Tuesday, November 29, 2011

How tech savvy are you?

Here's a question for you. How tech savvy are you?

Do you have one of those fancy new phones that talk to you? Are you obsessed with playing games and twittering on it? I guess the extent that I use my cell phone is to talk on it, send text messages, and take the occasional photo. I don't have Internet access and I don't play any games on it. Call me old fashioned I suppose.

Do you have Wii or X-Box? I don't, in fact my son still has his Nintendo 64. He says 'If it's not broke why replace it?' Great question, don't you think?

I'm not knocking all the neat technology out there, I just wonder sometimes what people do with ALL the stuff they can't wait to replace. Seems like such a waste to me. I'm the first one to admit that I would be lost without a computer. I use the one at home, the one on my desk at work, and often the ones at the library. I'd love to get a laptop someday but in the meanwhile my wonderful 16 year old daughter just created an account for me on the used laptop her older brother gave her. Did I mention that I have great kids? If I didn't I should probably repeat it. 'I HAVE GREAT KIDS!'

Over Thanksgiving break my son was in town and helped his sister set up some games on her laptop. We sat on the couch and tried several of them. We thought shooting the arrow at the right angle to knock the apple off the man's head was fun until we missed and apparently decapitated him and watched the animated character bleed out. We both squealed and that was the end of that game. Then we moved on to a better one. It's a site that lets you do typing tests. It will put a passage of words on the screen from a novel or speech and while being timed you have to retype the paragraph with the exact words that you see. If you type something wrong it lets you know and you have to backspace in order to correct it. In the end it tells you your WPM (words per minute) and your accuracy rate based on the number of mistakes you made. For someone like me who types ALL the time, but NEVER took a typing class in school - it's a lot of fun and improves my skill. The best part of the typing test (at least for me) was reading the passages that they put up. They were all extremely random. Some were even in Old English (which really hampered my wpm).

Here was one that I especially liked.

People are often unreasonable and self-centered.
Forgive them anyway.
If you are kind, people may accuse you of ulterior motives.
Be kind anyway.
If you are honest, people may cheat you. Be honest anyway.
If you feel happiness, people may be jealous. Be happy anyway.
The good you do may be forgotten tomorrow. Do good anyway.
Give the world your best, and it may never be enough.
Give your best anyway.
For you see, in the end, it is between you and God.
It was never between you and them anyway.

~ Mother Teresa ~

Wise words, don't you think? Definitely something to think about.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

What are you thankful for?

Tomorrow is Thanksgiving. This morning I heard a quote on the radio by Charlie Brown, something to the effect of 'Thanksgiving is the only national holiday where we give ourselves permission to be thankful'. Ironic, isn't it?

I know I have A LOT to be thankful for, but not just one day a year. I am thankful for all things, big and small. Big things like my health (being a 5 year cancer survivor), my marriage, my children, and that I have a job. While it may sound funny or petty, I'm also thankful for small things like 'earned freebies'. In a time when the price of just about everything seems to go up: utilities, health insurance, groceries, gasoline, etc., etc. I am thankful for all of those 'store freebies' (as I like to call them). CVS gives me 'extra bucks' when I buy my milk there. Kroger gives me 'fuel reward points' when I purchase my groceries that I can apply to gas for my car, not to mention the 'community reward' dollars that I earn for my favorite charity.

A local grocery store, VG's Grocery', also lets me earn 'YES Reward points' which I can save up and apply to highlighted products of the week. Last night I stopped there after work to pick up some dinner items. I was also purchasing a few things for a Thanksgiving veggie tray. It was such a pleasant thing to scan my carrots and celery and have the register ask me if I'd like them for free by redeeming some of my points. Sure ... you're probably thinking 'Geez, it was just celery and carrots. What's the big deal?' The big deal is that when a lot of people in our community could be struggling (stores & customers alike), I think it's great when a store publicly acknowledges their customers' needs in whatever way they can. It's called watching out for your fellow neighbor and that is not a small thing.

So, tomorrow when you're sitting around the dinner table with your family stop and remember all the things that you're thankful for. We can be thankful each and every day, but it wouldn't hurt us to say it out loud. It's easy to get caught up in all of the daily schedules and stresses and forget. I think we could all use a little reminding from time to time.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Did my ears just deceive me?

Yesterday I had a day off. So what did I do? I did something responsible and boring ... I got the oil changed in my van. Then I did something good and fun ... I went shopping to fill a child's gift bag for a Christmas outreach project. The sky was blue, the sun was shining and the air was crisp. A picture perfect day for running errands and getting in and out of my minivan a dozen times.

One of my stops was a local department store that was having a 'pre' Black Friday sale. 40-50% off mostly everything in the store in addition to the discount cards customers had (ranging from 15-30%). Needless to say the lines were long and the customers were smiling. Well, most of them that is.

I absolutely love Christmas time. I love the music. I love the decorations. I love the twinkling lights. And I love the spirit. I was basically finished picking up the stuffed lion and matching 'CARS' red hat and gloves that I went there for, but couldn't help myself. I had to take one last detour to the area with the Christmas trees and ornaments (yes ... I said 'Christmas' trees ... not 'holiday' trees, but I'll save that subject for another blog entry). Generally when one is shopping during the holidays and in the crowds, you're bound to hear the cry or whine of an overheated, overtired, overwrought toddler; not to mentioned the overstressed parent who will eventually say 'We're almost done sweetie, then we'll get you that Happy Meal at McDonald's.' But yesterday I heard something different.

As I was walking along intensely studying the vast array of sparkly ornaments I heard the following conversation.

'I don't know why I brought you with me today. All you've done is whine and complain.' (voice #1)

'You always ignore me!' (voice #2)

'You're being a pain. You're being cranky and rude.' (voice #1)
'I didn't want to come with you anyway!' (voice #2)

'Next time you're staying home and I'm going shopping by myself. You totally ruin the shopping experience.' (voice #1)

'Fine!' (voice #2)

'Fine!' (voice #1)

When you're in a situation like this where a LOUD conversation is taking place just ten feet away from you, it's difficult to ignore. You try not to look or make eye contact of any kind, but there comes a point when you just can't help yourself. You feel like there's a soap opera playing on the TV in the next room and find yourself peering carefully around the lit up display to see 'who' is making such a fuss. I admit I was a bit taken back when I saw that the voice #2 belonged to a young 20-something year old girl who was so busy texting while walking and talking that she wouldn't even look her mother in the eye. All I can say is 'Yikes'. I hope they can patch things up before the holidays get here or it's going to be a really cold month of December.

So, as the holidays draw nearer please be patient with your family, be patient with your fellow shoppers, be patient with the store employees, be patient with any drivers out on the crowded roads and remember to smile and say 'Merry Christmas.'

Friday, November 11, 2011


Today I want to talk about 'STOP' signs? Why are they there?

Believe it or not they weren't just put there to slow down your commute to wherever you're going. They are strategically placed at intersections so that 'everyone' can be safer. You'll notice them (or at least you should) at the end of your street, in parking lots, etc. They're meant to slow down big, heavy vehicles and hopefully eliminate people from slamming into each other. Think about it ... you can't have two SUVs coming towards each other at 50 mph and not expect someone to get hurt if they both get to the intersection at the same time, right? This scenario isn't just a story problem for a junior high math class. It's life. It makes sense that we should SLOW down and start watching out for each other. Give the right-away to the guy who gets there first. Try it and maybe someone will return the favor to you some day.

Stop signs are crucially important in high school parking lots and on college campuses. Some days I think I'm literally taking my life into my own hands when I pick my daughter up from a school event. Seriously, nothing gets the old ticker racing fast like sitting in the high school parking lot when the last bells rings.

Last night my husband and I picked our daughter up from a music rehearsal at a nearby university. We got there a few minutes early (nearly 9:00 p.m.). It was dark out and cold so we decided to just wait in the van for a few minutes. After all, it was toasty inside and Christmas music was playing on the radio. Where am I going with this? I'll tell you. This particular parking lot is very well lit and adorned with numerous clearly marked STOP signs. In a matter of 10 minutes I observed more than a dozen vehicles drive right past the stop signs. They didn't even slow down or tap their brakes, they just went right on past them as if they weren't even there.

So why is that some people look at stop signs and think they don't have to stop? Why do people see speed limit signs and think they're nothing more than a suggestion? Why do people see 'right lane closed ahead' signs and think they're meant for everyone else but them?

I don't mean to go off on such a rant ... well o.k. ... maybe I do. But accidents are never planned. We all need to slow down and pay attention. The holidays are approaching quickly which generally means more traffic. Perhaps we should start practicing from now to get from point A to point B safely, without hurting ourselves or anyone else. That, my friends, could be one of the greatest Christmas presents you could give.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

So what's stopping you?

Today is a BIG day for me! I'm taking some quality time for myself. Sure I still have my never-ending TO DO list at home on the counter ... AND there's the one in my desk drawer at work ... AND there's the abbreviated short list I brought with me today as I'm out and about. But for right now I'm at the library (my favorite Zen place) making my plan. What is my plan you ask? Ok, so maybe you didn't actually ask, but I'll humor myself and answer anyway. I'm attempting to make my plan about HOW I can go about achieving something I've always wanted to do.

When we're teenagers we think we are invincible. We think we know so much! We think we have 'it' all figured out. And we think we know what our goals are and what we're going to do with the rest of our lives. Then a thing called LIFE happens. I'm certainly not saying that when our life detours and takes a different course it's a bad thing, because that certainly wasn't the case for me. But I am honest enough to admit that sometimes when LIFE knocks on our door, our journey takes a detour. My detour was meeting a wonderful guy and falling in love, then raising a family (which is an ongoing process), and working at a job that I thoroughly enjoy (but never saw myself doing ... it wasn't part of my plan), etc., etc. My point is that goals don't always come with a clearly defined timeline.

So what was my goal so many years ago? It was to be a legit writer. Technically I suppose I am. I've written some heartfelt articles for my church's newsletter, I write solid monthly council reports for my job, when I ran a specialized marketing company for aviation I wrote 1,000+ marketing packages for aviation personnel, I write daily super organized TO DO lists, and I've written continuously on 2 blogs. But now it's time for something bigger.

The question for me is whether my writing goal from 25 years ago is the same goal I have now. Is the topic something I still feel as passionate about? That's something I need to take a hard look at. A lot has happened in my life since I was a teenager. I've been married for 29+ years, have 2 amazing children (ages 16 & 25), am a 5-year cancer survivor, and have grown spiritually in ways I never would have thought possible.

So do I still want to write a series of children's books or do I want to write a heartfelt journal for women in their 40s who've been blindsided with a beast known as cancer and come out of it stronger, healthier, and wiser? Big decision, I know. Maybe there would be a market out there for one of them or both of them. I don't know. Maybe there are already enough of both on the market. Maybe people would want to read them, maybe they wouldn't. But I suppose I'll never know unless I start writing. It could take me a while, but bear with me. We're all a work in progress.

Enough about me. What were some of the goals you set for yourself when you were younger? Have you accomplished them? If not, what's stopping you?