Ordinary Thoughts, Essays and Short Stories

Category: Current Blog Post (Page 2 of 4)

From Our House to Yours

On this special day and beyond, I wish you all the peace, health, and happiness your heart can handle. I also hope you wind up with all the feels when you get sucked in by this sappy – and rather predictable – holiday story. You’ll find the link below.

If reading Christmas with Frank leaves you even a tiny bit verklempt, then my work here is done.

Merry Christmas!

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You’re How Old?


Before we get too entrenched in the holidays, I want to slip in a little tidbit about an upcoming milestone. Two days before this year comes to a close, my firstborn will celebrate her 50th birthday. I can scarcely believe it. Seems like only yesterday, I was rocking her to sleep, teaching her to ride a bike, wondering why on earth she was obsessed with The Cure, and trying not to cry as she walked down the aisle. But it wasn’t yesterday. It was a boatload of yesterdays that spanned half a century. 

As a nod to her impending birthday, I decided to pen (or type rather) what transpired lo those many years ago. I was young and ignorant, and bringing her into this world was anything but a cakewalk. But if I had it to do all over again, I wouldn’t change a thing. The little munchkin who stole my heart a lifetime ago is today, not only a treasured daughter but also a friend. And she’s a pretty awesome mom and wife who, as a teacher, spends most of her days showering unconditional love and devotion on a bunch of lucky little 2nd graders.

Jacki…this one’s for you.

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Happy Turkey Day!


I’m breaking my own rules here and posting on Thursday instead of Sunday. That’s because this isn’t just any Thursday. It’s Thanksgiving Day. And on Thanksgiving Day, it’s nice to reach out and make a friendly connection. So that’s what I decided to do with a (mercifully) short essay on a couple of the traditions that pop up annually at our house. My guess is, they may pop up at yours, too.  Just click the button below to read Arlo and the Pigskin.

And, if I haven’t said it in a while, let me say it now…I’m very thankful to you for taking precious time out of your own life to read a little bit about mine. It means more than you know.

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Hello? Anybody Home?

Have you ever been lost in random thoughts that have nothing to do with the situation at hand? Let’s say you’re out to dinner with a friend, and you notice the server’s bracelet is a lot like one you saw recently at a local boutique. You then recall other items that had caught your interest in that same shop, and you wonder if they’re still available. Next thing you know, your friend is clinking her spoon against her glass and playfully accusing you of not hearing a word she said.

Odds are, you’ve found yourself in a similar position…perhaps more than once. It’s not all that uncommon to lose focus now and then. But that doesn’t make it any less embarrassing. You either apologize profusely or laugh it off by saying you’re a total space cadet.

Now picture yourself in scenarios like that every day. Not occasionally, but…every. single. day. Does the thought make you cringe? Or does it fit like an old worn glove? If it’s the former, consider yourself lucky. If it’s the latter, welcome to the club no one wants to be a member of.

Fighting an ongoing battle against distraction is tough, but it’s often winnable. Or, at the very least, a truce can be called periodically.

I know this to be true because I live with it. For a glimpse into my cerebral world, hit the button below. It will take you to my current essay, Mischievous Minds.

If you read the essay and happen to see yourself in any of it, let me know in the comments. As they say, misery loves company.

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It’s All Good


When I was a Weight Watchers leader – many moons and pounds ago – one of the visual aids I used in a meeting consisted of nothing more than a black dot in the middle of a large white flipchart. I asked my members what they saw when they looked at it, and they all agreed they saw a black dot. When I asked if they saw anything else, they just shook their heads. I then pointed out the expanse of pristine white paper all around that gnarly little dot, and I asked, “What about all this?” You could almost hear the light bulbs popping on in their heads. The nearly perfect paper hadn’t even hit their radar because their minds gravitated toward that one tiny imperfection.

For whatever reason, it seems to be human nature to focus on the negative in any given situation. At least initially. If you’re like me, you can generally find an upside, but it’s not always automatic. Seeing the good in something often takes effort because the bad tends to jump out and grab our attention first.

I experienced this recently when I noticed a flaw in the appearance of someone on TV. It was a very minor thing, and my brain quickly moved on to other thoughts, but it did spark something in the back of my mind that later drew me into a bit of introspection. To find out where my psyche traveled, just click the button below to read Cheers to Ears.

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The Wait Is Over

Have you ever gotten all wrapped up in a story only to discover the ending isn’t actually…well…the end? You’re happily reading along and, just as you’re getting into it, the last three words are “To be continued.” Blast it all! It’s beyond frustrating. The sense of abandonment is downright palpable.

Well, if it seems you’ve been waiting forever for the second half of The Journal to go live, you can put your skin back on. Melissa and Brett are back. All you have to do is hit the button below to find out how the story ends. And, for those of you who haven’t yet read the first half, you’ll find a link to that at the beginning of The Journal – Part 2.

To paraphrase the late Paul Harvey: Very soon now you’ll know…the rest of the story.

So go on! What are you waiting for?

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Careful What You Say

When it comes to communicating with others, we learn at an early age that employing certain filters is often beneficial to all involved. Our words can have an immense effect on others and, while honesty is important, it doesn’t have to be brutal. Not only that, if what we want to say has no socially redeeming value, it may be kinder to fall back on that old adage, “If you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all.”

In much the same way that we can’t unthink a thought, we can’t unsay what’s been said. One of my favorite lines from an old Law & Order episode is when the captain tells a rather blunt detective that it’s okay to have the thought, but you don’t always have to voice it.

I’m not saying we should make a habit of stifling our opinions but, if we insist on freely giving them out regardless of their impact, we must be prepared for whatever backlash they may create. 

In addition to choosing our words carefully, we’re sometimes cautioned against putting anything in writing that we aren’t willing to say out loud. This can be especially important when it comes to keeping a personal diary. Unless you have a foolproof method that guarantees no eyes but yours will ever see what you’ve written, you’ve got to decide if what’s on your mind is important enough to document. If it is, then you also need to figure out how you’ll deal with the possible fallout should your most private thoughts be read by someone else.

This all got me thinking about how reading a person’s diary might affect a curious, yet unsuspecting, mind. Depending on what the diary contains, the reader may be delighted, amused or devastated. For a glimpse into such a scenario, click the button below and read The Journal – Part 1.

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It’s Now or Never, Part Two

When our girls were still living at home, they each were assigned certain household chores. They didn’t like doing them, but they were somewhat coercible…most of the time. Our biggest battle was always the issue of maintaining their bedrooms. I use the word “maintaining” loosely because it was an expectation that rarely translated into reality. When it came to the girls’ rooms, daily maintenance was sort of a pie-in-the-sky parental dream. They see things differently now that they’re grown but, back then, they simply didn’t buy into the idea that straightening their rooms every day would prevent them from having to move mountains later. In their defense, though, genetics probably played an integral role in that. When I was a kid, my room was usually a dump, too.

Still, we pushed them to tackle their rooms at least once a week. We wanted to keep weekends free for whatever might come up, so we designated every Thursday as Cleaning Day. My husband and I had our own chores, too, so it’s not like we were treating the girls as soot-covered Cinderellas. But you’d never have known that by their protests. One of their favorite fraught-with-angst mantras was, “I hate Thursdays!”  When my husband suggested changing our cleaning day to Wednesdays, they lamented, “That won’t help! Then I’ll hate Wednesdays!”  

In the spirit of full disclosure, I have to confess…I pretty much hated Thursdays, too. Obviously, though, it really wasn’t the day of the week that offended us. It was the cleaning itself.

After the girls moved out on their own, my husband and I stopped observing an official weekly cleaning day. We just do what needs to be done when it needs it. Since I can’t stand living in a messy environment, I do make a concerted effort to stay on top of things…even though it’s generally under duress.  Manual labor and I have never been friends and, until recently, the only upshot I could find to cleaning was the end result.

Lately, however, there’s been a subtle shift in my attitude towards housework. I recently came to the outlandish conclusion that there are actually some chores that can have a positive effect while I’m doing them…not just after I’m done. Crazy, I know! It was another one of those living-in-the-moment discoveries that took me by pleasant surprise.

To see what I mean, click the button below and read Dust Bunnies in the Wind.

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Busting Free

A week from today, my baby will celebrate her 48th birthday. It’s hard for me to wrap my head around the fact that I’m old enough to have a child that age. It’s even harder to believe I have another one who’s older than that. Of course, I was a very young mom…in the beginning, that is. But that’s a story for another time.

Jennifer came into this world much, much earlier than she was supposed to. Apparently, her first personality trait was impatience. And that was immediately followed by stubborn determination (which actually came in quite handy during her first several weeks). I think it’s safe to say she still identifies with both of those, but there are other traits that are much more prevalent. She’s kind and loving and tenderhearted. And, unlike her mom, she seems the happiest when she’s on the go and surrounded by people. Maybe that’s why she was in such a hurry to make her grand debut. She’d had enough of being confined and wanted to see what was happening out there in the real world.

In the beginning, there were times we feared she might not survive, but that itty-bitty nugget of a human thrived and developed into the fabulous daughter, sister, wife, mother, grandmother and friend that she is today.

As an early birthday gift, I decided to post an essay about Jennifer’s entrance into the world. She already knows the story, but you may not. To read When the Womb Lets Go, just click the button below.

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It’s Now or Never

I’m the type of person who has a bad habit of thinking back — or ahead — rather than concentrating on the now. That makes it challenging to be truly present in the moment. And that, by default, causes me to miss out on fully enjoying special snippets of time.

I remember, back in the 90’s, one of my friends discovered a sort of movement called “Know Now,” and she even had a watch with that phrase on its face. She explained that it helped her ignore life’s distractions so she could concentrate on the present. While I didn’t give it much thought at the time, the idea has always floated around in the back of my mind. I know I’m not alone when it comes to letting random thoughts overshadow what’s right in front of us.

In an effort to appreciate what I tend to overlook, I’m trying to focus more on what’s going on while it’s actually happening. Special moments aren’t necessarily monumental. Quite often, they can appear to be just the opposite. Dare I say, “quotidian” even. It’s the acknowledgement that makes them special.

Whether this will become a series of essays about those tiny epiphanies, or a one and done, I don’t yet know. I just know that by writing it down, I hope to make “noticing” a new habit.

To see what I mean, click the button below and read Seeing the Forest as Well as the Trees.  

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