Let’s Ride!

Oh, wow! I looked at my last post, just as the COVID-19 pandemic got underway. If you had told me then about some of the utterly wild things that we’ve been through over the past two years, I would have scoffed… mocked and derided, even. For any of you who have followed my posts before, you’re thrilled that I didn’t lose my thesaurus in the stack of “work life” boxes that are still hanging out in our garage, aren’t you? The sarcasm is intact.

This bit isn’t about rehashing the madness – the news networks have done that ad nauseum, and I can’t take another minute of that. For me, I’m just so glad to see glimmers of normal, even if that business-as-usual looks different than before.

Our friends and family often tease us about how we’re always on-the-go… “ready to ride” at a moment’s notice. Not that we don’t love being home together with our Buster Bear, who is 12 years old and quite the homebody. We do. But we also love to GO and DO.

It thrills my soul to go and see and do. And I’ve always been that way. My parents laughingly described me by saying “GO” has always the operative word for me. It doesn’t have to be exotic. We could be eating a simple dinner at an iconic burger place we haven’t tried before, or having a competitive game night with friends or family, or — one of our favorites — driving a back road we haven’t ridden before… bonus points if there’s a creek crossing so we can kick it into 4-wheel drive for a stretch. Our move to Middle Tennessee has meant that we have tons of new places to go, see and do. That goes firmly in the “+” category for us — and yes, we record PBS shows and scour Facebook events for some of our off the beaten path adventures. We’re kinda nerdy like that.

For us, the experiences are the point. And if those experiences are shared with those we love, all the better. They connect us, and we love that more than most anything. Thanks to those offbeat experiences, we laugh at ourselves — A LOT — and have more than our share of silly pictures and funny memories. Apologies if you are a friend or a family and I have made you take a selfie or snapped a picture jusssstttt as you took a big bite of food, or when your hair was wonky. Really, I’m just always grateful that we’re on the ride together.

That’s the bit for today, I think. I’m happy we’re getting back to a place where we can go and see and do, which is a great thing for us. I want to always be ready for that next ride, whatever it is. Because I don’t want to miss out on the big and little moments. Even if that means we are tired from going and doing. I’d rather be that anyday. You too, right?

Come on and ride with us. There will be times when we’re lost as a goose, but I promise it will be fun.

This Too Shall Pass…

How many times have you heard this recently? Me too. A LOT. Like, a whole lot. This isn’t one of my dad or Gram’s favorite old sayings, but my mother-in-law loved to impart this one in any difficult time. So we’ve heard this one in all manner of crazy circumstances that have tried us over the years. In fact, at some point, she found this saying at a craft fair booth, framed for display – so it would be right there reminding my husband at a moment’s notice to press on, in case she couldn’t be there to say it herself. She bought it to sit on his desk at work, and it moved with him to many desks and offices over the years. Sometimes he hasn’t seen it right away, but I think the reminder has been a welcome one in a ton of stressful moments.

It makes total sense that this saying has come up often over the last couple of months of pandemic-inspired upheaval. In fact, I saw a meme with a funny twist on this old saying. “This too shall pass – it might pass like a kidney stone, but it will pass.”

I giggled in spite of myself when I read this. Don’t get me wrong – I’m not at all making light of the pain that comes with a kidney stone. Though I haven’t experienced it personally (knocking on wood!), I’ve seen it up close and personal when Jimmy has suffered through some biggies. I don’t wish that pain on anyone. The point is that we can’t count on tough circumstances going away quietly – sometimes, the ride on the struggle bus is bone-jarring in its bumpiness, hanging on a dirt road along the side of a steep mountain. The storms, which may or may not be of our own making, sometimes don’t just rumble like thunder in the distance – they might just blow your shutters off the hinges, scattering debris all over the metaphorical lawn.

Most of the off-shoots of the “This too shall pass” are digestive in nature – I’ll let your mind wander there for a minute because some of them are thoroughly amusing. For us, we’ve had a couple of memorable passes over the years, including the time our first Lab puppy KT celebrated her 2nd birthday by jumping on the counter and “finding” my engagement ring. For anyone who says Labradors settle down by their second birthday – do NOT believe the lies! It’s AT LEAST 2-1/2 years before they transform, almost before your eyes, from chewing demon machines to the faithful companions that reel you into the madness in pictures. At any rate, I don’t have to tell you how excruciating the wait for that — ahem — passing was, especially for Jimmy, who took a BIG ONE for the team on “doodie duty.” It seemed like that particular storm took FOREVER to pass – and it was even longer before he could laugh about it. For weeks, every time I would mention it, he would give me the “still too soon” look, and I had to change the subject. Because, after all, he did a lot of scooping and sifting for that particular pirate’s treasure.

Back to today. Beyond the unexpected toilet paper challenges of the last several weeks (Seriously? I still am scratching my head on that – did NOT see that one coming), there are many people we know who are really taking it on the chin recently. And it runs the gamut. We feel for friends and family who are working long hours in essential positions, putting themselves out there every day to take care of the rest of us – possibly finding themselves in a position to end up sick, stressed or worse. We can’t wait for supplies, work loads and routines to return to normal. And then there those who have been laid off or had their work schedules cut, forcing the opposite adjustments to their family lives — financially, emotionally and more. Their battles are at opposite ends of the “trials” spectrum. But they’re every bit as important and real, especially to those in the storms.


Apologies for the rough original artwork. But you get the point. Mr. Sun does have some pretty nifty shades, though.

I’ve seen many local businesses offering meals, coffee, discounts and special shopping hours to those who are essential and on the front lines out there – which I think is so admirable and thoughtful, recognizing the challenges they’re facing with their families. And then I saw a social media post from a friend in the healthcare field, expressing gratitude for the thoughtfulness, but saying she is thankful to be working and would like to find a way to pass these specials meant for her on to someone else who might be struggling due to unemployment. Her post made me stop the thumb-scrolling for a moment and think – and I was warmed by her consideration of others who might be facing completely different tough times than she is.

I guess that’s the bit for me here. The ruckus is very real, and it can feel stifling in the thick of it, even swallowing us for moments. I don’t want to forget that, because not recognizing others’ struggles likely means I’m caught up in my own worries and woes – which usually are pretty tame in comparison and not at all worth a pity party. I hope, instead, I remember to extend a little grace to someone where he or she needs it, considering what they might be passing themselves.

Country Roads

This title has been rolling around in my brain off and on for more than a minute — months, actually. In addition to the late, great Kenny Rogers and Elvis, my parents had lots of what I would call “pure 70’s gold” albums, including John Denver. Probably had an 8-track or two of them as well, but that’s a whole other post. We sang to all of those records in the living room, many nights as I grew up — to the tops of our lungs. I can hear it now (and our voices are perfect in my mind… totally ready to order the merch and go on tour): “Country Roads, take me home. To the place, where I BE-LOOOONNNNGGG…”

That’s not just the big note. It’s actually a huge thing, to find the place where we belong, right? A place where we can bloom. A place where we make the most of opportunities as they come along, and where we are comfortable in our own skin. Granted, most of us get more comfortable in our own skin, and our place, as we grow more mature. Notice I didn’t say as we get older, because chronological age isn’t the thing. That’s just a number. No, I think the idea is that we learn more about who we are, what we’re about, and what’s important to us — really important to us.

For some of us, our Country Roads moment comes early and more easily, but for others, it is hard-fought. HARD fought. We battle our own selves, mostly, don’t we? We let those feelings of doubt creep in, the moments where we just don’t feel good enough. Or, even more tragic, and anger-inducing for me, there are times when we listen to someone else tell us we’re not good enough, or smart enough, or don’t measure up in some other way. Why do we let those voices into our head and our heart? How I wish my armor didn’t have chinks in it here and there, and I had “Cool Hand Luke” confidence all the time. Or do I? Is part of my finding the place where I belong also finding an appreciation for the belief in my own value, that pride in small victories so that I can encourage someone else along the way? Mind you, it’s a continuing work in progress, and I’m still traveling those winding country roads within my own mind.

Not that blooming, where I’m planted if you will, means that I stop stretching. And it doesn’t mean that I don’t still have moments when I’m disappointed in myself, or the patch where I’m currently planted. Success isn’t usually built on success – it often comes from failure. It often comes from frustration, as an old saying goes. I think what defines me is what I do with that frustration.

Am I going to just accept it and give in to a disappointment? Am I going to lash out and let my crazy come untucked? (Lordy, I sure hope not. Well, maybe for a minute — in private. It’s not pretty though. Like, really not a good look.) Am I going to listen and learn, and then get back to work? Am I going to press on until I figure it out? I sure hope so. And when I’m tempted to give up and pout, or jump haphazardly to something new to avoid accoutability, or blame someone else for my failure, I hope something or someone gently (or not — honesty and direct, constructive feedback is okay too) brings me back on track.

And if I do figure out that I’m not exactly to the place where I belong, I can change that, and find a new country road to travel. A wise, very Seussical person wrote, “You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself any direction you choose.” Which is a bit in and of itself, right?

Whew, we really have meandered down a country road or two here. As the song continues, “I should have been home yesterday…. yesterdaaaaaaay.” So let me round the curve toward home. The bottom line of this bit, for me today: I’m thankful for how I’ve grown more confident in the place where I belong, but I hope I’m never so complacent that I find myself going through the motions, spinning my wheels in place, stuck along a country road. And I hope I don’t let disappointments define me, and that I keep pushing myself, helping anyone else I can along the way. And now that song is stuck in your head, just like it is in mine. Just go with it, and maybe we’ll see you on our daydream tour.


From a recent trip down some country roads.

A Metaphorical Fever… Of the Cabin Persuasion

Maybe you’ve seen the “More Cowbell” Saturday Night Live skit with Christopher Walken and Will Ferrell — I’m paraphrasing, but I think the line goes something like, “I’ve got a fever, and the only prescription is More Cowbell.” Although it is one of the all-time great SNL skits, it’s not really the point of this bit. (For the record, if you haven’t seen it, you’re missing out. Catch the video here. You’re welcome.)

The fever part is really where I was headed, apologies for the sidebar. It’s a metaphorical fever though — cabin fever. Working from home for 5 weeks, with no end in sight, lends itself to moments of needing an escape. To be clear, I’m smack-dab in the middle of Gen X, a generation of independent 80’s kids well-prepared for marathon isolation from the outside world. My outgoing husband, on the other hand, reached stir-crazy WAY before I did. Even so, working to find our new normal in our home, with work spaces blending into dining and living spaces, has given us moments of both laughter and very real frustration. Probably just like you, a good share of the frustration is aimed at technology and the erring operators of said tech. You too?

Back to the escape. My aforementioned extroverted spouse has managed to find “essential errands” most every day of our “safer at home” situation, and many of them involve a trip to somewhere with a snack, or lunch, or groceries, or breakfast… or all of the above. Me? I’ve found my escape doesn’t have to be elaborate, brimming with cool new entertaining things to do, or an Insta-worthy photo op. Nope. It can be as simple as a walk around the neighborhood with my walking buddy, Buster Bear. Or a quick trip to pick up groceries, with maybe a short side trip down a newly discovered street I’ve never traveled. Like many of my sheltering at home comrades, I like that we’ve rediscovered simple things like patio time in the sunshine as I eat my PB&J for my lunch break, or maybe redbuds and dogwoods blooming in yards as I drive by, or perhaps doing yard work together. Wait — I might have gotten a little carried away in the moment on that last one.

Making time for those “clear my head” moments is every bit as effective as any other fever reducer, except maybe More Cowbell. More than that, I like that we’ve found a renewed tolerance for finding that balance in our lives. We’re making time to take care of ourselves and each other. A refreshing bit, if you ask me.



My walking buddy Buster Bear also appreciates simple pleasures, like a good nap. 🙂

Get Back On the Horse… Or Bike… Or Whatever

So it’s been a minute since my last blog post — actually 1.5MM minutes, give or take 20K. Man! That’s a lot of meg-a-bits rolling around in my head. Yes, I googled how many days that was. No, that’s not the point. Yes, I used a nerdy Excel sheet to calculate the number of minutes. No, that doesn’t count as using algebra from high school.

Not that I’ve thought of a new bit every day. We’ve had a lot of life happen in that time – new jobs, new home, new home state, new vehicles, new recipes, new friends – and that’s just the tip of the proverbial iceberg. Not that only the new things matter — we count ourselves highly fortunate to still have many of the same friends, the same caring family, each other and our dogs. Just the same, it’s time to get back on the horse, or bike, or Vespa, or whatever — and sharing whatever bits I have, in the form of new blogs.

In all the chaos of the last couple of years, I’ve missed the stretching of the creative writing muscles and mental calisthenics of creating these stories — these bits.

Going back to the old sayings my family dearly loves, it’s time to get back on the horse. Or bike. Or whatever. I think I like the bike metaphor because the last time I rode a horse, it was completely a time of getting back on a horse that threw my college roommate and me, landing us in the emergency room. Not that it wasn’t also a time of growing and learning – for instance, I learned that watching someone get stitches makes me queasy. Eek.

The bike metaphor evokes much happier memories, thinking back to my first bicycle — she was a BEAUTY. Second hand, bought at a garage sale, but I could not have cared less about that. She was red, white and blue, with a faded vinyl banana seat and super high, Orange County Chopper-style handlebars — totally all 70’s Easy Rider. There I was, a pint-sized squirt riding in style, big time. As I describe it now, I feel like it really probably looked more like the flamingo of bicycles — somewhat awkward and tomboyish, but I thought it was the coolest bike in the world – hands down, no contest.

I’m sure I fell down in the process of learning to ride, because my lack of coordination is legendary in my family. There’s my brother – the college football player; my sister – a high school cheerleader; and me – in all my nerdiness. That mattered zero to me, because I was six years old and gaining some neighborhood independence — if only I could master the two-wheeler in the driveway. I was determined to make it work, and I kept getting back on the bike — my dad trotting alongside me until I got the hang of it, yelling encouragement and coaching along the way. “Steady, keep pedaling! You’re doing it – hold the handlebars straight! You got it! You got it!”

I still remember the feeling of that first ride where I didn’t fall — you’re remembering your first solo ride now too, aren’t you? Do you remember that feeling? That giddiness? That feeling of focus and determination being rewarded with accomplishment?

We don’t get a ton of that in our adult lives, do we? It’s about finding the little moments that bring us joy, that feeling of accomplishment, or sharing a little bit of our personal journey to connect with those around us. No ground-breaking universal truths here — just getting back on the bike, so to speak. And enjoying the ride.


We worked in the backyard and on the deck this past weekend. Man, there is nothing like having friends over to inspire a little scrub-a-dub-dubbing. We want to put our best foot forward, don’t we? Or at least not have our friends concerned about whether they should call the DEQ about our living conditions, right? You can bet if your friends have to ask for a garbage bag to sit on their chair, they’re probably not coming back for dinner anytime soon.

So we set about sprucing up — raking and planting, planting & raking. Here a mulch, there a mulch, everywhere a mulch-mulch. I will say, for all of my gardening woes, there is a little bit of an adrenaline boost that comes from potting a few flowers, planting tomatoes (for Jimmy) and peppers, trimming the rosebushes and such. It appeals to our love for instant gratification… you know, going from drab to fab in a weekend.

Now, from the plants’ perspective, if they had feelings, ending up at my house would feel sort of like being sentenced to death row. They know the end is coming — the sun beating down on them in the middle of July, kind of like that chain gang scene from O Brother, Where Art Thou — just withering in the heat of a Mississippi summer. The lantanas might be drought-tolerant enough to tough it out, but I’ve given up on ferns and petunias… they can’t hang.

For many years after we moved into our house, we went through an annual exercise in gardening futility. My mother in law had a knack for plants, and she loved them. She loved the instant gratification, and all of the bright blooms and the different varieties – and so on. She’d drop by for a visit at some point in the spring and sigh wistfully at our empty front porch. It runs the length of the front of our house and seems to beg for hanging baskets with Boston ferns to decorate the spaces between the columns. She’d trot off to the garden center, returning with ferns for the porch and petunias for the flower bed – an Easter “happy” is what she’d call it. It seemed like a misnomer to me, but I went along with it. She’d hang them and stand back, proudly admiring the scene, asking if I liked them. And I did, I really did. But I knew what was coming. My relationship with the ferns every year started out all warm & fuzzy in April & May, me with my watering wand, and them drinking it in. Very kumbaya-ish. Then… July. Duhn-duhn-duhn. Suddenly it felt very adversarial, like a Jackie Chan movie.

Before I knew it, I had a fight to the death on my hands. It seemed that no matter what, I was destined to kill both the ferns and the petunias. It was only a matter of time before Jimmy’s mom dropped by and shook her head at me, with a “bless your heart” in her eyes. Everybody who’s ever lived in the South knows that look, and they know that “bless your heart” isn’t the sweet pat on the arm you at first think it is. And so I’d take the botanical walk of shame, carrying the brown, leafless baskets with fern stems more scraggly than a bad home perm. I’d tote them out to the curb for their final ride in the big green garbage truck, headed to the great compost pile in the sky, admitting another summer of defeat.

Oops – I got caught up in my sidebar there. Sorry.

Back to my pretty spring fresh deck… and the scrub-a-dub-dubbing. It was genuinely satisfying to sit down for a moment late in the afternoon, with the sun starting to set and us looking around at our handiwork — the fresh pots of marigolds, mosquito plants and lantanas scattered around in pretty pots, with my little herb garden and pepper plants freshly watered and ready to get busy growing. Maybe this is the year they make it all the way through the summer. Hope blooms anew, right?

Whaddup, little herbies?

We finished up and headed inside. I stood at the kitchen sink, scrubbing the dirt from under my fingernails as I looked out the window at the freshly scrubbed deck. It was stubborn, not rinsing away easily. I grabbed the dishwashing sponge, and with the scrubby side, I went to work in the crevices and around my cuticles. It took some elbow grease to come clean. Which brings me to my “bit” for today. The elbow grease, the effort – it’s hard work sometimes, but man, is it worth it. It’s evidence of the labor, how making something beautiful (of yourself, or in your yard) sometimes requires hard work and a lot of clean up afterwards. Whether my DIY project is on myself or in my yard, it’s sometimes messy – I have to be willing to get in there and get my hands dirty to make a difference. Those seasons of change are uncomfortable, and I often just want to get finished and get washed up. I want to tie things up in a neat little bow and be done. I don’t always get to choose though, and I get dirt under my nails occasionally. Thank goodness for literal and figurative scrubby-sided sponges. Yay.

Spring sprung!

I love this time of year! I mean, the first week of the time change is a KILLER, no argument there. The rest of the year, I usually spring out of bed pretty early… way before the alarm and before any of the other two or four-legged members of my family are ready for their feet to hit the floor.

That first week after the time change? The struggle is real. I’m barely functioning, with extra caffeine necessary to make the drive to work. Like, I wish for an extra hand so that I can double-fist a coffee and a diet soda and still have a hand for the steering wheel. YAAAAWWWWNNNN. And don’t kid yourself, I’m going to need a refill before my first meeting, just for good measure. It’s all fun & games until someone falls asleep at the conference table, am I right? I’m warning you now, one of your coworkers WILL take a picture of you asleep and post it on social media, Sleepy McSleeper.

There is a reward for that resetting of the internal clock though. It’s still DAYLIGHT when I drive home from work, which makes me giddy. I feel like I’ve gotten a bonus hour every evening, and I want to make it count! Who’s in for grilling? Want to tackle a box in the garage? (insert raised eyebrow and a “let’s don’t get crazy” look from spouse here)

Pollen aside, which can be really brutal in my part of the country, I love the bright green shoots on all of the trees and shrubs – everything coming alive. Oh, and the flowers! My own thumb is quite brown – really, really brown. It’s bad, y’all. But I have so much admiration for those who have that knack for plants, because I love the redbuds, and the dogwoods, and the azaleas! Oh my gosh, springtime is a feast for the eyes, which is a relief, because just looking at my now-yellow vehicle is enough to start an allergic waterfall puddling and running down my cheeks. As with everything, there is a flip side – a give & take. Get spectacular fuchsia pink azalea blooms or a stunning display of dogwood flowers — take the itchy, watery, runny eyes and nose for a few weeks. Hello, nose spray and decongestants! Welcome to our humble abode.


Love these beauties!


I guess the ‘bit’ I always think of when spring finally springs – it’s the newness, the fresh start, the feeling of a “do over” where I need it. For those of you who did your New Year’s reflection and restart – press on, friends. For those of you who chucked the resolutions on Day Two? (it’s rhetorical… you don’t actually have to raise your hand if you had chocolate cake for breakfast on January 3rd… not that I know anything about that personally… heard it from “a friend”…) There’s still hope for us. We just have to take the first step. And the next step. And the next step. Now that we’ve made it past the first few weeks of the time change, we can do that, right?

Okay, so take a deep breath and pause for a second. Try not to suck in a mouthful of pollen while you’re doing it. Because here’s our opportunity for a fresh start. I had the pleasure of a little “windshield time” traveling for work last week. Part of my drive took me along a two-lane scenic parkway, with limited choices on the radio and even more spotty cell reception. I was glad for the quiet time to enjoy the beauty around me and start thinking about the places where I’d like to fine-tune – the places where I have impressive intentions, but haven’t knocked the ball out of the park yet. For you, it might be a reset on the personal budget, now that you’ve done your tax returns. Or maybe taking a class or a certification for work? Or even scheduling your vacation before you miss out? I’m talking to you, worker bee friend who ends up losing vacation time you haven’t taken.


Springtime road show


Whatever it is, the time for a new bloom is right now! Branch out (pun intended – har-dee-har-har), and do what’s going to make you happy, or set you up for success down the road, or help you ditch the baggage you’re carrying around. You might even be able to cut back on the morning caffeine and still have a pep in your step. Maybe. Let’s don’t get crazy.

There’s no crying in baseball…

… or in business… or in life. I mean, there are times when it’s totally appropriate to shed a tear. The loss of a loved one, a heart-clutching hair band ballad from the 80’s or a tragic country song, a great movie ending – I get it. And like Truvy in Steel Magnolias, I sort of have an unwritten rule that no one cries alone in my presence. I may not have the answers, but I will almost always stand in solidarity, all teared up, when a loved one or friend is heartbroken or dealing with things that rock them to their core. I’ll offer a tissue (or a Shelton-esque hot beverage, for my fellow Big Bang Theory fans), and we’ll figure out together how to recover.

But I am my father’s daughter, so for myself, I’m more likely to keep my full-blown incoherent, grumbly pity parties under wraps if possible. Just like the hissy fits I mentioned in a previous post, I’m not a pretty crier when it all falls apart. It’s not a cute Reese Witherspoon/Legally Blonde kind of moment – more like something from The Exorcist. The crazy gets out sometimes, before I can tuck it back in. Apologies in advance – hide your children… I need a minute to bellyache.

And then? I want to get back on track. Walk it off. Rub some dirt on it. Stop the whining. It’s a coping mechanism, really. I think Jimmy thinks I’m a little bit of a weirdo when it comes to these situations. He’s ready to sit beside me and offer a shoulder to cry on, pat my leg and tell me it’s going to be okay. A great husband reaction, and bless him, that’s one of the things I love about him. But more often than not, I’d rather channel the frustration or pain into something useful. You know, more of a “suck it up, buttercup” kind of thing. I was going to say “beauty from ashes”, and there’s some of that in there too. But the buttercup and baseball are probably way more my style. Get on with it, onward & upward.


Earlier this week, I saw one of those funny top 10 lists on social media – I think it was things grown-ups have learned or something silly like that. You know, the “life’s not fair” kind of rules you don’t learn in school. It was ironically set to soothing music in the background, as if to soften the blows of these hard knocks. It talked about how your school may have done away with winners and losers, but life has not, and how TV isn’t life because in life, people actually have to leave the coffee shop and go to work. And do grown up things – like dealing with sadness and disappointments.

This text exchange between my dad and me this week sums it up.

Me: Deal didn’t go through. Moving to next option.

Dad: Gotcha! Wasn’t meant to be, I reckon.

Me: Yep. Exactly what I was thinking. Onward & upward. Still worth the effort for a lesson learned.

Now, if I had called in tears, without question, he would have listened and had some killer advice. And then he would have reminded me I’m not a quitter and told me it’s time to get back in there (wherever “there” is) and go at it again. And you know what? I’m grateful for that. I can so appreciate that it hasn’t always been easy for him, and he has always pressed on in spite of adversity. He taught me to do the same. He worked in mainframe computers, eventually running one of the top 3 largest data centers in our state – and did it all without a college degree. There’s no way he didn’t face naysayers, and probably had to run the old “fake it till you make it” game every once in a while. So if I muster up a little swagger about myself as I get back in there, all the better. Not cocky or entitled, but confident.

The disappointments, sadness and frustrations are always going to be there. I know I can’t always  control the things that happen, but I can always choose how I respond. In fact, that may be the ONLY thing I can control sometimes. So when I miss my cut-off man, or don’t get the recognition I was hoping for, or am facing uncertainty, it’s going to be okay. It’s ALWAYS going to work out in the long run, one way or another. Is it always going to go my way? Nope, it sure isn’t – I’m not always going to get the trophy. But there’s no crying in baseball. And I’m fine with that, coach.

Take What You Can Get

I often find myself at community events, expos and all kinds of fun events interacting with the public – sometimes through my work, sometimes it’s with one of the organizations where I volunteer. Maybe I’m just a spectator. Even as many times as I’ve gone to these events, and despite my saying I won’t be surprised at anything… I usually am. Sometimes, even when I think I’ve seen it all, I’m surprised by the mish-mash of people I see at these events. The people watching isn’t quite as good as what you find at an airport – that’s a blog post for another day soon – but it’s still pretty interesting, and one of the things I really get a kick out of. I love the observation almost as much as actually talking with people to hear their stories.

Depending on the event, you may have anything from moms and kids, business attendees picking up a stress ball, retirees replenishing their personal stashes of pens, note pads, key chains and such. There’s sometimes the student crowd who are there for extra points in some class AND to snag a power bank or car charger if they find one, assuming they haven’t been cleaned out by the previous groups. I really do appreciate when community members support these events – it sure makes the day more interesting.

As my grandfather said, it takes all kinds to make the world go ’round, and you can find a lot of those kinds at these community events. Depending on the purpose of the event, you might find fun costumes (our city does a completely delightful caterpillar parade to celebrate spring, and you are likely to find butterflies and all sorts of costumes… awesome), politicians stumping with speeches (GREAT people watching), people passing out the aforementioned goodies, and people “trick or treating” for said goodies – just there to take whatever they can get.

The takers/getters intrigue me; they may or may not even WANT the items they’re grabbing, but they snag whatever is available for the taking. My mind wanders as I’m watching this go down: is this what they do in other areas of their lives? Or are they giddy and caught up in the euphoria of the goodies? Perhaps they’ve discovered the answers to life’s great questions lie in a nifty stylus pen or a funeral home fan with just enough firmness to not flip & flop as they furiously wave it? I’ll grant you this from personal experience – at summer events across the Deep South, a good funeral home fan is the answer to at least one of life’s great questions…can I create enough of a breeze so that I don’t pass out of heat exhaustion before I get to my car and turn the A/C on MAX? (and the answer is just barely)

I guess the personal growth nugget for me here is that watching the “getters” is sort of a metaphor for life, in a weird way. They are so busy “getting” that they are never satisfied with what they got, because they’ve already moved on to the next “get.” There’s not time to enjoy the squishy stress ball because the next shiny object is already in view at the next booth. Oooooh, I need to get that pack of tomato seeds – check. Free bottle of water – check, and can I get an extra?

Sidebar: let me offer a little color on the tomato seeds. Anyone who knows me knows I LOATHE the mushy wretchedness of a tomato. Blech. So if I picked up your tomato seeds, I am 100% in “getter” mode… or I wasn’t wearing my reading glasses, and I totally think I picked up something else. Boy, am I going to be surprised when I get home – and NOT in a good way. My nose is wrinkled as I type this – just thinking about them grosses me out!

Okay, back to my bits, here. I hope I’m at least cultivating an attitude of contentment and gratitude along with those tomatoes. Otherwise, the frenzied hunting & gathering leaves no time to appreciate the fruits of the labor. It’s always about the next “get,” valuable or not. Sort of a twisted keeping score where whomever collects the most trinkets wins, even if sometimes they ultimately don’t.

Don’t get me wrong – it’s not that I think drive and ambition are bad things. They’re not. I hope I achieve some measure of balance in the grand scheme of things. Because, when the “getting” is over and I’ve made it home with 2 bottles of water, a pack of tomato seeds and 3 notepads from the local banks and realtors, did I just take what was there to get? Or did I also take time to gather and get what I really needed from the day – which, honestly, often has more to do with the interesting people than their things.

One man’s trash

One of the people living at my house has been labeled a tosser… and one of us is definitely not a tosser, by any definition. It’s one of those point-counterpoint things, I guess. I mean, I don’t think the keeper has crossed into hoarder territory. Flirted with it, maybe. And let me just clear up any confusion on who’s who… I am not the keeper. Except for Jimmy. Definitely keeping him. The rest of the stuff? Totally negotiable. In fact, I sometimes look at all of the “goodies” we have hanging around, and it’s enough to make my eyes twitch. The stacks and piles and what-not… it treads all over my last nerve.

I mean, I guess it’s at least remotely possible we might someday need to walk the length of a room two feet off the ground and might, therefore, actually have a reason to simultaneously use all 8 step stools and ladders we’ve acquired over the years, all at one time. Maybe?

Or maybe we’ll just up and host a city-wide block party someday and need even that leaky cooler with the cracked top… don’t get rid of that!

I kid, mostly. You can take one look at our garage and tell that I don’t always win. Sing it with me now: Five garden rakes, four pop-up tents, three Christmas soldiers, two grandfather clocks… and a partridge in a pear tree (we don’t really have a partridge, or a pear tree, but hey, it fit). Some things are sentimental and we hang onto them because they were important to someone we love, like my mom’s senior yearbook or the flashlights and American flags Jimmy’s dad loved. All of them. All. Of. Them.

Then there is the group of things we’re keeping because they’re “still good.” Dear me, Mr. Beans! My theory: if the items in question are still good, let them go in peace & be good for someone else, somewhere else. If we replaced the doorknobs and switch plate covers in the house, we don’t need a spare set, do we? That’s not generally something where the average Joe keeps a spare. There’s no way that makes the Family Feud board of things people save “just in case.” And even if we do save them, will we remember where we put them? The answer is a solid no to all of that, by the way.

And while we’re at it, I don’t have the space or the patience to house the 10 pound container of Miracle-Gro from Y2K anymore. My un-green thumb adventures are near-legendary. I don’t need a giant bucket of fertilizer mocking me too.

Mind you, the purging bug doesn’t always strike me either.. For you keepers, I can see how it sometimes feels like way too many decisions, on top of all of the other decisions we have to make all day, for sure. What am I going to wear? What about my hair? And shoes? Who’s going to get the dogs to the vet to get their toenails trimmed? And what’s for supper?

Eeee-gads, as my Gram would say… the supper question. If we could have a supper fairy, I would be SUCH a happy camper. Actually, I don’t mind the cooking of the supper, it’s the decision… or rather, indecision. We do fine making big decisions all day long. And then we get home and have to decide on the last meal of the day. And that’s where we hit a wall.

So, apparently, what we really need is a supper DECIDING fairy. A darling little pixie to head off this fruitless conversation. Maybe instead of a Tinkerbell wand, she has a spinner app on her tiny little tablet, because otherwise, it sounds like this at our house:

What about a salad? Mehhh.

How about spaghetti? I don’t know…

Chicken on the grill? Nah, not feeling it.

Annnnnddd… we’re back to takeout.

With a side order of boxes still hanging around in the garage. You know, the dollar store holiday dĂ©cor with an expiring statute of limitations – finally approaching the point where nobody remembers they’re from our first Christmas, when we didn’t care that Santa was a closeout. Well, dang – now *I’m* getting sentimental. Looks like that box gets to stay with us a little longer.