27 05 2015

On virtually every media platform, there is a steady drum beat against cyber-bullying. Of course, I agree that we should do everything we can to put a stop to bullying, but, today,  I would like to talk about the other side of the coin that is the currency of internet social interactions.

Instead of focusing our time and energy on rooting out cyber bullies, we might do as much – or more – good by providing some antidote to their vitriol, their cowardly behavior, and their senseless cruelty.

(Because, as my frequent readers know, I can’t keep myself from making up words,) I have come up with an ideal – a hero in the battle for civility and kindness.  Although it does not involve a leotard, cape, or the ability to fly, this force for good against evil, the power to improve someone’s mood by a gentle word is surely one of the super-est of super powers.

I give you Cyber-Mensch*.

Think about how you felt, the last time someone paid you an unexpected compliment, held a door for you,  smiled and wished you “Good morning.”  It gave you a little lift, right? Now, consider what that little lift might do for someone who has been on the receiving end of a whole lot of crappiness.

What if we take a moment, here and there, to write/post/tweet/say something kind, true, and generous to folks we know well or casual internet acquaintances or total strangers who cross our paths?  We could do it in a flash, with no monthly payments, and no contracts.


No, I am not a doctor, but I can assure you, from experience that small doses of Nice, administered over an extended period and via numerous deliverers can do a lot to heal a battered heart.  If you want to stop bullies, one way is to dilute their venom with kindness.

I often say, “Just be nice!” Now, I’d like to ask you to go a step further.  Please DO nice. You’ll feel a little superhero-y – and you won’t have to do a single dangerous stunt.




*  For those who aren’t familiar with the term mensch, Leo Rosten’s  The Joys of Yiddish is a good reference.

Brotherly Like(ness)?

20 05 2015

DISCLAIMER: This is really NOT about politics. Really. Well, not much.

Sometimes, I can’t avoid it; I hear “news” about the 2016 race for the White House.  When I do, it invariably makes my head hurt from shaking it HARD. Sometimes – okay, a lot of times – it’s because some candidate says something stupid.  Other times – okay, a lot of times –  it’s because some (alleged) reporter or expert or pundit says something stupid.  At any rate, ibuprofen seems to be the early winner.

One such “Huh?!” moment occurred when I heard a news panel discussing how Jeb Bush is going to have to “deal with his brother’s legacy.” Let me tell you, a lot of stuff floods my brain when I think of George, the 43’s time in office, but none of it has to do with candidate Jeb Bush. Just like every other candidate, he’ll be auditioning to handle circumstances created by W and all the other previous occupants of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.

Before you go all political – you might need to re-read the disclaimer – let me get to my real issue:

Does the media have no siblings? I can’t believe every one of them is an only child, but if they had brothers and sisters, they would KNOW that just because you share a set of parents, it does not mean you share anything else!

My sister and I are just a few years apart in age; we shared a room until we graduated from (the same) high school; our parents spoiled us equally; and no one believes we are sisters! She’s all about math and science and political awareness and I am about as shallow as a birdbath.

Just look at her - already doing math, counting her fingers. Meanwhile, I am practicing my "Deer in Headlights" face.

Just look at her – already doing math, counting her fingers. Meanwhile, I am practicing my “Deer in Headlights” face.

I know we are not alone in our totally mismatched personalities. My brother-in-law has two brothers. Aside from all of them being skyscraper tall, they have only two parents and a last name in common. My husband and his brother are half a world apart, geographically and intellectual-stimulus-ly. (Trust me, that’s a perfectly fine word.)

Just because we share DNA does not mean we share tastes, interests, abilities, or ideals.

There will be a lot of factors that determine whether or not Jeb Bush is a good candidate for US President. Out of respect for my sister, whose brilliant mind would snap were she to be judged by my behavior; his brother George won’t be one of them.


p.s.  Although we don’t share everything, we do share a fine sisterly love.  Hopefully, you have siblings who make you smarter and happier like my sister makes me.


Oil Can!

13 05 2015

I am not religious.  I am not overtly patriotic.  I did not grow up loving horses, race cars, or aircraft.  I am also not particularly sentimental . . .

So what is it about the Kentucky Derby, the start of the Indianapolis 500, military jet flyovers at big football games that stirs my heart?

I can’t watch these things without feeling a lump rise in my throat – and that pisses me off.

It is maudlin. I am not romantic; I am strong and rational and sensible. I am Spock, not Kirk. I am Holmes, not Watson. I do not like this feeling, not one bit.

I also can’t not watch these things because they take my breath away – just a little – but they do. It is moving. I am not heartless; I am engaged and caring and . . . human.

There is nothing wrong with getting a little verklempt when they play America, the Beautiful.  Nostalgia for middle-American-made cars and our innocence lost is reason enough for a little reverence at the sight of those three-wide eleven rows at Indy.  I felt a little bit silly a few Saturdays ago, as tears streamed down my cheeks from the call “Riders up” until the Run for the Roses was over, but,


For a lot of my life, I steadfastly refused to be moved by sentiment – at least on the outside. My armor would have been the envy of even the greatest warrior. Ah, but when you shield something from light and air, it withers. What I thought I was protecting, I was killing.

So, I stand, alone in my living room, when the Blue Angels buzz an NFL playoff, dab my eyes at the playing of My Old Kentucky Home, hold my breath a little at “Drivers, start your engines.” These things are glorious reassurance that, although there’s no denying that my joints could use a good oil can, I do, in fact, have a heart.

Time to Vacate the (False) Premises!

6 05 2015

Remember when we were kids and we’d argue opposing unprovable positions? You know what I mean:

Who’d win in a fight – Batman or Captain Kirk?

Which ice cream flavor is better – vanilla or chocolate?

Who’s Mom like best?

We’d yell ourselves hoarse, end up in a fight, get grounded, and not change each other’s mind one iota. What a waste of time and energy. We gained nothing, we learned nothing, and we lost TV privileges for three days.



This very gentle meme appeared on Facebook and quickly, the comments devolved from some polite-to-pointed questions about the generalities of the sentiment expressed to ABORTION! ABORTION! ABORTION! in four posts.

That, my friends, is the debater’s equivalent of “Bewitched had better magic than I Dream of Jeanie!”

I have a very strong opinion about abortion; I doubt there will be any argument that will change my position on it. That said, there are so many other things relative to the sentiment of this meme that we could discuss, argue, consider, and work together for good . . .  if we’d stop screaming “what about abortion?”  to stop any other conversation in its tracks.

What if we decide to be kinder to each other and the planet, in ways that don’t violate our personal ethics, first ? If we can just do that, it will be a huge step in the right direction. Fix what we can agree needs fixing; worry about the rest after that’s done. It’d be a really good start.

Oh, and for the record:

Kirk, vanilla, John, and Bewitched (come on, they had Endora and Uncle Arthur!)

Gratitude, Not “For Granted”

29 04 2015

Thank you for being here.  Thank you for checking in on me.

This week, the crisis in Nepal – the result of a natural, but nasty, event – and the human-made violence and destruction in Charm City have saddened those of us who, although not directly in harm’s way, can’t help but feel the loss of life, property, and security that most of us are fortunate enough that we take it for granted.

Let’s not take it for granted.

It is a beautiful, warm, sunny last Wednesday in April. I am grateful for the loveliness of the day. I am grateful that I have a safe place to live, clean water, plenty of food, and a family to love. I am grateful to be able to read and write and to share my thoughts with you.

So, thanks again, for your attention to my weekly writings. I do not take you for granted.

Peace and comfort to those who do not have it and continued joy and happiness to those of us who do.


Spring Cleaning and Separation Anxiety

22 04 2015

Time to tidy up, refresh, and declutter, right?  How’s that going for you?  I can hear the self-talk:

I know, it’s been in the (choose your favorite place where stuff goes to be “saved for later”) for the last twelve years, but:

It’s still got the tags on it.

It’ll come back into style.

My great-aunt’s downstairs neighbor’s brother-in-law gave it to me.

Let’s just get this right out there.

That place where you “save” the stuff that you never even look at, except when you are (theoretically) decluttering, has a name. Whether yours is a lovely walk-in closet with all the detritus neatly boxed and labeled or just a big pile-o-crap in a corner of the garage; if it’s filled with stuff you don’t use, it’s a trash bin.

It’s spring. Time to clean. Time to throw stuff away!

Commence the wailing and gnashing of teeth.  Protest that it is wasteful to throw away all this “perfectly good” stuff.  That’s like eating every last bite on your plate, even after you’re full – and ruining your health with those unnecessary extra calories – because you don’t want to “waste” food. Kids, whether you store it (fat or junk) or put it on the curb, it’s trash!

If you truly have things that someone else will use, donate them, right now. Do NOT store them, “just in case.” Haven’t you already yard-sale-d yourself stupid?  Aren’t all your relatives self-reliant and not in need of your 7-11 Star Wars Big Gulp cup with the chip in the rim? Throw stuff away!

Perhaps it’s my inner claustrophobe, or perhaps I don’t like to dust; but I am sure that, even if there’s room to store that stuff, it’s not a good idea to keep things that we don’t use.  You say you don’t want to waste anything, so you keep everything  . . . well, that is a waste . . . a waste of space.

But . . . . but . . . but . . . it’s still “good.”

Shelf life is not the same as useful life.  Seriously, some of those polyester leisure suits and Happy Meal toys might survive as long as cockroaches and Keith Richards – doesn’t mean you should let any of them live in your closet.

It’s spring – fling it!

Good Form

15 04 2015

Although you’d never know it by my looks, I lift weights.  I am not very strong (yet) and I am age-flabby and a bit – ahem – on the high side of my body fat ratio goal. I do, however, remember, from thirty-odd years ago, when I was a real gym rat, how to work out.

I know the proper technique, the right exercises for each muscle group, gym etiquette – yes, there IS such a thing. I also know when someone is headed for a serious injury because they don’t know.

Such was the case a few weeks ago, when two early-teens-ers visited the weight room on spring break. They looked more like future computer geniuses than athletes. There was something about them that stirred my  mommy senses, so I kept an eye on them. It took less than two minutes for me to see they were going to hurt themselves, so I did what I had to do, even though I wasn’t at all sure how they’d take it.

“Don’t lock your elbows. You’ll damage your joints.”  I cheerfully called across the room. What I got in response was stunning. “Thank you!  Thank you for your help,”  replied the older boy, with a direct look into my eyes and an earnest braces-sparkling smile.

When their mother popped in the get them, I introduced myself and congratulated her on raising two polite young men. She smiled. “My younger son is autistic.” I knew; so was my daughter.  I seem to have radar for folks on the spectrum. I know what it is like to parent a child who is “different.”

I love the weight room.  I love the energy and inspiration that the strong and fit bring to the place. I love the determination of the beginners.

When someone who strikes us as “out of place” comes to our playground, we should try hard to fight our initial judgment – which is usually, driven by our bratty inner child who operates out of jealousy, fear, or too little coffee – uncharitable, to say the least.

Jumping to conclusions is the one exercise we all seem far too willing to do. Let’s practice good form and exercise kindness. Lots of reps. Strengthen our hearts.


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