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365 Reasons to Smile – Day 121

Growing up, my dad teased that I could be John Travolta’s little sister. I can’t say that was much of a compliment, but I tolerated Dad’s teasing because, during my limited television viewing time, I always watched John Travolta as Vinnie Barbarino on Welcome Back Kotter.

To this day, I’m convinced the only reason I watched Welcome Back Kotter was to listen to the theme song. After the song played, I’d do something else while Horseshack laughed and Epstein produced excuses from his mother.

But I just loved the theme song.

To this day, no matter what the circumstances, I still love that song.

There’s something important in the message about coming back to a place you thought you wanted to leave behind only to realize that’s actually where you belonged all along.

That message always makes me smile.

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 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 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 PhotographsDay 1: The Martians on Sesame Street

365 Reasons to Smile – Day 120

sheldoncooper4Not many television shows make me laugh out loud, but the Big Bang Theory does.

All of the characters are, well, characters, and the most endearing is Sheldon Cooper. I’m just not sure why.

It’s probably the witty writing and the snappy delivery, because I have no doubt that I’d have a difficult time tolerating Sheldon in real life. His narcissistic attitude and constant belittlement of others are actually indecent. But, like other narcissists, Sheldon doesn’t  realize how obnoxious he is.

Thankfully, Sheldon isn’t real, and I don’t have to tolerate him. I just have to enjoy him and his plethora of amusing quotes.

They always make me smile.sheldon cooper 2

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 Quotes Day 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 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 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 PhotographsDay 1: The Martians on Sesame Street

365 Reasons to Smile – Day 103

MorganfreemanSeveral times a year, I see headlines or internet posts about celebrities “before they were stars.”

Personally, with the exception of one person, I don’t really care.

And that one person has always been a star to me.

When I was a child, I absolutely LOVED watching The Electric Company.  I believed the educational value was beneath me, but the show was pure entertainment.  I particularly loved the actor who played all the cool roles, including Dracula.

Years later, when Morgan Freeman became famous with adult audiences, I wasn’t surprised.

When he was on The Electric Company, he always made me smile.

Eight Clips of Morgan Freeman Being Awesome on The Electric Company

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  Day 97: 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:  Heroes Day 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 Day 77: 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 Lights Day 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 Victory Day 17:  A Royal Birth    Day 16:  Creative Kids Day 15: The Scent of Honeysuckle   Day 14: Clip of Kevin Kline Exploring His Masculinity Day 13: Random Text Messages from My Daughter     Day 12:  Round Bales of Hay Day 11:  Water Fountains for Dogs    Day 10: The Rainier Beer Motorcycle Commercial Day 9: Four-Leaf Clovers  Day 8: Great Teachers We Still Remember Day  7:  Finding the missing sock   Day 6:  Children’s books that teach life-long lessons Day 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 70

Even though I loved Sesame Street, I wasn’t a particular fan of Big Bird.monster at end of book

I loved Grover.

I loved how he flopped around in an uncoordinated manner. I loved how he was always a bit slow to figure out the obvious.  I loved his voice.

Most of all, I loved imitating him.

I would stand in front of whoever was near me and say in my best Grover voice “This is near.”

I’d then run to the far end of the sidewalk with my arms flopping wildly over my head,  turn and yell, “and this is far away.”

When I became a mom, I repeated the act with my children.

They weren’t too impressed, but I enjoyed myself anyway.

Thinking about Grover always makes me smile.  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 Lights Day 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 Victory Day 17:  A Royal Birth    Day 16:  Creative Kids Day 15: The Scent of Honeysuckle   Day 14: Clip of Kevin Kline Exploring His Masculinity Day 13: Random Text Messages from My Daughter     Day 12:  Round Bales of Hay Day 11:  Water Fountains for Dogs    Day 10: The Rainier Beer Motorcycle Commercial Day 9: Four-Leaf Clovers  Day 8: Great Teachers We Still Remember Day  7:  Finding the missing sock   Day 6:  Children’s books that teach life-long lessons Day 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 54

One of the best things about being a parent is that dull moments are rare and far between.

My children tend to make them even rarer.

Last weekend while on a Girl Scout camping trip with my daughter, my son still had a strong presence.

One of his friend’s mother is a troop leader, and she was filling me in about Shepherd.

“My son says when he walks in a room everyone yells ‘Shepherd’,” the leader said. “He’s like Norm on Cheers.”

When I got home I repeated the story to my son.  His only reaction was “Who is Norm on Cheers?”

After I got over how old I am and showed him some clips on YouTube, he just laughed and shook his head.

“It’s not EXACTLY like that,” he said.

“Why do they do it?”  I asked.

“Because, he said, “I’m a character.”

I love the fact that my son has the confidence to be his own person and that his peers enjoy the fact.

That always makes me smile.

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 Victory Day 17:  A Royal Birth        Day 16:  Creative Kids Day 15: The Scent of Honeysuckle   Day 14: Clip of Kevin Kline Exploring His Masculinity Day 13: Random Text Messages from My Daughter     Day 12:  Round Bales of Hay Day 11:  Water Fountains for Dogs    Day 10: The Rainier Beer Motorcycle Commercial Day 9: Four-Leaf Clovers  Day 8: Great Teachers We Still Remember Day  7:  Finding the missing sock   Day 6:  Children’s books that teach life-long lessons Day 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 49

There are few things more amusing than remembering childhood crushes.

 For example, I never missed an episode of the “Hardy Boys.”  I actually thought Shaun Cassidy was the cute one.

But my very first crush was Johnny Whittaker.  While most people probably remember him as Jody on Family Affair, I fell in love with him when he played Tom Sawyer in the Disney movie. I was incredibly jealous when he kissed Jodie Foster, who played Becky Thatcher.

I was so taken with him that every Saturday morning, I spent my limited television time watching Sigmund and the Sea Monsters.

My tastes may have changed significantly since those times, but my recognition of knowing what those tastes are hasn’t.

And that always makes me smile.

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 Victory Day 17:  A Royal Birth        Day 16:  Creative Kids Day 15: The Scent of Honeysuckle   Day 14: Clip of Kevin Kline Exploring His Masculinity Day 13: Random Text Messages from My Daughter     Day 12:  Round Bales of Hay Day 11:  Water Fountains for Dogs    Day 10: The Rainier Beer Motorcycle Commercial Day 9: Four-Leaf Clovers  Day 8: Great Teachers We Still Remember Day  7:  Finding the missing sock   Day 6:  Children’s books that teach life-long lessons Day 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 22

Growing up, my family didn’t watch a lot of television. wonderful world of disney

By the time my brother and I were in school, my parents limited us to seven hours of television a week.

Because of that, we had to choose carefully, but we always chose to watch The Wonderful World of Disney on Sunday nights.

In the days before cable television, movie rentals or pay per view,  we always looked forward to watching the movies in the comfort of our own home.

My parents would pop popcorn, and we’d settle in to watch an old Kurt Russell movie like The Strongest Man in the World or an even older movie like Fred MacMurray’s The Shaggy Dog.

Times have changed dramatically since the mid 1970’s, but my love for those movies never will.

They always make me smile.

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 Victory

Day 17:  A Royal Birth        Day 16:  Creative Kids

Day 15: The Scent of Honeysuckle   Day 14: Clip of Kevin Kline Exploring His Masculinity

Day 13: Random Text Messages from My Daughter     Day 12:  Round Bales of Hay

Day 11:  Water Fountains for Dogs    Day 10: The Rainier Beer Motorcycle Commercial

Day 9: Four-Leaf Clovers  Day 8: Great Teachers We Still Remember

Day  7:  Finding the missing sock   Day 6:  Children’s books that teach life-long lessons

Day 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 10

There was a time  in elementary school when my classmates and I were constantly imitating a commercial on television.

We weren’t singing “my bologna has a first name” or “Plop. Plop. Fizz. Fizz.”

We were making the sound of a motorcycle in a beer commercial.

This was long before the advertising companies were shamed for making adult products appeal to children. In fact, I don’t remember anyone expressing concern that we were constantly making the sound of a motorcycle promoting “RAAAAIIIIIN EEEEER BEEEEEEER.” They were probably as amused as we were.

These days, we can find plenty of fault with the commercial, which can be seen on YouTube (Rainier Beer commercial), but watching it always makes me smile.

Day  10: The Rainier Beer Motorcycle Commercial

Day 9: Four-Leaf Clovers

Day 8: Great Teachers We Still Remember

Day  7:  Finding the missing sock

Day 6:  Children’s books that teach life-long lessons

Day 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

The Problem With Pretty

katherine webb

(Photo by Matt Cashore, USA TODAY Sports)

Not being much of a football fan, I wasn’t watching when the University of Alabama beat Notre Dame the other night. But being an avid news fan, I couldn’t miss the stories about how sportscaster Brent Musburger raved about Katherine Webb, the beauty queen girlfriend of Alabama quarterback AJ McCarron.

I really didn’t understand all the fuss. Men have been making comments about beautiful women as long as women have been making comments about good looking-men. I may be a feminist, but I also recognize that appreciating beauty is an essential element of human nature.

Initially, I didn’t perceive any problem. At least, I didn’t perceive a problem until I read a story about how Webb and her parents responded to all the fuss.

They weren’t bothered by Musburger’s comments. And why would they have been? Webb is a beauty queen. She struts around in a bikini in front of cameras. She obviously wants to be noticed for her appearance alone, and her subsequent reaction reflected that.

What bothered me was the importance Webb’s parents placed on her being beautiful.

Apparently (according to family), Katherine was once considered an ugly duckling because of a skin condition and her height. Her mother said that being in the Miss USA pageant helped build her daughter’s self-esteem. In other words, her mother believes Katherine’s self-esteem hinges on others’ perceptions of her appearance. And that’s what bothers me about this “news” story.

Self-esteem is complicated. Yet, like so many other issues, people try to simplify it. Several years ago when my children were in elementary school, they attended an assembly about self-esteem.

“What activities did you do? I asked. They looked at me puzzled.

“We didn’t do anything,” my son said. “Some lady just talked to us about how we should have self-esteem.”

We moved on to other subjects, but I was irritated with the school for wasting precious educational hours on some pointless presentation. You can’t teach or preach self-esteem. True and lasting self-esteem is achieved through experiences of success and through overcoming difficult situations. Our responsibility as adults is to provide children with those opportunities.

And self-esteem isn’t an “all or nothing”  concept.

People don’t either have or not have self-esteem. Most of us feel confident in one aspect of our life while struggling in others. When I was younger, I had excellent self-esteem about my intelligence and ability to do well in school because I had volumes of success in academics. I had very poor self-esteem in regards to my appearance because I’d been told I looked like a monkey and was a four on a scale of one to ten.

Experience taught me that what others think of my appearance has absolute nothing to do with my value as a human, my capacity to be loved or my ability to be happy.

But those are lessons I learned from decades of life experience. Katherine Webb doesn’t have that yet.

Instead, she is surrounded by people who put an inordinate value on appearance. People who coach her that plastering on makeup to cover a skin condition is essential. People who have convinced her that fitness means being skinny enough to meet society’s standards for wearing a bikini. People who equate being called beautiful with being accepted.

Maybe I’m being a bit judgmental because I was raised to never rely on my appearances for anything. Sometimes that message was delivered in a subtle manner as my mother never bought fashion magazines nor wore makeup. At other times, the message was delivered loud and clear –  like the time she told me that I was lucky to be smart rather than pretty. And even though those words hurt at the time, they also held a great deal of wisdom.

When you can’t rely on your appearance open doors for you, you develop other skill sets. And those achievements and successes are what truly build self-esteem.

There is nothing wrong with being beautiful, but there is everything wrong when women allow it to define them.

And that’s the problem with pretty.

Buck Wild in a Beauty Salon

buckwildIf you’ve ever lived in West Virginia, you know all about MTV’s newest “reality show” premiering this Thursday night in the spot previously filled by Jersey Shore.

If you’ve never lived in West Virginia, all the drama surrounding Buckwild has probably either escaped you and/or seemed relatively unimportant. But here in the Mountain State, there is a great deal of concern about how the show will perpetuate negative stereotypes about those of us who live here.

When the first promos began airing last month, there were newspaper articles, editorials and online petitions criticizing Buckwild. Even our junior U.S. Senator and former Governor, Joe Manchin, wrote a letter to MTV asking that the show not be aired. Many argued that his subsequent appearances on national news and talk shows simply provided unpaid advertising.

To me, the show just looks stupid. I never watched Jersey Shore, and I have no plans to watch Buckwild. And yes, I even signed one of the online petitions asking that it not to be aired. But my reasons have nothing to do with how people might perceive West Virginians. There will always be those who believe stereotypes regardless of what they watch, hear or read.

To me, the show is actually more of a reflection on the entire nation than it is of West Virginia anyway. And while I deplore the concept of encouraging young people to do really stupid (and yes, mostly scripted) things for others’ entertainment, what I deplore even more is that there is obviously a large market for such shows. And yes, I know there are many who will tune it to watch Buckwild out of initial curiosity, but that’s not my issue. My issue is with people who watch this type of show for entertainment and for more people to ridicule. This includes television viewers such as the guy who was having his hair cut during my last hair appointment.

Until a few years ago, I never understood why any man would go to a beauty shop, but that was before I discovered the salon where I now go.

The place is more entertaining than anything on television because the people, the conversations and the emotions are genuine. I never complain that my appointments usually last more than two hours, because that time is more compelling than any reality show, particularly those featuring half-dressed young women and cocky young men whose vocabulary is rooted in George Carlin’s monologue about seven dirty words. And, when I think about it, I don’t recall hearing much, if any, cussing in the beauty salon.

Instead, I hear and participate in conversations about real people and real struggles that somehow turn into laughter and hope. The conversations range from cancer, to drug addiction to cross-country motorcycle rides.  Everyone in town seems to  know the owner and her husband, so there is a constant stream of local characters who come through her doors with their own dramas and issues. Discussions can turn from politics to childhood memories in a matter of seconds. And all of this occurs to some music soundtrack that almost always becomes part of the conversation.

The owner, and my stylist, strives to play just the right music, but she also always has technological difficulties. During my last appointment, she finally gave up when her latest gadget stopped working, and she was forced to turn on the radio to a classic rock station. Of course, the music brought back more memories and more stories.

And then, Manfred Mann’s Earth Band’s “Blinded by the Light” came on, and we all sang along. Sort of. The lyrics have always been unclear, so we all sang a different variations of “revved up like a deuce another runner in the night.” Some bordered on completely inappropriate. In order to resolve the debate, I took out my phone to search for accurate lyrics.

By the time I’d found them, the conversation had already moved on to Buckwild, and everyone was expressing an opinion. That’s when the clean-cut gentleman who had been sitting quietly while his hair was being trimmed said, “I think it looks entertaining, and I’m looking forward to watching it.”

For the first time, the shop went quiet except for Led Zeppelin playing in the background. Everything just seemed to stop. And then, just as quickly, the conversation resumed. Only no one said anything about Buckwild, instead the owner started telling a story about the recent Eddie Money concert.

No one acknowledged the man’s comment, and I don’t know whether he was oblivious to the slight or if he even cared. What I do know that everyone else’s reaction spoke volumes. And I don’t think the silence was so much an indictment on his opinion as it reflected a deep sadness that someone, surrounded by real characters, real conversation and an ongoing celebration of the reality of day-to-day life, would admit he wanted to simply observe the exact opposite.

Hours later, when I was thinking about the incident, I realized how we often lose sight of all that is meaningful around us because the media is trying to sell us a completely different definition of what makes life interesting.

I’m just glad there are people who still don’t buy that, and instead enjoy the simple pleasures of going a bit crazy, or buck wild, in a beauty salon.