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?

Ann Hedreen: Enough gun violence, already!

Please take the time to read Ms. Hedreen’s thoughts with this article reposted from her blog: The Restless Nest. Ann Hedreen is the author of Her Beautiful Brain: A Memoir.

You know how it is. You don’t want to feel numb. You know that numbness is just pain postponed. Novocained. You know that, in order to get through this, you’ve got to feel. And so you go about your day. You get in the car. You turn on the radio. Some of the speakers […]

via #Enough — therestlessnest

Lighten up Mondays

landscape-536173_1280Summer Solstice is here. Many of you, including myself, will be hitting the hiking trails. Here’s a joke about a not-so-funny type of trail encounter that’s sure to get you thinking:

A guy’s going on a hiking vacation into the remote mountains out west. Before heading into the wilderness, he stops at a small town general store to get some supplies. After picking out provisions, he approaches the crusty old guy behind the counter.

“I’m going hiking up in the mountains, and was wondering–do you have any bears around here?”

“Yup,” replies the storeowner.

“What kind?” asks the hiker.

“Well, we got black bears and we got grizzlies,” he replies.

“I see,” says the hiker. “Do you have any of those bear bells?”

“Say what?”

“You know,” explains the hiker, “those little tinkle-bells that hikers wear in bear country to warn the bears that they are coming, so the bears aren’t surprised and attack them.”

“Oh, yeah. Back there,” he says, pointing to a dusty shelf on the other side of the store.

The hiker selects some bells and returns to the counter to pay for them. “Another thing,” the hiker inquires, “how can I tell when I’m hiking in bear country anyway?”

“By the scat,” the old fellow replies, ringing up the hiker’s purchases.

“Well, uh, how can I tell if it’s grizzly country or black bear country?” the hiker asks.

“By the scat,” the storeowner replies.

“Well, what’s the difference?” asks the hiker. “I mean, what’s the difference between grizzly scat and black bear scat?”

“The stuff that’s in it.”

Frustrated, the hiker persists, “Okay, so what’s in grizzly bear scat that isn’t in black bear scat?” he asks, an impatient tone in his voice.

“Bear bells,” replies the old man as he hands the hiker his purchases.

The fathers in my life

The father who raised me: 

When us kids would say something cruel about someone, my dad would offer the following: "It's too bad that everyone isn't as perfect as us."

When us kids would say something cruel about someone, my dad would offer the following: “It’s too bad everyone isn’t as perfect as us.”

Dad knew how to get through our childhood – and childish – brains, and in our later years, he continued to impact my life and that of my brother Don, and my sister, Mary.

Without a doubt, the combination of mom’s and dad’s parenting styles really and truly prepared us for adulthood and made us the well-rounded, caring, accepting adults I believe we’ve grown up to be. When Dad died from Alzheimer’s on October 13, 2007, a huge void was left in our lives.

My brother, the father:

My wonderful brother Don, and our dad in June 2005, a year after dad's Alzheimer's diagnosis.

My wonderful brother Don, and our dad in June 2005, a year after dad’s Alzheimer’s diagnosis.

Some would say that at 39 years of age, my brother got married later than most. What can I say? He found the love of his life, Nancy Satterberg, in 1987. I’m pretty sure up to that point, no one else qualified for the love Don had for his wife. My brother was, and is, an involved and loving part of his three stepchildren’s lives. Just the other day, his youngest son, who is preparing for his upcoming wedding, told Don that he always considered him as his second dad; not a stepdad, not a replacement for his biological father, rather, a second dad. Per and his siblings, Sten and Kirsten, were fortunate in that way. Don was also a caregiver for his wife who died from Alzheimer’s on July 4, 2012. He was the epitome of an involved, loving, attentive provider of care for the wife with whom he would have celebrated his 25th wedding anniversary in September of 2012.

My husband, the father:

Celebrating the evening he retired: April 28, 2016

Celebrating the evening he retired: April 28, 2016

Jerry has two daughters, Lainey and Kirstin, and lest you think he ever hoped and wished for a son rather than those two, you would be sorely mistaken. There were no gender limits when it came to actively participating in his daughters’ lives. Hell no! There were hikes, softball games, soccer matches, woodworking training…you name it, he shared his knowledge and interests with them and they benefitted greatly as a result. My husband’s reserved and unassuming manner camouflages the extraordinary love he has for Lainey and Kirstin. His care about their well-being, happiness, and health is evident in all that he does for them, and in the ways he thinks about them and talks to them. Unlike myself, who tends to be a bit overbearing and sometimes far too transparent, my husband exhibits strength and concern by the way he demonstrates his commitment and dedication to his daughters, to me, and to all those whom he considers dear to him. Jerry is a man of few words but when he speaks, every spoken word is worthy of your undivided attention. I’m the luckiest woman alive to have him as my husband.

Happy Father’s Day in absentia, Dad.

Happy Father’s Day fabulous brother of mine.

Happy Father’s Day Jerry – the man with whom I chose to spend my life on February 10th, 2000.

We’re all different versions of each other

Three WomenBlack, brown, or white.

Gay, straight or trans.

Rich, middle class or poor.

Religious, agnostic, or atheist.

Young or old…

We’re all the same, but different.

Old womanIn the book  A Different Perspective on Alzheimer’s and Other Dementias: Practical Tools with Spiritual Insights, author Megan Carnarius relayed a conversation she had with one of the employees she supervised in a long-term care facility who was moving out of state. Ms. Carnarius asked this young caregiver what she had learned from her job of four years. This is what she said,

Older people are no different from any of us. People with dementia are no different from us. They all, we all, have the same feelings and needs.

They want to laugh and be silly, they want to be listened to and be taken seriously, they want to be reassured and loved, they want to love and be helpful, make a contribution, just like everyone else.

I learned that here.

It is my hope that all of us learn that same lesson so that whomever is in our lives, so that all those with whom we come in contact, we’ll be able to recognize ourselves in them and perhaps treat them with the respect for which all of us yearn.

Lighten up Mondays

landscape-536173_1280Many school districts around the country are wrapping up the school year. Here are a couple scholarly jokes to celebrate:

A father who is very much concerned about his son’s bad grades in math decides to register him at a Catholic school.

After his first term there, the son brings home his report card and reveals that he’s getting “A”s in math. The father is, of course, pleased, but wants to know: “Why are your math grades suddenly so good?”

“You know”, the son explains, “when I walked into the classroom the first day, and I saw that guy on the wall nailed to a plus sign, I knew one thing: This place means business!”


A college student challenged a senior citizen saying it was impossible for the old man’s generation to understand his.

“You grew up in a different world,” the student said. “Today we have television, jet planes, space travel, nuclear energy, computers…”

Taking advantage of a pause in the student’s litany, the geezer said, “You’re right. We didn’t have those things when we were young, so we invented them! What are you doing for the next generation?”

Bearing another’s burdens

passengers-1150043_640While waiting for an appointment the other day, I picked up the May 2016 issue of O Magazine and read a brief article by author Elizabeth Gilbert, of Eat, Pray, Love fame in which she relayed her experience riding a cross town bus in New York City – a bus filled with sweaty, disgruntled, rude, and combative passengers. It was the end of the business day for most and from Ms. Gilbert’s perspective, it appeared that every one of the them – her included – had had a shitty day. Add to that, the weather was less than accommodating.

gift-1278395_640The bus driver got on the intercom and announced (I’m paraphrasing here):

I know you’ve all had a lousy day for one reason or another. You’re either upset about something that happened to you today or by what’s currently going on in your lives.

This is what I’d like you to do. When it comes to your bus stop, I’ll hold out my hand and I want all of you to drop your troubles in my hand as you exit the bus. When I get to the Brooklyn Bridge, I’m going to toss all of your troubles out my window.

Will you do that for me?

You can imagine the mixture of mumbling and giggling that ensued after that announcement but at the very first stop, the disembarking passengers symbolically dropped their troubles into the driver’s out-stretched hand.

And then every passenger did the same at each stop along the route.

What a wonderful gift that driver gave to all the perfect strangers that rode his bus that afternoon, a gift that cost him nothing but benefitted so many.

Every day, in so many ways, you and I have the ability to lighten another person’s load.

How will you do so today?


A call to cyclists

cycling-655565_640If you are a cyclist who rides his or her bike on paved or unpaved trails meant for both walkers and cyclists, please hear my plea:

Offering an “On your left!” when you pass me on the trail will go a long ways towards endearing you to me.

My husband and I took a six mile walk on the Sammamish River Trail from Redmond to Woodinville this morning. This paved trail is used by walkers, joggers, roller bladers, parents with strollers, cyclists, you name it. It’s there for all of us to enjoy. Please understand that as a walker, I can not hear you coming up behind me: your sophisticated bicycle doesn’t alert me to your imminent arrival until you’ve zoomed past me, sometimes causing me to lose my footing or at the very least, jump starting my heart to where it need not jump. This shock to the walker’s system can be avoided by a simple announcement on your part that you’re about to pass me on the left.

To those who did announce themselves, my husband and I yelled an equally as loud, “Thank you!”

To those who did not announce themselves, they heard us shout, “Warning please!”

How inconvenient or difficult is it for you to either ring your handlebar bell or shout “On the left!” as you approach our backsides?

trail-1158467_640Young or old, two thirds of those who passed us from behind did not announce themselves. And lest my readers think we were walking in the middle of the path so as to be a hindrance to cyclists, we were not. We always hug the right side of the path to allow for oncoming and upcoming cyclists. We’re all supposed to share the path – that’s what we do.

None of those to whom we shouted, “Warning please!” apologized for their rude oversight. A simple, “Sorry!” or “My bad!” would have sufficed.


Stock photo, not my hubby and I. We don’t even own a dog.

All I’m asking is that cyclists extend the courtesy of letting walkers know they’re about to whiz past them so they can be sure to get even further out of their way. Each and every time a rider alerted us to their presence, my husband and I thanked them and moved more to the right, to which the cyclists said, “Thank you!” What a delightful and courteous exchange, don’t you think?

A collision between cyclist and rider would most certainly cause severe harm to both.

That’s sure to ruin both our days, don’t you think?



Lighten up Mondays

landscape-536173_1280Snow is far from everyones’ minds in the month of June (temps are predicted to be 96 degrees at my home as I write this post) but I think we’ll all appreciate this snowy humor anyway:

Jimmy and Lena were sitting down to their usual morning cup of coffee listening to the weather report on the radio.

“There will be 3 to 5 inches of snow today, and a snow emergency has been declared,” the weather report said. “You must park your cars on the odd numbered side of the streets.”

Jimmy said, “Jeez, okay,” and got up from his coffee.

The next day they were sitting down with their morning cups of coffee.
The weather forecast was, “There will be 2 to 4 inches of snow today, and a snow emergency has been declared. You must park your cars on the even numbered side of the streets.”

Again Jimmy replied, “Jeez, okay,” and got up from his coffee.

Two days later, again they’re sitting down with their cups of coffee and the weather forecast said, “There will be 6 to 8 inches of snow today, and a snow emergency has been declared. You must park your cars on the…” and the power went out and Jimmy didn’t get the rest of the instructions.

He turned to Lena, “Jeez, what am I going to do now, Lena?”

Lena replied, “Aw, Jimmy, just leave the car in the damned garage today.”

Life on the sidelines vs actively engaged

Our destination

Our destination

My husband and I have the privilege of being able to hike during the work week because he’s now retired and we’re not reliant on the weekends to do fun stuff any more. So I took my early 60s body on a hike the other day and let me tell you, it was a doozy.

Now some of you may think that an elevation gain of 1100 feet isn’t all that difficult but my body says otherwise. The incline up the mountain was a looooong one so you’re constantly climbing up, up, up, and your hamstrings are spouting off swear words you never thought you’d hear coming from such a close member of your body.

Added to that, your heart is accustomed to brisk walks through the hills of your neighborhood as well as high-resistance recumbent bike riding both of which should have prepared it for the heart-pumping action required for a mountain hike. Right?

Not so much.

We had never hiked Rattlesnake Ledge before so we had yet to memorize every twist and turn of the trail. We also weren’t intimately acquainted with the 1000s of evergreens along the way so we had no way of answering the question, “Are we there yet?”

Proof I eventually made it to the top...1.5 hours after we started.

Proof I eventually made it to the top…1 1/2 hours after we began.

Just about the time I spouted off that question what did I see ahead of me but a fellow hiker in his late 80s to early 90s coming down off the mountain…with a smile on his face…carrying a hefty backpack on his somewhat stooped over back. I turned to my husband and said, “Shit! If he can do it, I can do it!” We spoke briefly with the elderly hiker and then we huffed our way up the trail, eventually making it to the top for a picnic lunch.

We caught up with him on the way down the mountain – at his age he certainly takes a wee bit longer to ascend and descend the trail – and being who I am, I started a conversation with him. Come to find out, not only has Ray hiked Rattlesnake Ledge numerous times, but decades ago, he hiked Mount Rainier several times.

“That was decades ago. I certainly couldn’t do that now.” To which I responded, “Look, Ray, you’ve accomplished that feat and we haven’t. And not only have we not accomplished that feat but we have no aspirations of ever doing so.”

Because I tell just about everyone my hubby and I come in contact with that my husband is retired, I told Ray that Jerry had just retired from Boeing after 38 years of service at the company. Ray replied, “I’ve been retired for 30 years now and I’ve loved every minute of it.”

Path of lifeSo this is what I’ve concluded: Ray knows how to enjoy life, but not only how to do that but how to really and truly occupy his life. His current life is not just a placemaker until better things come along. NO, he’s making things happen while he still can rather than waiting on the sidelines where nothing ever happens.

As my husband and I were about to continue down the trail ahead of Ray I said, “Glad to know your name Ray, that way when I see you again, I’ll know what to call you.”

“Well, I don’t know how much longer I’ll be able to keep up this pace. I may not be on this trail again.”

To which I responded, “Ray, that could be said of everyone on this mountain, myself included, but something tells me we’ll be running into each other some day soon.”

So I learned lots of stuff from my hike the other day. Just because the hike was somewhat uncomfortable – okay, a lot uncomfortable – doesn’t mean I wasn’t supposed to do it. I have to say, once I got home and showered I was astonished to hear myself thinking, “I’d be willing to do that hike again, and one even more difficult than that.”

We look back on difficulties/mountains in our life that at the time seemed insurmountable but when we consider where we’ve been and where we are now we can say not only did we get through it but we’re feeling far more competent to take on even more as a result.

Perfection is stagnationWe don’t have to perfect every new endeavor the first time out. Perfection isn’t our goal, is it? I tend to believe that if perfection were our goal, we’d just stay put and never venture out to discover what we’re capable of.

And a last note on this subject: as my husband and I were gleefully hiking down the mountain we came across numerous people huffing and puffing their way up the trail. One or two groups stopped us to ask how much longer it was to the top. We couldn’t lie to them, that wouldn’t be fair, so when this one group of girls in their late teens asked, “Are we there yet?” we had to inform them that they were just over a quarter way up. Oh, the groans coming from them were hilarious but we didn’t laugh at them, my husband simply said, “You can do it!”

To which I’m sure they said – out of our earshot – “If those geezers can do it, we can it!”


Caregivers: bruised by judgments & criticism (reblogged from My Alzheimer’s Story)

Dedicated to unappreciated care partners worldwide. Thank you for all you do. Dear random person who sees my care partner from time to time and feels the need to point out s/he has bruises all over her/his body that look frightening and s/he has really declined a lot since the last time you saw her/him and…

via an open letter to those who think they know better — My Alzheimer’s Story

Lighten up Mondays

landscape-536173_1280In the United States, Memorial Day weekend more or less signals the start of vacation season. True, many schools are still in session, but vacationing is on the minds of everyone.

Here are some funnies about the topic that should lighten up your day:


As I waited for my luggage at the airport a man lifted my suitcase off the baggage carousel.

“Excuse me,” I shouted, “That’s my suitcase!”

The man shot back defensively, “Well, someone took mine!”


This summer I’m going to the beach and bury metal objects that say, “Get a life!” on them.


Halfway between New York City and Washington, DC the trains engine fell silent.

“I’ve got good news and bad news,” the conductor announced. “The bad news is we lost power.”

All the passengers groaned.

“The good news,” he added, “is we weren’t traveling at 30,000 feet.”


And finally, speaking of airplanes:

My flight was delayed in Houston. Since the gate was needed for another flight, our aircraft was backed away from the terminal, and we were directed to a new gate. We all found the new gate, only to discover a third gate had been designated for our plane.

Finally, everyone got on board the right plane, and the flight attendant announced: “We apologize for the gate change. This flight is going to Washington, D.C. If your destination is not Washington, D.C., you should deplane at this time.”

A moment later a red-faced pilot emerged from the cockpit, carrying his bags. “Sorry,” he said, “wrong plane.”


Our lives in focus

marguerite-499489_640Through comments by someone I follow on Twitter, I stumbled on the key to living in – and thriving on – the present. Authors Ariel and Shya Kane [@ArielandShya] went through trial and error during their early adult lives in their attempt to find fulfillment.

If you read even one of their books, you’ll discover that they admit their journey took them to many places and venues, under varying conditions, spending great and small amounts of money, only to find the answer to their quest in their every day experiences.

If we’re aware and focusing on the present we’ll find life lessons everywhere we look.

We can be deaf and blind to those lessons, but it doesn’t take a trip to India, a luxury spa, or even a therapist’s office, to practice the art of thriving exactly where we are.

The painful yet honest truth is that we excel at complaining and stressing about situations in which we find ourselves: traffic, long lines at the TSA security checkpoint, our job or lack thereof, boredom, illness, and so on. But if we’re honest with ourselves – and lately I’ve been painfully honest with myself – we’ll conclude that complaining and stressing out over such situations does nothing toward changing them. But changing the way we view those situations does alter how we react to them and therefore how we feel about that moment of time in which we’re inconvenienced because what we would have preferred to happen, did not.

When did your complaining about a lengthy red light – when you were endeavoring to get to an appointment on time – actually make the green light come quicker?

It didn’t.

Here’s a direct quote from the Kane’s book, Practical Enlightenment: Continue reading