsDay 61:  My Canine FriendsDay 60:  DifferencesDay 59:  A New Box of CrayonsDay 58: BookwormsDay 57: Being Oblivious  Day 56: Three-day WeekendsDay 55:  A Cat PurringDay 54: Being a Unique Individual Day 53: Children’s ArtworkDay 52: LeftiesDay 51: The Neighborhood Deer  Day 50: CampfiresDay 49: Childhood CrushesDay  48: The Words “Miss You”Day 47:  Birthday StoriesDay 46: Nature’s Hold on UsDay 45:  Play-Doh Day 44: First Day of School PicturesDay 43: Calvin and HobbesDay 42: Appreciative ReadersDay 41: Marilyn Monroe’s Best QuoteDay 40:  Being SillyDay 39:  Being Happy Exactly Where You AreDay 38: Proud GrandparentsDay 37: Chocolate Chip CookiesDay 36: Challenging Experiences that Make Great StoriesDay 35: You Can’t Always Get What You WantDay 34:  Accepting the Fog    Day 33: I See the MoonDay 32: The Stonehenge Scene from This is Spinal TapDay 31: PerspectiveDay 30:  Unlikely FriendshipsDay 29: Good SamaritansDay 28:  Am I a Man or Am I a Muppet?Day 27: ShadowsDay 26: Bike Riding on Country RoadsDay 25: When Harry Met SallyDay 24: HibiscusDay 23: The Ice Cream TruckDay 22:  The Wonderful World of DisneyDay 21: Puppy loveDay 20 Personal Theme Songs  Day 19:  Summer CloudsDay 18: Bartholomew Cubbin’s VictoryDay 17:  A Royal Birth  Day 16:  Creative KidsDay 15: The Scent of Honeysuckle Day 14: Clip of Kevin Kline Exploring His MasculinityDay 13: Random Text Messages from My Daughter  Day 12:  Round Bales of HayDay 11:  Water Fountains for Dogs Day 10: The Rainier Beer Motorcycle Commercial Day 9: Four-Leaf CloversDay 8: Great Teachers We Still RememberDay  7:  Finding the missing sock Day 6:  Children’s books that teach life-long lessonsDay 5: The Perfect Photo at the Perfect Moment   Day 4:  Jumping in Puddles  Day 3: The Ride Downhill after the Struggle Uphill Day 2: Old PhotographsDay 1: The Martians on Sesame Street