Saturday, December 31, 2016

Is this Us?

Who doesn’t enjoy a quick, convenient meal? Since cooking isn’t my favorite thing to do, I’m not opposed to scooping up a sandwich, pizza or a rotisserie chicken for dinner. Of course, they’re usually less healthy than homemade foods, but that’s the price we pay for convenience. Since everyone likes time-saving strategies, how about trying this:


It’s hard to digest the idea of mixing food and dirty water, but at least no one had to wash a pot or pan, and when dinner is done, everything goes back into the dishwasher. Cooking a meal like that for friends requires a lot of jars, and could produce undesirable flavors if the lids aren’t tight. But then, short-cuts require sacrifices. When life feels overwhelming or too complicated, we resort to questionable quick fixes involving medicines, relationships, and other distractions, which can be recipes for disaster. What better, long-term do solutions do you suggest?

Saturday, December 24, 2016

Outside the Gift Box  

After all the hustle and bustle of the season, it’s time for the most relaxing part—gift wrapping. Let your creativity soar by matching paper and bows, name tags and ribbons, or not. I’ve seen at least one person wrap gifts in newspaper. Once you’ve shelled out the money for gifts, free newspaper or brown paper bags for wrapping gifts fit right into the shopping budget. And for those of us too pooped to wrap, we can always replace wrapping with those amazing, decorated gift bags.

The worse part of wrapping is tackling the awkward, oddly shaped item that reveals itself as soon as the recipient spots it. There’s no way to disguise those gifts. If you’re giving a car this year, don’t bother wrapping it, settle for the traditional, oversized bow. And if you’re wrapping something like this, just do your best:  


 On Facebook, someone posted a message that mentioned how every year their Christmas list gets shorter because they want more and more things that money can’t buy. What’s the gift you want for someone that could never be wrapped?     

Saturday, December 17, 2016

All We Want After Christmas

I had planned to get the Christmas tree up early—that didn’t happen. In fact, one week before Christmas and it’s just going up. It doesn't matter because I’m going to enjoy every minute. Few things are as festive as a brightly-lit tree bedazzled with new sparkling ornaments and older hand-made ones to bring out the joy of the season. The question is: why? Why do we decorate trees in our homes anyhow?

The Christmas tree has a bumpy history. At one point people shunned them, but began embracing them after cultural traditions changed. Over time, the type of tree and the decorations varied to reflect our personalities. What does this say about you?

Think about how a decorated Christmas tree in our house makes us feel. After Christmas,
how can you continue feeling that special joy?

Saturday, December 10, 2016

Rectify Now

During this time of the year people tend to live at the ends of the holiday spectrum. They’re either wanting to relish and relive the past or wishing they could erase it. They’re remembering life’s best moments or days they would rather forget. In both cases the past is over, the present is where we live, and the future is a plan in the works, full of dreams to attain. But, if you think we’ll always lack the ability to control time, think again.


 Slowly, scientists inch closer to altering the reality we think we know. Countless movies demonstrate the danger of tinkering with past and how it alters multi-dimensional aspects of the future. Before scientists learn to tackle time travel, we already have the capacity to impact the future. What can you do to begin demolishing today’s fears about your tomorrows?

Saturday, December 3, 2016

Watching Your Back

If I’m sitting at our kitchen table, I try to watch my back and that’s not out of paranoia, but because our cat uses the opportunity to grab my attention with a friendly tap. Sometimes it’s a gentle, one-pawed tap that seems to say, “Hey, I’m here! Remember me?” Other times she uses a forceful, two-pawed push that causes me to think somebody’s not happy. A shoulder tap usually means someone wants something from us. The trick is to decode the request and decide whether we’re willing to respond. What’s the request here?


 I discovered other cats give taps, but this video takes pet interaction to new heights. Apparently, it’s a nightly habit—one I would discourage. What’s this creature’s message to its owner anyhow? Who’s been tapping you on the shoulder and what their message to you?   

Saturday, November 26, 2016

The Person of Interest


Your physical appearance impacts your personality for bad or for good. For instance, a tall person might develop a strong level of confidence, walking around towering over people. The same circumstance might cause another person to be shy, hunching over to blend in. Physical attributes may dictate who we become, but so many other factors guide us in becoming our best version of ourselves. Listen to what this guy learned:


We limit our potential by overemphasizing how we’re built, where we live, and how the outside world responds to us. Once we’re determined to be our best selves, we’ll find ways to make that happen. We’ll attract supportive friends, find positive environments to shape us, and develop habits and lifestyles to help us to reach our goal. Despite the obstacles in life, good choices allow us to push forward. What’s the biggest thing that will keep you on the journey to becoming your best self?         

Saturday, November 19, 2016

Sounds Unreal  

During the past two months, I’ve witnessed five serious health events in our family. Thankfully, none of them took a turn for the worst. In fact, we ended up with good outcomes, which felt as though we were experiencing five separate, tangible miracles. Miracles are kind of like the wind: you don’t physically see the force behind them, but the results shout that something unusual happened. Watch this out of the ordinary story:


Imagine how life would change if scientists discovered a way to pass Brooke’s miracle on to us. I wonder how many people would complain about being stuck looking like a teen, a forty-two-year-old, or a sixty-seven-year old. Wishing for that kind of miracle sounds intriguing until we’re faced with the pros and cons. Let’s push the limits. If you had the opportunity to live forever, why would you or why wouldn’t you take it?

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Saturday, November 12, 2016

The Clean Up Campaign  

Another week has passed and you know what that means. Everything you cleaned last week—your bedroom, your vehicle, eating areas, the bathroom—is dirty again. I don’t mind cleaning, it’s the awful repetition that drives me bonkers, and what’s worse is when you get something all shiny only to find it messy minutes later. As soon as someone invents a gadget that sucks dust from a room, I’ll be the first to buy it.    

Regardless of whether we’re cleaning the house or cleaning up irritating habits, thorough cleaning takes time and work. Here’s where housecleaning and habits merge:


 When we’re faced with serious situations that call for major cleaning, sometimes it’s best to rely on a certain level of expertise. Who helps you clean up your toughest situations?

Saturday, November 5, 2016

What’s the Backstory?

Not long ago there was a story about a lady finding a spider in a blueberry. I had a hard time imagining a bug tunneling into a fruit that small until this week when we bought the largest blueberries I’ve ever seen. I could easily imagine an insect getting comfortable inside our gigantic berries, and of course, I had to check them carefully to avoid any surprises. Since we’re mentioning massive fruit, let’s check out the massive creatures who might enjoy it. Watch this:


 That’s the stuff of nightmares. Dig into nature, and you never know what unusual creatures you’ll find. The natural world is bursting with variety and so much to explore. A quick internet search identified a handful of different kinds of commonly grown blueberries and over twelve hundred bat species. In the comments section, talk about why you think there are so many types of plants and mammals living side by side. 

Saturday, October 29, 2016

Where the Wind Blows

Today feels like October. It’s a blustery day as Winnie-the-Pooh would say. I’m amazed at how the wind can be a gentle breeze or whip up into a whirling tornado. Recently weather experts found that wind bursts from clouds may be blasting into the ocean creating massive waves in the Bermuda Triangle area. Here’s the full scoop:


 News outlets ran with the story and reported that the mystery of the Bermuda Triangle had finally been solved after years of ship and plane disappearances in the area. But, the expert who initiated the wind burst theory denied setting out to solve the Bermuda Triangle mystery. In fact, he never made a connection between the mysterious disappearances and the wind bursts he discovered. So, the mystery remains unsolved and the research continues. You’d think that, given our technology and smarts, we would know the answers to certain things by now. What kind of mystery can you explain?

Saturday, October 22, 2016

A Friend to the End?

Our family dealt with a malfunctioning cell phone this week. You know it feels awful to leave your phone at home—double that feeling when it’s broken. It’s only when we can’t use our phones that we realize how often we rely on them for music, weather, games, videos, and whichever version of the truth we want to read. Some of us even have Siri, a customizable friend who spits out snappy comebacks to outrageous questions. Cell phones fill so many needs, it’s no wonder we develop phone addictions. Watch how several people react to a phone challenge:


The video’s funny, but it’s not intended to endorse a product. Consider the challenge. Could you pass it? Track the amount of time you spend on your phone. Is your cell phone your everything, and if not, what is?  

Friday, October 14, 2016

Where’s Home?

They say you can’t go home again. Our family still owns and rents  my childhood home. During the past thirty years, I’ve visited about three times and had an opportunity to roam the rooms again this week. It still amazes me how small everything looks compared to how I thought of it as a child.

                                      This is me in our kitchen at around age 6. 

While touring my former home, I recalled the places where our furniture sat, where my chalkboard stood when I played school, the heating vent I huddled beside after an afternoon of playing in the snow, and the dining room alcove where I played receptionist, taking phone messages for the family. I guess I had an active imagination, and so does this guy:    



It's funny how we see things as adults compared to when we were children. This week, I saw that the flooring, paint, and wallpaper I grew up with had disappeared, but the fireplace, iron railing, and built-in kitchen counter remained. My childhood house will never look exactly like my old home, but my feelings about it are the same. When you think of your home, what comes to mind?     

Friday, October 7, 2016

The Path to Peace

 After pulling a solitary stick of gum from its package, I heard a young person sigh and say, “Last piece of happiness.”  If happiness came in a stick of gum, we’d grab onto it and never let go. How different life would be if we only needed a simple stick of gum to make us happy. Some people think happiness is just that easy to obtain. Take a look:


Searching for what makes us happy sometimes leads to everything except happiness. So many people want the easiest path. As the rate of heroine usage climbs, we see the problems with quick-fix tactics. Closing the door on short-term fixes forces us to focus time and money in healthier experiences that bring long-term contentment. They say happiness is fleeting, but joy is eternal. What are you willing to invest in to gain long-term peace and joy?

Saturday, October 1, 2016

Perfect Perspective

Ever notice how gloomy days affect our moods? Since the weather forecast calls for a few more days of rain, we’ll may see a lot more frowns this weekend, and the early setting sun might mean gloomy faces for the next six months. Even if the weather outside is frightful, we know it’s not likely to get this bad:


As cooler weather moves in, let’s look forward to steamy bowls of chili, mugs of sweet hot chocolate, and evenings huddled around a fireplace. We’ll make the most our gloomy skies. Everything depends on perspective, for instance, despite reports of terrorism and the divisive political climate, what’s the good news?       

Friday, September 23, 2016

Can’t Stop the Feeling

This is exciting. What a night to be alive. That comment came from a young relative celebrating the Survivor season premiere and the Big Brother finale airing on the same evening. Although I enjoy the shows, I can think of at least several more exciting scenarios. I’m sure you can, too. Maybe they include one of these suggestions: 


 A castle, a digger, a dragon… The wish lists go on and on. Christmas is still a couple of months away, so I hesitate to mention it so early, but there’s no time like the present to begin thinking about how to make the season extra special. Your giving doesn’t have to be limited to friends and family, offering charitable assistance to any one of the many organizations that do good work will cause you to celebrate simply because you’re healthy and alive. What type of charitable organization would you consider supporting?   

Saturday, September 10, 2016

Person of Interest

There’s something about a neat space that creates a sense of serenity in me. I wonder if that’s true for people who can sit among scattered papers and cluttered-filled areas. Maybe they’re comfortable surrounded by a mass of stuff. I’m okay with some clutter as long as it’s arranged or stacked, but every so often it’s time to fill up the trash bags and toss things out. I can stand so much ‘til I can’t stands no more (a la Popeye). They say creative types work well in messy spaces, and at least several times a year someone publishes a study to try and prove that theory. Whether you’re neat or messy, this video has something to say about you. Have a listen:


Neat or messy, both sides earned points, and except for the comment about being boring, it’s okay to be either one. The degree to which you’re neat or messy depends on the measuring stick you use. So, are you neat or messy and who are you measuring yourself against?   

Saturday, September 3, 2016

On a Renovation Ride

It feels like it’s Gas Station Renovation month since at least two main stations in our area decided to improve their facilities. They’re still selling gas, so we’re not in crisis mode yet as long as we can figure out how to navigate around the orange construction cones to reach the pumps.  

Maybe you’d like to renovate a room to prepare for guests arriving during the holiday season. We appreciate home renovations, but some turn ugly when we dive in alone or too fast. Take a look:


Since no one cheered, I suspect the big drop probably wasn’t part of the plan. There’s nothing wrong with asking for help or bringing in a more experienced person who might have used a different technique. If you’ve got a lifestyle change in mind, whose help will you request to help you make that renovation?

Friday, August 26, 2016

Avoid the Burn

Sadly, this is the time of year when things die. It sounds morbid, but it’s true. In June, everything is beautiful, green and healthy. By August, the lack of water coupled with a series of ninety degree temperatures leaves our lawn riddled with burnt spots. In a few weeks, the leaves will turn vivid reds and oranges, and what happens next? Brown crunchy leaves will litter the ground, forcing us to dig out the rakes and leaf bags. Maybe there’s a way to bring the greenery back. Take a look:


The grass looks green from afar, but of course it comes with a cost. There are other ways to revive a lawn, and each one takes time, patience, money, or all three. Maybe we’re not willing to put that much care into our lawns, but what about relationships? Which one of your relationships needs watering?

Saturday, August 20, 2016

Missing the Catastrophe

We’re in a bubble. I can’t recall the number of times weather forecasters predicted storms and while we watched dark clouds roll in, increased winds, and thunder, no rain came. I’m not complaining, though. It feels good to have a covering, a protective bubble shielding us from the storms. My heart goes out to people in areas damaged by natural disasters. Scientists agree that the overall level of protection we enjoy is amazing. Take a look:  


Regardless of the tornadoes, floods, and fires that surround us, we’re still alive, and often uninformed about the bigger catastrophes that bypassed us. In short, things can always be worse than what we’re going through. How were you spared from an awful situation?     

Friday, August 12, 2016

Oh No! Here It Comes

You haven’t been annoyed until you’ve had to stop on a particular road in our town. See, we have a slew of railroad tracks stretching across our community, but there’s one special track spot you want to avoid. Here’s what happens: You’re zipping along on a sunny summer day with the car windows rolled down. Suddenly, you hear the ding-ding of the warning bell and see the red flashing lights signaling an oncoming train. Of course, you stop the car as the train rumbles down the track. Lo and behold, it’s not any ole train. No, it’s a freight train; the kind of train that transports massive boxes of cereal, soaps, and soup. You shrug and figure you won’t be there long. Wrong!

The train will slowly lumber by while vehicles line up behind you. When the train pauses, you sigh and wonder how much longer you’ll be there. You wait and wait and wait. About the time you consider making a U-turn, the train begins moving again—only it goes backwards, retracing its tracks. And so, you wait and watch the railroad cars you just saw heading right, go left as they lumber back in the opposite direction.  

Unfortunately, I’ve lived through that train crossing at least three times. In fact, to my horror, we approached it this week. The bell rang, the lights flashed, and if the conductor had looked my way, he would have spotted me doing the famous Home Alone face. But, this time was different because within a minute the freight train was gone. Annoying, but not the usual horrifying time. Sometimes, we just have to grin and bear it. Speaking of bearing it, I betcha can’t watch this entire video:


Are you screaming yet? Don’t buy a house in that community. When you’re especially annoyed, what keeps you from resorting to the Home Alone face?

Don't forget to follow this blog by clicking on the right hand side box, alongside the video.  

Saturday, August 6, 2016

Waiting for Cold Water

The waters at Hilton Head beach felt as warm as ocean temperatures should ever get. In fact, it’s difficult to imagine a more comfortable time in the water, but I wonder if the aquatic life felt the same way. Placed on a spectrum, ocean waters will feel cold, cool or warm, and looking at whatever skews toward the end of the spectrum is always interesting, like this:

Although standing knee-deep in ultra-warm water with the sound of waves lapping the shore is enough to lull me into dreamland, it’s not an ideal sleeping situation. Some things feel good, but are bad for us while things that we don’t enjoy may be highly beneficial. It takes courage to admit that we’re in a negative space. When have you disliked where you were and what helped you move past it?              

Saturday, July 30, 2016

The Fruit of the Matter

We’ve had an unspectacular season for fruit, so imagine my surprise when I picked up the juiciest plum of the year. After one bite, juice ricocheted off the paper towel and splashed all over my shoulder. How does that happen? When it comes to fruit, you never know what you’ll get. Have a look:


There’s an artistic quality to this science experiment, but the Frankenstein nature of it overwhelms its beauty. Someone once said you’ll know a person by their fruits, meaning you’ll understand who they are based on their character and actions. Unlike Prof. Sam’s project, it’s natural for us to be multi-faceted. But if you had to squeeze the core of your character into one sentence, what would you say?   

Saturday, July 23, 2016

In the Middle of It

The calendar says we’re at or beyond summer vacation’s half-way point. This is the perfect season to add balance back into our lives by relaxing, taking up new activities, or enrolling in classes and learning something new. Summer is the time to push forward and shore up areas we’ve neglected. You’ll be fascinated by how people spend their summers, Take a look:   

The father who spoke probably has kids who thought they’d spend the summer playing Paintball and Capture the Flag, as you can see, camp counselors had other activities in mind. Fun, combined with purposeful activity, keeps us moving in the right direction. Our bodies crave balance and we can feel off-kilter when we forget to nourish our minds, bodies, and souls. Now’s a great time to reassess our sense of wholeness. What do you do to stay centered?      

Thursday, July 14, 2016

When the Floods Come

Let’s call this season the Summer of the Deluge. We used to feel a few drops of rain and have  time to run for cover, but things have changed. This year, after a few drops fall, you think you have plenty of time to make it to take safety and then—bam! You’re drenched! Pair that with the constant stream of weather stories about massive flooding and it feels like we should be preparing for the next massive flood. Although this guy’s not expecting a second epic water catastrophe, he replicated the perfect structure to hide in. Take a look:  

Imagine two million people adding this tourist attraction to their bucket lists. Maybe the builder nailed the dimensions, but is the structure seaworthy? In tough times, certain people, places, and things may feel like solutions to our problems, but how well do they actually work? Where do you run when life feels overwhelming?      

Friday, July 8, 2016

Unsteady But Still Standing

After hearing my complaints about how the face of my watch twisted and how my cell phone flips to weather forecasts for places I’ve visited instead of where I am, someone suggested that I might be an alien. I’m not convinced that’s the reason for what’s happening because topsy-turvy things are happening elsewhere, too. Take a look:


In one study, published in Nature World News, scientists discovered that the disappearance of "informed elder" fish disrupted the group’s regular migration route. Their absence left the group unschooled. A surprising finding, and yet, not really. Traditionally, we’ve looked to our knowledgeable elders to do the mentoring, but what happens when they don’t or can’t? Sometimes, it feels like we’re poised at a crossroad. Despite terrorism, Brexit, and social unrest, what assures you that all’s well?    

Saturday, July 2, 2016

Beauty During the Storm

I don’t like the beach. Maybe I’m overdramatizing my dislike for the annoying sand that invades every nook and cranny. After a trip to the shore, you’ll find sand in your car, tucked into the fibers of your swim suit, and lurking in the bottom of your beach bag. It takes forever to clean up.

But during a recent vacation, I spent a surprisingly pleasant day at Daytona Beach. When a storm blew in, I marveled at how the angry, slate-colored sky met the placid, green water at the horizon. When the downpour drenched our swimsuits, we scurried to safety beneath a bridge until the storm passed, and within minutes, we were back in the ocean.

The water was my silver lining. Normally, the ocean offers an unending series of waves, and with the approaching storm, I expected rough surfs. On this particular afternoon, the water was calm and clear enough to see the little fish that occasionally leaped into the air. If you look closely, you’ll spot the silver lining in most situations, like this one:  

Although the news bombards us with videos and updates on the latest horrors from here and abroad, even Anne Frank learned not to think of all the misery, but of the beauty that still remained. If she could focus on beauty, we can, too. In these turbulent times, what’s your silver lining?

Saturday, June 25, 2016

Stranger Things

While vacationing in Orlando, in addition to the warm weather, we experienced a series of unexpected events. For instance, somehow during our association with aliens and crossing the time-space continuum on Universal’s Men in Black ride, my watch went haywire. Initially, it lost an hour and after a second check, the whole face had shifted a half inch to the right.

I’ve worn watches on roller-coaster rides, in lightning storms, and in one hundred degree temperatures, but the watch never changed in appearance or altered time. Maybe Universal’s ride is actually a disguise for this type of research:

Do you believe? Whenever a scientist tosses around Einstein’s name, our ears perk up and the discussion gains instant credibility. If time travel to the future is possible one day, what do you anticipate seeing?     

Friday, June 17, 2016

What are the Chances?

After entering the restroom, I closed the door and glanced down to see a huge centipede trapped half-way in the door jamb. Seconds later, it wriggled free and crawled away, leaving several legs behind. Moral of the story: Always close the bathroom door.

But seriously, think about it. What are the chances that, at the perfect moment, a bug would slip into the restroom in time to get smushed in the doorway? If that doesn’t amaze you, listen to this:

I can’t confirm the veracity of those stories, but they make you wonder and consider   changing your name to “Hugh Williams.” Timing is everything! I don’t believe in coincidences, but I do believe everything has a backstory or an afterstory (a made-up word), even when we don’t completely understand how the pieces fit together.  When have you witnessed a time when two events miraculously coincided?       

Thursday, June 9, 2016

Damage Control

What intrigues us about seeing animals wearing clothes? Maybe it’s because they look so darn cute, and yet, so wrong. It’s those two conflicting thoughts that keep our eyes glued on cats in dresses and dogs in pants. Animals dressed in clothes usually look uncomfortable and confined from living the way they were born to live. See how this makes you feel:


As you saw, no smiles there. The pictures were surprising, amusing, and sad, all at the same time. Don’t ask me how they got the elephant to do that, it probably took a patient seamstress with lots of thread. It looked, and probably felt, awkward.  What persona have you ever worn, knowing it conflicted with your true self?

Saturday, June 4, 2016

Password to Paradise

Mistyped passwords cause problems. This week, after trying to access one of our family accounts, I just couldn’t open it. For some reason, my husband opened it on the first or second attempts. Once I finally got the password working, my family offered to celebrate my “big accomplishment” with a special dinner. They’re funny people. Maybe I should have saved time by changing the password and keeping it undercover for a few days.     

Whenever you start a new account, you need to create a fresh password—unless you commit the big security no-no by using the same code for everything. Regardless of the codes we enter, if we don’t know the right password, we’re in big trouble. Watch how they affect us:

The guy outlined several of our most frustrating password challenges. If you could create the perfect password to access joy and happiness, what would it look like?

Friday, May 27, 2016

Hot! Just Like Fire

It appears our wet spring might morph into a scorching summer. We longed for summer weather and here it is, but some folks are already complaining about it. “Too hot, too hot,” they groan, and the humidity hasn’t even kicked in. Some people believe the temperature’s perfect because, for them, it can never be too warm. Personally, I prefer the milder spring and fall temperatures when there’s no sweating or freezing. At least we don’t have to deal with this kind of forecast: 
Just another day at work. He acted as though the situation was all part of the plan and kept going. We should, too instead of allowing unexpected snafus to detour us from the hot pursuit of our goals. Let’s borrow the letter carrier’s motto, “Neither rain, nor sleet, nor gloom of night stays these couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds,” and change it to neither sun, nor humidity, nor heat of day keeps a persistent person from their appointed purpose. Now for the big question: What is your passionate purpose? 

Saturday, May 21, 2016

More Than a Survivor

Survivor’s season finale aired this week. After watching several episodes, I understand why the show draws large audiences. Beside the exotic locations, the competition, the health challenges, and the gamesmanship, each episode showcases regular people striving to complete extraordinary tasks. Fans relate to the show because the cast, on one level or another, reflects our struggles. Whether it’s at school, work, home, or with family and friends, we’re navigating obstacles and managing responsibilities that shape our views of who we are and what we can do. Watch how these workers let attitude drive outcome:

We don’t have to be confined to a secluded island to find out how far we can push ourselves or unleash our best selves. Life offers that opportunity every day. What’s the one thing that will help you to not just survive, but thrive?  

Saturday, May 14, 2016

One Step Away

The last place you’d expect to fine adorable wildlife is at the mall—the mall parking, to be exact. Earlier this week while exiting the lot, I spotted a trail of birds, a family of about five geese, tottering along the side of the road. An adult goose let the pack, three little ones followed and—here’s what surprised me—another adult brought up the rear. That’s a big job. Those babies weren’t disappearing without the parent goose realizing it, yet every spring the news covers stories of baby geese falling into holes, setting off elaborate rescue missions. Here’s what happens when someone’s watching over you:  

 It feels good having someone watch your back. Who’s watching yours?          

Saturday, May 7, 2016

A Lil’ Bit of You

If you’re like many people, you love emojis. If you’re a serious fan, you created one resembling you that’s sitting in your phone, waiting to enrich your texts. I had planned to make one until the app asked to access to my phone’s contents, and since I’m not sure why it needs that information, I passed up my bitmoji opportunity. Fortunately, friends text me their cute creations. Apparently, they feel weird about “people” borrowing them, even with their permission. I admit their bitmojis’ skin color, features, hair and clothes don’t reflect me, but they still have two eyes, one nose, and a mouth— that’s enough of a resemblance for me. After all, they say imitation is the sincerest form of flattery—or is it?

It’s frustrating when someone assumes your identity. I decided bitmojis should only represent the person who created them. You’ve heard that a picture is worth a thousand words. Well, not always. We’ll need much more than a cartoon figure to reflect our traits, values, and preferences. What three words capture the full essence of you?        

Friday, April 29, 2016

Costly and Cheap Thrills

Some of the places we visit will either thrill us or chill us. In Baltimore last week, I enjoyed roaming along the Harbor, visiting shops and people-watching. Like any touristy spot featuring food and entertainment, there were a few interesting sights. I was slightly surprised to see the Cat in the Hat holding an umbrella over his head (it wasn’t raining), maneuvering through the crowds like a cat on a mission. But, even more shocking was the man walking a dog—and an alpaca. With no petting zoo in sight, I didn’t expect to see a fluffy alpaca strolling down the city street, looking like a person dressed in a costume. There’s no guessing what we’ll find once we leave home. Check out these urban surprises:

And I thought it was weird seeing an alpaca on the street. Before you consider visiting this area, be familiar with how to stay safe. Public displays of affection, immodest clothing, swearing, and riding in a car with unrelated members of the opposite gender can cost you jail time. Everything that looks spectacular isn’t always the safest, especially if you enjoy your freedom. What are you considering giving up because the thrill costs too much?

Friday, April 22, 2016

There’s More to This

This may come as a bit of a surprise, but I’ve written several picture book manuscripts. One that I recently modified has rhymes and rhythms and specific numbers of beats. After my critique group offered a few areas to edit, I labored over the changes. Which new words could ever replace to the ones I had chosen? They fit perfectly. Of course, given the enormous number of words and ways to rephrase them, there is more than one perfect way to write a story. Here’s a guy who might agree:

Another video on the same story stated that the young man is an orphan who lived with friends. But, his detour worked out since he has a new job, strangers have stepped forward to offer a year’s worth of bus tickets, other people have offered him an apartment, and a cell phone. They say when life gives you lemons, make lemonade. If you’re facing a rough patch in life, don’t give up. Just because life’s not going the way we expect, doesn’t mean it won’t turn out well. A wonderful detour may be waiting around the corner. What helps you to navigate life’s surprising detours?   

Friday, April 15, 2016

Stressed Out?

Since experts recommend we minimize our stress levels and treat ourselves to something special once in a while, I obeyed their advice and ordered a piece of jewelry through an Avon-like home-based business. When I held up my arm to display the bracelet, one of the kids asked if I burned myself again. Well, that spoke volumes. First of all, that only happened once. Okay, maybe twice as I rushed to slide food into the oven. Take my advice, that’s not the time to rush. Mistakes happen when we rush. Sometimes they’re painful results that last a brief time, and other times the consequences stick with us like a scar. In either situation, we experience this: 

He said a mouthful. Have you ever been on the road and spotted the driver who tailgates and weaves through traffic like a bully? Invariably, that car ends up at the light alongside everyone else. There’s a lesson there. Most of our rushing causes unnecessary stress, making an awful impact on our mental and physical health. If you’re tired of rushing from point A to point B, what will you do to live stress-free?     

Friday, April 8, 2016

Out of Control

Is there a month-long April Fool’s joke going on? It is officially spring; the daffodils are blooming, the rabbits are hopping, but the weather’s not reflecting the season. When snow flurries landed on our car this week, I told one of our kids that it was unusual to have the bright sunshine along with the snow. A winter-weary voice from the backseat of the car moaned, “Ugh, I feel like the weather is mocking me.” To make matters worse, weather forecasters predict more flurries for the weekend.

Given all the meteorological technology weather people use, we’ve been fooled into thinking that they know what to expect. Nothing could be farther from the truth. In fact, this is the year to expect the unexpected. Let’s be glad we’re not dealing with this:

Imagine if we had to spend a year without summer. People would threaten sit-ins and protests—but against whom, against what? Scientist would appease us by accelerating their weather-controlling experiments. I’m sure some expert is already working on it. Think about the lives saved and the damage avoided if we could prevent storms. We’re such plucky folks, trying to control everything. What have you finally decided not to try to control?   

Saturday, April 2, 2016

No Damages?

There’s something wrong with the birds. In the last year, I’ve witnessed more bird collisions and casualties than ever. This week a robin swooped in front of a car and clipped the fender. A mass of white feathers flew into the air as the little bird rolled to the edge of the road. I hope it survived.

Is it poor timing, poor training, recklessness, or fearlessness that’s causing birds to engage in risky behavior? You may develop a whole new appreciation for risk after watching this scene:

It’s amazing how everybody kept moving. If we tossed in a few more tourists, the entire “system” would crumble because we’re used to lights and lanes—and much less road risk. Can you imagine living with that kind of free-for-all? We all have different risk comfort levels. What was the eventual outcome of your riskiest decision?    

Friday, March 25, 2016

Binge Watching

Has the term “binge watching” made it into the dictionary yet? It started when we recorded and watched multiple TV shows in one sitting, then it grew in popularity when companies made entire seasons available for non-stop viewing. Like other addictions, binge watching creeps up on you. At first, you’re looking for a little entertainment or a way to relax after a hectic week. Four hours later, you’re dazed and hooked on a show, forsaking restroom breaks and phone calls.

At our house, we’re tracking several different shows. When Netflix gives us ten seconds to answer that judgmental question, “Are you still watching?” We say, “is that a joke? Yes, of course!” If you’re wondering why binge watching became a thing, here’s one excuse:

Despite having hundreds of cable stations, our family had difficulty finding anything to watch on TV, at least nothing we all enjoyed. Now, we can’t wait to see whether Emma or Cora reach the other side, or read what happens next in our subtitled Korean suspense show—and thanks to Netflix—we don’t have to. Patience and waiting—are these things of the past? Is there anything you still don’t mind waiting for?