The importance of good neighbors

House with green roofIn keeping with my Friday/weekly posting of articles that celebrate doing good and loving our neighbors, I am reposting this piece from December 2014 that encourages reaching out to those whom we see – however casually – on an ongoing basis in our neighborhoods. We just came back from 10 days away from home and our neighbors not only monitored our house, but when the region was threatened with a storm, they took pictures of the front and back of our house and texted them to us to show our house was still standing. So generous.

I love the fact that my husband and I have a wonderfully supportive group of neighbors in my rural Redmond, Washington location.  The houses in my neighborhood are quite spread out, but within the …

Source: The importance of good neighbors

Lighten up Mondays

landscape-536173_1280Traveling jokes, Part Two:

An airplane was already virtually full and in danger of exceeding its baggage allowance when a last-minute passenger asked for the one remaining ticket.

The clerk was unsure whether to give the passenger a ticket, so he asked him: “Do you mind me asking how much you weigh?”

“With or without the clothes?” asked the passenger.

“Well,” said the clerk, “How do you intend to travel?”


A group of tourists were trapped by an avalanche in Switzerland. After three hours, a Saint Bernard arrived with a keg of brandy tied under its chin.

“Hooray!” cried one of the tourists. “Here comes man’s best friend!”

“Yes,” said another, “And look at the size of the dog that’s bringing it!” Fabulous post. Enjoy.

Lighten up Mondays

landscape-536173_1280Since I’m on the road/on vacation while today’s post appears, I thought I’d provide a couple traveling jokes:

A cop pulls over a carload of nuns. Cop: “Sister, this is a 65 MPH highway — why are you going so slow?”

 Sister: “Sir, I saw a lot of signs that said 22, not 65.”

Cop: “Oh sister, that’s not the speed limit, that’s the name of the highway you’re on!

Sister: “Oh! Silly me! Thanks for letting me know. I’ll be more careful.”

At this point the cop looks in the backseat where the other nuns are shaking and trembling.  Cop:  “Excuse me, Sister, what’s wrong with your friends back there? They’re shaking something terrible.”

 Sister: “Oh, we just got off of highway 119.”

On a rural road a state trooper pulled this farmer over and said: “Sir, do you realize your wife fell out of the car several miles back?” To which the farmer replied: “Thank God, I thought I had gone deaf!”

What are you: a builder-upper or a tearer-downer?

Dahlia flower globeI published this post in June of 2015. I am re-blogging it today as part of my weekly effort to propose – and promote – kindness. Just as we have the ability to recognize happiness in our own daily lives, we can also nurture a better quality of life in others, one small act of kindness at a time.

Every day, and every encounter during each day, we have the opportunity to do good, or to do bad; to improve upon someone’s day, or ruin it for them. Right now, or at the end of this day, thi…

Source: What are you: a builder-upper or a tearer-downer?

Lighten up Mondays

landscape-536173_1280There’s nothing funny about the government or politics … or is there?

I only watch the History Channel. Their news is less depressing because I know we already survived it.


Why do Americans choose from just two people to run for President and fifty for Miss America?


A foreign visitor was being given a tour of Washington, D.C. one day by an American friend of hers. She was amazed at the size of the monuments, the congressional buildings, and so forth. Finally, she gazed upon the Capital Building and said, “My, that’s an incredibly large building!”

“Yes, it’s pretty big, I guess,” said her American friend.

“Big? It’s huge!!! About how many people work in there?” she asked.

“Oh, about half,” she responded.


A busload of politicians were driving down a country road when all of a sudden, the bus ran off the road and crashed into a tree in an old farmer’s field. The old farmer, seeing what happened, went over to investigate. He then proceeded to dig a hole to bury the politicians.

A few days later the local sheriff came out, saw the crashed bus and asked the farmer where all the politicians had gone. The old farmer said he had buried them. The sheriff asked, “Were they all dead?”

The old farmer replied, “Well, some of them said they weren’t, but you know how them politicians lie.”


A senator is in a restaurant and a waiter brings over the rolls but no butter. “May I have some butter, please?” The waiter gives a slight nod and wanders off. Ten minutes later, still no butter.

The senator catches the waiter’s eye. “May I have some butter, please?” Still the vaguest of responses is given by the waiter, and after ten more minutes, still no butter.

“Maybe you don’t know who I am,” says the senator. “I’m a Princeton graduate, a Rhodes scholar, an All-American basketball player who played with the New York Knicks in the pros, and I’m currently a United States senator, chairman of the International Debt Subcommittee of the Senate Finance Committee, chairman of the Water and Power Subcommittee of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, and a member of the Senate Select Intelligence Committee.”

“Maybe you don’t know who I am,” said the waiter, “I’m the guy who’s in charge of the butter.”

Examining our gratitude levels

Orange Rose istockphotoIn keeping with my current attempt to re-blog posts of mine that celebrate the act of doing good, here is this week’s article that focuses on gratitude.

By the time you read this article, I hope you’ve already read the reblogged article I posted entitled “Up Your Gratitude,” published in a Parade Magazine article earlier this year…

Source: Examining our gratitude levels

True happiness is in our control

Regardless of our circumstances we are in charge of our happiness.

attractive-19161_640Our happiness is most dependent on how we direct our lives in any given moment, every day of our lives.

I recently viewed an episode of Super Soul Sunday on OWN in which Oprah Winfrey interviewed Jeff Weiner, CEO of LinkedIn. During that episode he spoke highly of his mentor, Ray Chambers.

Ray Chambers is the founder of an extraordinarily successful private equity holding company who walked away from it all – with more wealth than one could spend in many lifetimes – to become one of the biggest philanthropists in the world.

On this particular Super Soul Sunday television episode, Mr. Weiner listed the keys for happiness that his mentor, Ray Chambers, passed along to him. I am committed to these very principles and as much as possible, have applied them in my life, for my own good, and for the greater good of all mankind. [My editorial input is in brackets.]

Five Keys to Happiness

  1. Be in the moment. [This is what Ariel & Shya Kane of Transformation Made Easy have to say about this key: “This moment right now is all there is. Something in the future will not get here until it does, and when it does, it will occur as a moment of now.” If I had a penny for every worry or fear I’ve harbored throughout my lifetime, I could buy a publishing company and publish every book that I’ve ever written or have yet to write. Then with the leftover money, I’d solve world hunger, and every other plight, and have oodles of cash left over. What I’m trying to say is, I’ve been known to worry.]
  2. It’s better to be loving than to be right. [This takes humility – and a whole lot of practice – but it’s so very worth it. Ariel & Shya Kane say, and I’m paraphrasing, You can either be right, or alive.]
  3. Be a spectator to your own thoughts, especially when you become emotional. [I can’t count the number of times my knee jerk emotional reactions have benefited anyone, because they haven’t.]
  4. Be grateful for at least one thing every day. [Some days we may have to get creative in coming up with that one thing but I am absolutely certain that we all can come up with that one thing.]
  5. Be of service to others every chance you get. [Do little rather than nothing. The good we do doesn’t have to be grandiose or noteworthy. What matters is that we wear the mantle of compassion and servitude wherever we go.]

There are certainly many matters well out of our control, so isn’t it fabulous that happiness is not one of them?

That makes me very happy.


Lighten up Mondays

landscape-536173_1280Daylight Saving time ends November 6th. I know I’m way ahead of schedule, here, but wanted to poke fun at the process anyway. Here are some funny Tweets about Daylight Saving Time: (euphemisms have been substituted for swear words)

Daylight Saving started back in 1964 when some guy was an hour late for work and convinced his boss all the clocks were wrong. – by Rob Fee


If we can just manipulate time with daylight saving, what’s from preventing us from saying “screw it, tomorrow is Sunday again.” – by Josh Hara


Been working 25/7 working on some new daylight saving time jokes. – by Ken Jennings


It takes a special person to be late the day after daylight saving time starts. – by Meeting Boy


Salvador Dali’s daylight saving time reminder: don’t forget to melt the clocks. – by Mike Birbiglia


It’s daylight saving time! Don’t forget to shut the heck up for how the time change has really thrown you off for the next two weeks. – by Jenny Johnson

And now this question about matters having to do with months of the year:

How many months have 28 days?

All of them, of course!

As relationships move online, neighbors become more vital

Happy Friday everyone! Here’s this week’s positive encouragement to make a better world for yourselves, and others. Having a sense of community with those who live in the same neighborhood is a very good thing.

Baby Boomers and More

As relationships move online, a dark vision of ‘Pottersville’ becomes real | Editorials | The Seattle Times.

House with green roofLately, it seems everywhere I look I read articles about the importance of neighborhood connections.  In the past few days I wrote two articles specifically addressing that concept: The importance of good neighbors, and Positive community activism.

Snow globeThe attached article above, written by Froma Harrop, compares today’s community with that which existed in the movie It’s a wonderful life, an annual Holiday classic.  George Bailey’s bank customers and neighbors were people with whom he had a connection, “of varying incomes, education, and ethnicity.  Each of them was an individual, not just a useful provider of a good or service.”  Ms. Harrop goes on to say that the middle ring of society – as existed in George Bailey’s life – has been weakened over the years.  Her article outlines her belief…

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Financial help for family caregivers

seniors-1505935_640The longer our lifespan, the more likely each of us will need to be cared for. But one need not be elderly to require such care. Many illnesses strike without thought for a person’s stage in life.

Actor/comedian, Seth Rogen’s mother-in-law was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s in her 50s, an age that many consider to be the prime of life. The successful actor’s finances, plus those of several other family members, supported the care of which his wife’s mother was in need. In time, he, his wife, Lauren, and many others established Hilarity for Charity:

In 2012, Seth and Lauren (along with some amazing friends), created Hilarity for Charity. They later established the Hilarity for Charity Fund as part of the Alzheimer’s Association, through which monies raised are directed to help families struggling with Alzheimer’s care, increase support groups nationwide, and fund cutting edge research. Since its inception, Hilarity for Charity has raised more than $5 million to support these efforts.

One of the ways in which they provide this support is through caregiving grants that provide hours of home care for those struggling to survive the demands of a disease that is always fatal. Could you, or someone you know, benefit from such grants? Please avail yourself of the information provided on the Hilarity for Charity website.

See the following link for further support: Caregiving 101 through 1001

Lighten up Mondays

landscape-536173_1280The autumn season begins this Thursday, September 22:

Child asks his mom, “When is the first day of fall?”  Mother, “Honey, everyone knows it’s when Starbucks starts serving pumpkin spice lattes.”

The squirrels must be gathering nuts. Three of my neighbors have disappeared.

Tips for autumn: canning fruit and vegetables is a great way to preserve food if you think you’re too good to go to the grocery store.

Think of raking leaves as Mother Nature’s way of getting you in shape for shoveling snow.

If it got dark any earlier we wouldn’t have to get up out of bed at all.

Be pro-something instead of anti-something

For the next few Fridays, I am going to re-blog articles I’ve written over the years that address being a positive influence on the world around us. My about-face, (see my post Good Starts with Me) got me thinking about whether or not I’ve sufficiently addressed topics that provide encouragement to all of us, to live a life centered around acts of kindness for others.

Turns out I’ve written 216 posts on this subject. But have no fear, I won’t post all of them, but I will select a few to offer you on a weekly basis for awhile. I hope you enjoy them.

Baby Boomers and More

Helene Gayle, Care USA President and CEO, learned early on in her adult life that giving to others was a necessary part of her participation in this world.  It makes sense, then, that she heads a major international humanitarian agency that delivers emergency relief and support for long-term development projects.  This organization is nonsectarian, impartial, and non-governmental.  In my estimation, what could be better than that?  In the book, Getting There by Gillian Zoe Segal, Ms. Gayle had this to say about effecting social change:

Social change is better achieved by being for something (rather) than against something. Growing up, I was part of a protest generation. We protested the war and stood in support of liberation struggles in Africa. Whenever we saw a problem, we were “against” it.

It’s easy to think that by being against something you’re standing up for a cause, but if you want to have…

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Lighten up Mondays

landscape-536173_1280If you’ve already read my earlier post Good Starts with Me, then you may already know where these funnies may be going: destination happiness.

Money can’t buy happiness but it can buy Snickers Ice Cream Bars [substitute chocolate, a good bottle of wine, an excellent cup of coffee … ] and that’s pretty close.


Happiness is when someone says to you, “Gee, you’ve lost weight!”


Some people bring happiness wherever they go; others bring happiness whenever they go.


Happiness is seeing a photo of your crotchety ol’ neighbor on the back of a milk carton.

And closing with a joke:

Two dogs are walking along a street; they’re passed by a third dog driving a trailer load of logs. One dog turns to the other and says, “He started fetching a stick and built a business from there.”


Good Starts with Me – Irene’s about-face

I follow a gentleman on Facebook, Prince Ea, a twenty-seven year old poet, filmmaker, and speaker who, according to his website, “has touched the hearts and souls of millions of people worldwide.” I can’t vouch for the millions, but I can vouch for myself: what he has to say has been inspirational and life-affirming.

Angry womanThe end of August he posted a video encouraging Facebook users to stop spreading hatred and anger in the stories they post; stories that might further enflame others. (Political news stories come to mind, and I’ve been fairly actively posting said stories.) Additionally, he talked about the domino effect of reposting flaming news stories or other flaming social media.

Let’s look at how this may work. Let’s say I read some story in the news, or even on other FB pages, that inspire me to repost that same story on my own FB page. Now, by inspire what I really mean is incite. Maybe if I hadn’t posted that story on my timeline, none of my FB followers would have been exposed to it. Now they’re inspired/incited to repost that same post and then more and more and more people have the opportunity to get p*ssed off just like I was p*ssed off when I first read it.

Yuck. Now I’m responsible for inciting hatred and anger from innocent people who had the misfortune of having read my posting.

The flip side of this process is that a positive domino effect proceeds from Facebook posts that are less about the sh*t that makes us mad, and more about the good stuff that makes the world a softer place.

attractive-19161_640So enough. From now on – and this is gonna be difficult during the final weeks of this election season – I’m only going to post or repost stories on Facebook that might have the effect of affirming others; of lightening someone’s mood; of making others feel glad they woke up that day.

And where my blog is concerned, when writing new articles that my followers have the opportunity to read, I will make sure that regardless of the topic, there will always be a redeeming element that provides positive direction and hope in the midst of the life-topics that inspire me to spend hours providing content – over 750 blog posts thus far – to my followers on WordPress, Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter.

And now that I’ve announced this about face on my part, I’m gonna do my level best to adhere to it. I’m only human . . . and I’m just as sensitive as the rest of you . . . but I’m still gonna give it the ol’ college try.

Mike Ditka, Hall of Fame NFL player, coach and TV analyst recently had this to say when asked what he would do if he were President of the United States:

“I’d focus on being a leader, not a reactor. We have too many reactors in this world.”

Wise words.

For those of you on Twitter, with this post, I’ve started a new trend: #goodstartswithme

Alzheimer’s “exit-seeking” behavior at 35,000 feet.

Here’s another blog post that shows up consistently in my website’s stats, almost four years after I first wrote it. It’s still very relevant today.

Baby Boomers and More

At a certain stage during the course of Alzheimer’s or other dementia, a person can exhibit exit-seeking behavior.  It is believed that the person exhibiting this behavior is actually trying to get home, or back to a familiar place, or even seeking a feeling of comfort rather than simply trying to escape from their current location.

Confused face with question markThis “exiting” can take place just about anywhere, even at the person’s own home – resulting in a dangerous scenario where a wandering vulnerable person could easily fall into any number of  horrific situations because of their inability to get back to the safety of their home (be it a personal residence or a long-term care facility.)  Exiting behavior also takes place in public places such as grocery stores or shopping malls, movie theaters, airports, and yes, even airplanes at 35,000 feet above the ground.  This latter scenario happened on a recent flight I…

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Do Not Ask Me To Remember

Occasionally, the stats for my website reveal ongoing interest in various topics I’ve addressed over the years. This article is one of them that seems to attract quite a bit of interest so I am reposting it for those who may be interested.

Baby Boomers and More

Walk in Their Shoes… Just for a Minute.  The attached article contains encouraging advice that caregivers worldwide need to read, and re-read, from time to time.

Those of us who have been caregivers to loved ones with Alzheimer’s or other dementia know very well the frustrations felt when we come to the realization that we’re not sufficiently equipped to handle that which this disease presents us.  We’re walking in caregiver shoes, fully incapable of walking in those of the person with dementia.  If we could, we would shriek at what we see and experience.

So we get frustrated – understandably so.  We raise our voices in anger – and feel guilty immediately thereafter.  We complain to others about the one we’re taking care of – because we crave to be heard and understood by someone!

English: PET scan of a human brain with Alzhei... PET scan of a human brain with Alzheimer’s disease (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


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Lighten up Mondays

landscape-536173_1280It’s Labor Day in the United States and although I’m well aware that this Holiday has nothing to do with giving birth, here are a few funnies that are about just that:

Brenda, pregnant with her first child, was paying a visit to her obstetrician’s office. When the exam was over, she shyly began, “My husband wants me to ask you if its still okay…”

“I know, I know.” the doctor said, placing a reassuring hand on her shoulder, “I get asked that all the time. Sex is fine until late in the pregnancy.”

“No, that’s not it at all,” Brenda confessed. “He wants to know if I can still mow the lawn.”


Little Johnny was assigned a paper on childbirth and asked his mother, “How was I born?” “The stork brought you to us.” “Oh, ” said Little Johnny.

“Well, how did you and daddy get born?” he asked. “Oh, the stork brought us too.”

“So. . . how were grandpa and grandma born?” “Well, darling, the stork brought them too, ” said the mother.

The next day Little Johnny handed in his paper to the teacher. It read, “This report is impossible to write due to the fact that there hasn’t been a natural childbirth in my family for three generations.”

And finally:

Q: My childbirth instructor says it’s not pain I’ll feel during labor, but pressure. Is she right?
A: Yes, in the same way that a tornado might be called an air current.


Live like you were dying


Even at my age, I live by the school year calendar. When a new school year approaches, I oftentimes find myself reassessing where I am, and where I’m going – not unlike what so many of us do the first of every new year. This post flows from that assessment and has been ruminating in my mind for some time now.

Maybe it’s my advancing age, or maybe it’s the wisdom that has come with my advancing age, but I’m constantly reminded how important it is to live NOW; in the present. We have limited time on this earth. Time is a luxury we can not afford to waste, and yet so much of our time falls into that wasteful category.

If you were diagnosed with a terminal illness, wouldn’t you do all you could to squeeze every last drop out of your life? I know I would because I would have no choice in the matter.

But those of us who have not been given a medical death sentence do have a choice. We can be engaged in this only life we’ve been given, or we can waste it.

We can wile away the hours of each day lamenting what isn’t and complaining about what is, or we can live in the present and accept what we can’t change and do something about that which we can.

chains-19176_640The truth of the matter is, we all have restrictors strapped to our lives. They may be physical or medical restrictors; financial or situational restrictors. No one escapes what life dishes out, but we all have a choice about what we do with what we’ve been served.

That’s a very heady responsibility we’ve been given.

I mean, wow, it’s my life, I get to choose how I live it. I can choose to remain as I am, or I can do something this very day to make things better.

Waiting even one more day means that’s one more day I will have  wasted.

I’m not willing to do that, I mean . . . what if tomorrow brings about that death sentence I thought I had avoided?


Lighten up Mondays

landscape-536173_1280There are two teachers in my family: Our son-in-law, Kirby (elementary school) and my stepdaughter Kirstin (high school). Here’s to them and numerous other underpaid and overworked educators!

Teacher: “Where is your homework?” Student: “I lost it fighting this kid who said you weren’t the best teacher in the school.”

If teachers were honest about their report card comments to parents: “Jimmy continues to be a sh*t. I would like him to stop being a sh*t. Please work out your sh*t so Jimmy is not a sh*t.

Teacher in answer to a student’s question about the book he’s holding: “It’s called reading. It’s how people install new software into their brains.”

Teacher: “Class, we will only have a half day of school this morning.” Students: “Hooray!” Teacher: “We will have the other half this afternoon.”

There are three kinds of people in the world: those who are good in math, and those who aren’t.

Teacher: “You failed the test.” Student: “You failed to educate me.”

And proof that punctuation saves lives:

“Let’s eat Grandma!”      vs       “Let’s eat, Grandma”



Lighten up Mondays

landscape-536173_1280With the 2016-2017 school year quickly approaching, I thought I’d provide some parenting humor for those with small kids, and those who managed to live beyond the early parenting years.

When I get a headache, I take two aspirin and keep away from children, just like it says on the bottle.

Parenting without a sense of humor is like being an accountant who sucks at math.

Sound travels slowly: sometimes the things you say when your kids are teenagers don’t reach them until they’re in their 40s.

Saturday is the day kids jump out of bed at 6am with all the energy they claim they didn’t have all week long.

When you want to punish your kids, don’t take away their electronics. Just take away the charger and watch the fear in their eyes as they use it less and less while the battery slowly dies.

And finally:

He lead me to the bedroom, pulled back the covers, and gave me a coy smile. “Tonight, it’s all about you.” And then he watched the kids while I slept uninterrupted for 14 hours.

Do we have the power to influence the lives of children?

Yes we do.

That influence can be good or it can be bad so it’s important to pay attention to what we’re saying with our words, and with our actions.

Mary painting at homeMy sister, Mary Riesche of Mary Riesche Studios, inspired this blog post.

For several weeks this summer, Mary taught an art class at The Leaven summer fun program in the town of Vacaville, California where she resides. As is often the case when parents sign their kids up for activities, not every child is enthusiastic about being forced to have fun with others.

That was the case for one of Mary’s students in her weekly classes. A thirteen year old boy – at least five years older than the rest of the students – couldn’t have cared less that my sister volunteered her time to pass along her passion for painting to the young participants. His weekly modus operandi was to quickly, and haphazardly, make whatever project my sister put before him, followed by him then crossing his arms in front of him while the rest of the children worked painstakingly to create what Mrs. Riesche had taught them to create.

During one particular class, the thirteen year old said that he didn’t like what he had done; that he needed to erase it or better yet, give up on the project. My sister stepped in and said the following to him, and I paraphrase:

Never give up, just keep going. You never know when what you consider to be a mistake may eventually turn into something remarkable.

As the very last art class of The Leaven’s artistic summer fun session came to a close a couple weeks ago, the Director queried the children, “What did you learn from your time in Mrs. Riesche’s art classes this summer?”

What happened next caught my sister totally off guard. The thirteen year old boy raised his hand, and said, “That I should never give up. That I should keep going regardless of how I feel about something.”

And there, my friends, is influence in action.

I told Mary I was certain this young boy would carry that lesson on tenacity with him into high school, college, and beyond. Perhaps he won’t remember the art teacher who made that lasting impression on him – I’d like to think that he will – but he will most certainly remember the sage advice my sister bestowed on him the summer of 2016.

Congratulations, Mary Riesche. You changed a child’s life forever.

Lighten up Mondays

landscape-536173_1280NFL pre-season football began this past weekend. For those of you who are addicted to the sport – or at least your city’s NFL team – this one’s for you.

A Carolina Panthers fan, a San Francisco 49ers fan, a Seattle Seahawks fan, and a New England Patriots fan are climbing a mountain and arguing about who loves his team more.

The Panthers fan insists he is the most loyal. ‘This is for the Panthers!” he yells, and jumps off the side of the mountain.

Not to be outdone, the 49ers fan shouts, ‘This is for the 49ers!” and throws himself off the mountain.

sea tac 12th man loungeThe Seahawks fan is next to profess his love for his team. He yells, ‘This is for everyone!” and pushes the Patriots fan off the mountain.



Lighten up Mondays

landscape-536173_1280The trouble with retirement is you never get a day off!

An old guy in his Volvo is driving home from work when his wife rings him on his carphone. “Honey”, she says in a worried voice, “be careful. There was a bit on the news just now, some lunatic is driving the wrong way down the freeway”. “It’s worse than that”, he replies, “there are hundreds of them!”


A reporter was interviewing a 104 year-old woman: “And what do you think is the best thing about being 104?” the reporter asked. She simply replied, “No peer pressure.”


An old lady really wanted to visit England, the home of her ancestors, before she died. So she went to the Federal Office and asked for a passport. “You must take the loyalty oath first,” the passport clerk said. “Raise your right hand, please.” The old gal raised her right hand. “Do you swear to defend the Constitution of the United States against all its enemies, domestic or foreign?” The sweet old face paled and the voice trembled as she responded, “Well, I guess so, but. . .will I have help, or will I have to do it all by myself?”


“Oh, I sure am glad to see you,” the little boy said to his grandmother (on his mother’s side). “Now Daddy will do the trick he’s been promising us.” The grandmother was curious. “What trick is that?” she asked. “He told Mommy that he’d climb the walls if you came to visit,” answered the boy.


And finally:

What is so special about the retirement age? “It is the time when one acquires sufficient experience to lose one’s job.”





Stronger Together

Stronger Together was the major theme of the Democratic National Convention (DNC) and it was the stand-out focus of Hillary Clinton’s acceptance speech on July 28th.

Whether you follow the “It takes a village” concept – or simply believe that our lives can be positively enhanced by others – you most likely believe as I do, that two is better than one; three is better than two; four is better than three . .  .

log-647052_640Mind you, I am perfectly capable of accomplishing many things for which I require very little – if any – assistance. But when I attempt to do something for which others’ participation may add strength – emotional or otherwise – and value to my efforts, I’m welcoming of others’ participation.

Ariel and Shya Kane, authors of several books, including Practical Enlightenment, (free for Kindle Unlimited subscribers) have the following to say about not going it alone. I quote verbatim from their chapter “You Can’t Do it Alone”:

Independence and freedom are the background upon which many of our lives are played. So we may not be making use of our support system of friends around us because we’re locked into an unexamined need to prove we can do it alone . . .

Having someone to talk to, to share ideas with, to support you in going for excellence and not quitting on yourself is a rare gift. When you are feeling down and it all seems too hard to continue, those are the moments that a community can support you in rediscovering well-being. It’s easy to get discouraged. Life is full of disappointments, but when you realize you’re not traveling that road alone, you can keep going.

When you’re in a community, you realize that you make a difference, that you matter. This supports you in being your true self and supporting others as well, which is truly satisfying.

Our nation is divided in so many ways, especially from a political perspective. In May of this year I wrote an article Us Against Them Mentality, that addressed this type of party divisiveness.

The simple point I want to make today, however, is that I believe we need to make a concerted effort to pull away from the Me, Myself, and I paradigm and adopt an Us outlook. Doing so opens up so many healthy possibilities:

  • we’ll be more aware of the needs around us;
  • conversely, we’ll be more inclined to accept help when offered;
  • we’ll be giving others – friends and strangers – an opportunity to exercise their strengths in the midst of our weaknesses;
  • we’ll build community where previously none existed;
  • we’ll release positive energy into our little portion of the universe, rather than infect that same space with selfishness, hatred, and bitterness.

chain-196821_640It’s virtually impossible to be a violent person – in actions or in words – if we’re practicing what is listed in the above bullet points. If we truly live our lives outwardly, we’ll create a binding strength that will make us stronger as individuals, while also creating an indestructible civilization that can stand up against anything that gets thrown in its path. I certainly can’t say the same for the Me, Myself, and I method of existence.

No. I alone can not do it . . . no one can.

The sooner we realize that fact, the better off we’ll all be.


Lighten up Mondays

landscape-536173_1280We all could use some humor during this amazing – and by amazing, I mean crazy – race for president. So here you go – there’s something for everyone in these entries:

On his deathbed, a lifelong Republican supporter suddenly announced that he was switching to the Democrats. “I can’t believe you’re doing this.” said his friend. “For your entire life you’re been a staunch Republican. Why would you want to become a Democrat now?” “Because I’d rather it was one of them that dies than one of us.”


A politician was a guest speaker at the golf club dinner. As the politician stood up to speak, a few of the men saw it as an opportunity to sneak off to the bar. An hour later, with the politician still talking, another man joined them. “Is he still talking?” they asked him. “Yes.” another man answered. “What on Earth is he talking about?” “I don’t know. He’s still introducing himself.”


Recently a former Republican mayor of a Pennsylvania town 
recounted some funny stories about his time in office. One happened while he was running for re-election; he was in a bar and paid for a 
woman’s drink. She thanked him but wondered why a stranger had 
bought her a beer.

“I’m running for mayor,” he told her, “and I want your vote.”

“You got it,” she said, grabbing her glass. “Anyone’s better than the jerk who’s in there now.”

So my readers, how about this week we hope that the candidates for President of the United States give us something to feel good about.


A narcissistic bully

bullying-1019271_640It’s pretty difficult to go through life without being bullied at one time or another. I was bullied in eighth grade and I remember every detail of that occurrence. Considering I’m now in my 60s, that’s a long time to remember something.

That’s what bullying does to people:

when bullies hit, they hit hard.

Much has been said about why bullies do what they do. Some of said discussion centers around the fact that bullies act the way they do out of a sense of lack; out of weakness; out of a feeling of low self-worth. They feel the need to break down others so they can be built up.

“What?” you say, “I thought bullies believed they were ‘all that’ and therefore lord it over those they feel are ‘nothings’ in this world.

Regardless of the source of their behavior, its characteristics are the same: they push others to the ground, and when they’re down, they kick dirt in their faces, even stomping on their victims so they are even lower than ground level.

That’s what Trump has done time and time again. Most recently, as of this past weekend, he chose to attack the Muslim parents of a soldier, Humayun Khan, who lost his life in the Iraq war while fighting on behalf of the United States.

This soldier was awarded a Purple Heart for his sacrifice. Khizr and Ghazala Khan are Gold Star parents.

Trump countered Khizr Khan’s statement about his hero-son’s sacrifice by saying that he too (Trump) has sacrificed: he’s worked hard, he’s created 1000s and 1000s of jobs, and – get this – he’s built great structures.

Yeah, Mr. Trump, that’s the same as losing your life to save others.

But Trump didn’t stop there, no, he criticized Khizr Khan’s wife for not saying anything at the DNC, concluding that she probably wasn’t allowed to have anything to say; she wasn’t allowed to speak. Having heard his DNC speech, I think Mr. Khan spoke eloquently on behalf of both of them, and he spoke on behalf of me.

The normal response to families who have lost a loved one in service to their country is honor and respect. Instead, Trump spoke ill of this particular family because he’s a heartless bully.

In an ABC News interview with George Stephanopolous, when asked what he, Trump, would say to a grieving Mr. Khan if given the opportunity, Trump said,

“I’d say, ‘We’ve had a lot of problems with radical Islamic terrorism.’”


But you want to know what’s worse than a bully?

celebrity-986838_640A narcissistic bully.

DSM-5 criteria for narcissistic personality disorder include these features:

  • Having an exaggerated sense of self-importance
  • Expecting to be recognized as superior even without achievements that warrant it
  • Exaggerating your achievements and talents
  • Being preoccupied with fantasies about success, power, brilliance, beauty or the perfect mate
  • Believing that you are superior and can only be understood by or associate with equally special people
  • Requiring constant admiration
  • Having a sense of entitlement
  • Expecting special favors and unquestioning compliance with your expectations
  • Taking advantage of others to get what you want
  • Having an inability or unwillingness to recognize the needs and feelings of others
  • Being envious of others and believing others envy you
  • Behaving in an arrogant or haughty manner

I guess being narcissistic and being a bully go hand in hand.  The Mayo Clinic adds the following regarding this personality disorder:

At the same time, you have trouble handling anything that may be perceived as criticism. You may have secret feelings of insecurity, shame, vulnerability and humiliation. To feel better, you may react with rage or contempt and try to belittle the other person to make yourself appear superior.

Instead of exhibiting an ounce of compassion toward the loss the Khan’s experienced at the death of their son, he turned the whole situation around to where he was the victim, not the Khans. He condemned the father’s statements and complained that he, Trump, was viciously attacked by the father.

Again . . . WOW.

I just have to say: Donald Trump running the United States of America and being our country’s foremost international representative is more than a scary thought . . .

Donald Trump representing the USA in any official capacity would signal the beginning of the end of our fine country.

Lighten up Mondays

landscape-536173_1280I don’t camp but I do lots of hiking in the Pacific Northwest. Here are some humorous outdoor tips for you campers out there:

  • When using a public campground, a tuba placed on your picnic table will keep the campsites on either side vacant;
  • Get even with a bear who raids your food supply by kicking his favorite stump apart and eating all the bugs;
  • A two-man pup tent does not include two men or a pup;
  • The guitar of the noisy camper at the next site makes excellent kindling;
  • It’s entirely possible to spend your whole vacation on a winding mountain road behind a large motor home;
  • I bet you’re wondering, where do forest rangers go to get away from it all;
  • Camping defined: paying a bunch of money to pretend you’re homeless;

and finally and appropriate this election season…

  • A great deal of hostility can be released by using newspaper photos of politicians for toilet paper.

Lighten up Mondays

landscape-536173_1280Writing is no laughing matter – take it from me – but these jokes about writing had me doing just that:

There once was a young man who in his youth professed his desire to become a great writer. When asked to define great, he said, “I want to write stuff that the whole world will read, stuff people will react to on a truly emotional level, stuff that will make them scream, cry, howl in pain and anger!”

He now works for Microsoft, writing error messages.


A visitor to a certain college paused to admire the hew Hemingway Hall that had been built on campus. “It’s a pleasure seeing a hall named after Ernest Hemingway,” he said.

“Actually,” said his guide, “It’s named for Joshua Hemingway, no relation.”

“Was Joshua Hemingway a writer, too?”

“Yes, indeed,” said the guide, “He wrote a check.”


A writer died and was given the option of going to heaven or hell. She decided to check out each place first.

As she descended into the fiery pits, she saw rows and rows of writers chained to their desks in a sweatshop; the writers were repeatedly whipped with thorny lashes.

“Oh my,” said the writer, “Let me see heaven now.”

As she ascended into heaven she saw the exact same scene as was in hell: writers chained to their desks and being whipped by thorny lashes.

“This is just as bad as hell!”

“Oh, no, it’s  not,” said an unseen voice, “Here your work gets published.”

60 is the new 40 … kind of

I’m in my early 60s and I’ll be damned if I’ll use my age as an excuse to be inactive. Not on your life … certainly not on mine.

Rattlesnake Ledge: 1100 ft elevation gain; 6/1/2016

Rattlesnake Ledge: 1100 ft elevation gain; 6/1/2016

Since my husband retired late April of this year, we’ve managed to go hiking every week. (It’s such a luxury being able to do so on the less-crowded weekdays.) Prior to coming down with the hiking bug, we would look for a trail with an elevation gain FAR below 1000 feet. To be more honest, we only chose trails with a couple hundred feet elevation gain.

Elevation gain = degree of steepness of the trail

Now we choose trails with at least a 1300 foot elevation gain.


Wallace Falls: 1300 ft elevation gain; 7/1/2016

Wallace Falls: 1300 ft elevation gain; 7/1/2016

Our goal is to hike Mt. Si, 8 miles RT and 3150 elevation gain, by the end of September. That’s 1850 additional feet elevation gain than the hike we completed on July 1st.

Lake Twenty Two: 1350 elevation gain; 7/3/2016

Lake Twenty Two: 1350 elevation gain; 7/3/2016

The hike we completed with my husband’s daughters on July 3rd was difficult because of all the massive rocks and boulders we had to maneuver through…I got a good bruise on my leg when my maneuvering wasn’t all that successful. (See below for the terrain.)

We have been training for the Mt. Si hike by walking in our very hilly neighborhood. We’ve labeled each training walk in the following manner: The Wall, The Monster, The Broadhurst Monster, The Figure Eight Double Monster. We’re very pleased with our increased physical endurance and lung capacity as a result of said training walks. And of course, each and every hike we take, we increase the elevation gain and the length of the hike, all the while enjoying the beauty Pacific Northwest hiking destinations have to offer.

You may ask, “Why in the hell is Irene boring us with her husband’s and her hiking exploits? Sure sounds as though she’s bragging.”

Oh, I’m not bragging, not in the least. I’m celebrating my husband’s and my decision to push through the pain and discomfort and to stretch the boundaries of what we thought we were capable of doing. Speaking for myself, being 60-ish has brought a few health challenges, not the least of which is pretty severe arthritis in both feet, several ruptured discs and tears in my lumbar spine area, and an internal issue or two that sometimes chain me to my house.

But you wanna know something? I had a good teacher when I was growing up in the form of my mother who had severe rheumatoid arthritis. She was diagnosed with RA as a teenager.

Mom made the decision early on in her life to keep moving.

Mom with Erin, 3 days after my daughter was born. 1976

Mom with my daughter, 3 days after Erin was born. 1976

My mother declared that she would rather be active and hurt more, than stay at home and hurt slightly less.

And that’s what my husband and I are doing. Let’s face it – we’re not getting any younger and every day we waste can never be retrieved and lived over. As the old saying goes, “This ain’t no dress rehearsal, folks.”

I’d rather squeeze what I can from every day I’m given … and then apply the multitude of ice packs we have at home to our various body parts when we return home to celebrate our accomplishments. What can I say, it works for us and it makes us extraordinarily happy being able to do these activities together.