My cousin, an executive level banker, and her husband bought a house by a lake about a year ago.  She told me that they were instituting a no screens policy.  No TV’s, no computers, no Blackberries or Palms allowed.  While I admired her vision and even understood why she’d make such a policy, I secretly thought she was going a bit overboard.  I could give up TV or computer but not both at the same time.  Screens are important to me, I realized.  However, I now find that I am facing screen overload and time without screens is sounding better and better.


Through digital cable we can watch hundreds of channels and listen to music of all kinds.  Sports, movies, news, reality TV, home and garden, spiritual, children’s, lifestyle, PBS, multicultural, Style, Cooking, Sci-Fi, and shopping, not to mention good old ABC, NBC and CBS only scratch the surface of what is available for our viewing pleasure.  Unless it is midday and I am home alone (I watch the least TV), a TV is usually blaring out noise somewhere in the house.  With two adults and six children, we own 8 TV’s and 4 computers.  It happened slowly, one screen at a time and when I began taking inventory, I couldn’t believe how mired in electronic land we’d become.  My husband can even watch TV on his cell phone should he find a spare minute.  My son is a major player of video games when he’s not midsemester at college and has been known to hang out with his friends and connect as many as 8 TV’s together in a circle on our dining room table so he and his friends can play together on line.  Screens are everywhere, taking over, and my husband and I are seriously evaluating what we need vs. unhealthy indulgence.


Nevertheless, screens hold an accepted place and I didn’t realize I faced screen overload until I was putting gas in my van a couple months ago and suddenly, in front of me, I saw GSTV – Gas Station TV.  Am I so pathetic that I can’t live without a screen in front of me at every turn?   Now even gas stations feel they have to entertain me.  Maybe they think if they lull me into a bored coma I won’t notice that I’m spending $60+ to fill my tank when it used to cost $20.  Perhaps the oil execs berated and badgered by congress regarding their million dollar bonuses came up with the bright idea of mindless TV to influence the public.  I picture some marketing whiz saying, “Hey, we have all this extra money, let’s provide customers with a TV at every pump and play brain numbing gas station trivia.”  If it weren’t illegal, they’d probably add subliminal messages.  “Fill your tank.  Buy oil.  Don’t forget the cigarettes, chips, candy and soda.”


Since I can’t afford to buy a house at the lake and leave screens behind, I protest instead.  Not only do I protest, I refuse to watch.  Turn those puppies off at the pumps, take the screens down, and donate them to a 3rd world country!  I don’t need to be entertained while I am filling my tank.  Whether it’s serious looking actors discussing the benefits of gas additives or my local weather, GSTV strikes me as ridiculous.  Take those screens away and use that extra cash to lower the price of gas at the pump.  If I crave entertainment, I’ll make a call and risk my cell phone exploding at my ear. 


Love Bucket

How much love can you hold inside of you?  How much anger or negativity?  What happens when the bucket that holds the positive and negative overflow?  Listening to a podcast (a recent entertainment discovery while exercising) the lady being interviewed mentioned several ways that people tend to sabotage themselves.  Have you ever lost that 10 pounds you dream of losing only to gain it back?  Worked up the nerve to pursue a dream only to find ways to not like it later?  Enjoyed a spectacular weekend with your spouse and then picked a fight?  I’ve done each of those things.  It’s as though I have two buckets inside of me to hold my emotions, one for the positive and one for the negative.  If the positive gets too full, I have to dump some of those emotions out.  If the negative spills over, it’s like poison in my system leaking out onto those around me.  My entire life has been about managing and containing my emotions. 

What possible good can develop from limiting the amount of love I can give and receive?  How can anyone benefit from trying to contain and manage a bucket of negativity?  I am not saying it will happen overnight, lifetime habits are hard to change, but I am kicking my buckets - no more containment measures allowed.  I want to become amorphous, allowing love to flow through me like an unending, cleansing river and also allow negative emotions to flow through me, acknowledge them and then watch them flow out.  To be clear, I am not endorsing self indulgence like eating a container of ice cream and calling myself happy or lashing out in anger at another no matter how righteous it might feel.  The art of self discipline still applies but in a different way.  Instead of using self discipline to allow only as much happiness as my bucket will hold or to contain negative emotions, I want to use it to control how I address the emotions flowing through me.  Anger is anger; it doesn’t go away if it’s floating around in my negative bucket.  Talk about emotional sewage!  But if I acknowledge it, handle it to the best of my ability (hopefully in respectful way), and then let it flow out there is no containment necessary.  Wow, suddenly I am feeling lighter and freer. 

This concept has hit home for me regarding my grandchildren.  They live with me and take up most of my time and energy.  With two children still at home and four grandchildren, our house can be described as chaotic on most days.  I love them.  I also resent them.  Then I feel guilty for resenting them which must mean that I don’t love them enough.  And what’s wrong with me not to love my grandchildren the way I should?  And so my thoughts flow in a crippling circle.  My two emotional buckets were sitting side by side spilling the good and ugly back and forth all day long.  Without those buckets, I can honestly say (and feel good about it) I love my grandchildren.  I also resent them (another honest emotion).  To work through that I try each day to take time for me by exercise and meditation.  It doesn’t work perfectly every day but when I feel that crippling resentment building, I acknowledge its existence, let it flow through, and then go lock the bathroom door and meditate even if it’s only for 5 minutes.  

It’s an ongoing learning process.  Tipping over my buckets holding a lifetime of emotions means there is a lot of sludge in the bottom but I am working through it a little at a time mostly with Energy Medicine and EFT.  The habit of limiting my emotions or stuffing them away because I didn’t like them is darned hard to break.  Bills are still due, the children face the same challenges, and my house needs some serious cleaning.  However, sitting here typing, listening to Norah Jones, I can feel the peacefulness flowing through me.  I give thanks to God for the lessons I am learning…and podcasts. 

Sprint Store Adventure

My husband uttered the dreaded words.  “Let’s go to the Sprint Store.”

I answered honestly, “I would rather have my fingernails pulled out.”

“C’mon.  It won’t be bad.  I just have to see if they are going to fix my phone or replace it.  Afterwards, I’ll take you to lunch.”

Yeah, right.  Enticing me with lunch wasn’t fair but I let myself fall for it anyway.  A little time out with my husband, without kids, is time to be savored even if we did spend part of it in the Sprint Store, a place to visit that rates right up there in my personal tourist guide book with, saaay, a visit to the nearest sewage plant.  It’s not that the Sprint people are rude, it’s just that going there involves picking a number or standing in line, finally talking with a person then waiting around while they do mysterious computer stuff or take your cell phone to the black hole labeled as technical support where it disappears for an indeterminate period of time (hours, days, weeks).  If you are very, very lucky some unhealthy looking guy (because he spends all day, every day in a closet sized back room with fake lighting) brings it back out eventually whereupon we wait in line again until the Sprint person can do more poking around on the computer.  My objection to the Sprint Store is that it can take hours to accomplish one little thing.  On any given day, I have way too many choices on how to spend my time and rarely enough hours to accomplish even half of what I’d like to do.  Sprint isn’t my idea of good use of my time.

Surprisingly, this trip was different.  Maybe my mood was just in the right spot but lots of little things entertained me.  Plus, I brought a good book.


In the parking lot, a lady was headed into the store on the sidewalk ahead of us.  I’d guess her age to be early to mid 50’s with the body of a Victoria’s Secret model and an enhanced cup size.  Tight jeans with high heels, tight sweater, big hair and hips swaying, her husband walked a little behind her and I am sure it was to enjoy the view.  She looked good, she knew it and I enjoyed watching her enjoy herself.  It gives me hope for my 50’s which I have almost reached.  Though I don’t think I would want to enter a room that far behind my breasts, it obviously worked for her.  Too bad for her most of the Sprint personnel that day were women and not into appreciating her assets.  


Upon entering the Sprint greeter guy handed us our number and the wait began.  Luckily, one of the workers returned from lunch so our wait was short (for Sprint that is).  His number called, my husband stepped up to the counter and began telling the Sprint lady about his phone problems.  Apparently, he was just what the doctor ordered and she blatantly flirted with him, leaning towards him to make sure that he could see down the V in her sweater and putting her hand on his arm more than once to emphasize a point.  Watching my husband work his usual charm, I wanted to laugh.  This lady was totally sending him “I like you lots” signals and he had no clue.  She headed to the back (the black hole in cell phone land) and my husband came to stand by me.  I leaned over and said, “She likes you, maybe she’ll hurry things along.” 


“She was nice,” he agreed.


“No, I mean she really likes you.  You got a cleavage flash and everything.”


“No I didn’t!”


I laughed again.  “When the phone comes back out, I’ll go to the counter with you.  I bet she’ll become a lot more businesslike.”  An eon later, when his number was called again, I was almost sorry to go to the counter and dash her hopes for my husband.  She quickly became busy and passed us on to the next lady for checkout and she didn’t flash any cleavage at me or touch my arm.    Go figure.


While the phone was in the black hole, I watched the Victoria Secret lady walk around with lots of swishing and loud question asking but I am happy to say that her Sprint Store visit didn’t process any faster than ours did.  Sprint personnel can take pride in the fact that cup size does not guarantee faster service. 


I watched John the Bouncer walk around the store and announce to at least two employees that he had to stay free so he could be available to handle any problems that arose.  Truly, I thought from his body language and words that he was a store bouncer and it made me laugh that Sprint would see the need to hire such a person but not figure out how to handle customer flow to prevent the need for one.  I asked the checkout lady how long Sprint had been hiring bouncers for the store and she looked startled.  I nodded towards John the Bouncer and she laughed.  He’s the assistant manager but she agreed that bouncer was a better title for him because he was waiting, practically cracking his knuckles, for one customer to get out of line and need to be “handled”.  I leaned close to my husband and said, “I think I can take him.”  Our checkout lady cracked up.


My favorite entertainment came in right behind us.  She took her number and when she reached the counter, she began asking questions about her phone.  When we were finishing up, she was still at the counter, asking questions about her phone.  Meanwhile her two children had canvassed the store, played hide and seek, made up a game whereupon one hid under the counter and jumped out at the other one, stretched every sample phone to the end of its cord to see how far it would go and then let them snap back, made a couple different stacks of the brochures from around the store, and the lady just kept on asking question after question about buttons and programs.  By the time we left, about an hour and a half later, the kids were sitting on the floor, bored out of their minds, and their mom was still asking questions.  At first, I didn’t feel sympathy for the Sprint guy, it’s his job to answer questions and Sprint personnel certainly don’t mind using up the customer’s time, but after an hour and a half of questions, I was tempted to lean close to her as we passed by on our way out and tell her to go home and read her manual.  My husband wouldn’t let me.  He yanked my arm and threatened to call John the Bouncer on me.


All in all, it was an entertaining visit to the Sprint Store.  Kinda like watching people at the airport.  I wouldn’t make a special trip to do it, but if I have to sit there, I might as well enjoy what passes in front of me.


One Key

My granddaughter's bus driver commented as she (my granddaughter, not the bus driver) sprinted to the bus, climbed up the steps and enthusiastically threw herself onto the seat, "I wish I had the key to all her energy."  

"Yep," I agreed after a difficult morning of tears and temper tantrums one minute and enthusiams the next, "I wouldn't mind a whole box of keys to figure out how kids work."

The bus driver laughed.  "That's what we (bus drivers) need.  A box of keys to unlock the mysteries of kids' minds.  And I'd share too."  

We both laughed as she closed the door and drove off but the idea stuck with me.  Mind-body-spirit, what would I unlock with a box of keys?  It took a while but I finally narrowed it down to one key.  That's all I'd need.  I would unlock the key to my full potential or self fulfillment.  It sounds selfish since I wouldn't use my key to end world hunger or cure disease but I am not a farmer, doctor or researcher.  Reaching my full potential would mean that I could fulfill whatever tasks I have been put here to do to the best of my ability.  Right now that means raising children and being a good wife.  Perhaps there are other tasks I should be attending to but I can't see them because I haven't matured enough.  It's hokey, I know, to say that I want to be all that I can be but really, what else can we strive for?  It's not like I can be all that you can be or all that someone else thinks I should be.  Imagine what the world would be if each person could reach their full potential.  The mind boggles.  

All it would take is one key.  If I find mine, I'll let you know.

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Just Driving Around

On Tuesdays my grandchildren usually go to therapy.  I drop them off and then dash to Wal-Mart to throw as much in my cart as possible during my kid free timeout and call it grocery shopping for the week.  It's always a race to see how much of my list I can throw in there and about making choices such as going through the dairy aisle first because I need milk worse than picking up deodorant and shampoo which are located on the other side of the store.  Sometimes I am driven by a need for dog food which means that I'll be wheeling right by the personal hygiene aisles so then the deodorant and toothpaste land in the cart.  It's all about the choices.

But I digress...

After dropping the kids I decided to take the back way to Wal-Mart down one of those main streets that run through subdivisions so all you see are subdivision names, gates and entries.  I drove by a lady standing by the curb with an upright vacuum cleaner.  It took me a few minutes to compute what was wrong with that picture.  No buses run down that road so she wasn't waiting for a bus and she wasn't standing in front of a subdivision, she was waiting on the curb of a grassy berm between subdivisions with an upright vacuum cleaner that she had to carry quite a ways.  It was just odd and several days later, I am still thinking up  reasons for her to be standing in the middle of nowhere with an upright vacuum cleaner. 

For the past couple weeks my left eye has been twitching in the outside corner.  It's driving me crazy. 

Last night my kids ate dirty peas for dinner.  They didn't know they were dirty and in this case, what they didn't know suited me just fine.  It was a throw-on-the-food-and-call-it-dinner kind of night because we had a school function to attend.  So when I opened the bag of frozen peas and spilled them all over the kitchen floor where they rolled like little marbles on a  freedom pass, I  was beyond frustrated.  I did not have time for this!   Going with the concept that if they are only on the floor for a couple seconds they aren't really dirty, I swept them up and dumped them in a pan.  I ran cold water over them and dumped it out a couple times and then put them on the stove to heat up.  They were frozen, germs should rinse right off, right?

A short time later I made plates for the kids and called them in to eat.  We said our prayers and dug in.  I thought I'd pulled it off until one of my granddaughters held up a hair and said, "Ew, there's a dog hair in my peas."  I gave her a sympathetic hmm and didn't volunteer any information.  Doing dishes a while later, I looked at the plates and noticed a couple dark crumbs on each plate.  Yuck.  Now I feel guilty.  But not guilty enough to tell them they ate dirty peas for dinner.

Life is what happens when you are standing naked on your bathroom counter

It was just one of those things that happen.  One minute i was checking the state of my flab in the mirror (because everyone knows that an after shower bod looks better and more toned than a before shower bod) and the next I was standing on the bathroom counter cleaning the spots at the top of the mirror.  The phone rang, my daughter answered and brought it to me so I could talk to my husband and then the little kids followed her into the bathroom to ask if they could go outside because their friend was at the door and there I stood on the counter in all my glory.  The chaos only lasted a moment, long enough for me to ask my daughter to throw me a towel but now I am wondering if I have scarred them for life.  One of them asked, "What are you doing, Mimi?"  To which I replied like I parade around on the counter bare-assed every day, "Cleaning the bathroom mirror."  My face was red but they accepted it like a normal event because all they really cared about was going outside to play.  And I have to wonder if it will come up in conversation. 

Friend:  What took you so long to come outside?

Granddaughter:  We had to ask Mimi if we could come out.

Other Granddaughter:  She was cleaning the bathroom.

3rd Granddaughter:  And she didn't have any clothes on.

Giggles all around.

My daughter, 13, rolled her eyes and left the vicinity.  But hey, my mirrors are clean.  

Just start, dammit!

When I found myself googling, again, how to create a blog, I realized that if I waited until the perfect introductory paragraph whizzed through my mind, I'd never write anything.  There are too many stories piled up in my head that need to get out so this is it.  My first paragraph.  Hopefully, a first in a long and satisfying series of entries. 

I don't have lists or tips to offer other than what works (or doesn't work) for me.  I can't claim the wisdom to fix anyone else's life.  My life is about all I can handle, thank you very much.  What I have in abundance are observations, questions, wonders and stories that I feel a need to share.  

For my first post, Instead of a boring bio (I am not in an all-about-me mode at the moment) I will list a bunch of titles and duties that apply to me.  Picture a woman with many hats in all shapes and colors, that's me.  C'mon you can do it.  Hats, picture hats with colors, ribbons and odd shapes because the diva in me likes the drama.  Here goes...

Christian - Totally committed.  BFF with Jesus.  I plan to develop into one of those crazy old ladies who have tea with Jesus in the afternoons.   I'd have tea with him now but  I don't usually sit that long so I have to stick with prayer and conversations during the day.

Wife - My husband is the greatest guy ever.  I wouldn't trade and I don't share.  Don't get me wrong, I didn't say he was perfect but he is definitely a cut above normal manhood in my opinion.  And since I am the one married to him, it's a good opinion to hold onto.  We will celebrate our 30th anniversary this August.

Mother - Mother to 3 children that I birthed from my body and now a mother to my 4 grandchildren who I didn't birth but I am raising so it feels as though I did only without the stretchmarks.

Writer - I must be a writer because I write.  If I am not writing, then I am thinking about what to write so I claim the title.  Though for the past couple years, by the time the kids are in bed and the house settles into peacefulness, I sit at the computer to recreate the great stuff running through my head only to discover I am too tired to make my brain form the sentences.  Maybe I should claim the title Frustrated Writer instead.

School Bus Driver - Technically, I am still a bus driver though I haven't actually driven a bus since last November.  (My kids needed me at home.)  Currently, the plan says that next school year I'll drive again since all of my children will be in school all day so my time can be structured differently.  However, after several months of not driving, I am actively searching for something to do from home because I like my home.  I especially like my home when I am in it.  So perhaps I'll be able to retire my bus driver hat and don a new one if I can figure out what it is I want to try next. 

Meditator - My 4 grandchildren arrived a little over 3 years ago.  Our family changed overnight from 4 people to 8 - 6 children ages 16, 10, 6, 4, 3, 2 with 2 still in diapers.  It took about a year for me to change from a calm, sane adult to depressed, losing my mind mother with no separate identity.  I lost me and it was like drowning.  Thankfully, I have some good friends who offered support and hung around even though I was a whiny drag for more months than I want to count.  I realized that I had to change or continue turning into someone I didn't like and probably die way too soon as a used up, miserable, no fun hag.  Since I am vain, the hag thing didn't work for me.  Trial and error and many self help books later, I began meditating and it has transformed my life. 

That's enough hats for now.  You did imagine a gorgeous woman wearing diva hats, didn't you?  Feathers and boas would not be inappropriate.  There are more hats but I can list them later as time allows.  For now, I officially claim this as my first blogging post! 

Life is good.
:) Kathy