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.


Lighten up Mondays

landscape-536173_1280More often than not, men and women alike dread the start of swimming season, also known as swimsuit season. I have a suit that only gets worn when I’m on vacation where I’m quite certain to never run into anyone I know.

It’s not the greatest looking piece of swimwear but save for swimming fully clothed when temperatures are in the 80s, it’s my choice for ocean and swimming pool activities. Here are a few humorous musings to get you through the very first time you appear in public in your chosen swimwear.

If I start my diet and exercise regimen right now, I ought to be bathing suit ready by 2026.

My bathing suit told me to go to the gym, but my sweat pants were like, “Nah, girl, you’re good.”

Best of luck on your transition from Seasonal Affective Disorder to Swimsuit Shopping Despair.

Bikini season is right around the corner. Sadly, Baskin Robbins was closer.

And finally…

Unlike bathing suits, flip-flops fit year after year.


Lighten up Mondays

landscape-536173_1280A man and his wife were sitting in the living room discussing a Living Will.

“Just so you know, I never want to live in a vegetative state, dependent on some machine and fluids from a bottle. If that ever happens, just pull the plug.”

His wife got up, unplugged the TV and threw out all the beer.



My parents and two siblings are immigrants

There, I’ve said it.

The newlyweds: Edmonton, Alberta CANADA

The newlyweds: Edmonton, Alberta CANADA

Don and Pat Desaulniers (who later changed the spelling of their surname to Desonier to make it easier for Americans to pronounce…it didn’t, they still slaughtered the pronunciation) and Donald and Mary Desaulniers moved to Philadelphia, PA from Canada and eventually relocated to Los Angeles, CA.

Not me. I was born in Pasadena, CA shortly after my family moved to the west coast. Does it get any more American than that?

You see, way back when, my father was a hard working employee of Manufacturer’s Life Insurance Company, an international company based out of Toronto, CANADA, and he was offered a position in !AMERICA! that he felt he couldn’t refuse because he loved his wife and young family and was given the opportunity to move up in the company’s employee ranks and by God he jumped at the opportunity. My father retired from Manulife after 50 years of service with them.

Such a cutie that brother of mine

Such a cutie, that brother of mine

My parents felt strongly about being an involved, integral part of American society so they let go of their Canadian citizenships and became American citizens along with my brother and sister, and of course since I was born in America, I was instantaneously a citizen. Lucky me.

My fabulous immigrant sister

My fabulous immigrant sister

I’m quite certain most people reading this post can trace their ancestry to other countries, and many of you don’t have to go very far back – just as I only needed to go back to the early 40s with my immediate family to find the start of my ancestry’s foray from a foreign country into the United States.

Other than Dad, no additional members of  his family of six moved to the United States but four of six adult children in my mother’s family of eight are immigrants. Counting my siblings, aunts and uncles, and numerous cousins, close to 68% of my immediate Desaulniers/Conroy family members made the move to the United States and I assure you, they were welcomed, and as far as I know, the United States still treats its Canadian immigrants as they did my parents so many years ago. Or maybe I missed current headlines declaring that Canadians weren’t welcome and that a wall should be built between our northern border with Canada…

Did I miss something?

Why aren’t American citizens up in arms about the influx of immigrants from non-Muslim countries and those from countries that aren’t Mexico who’ve made the United States their home: Canadians, Eastern Europeans, the French, Italians, Australians, New Zealanders and Germans to name just a few? Americans’ arms are spread wide for those who aren’t a part of America’s “no-entry” list, and I applaud their generous gesture.

Answer me this: do intelligent Americans actually believe that if you’re coming into our country from a primarily Muslim country, you’re a terrorist? Seriously? And do those same Americans believe that immigrants from Mexico are murderers and rapists and have taken away the jobs in which they, the Americans, are most interested?

I believe as my parents did, that when you’re living in a country and benefiting from its resources you should give back to the country, which sometimes means becoming a citizen but not always. What about those legal immigrants who – having families just like mine – want to do all they can to create a safe, healthy, and financially secure existence for their loved ones by working in America, getting involved in commerce (aka buying stuff in America), volunteering in their communities, and being good neighbors? They are an integral part of the melting pot that we so proudly boast as being what a well-rounded and diverse society should look like.

I don’t know, maybe we should just scrape the inscription off the Statue of Liberty if indeed Americans are no longer willing to welcome those whom we’ve graciously invited to our very shores for so many years. If the invitation is no longer being extended – or if it’s being ruthlessly discriminatory – don’t tease the huddled masses from afar, and don’t pretend to be the extraordinary country I’ve called my home since 1953.

"Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, the wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door!"

“Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, the wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”

Lighten up Mondays

landscape-536173_1280An Octogenarian who was an avid golfer moved to a new town and joined the local country club.

He went to the club for the first time to play but was told there wasn’t anyone with whom he could play because they were already out on the course. He repeated several times that he really wanted to play.

Finally, the Assistant Pro said he would play with him and asked how many strokes he wanted for a bet. The 80 year old said, “I really don’t need any strokes because I’ve been playing quite well. The only real problem I have is getting out of the sand traps.”

And he did play well. Coming to the par four 18th they were all even. The Pro had a nice drive and was able to get on the green and 2-putt for a par. The old man had a nice drive but his approach shot landed in a sand trap next to the green.

Playing from the bunker he hit a high ball which landed on the green and rolled into the hole. Birdie, match, and all the money!

The Pro walked over to the sand trap where his opponent was still standing in the trap. He said, “Nice shot, but I thought you said you have a problem getting out of sand traps?”

The old man said, “I do, can ya give me a hand?”

Let’s Do It In The Road (reposted from a fellow blogger)

Nancy, I’m pretty sure your husband and I came from the same Mama. I talk to everyone, everywhere. I firmly believe that acknowledging someone, showing interest in someone, may have an impact the magnitude thereof we could never imagine. That grocery store bagger who was just dumped by her boyfriend; the mailman who’s always so grouchy when he drops off the mail; fellow hikers struggling up the same mountain; the cable representative you called about an error in your bill; my, oh, my, the list is endless. Those aren’t wasted words expended on your part – those words could absolutely signal to that stranger that they matter and that all is not lost.

We have a great responsibility when confronting our fellow man/woman, and I take it very seriously. I’d rather be responsible for someone’s good day, than add to their lousy day.

See also: Small acts of kindness, huge benefitIt is never wrong to do goodWhat are you: a builder-upper or a tearer-downer?


Not literally of course.

But this week, I read yet another article about things you should not do in public. Obvious stuff – like texting in a restaurant, letting your kids run wild in the grocery store, talking loudly at the movies.

I agreed with everything on the list.

But I thought it was a shame that all I read and hear is about the shit you shouldn’t do in public.

Someone should compile a list of shit you really should do in public.

I think it should be me.

Here’s a start:

Talk to strangers.  OK, so maybe not if you are eight. But adult to adult? My husband always talks to the people in front and behind him in line at the supermarket. And everywhere really – at the post office, at the bank, at the gas pump. You know what he gets out of it? All…

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Hatred and intolerance have no place in religion

zittau-1021288_640A little bit of backstory about myself: I was raised Roman Catholic, then in the late 70s I steered clear of any religious involvement for several years, then I became a born again Christian in 1981, actively involved for thirteen years, then in the late 90s, I went back to the Catholic church and was very active in said church, then in 2013 I abandoned that church for good when intolerance was exhibited regarding gay marriage.

I didn’t, and don’t, believe that everyone in the Catholic church is intolerant – not at all – but when the local Catholic archdiocese instructed parish priests on how to block a political vote for gay marriage, I was outta there. One of those measures saw a petition table set up during church services so that people could voice – by their signature – their opposition to the measure.

That went over the line of separation between church and state. My worship space was violated: the space where a loving community of fellow believers assembled to worship God and emulate Christ.

I’m pretty damn familiar with the Bible. During my thirteen years in an evangelical church, I read the big book from beginning to end twice a year, I went to church three times a week and heard many, many scripture readings and sermons, and I went to Bible study once a week. For several years I led a Bible study group for single mothers – myself being one at the time.

Anyone who has read the Bible, regardless of how he or she may interpret some of the teachings therein, has to conclude and profess that God is about love; that to live a life modeled after Christ is to live a life in which love, acceptance, inclusiveness, and lack of judging ones fellow man is at the forefront.

I’ve seen many news and social media postings over the years – and increasingly so during this current election cycle – where hatred oozes from the words on the page. These postings written in the name of God and/or Christ spew hatred in record volumes. They are:

  • Anti-Muslim
  • Anti-gay
  • Anti-immigrant
  • Anti-younameit

christ-526001_640Bear with me for a moment. Let’s pretend that Jesus Christ – savior, prophet, and Son of God – is alive and physically present at this writing. He goes to work like everyone else; he purchases his venti double-shot latte at his favorite Starbucks just like you and me; he mows his lawn, washes his car, gets stuck in traffic just like the rest of us mortals. In short, he’s participating in life as many of us know it.

When Jesus is standing at the water cooler on a Friday afternoon with the rest of his coworkers discussing the upcoming weekend’s plans, and/or the state of the current election season, is he full of love or hate for those with whom a certain percentage of our society have a bone to pick?

  • Does a homophobic slur escape from his lips when someone known to be gay at his work place announces his plans to participate in that weekend’s Pride Parade?
  • Does he elbow a fellow nine-to-fiver in the ribs and say, “Here! Here!” when that employee speaks ill of people of certain faiths?
  • Does Jesus get on the anti-immigrant bandwagon and ask, “Where do I sign up for that wall construction? God knows, I’m pretty darn good with tools!”

Is that the Son of God that exists in the Bible?

Is his intolerant and judgmental behavior what one would expect of a child of God?

I don’t think so.

So why are so many children of God behaving that way? The manner in which they discard Christ’s teachings makes one think that these mere mortals believe they know better – and are better – than the person after whom they are supposed to be modeling themselves.

Please, if that’s the case, don’t call yourself a follower of the loving, forgiving, God I grew up knowing.

Give yourself a different moniker than Christ-ian.

How about:

  • Herod-ians?
  • JudasIscariat-ians?
  • Abimilech-ians?
  • Absalom-ians?
  • Jeroboam-ians?
  • Belshazzar-ians?

Pick a name, any name but “Christian” because you’re not representing the God of love; not by any stretch of the imagination.

See also: We’re all different versions of each other

Forgotten children

orange-1154559_640I don’t know about you, but I’ve left something in my car and later regretted doing so. One item in particular that I REALLY regretted leaving in the trunk of my car was a can of frozen orange juice. I guess I didn’t forget it, it slipped out of my shopping bag and after awhile, once it had melted, it turned bad…real bad and stunk up my car. Fortunately the smell alerted me to the neglected juice can so I could retrieve it and thoroughly clean out my trunk to eliminate the stench of rotted, putrid, orange juice.

Okay, true confession time. Let me be totally honest with you, there have been other items I’ve left in my car, the fact that they existed having completely slipped my mind:

  • Cell phone
  • Water bottle
  • Briefcase
  • Umbrella
  • Jacket
  • Bag of snacks
  • iPod

So yes, I can readily be accused of forgetting something in my car that should have been brought into the house.

warning-577062_640But I never left my child in my car.

I never forgot I had a daughter and then “slap myself on the forehead” ran out to retrieve her to bring her inside the house.

What’s going on these days that some parents now go about their day, fully oblivious to the fact that earlier in the day they had placed a child in his or her carseat in the heat of the day, and that if the child isn’t in the house when you enter the house, there must be some place where he or she may be located?

Or when you go to work, having placed a child in the carseat earlier in the day, you somehow work your shift and then return to your car, drive home, and then remember you and your spouse gave birth to this little bundle of dehydrated flesh some x-years ago?

Are we so distracted that a living, human being slips our minds?

How can one explain this extraordinary occurrence of parents forgetting their children in their vehicles?

Hell, I didn’t even leave my child unattended in my vehicle just because my store errand would only be 5 minutes! No, too many things could have happened during that five minutes and I wasn’t about to chance any of those from occurring to the little girl I carried in the warmth and protection of my womb. I would rather be inconvenienced having to unstrap her from the carseat – even if she had fallen asleep and desperately needed some Zzzz time – and carry a crying child into the store for my five minute errand than risk anything happening to my most cherished possession.

The fact that car manufacturers are now developing alarm systems in vehicles to alert a parent to the existence of their flesh and blood seems rather alarming in itself…doesn’t it?

Or is it just me who thinks so?