Once a parent, always a parent, unless…

For all those parents counting the years, months, and days that when you’re kid turns eighteen, you get the house back to yourself–roaming the halls naked, forget it! And what I mean is that there still may be days where you can be yourself in your birthday suit (with the blinds drawn), but don’t count on it 24/7. That’s a pipedream just to keep you going, and it almost never happens; just like dirty laundry–they’ll be back.

See, while your kid is growing up, you’ll hear empty promises like, “When I’m eighteen, the only thing you’ll see of me is my backside leaving your door.” (It is supposed to be a threat, BTW.) A threat to make you feel guilty so you don’t get too excited about having the place to yourself–and, as I said, an empty threat. Chances are very good they will be back. Maybe not for an exceptionally long stay, maybe just a month or a week, but they’ll be back. So don’t do what I did and get excited about the new office space you’ll have when the room is vacant. It won’t be.

Adios, “Tequila and Taco” boy–’til the warm winds bring you back this way.

My 20-year-old son made that promise to me when I told him he needs to pay rent if he’s keeping the room to himself–or as I like to refer to it–my office. And don’t get me wrong, I love my son very much. Being “a parent of convenience” isn’t healthy for our kids; they need to learn about failure. That’s a vital part of being an adult. You know, make them ask to come back–not an open door policy that when they need a commercial break from responsibility, they can nestle under mommy’s wing and catch their breath. I never got that from my parents. Look at how wonderful I turned out. NOT! πŸ€ͺ

My daughter just had her 16th birthday. Not at home. She was at military camp learning new survival skills for when she graduates. Brilliantly smart, I had to have the conversation with her that her grades are still important even if she uses the GI Scholarship to get in. This did not please her to hear. Neither did it please her to understand that even though she’ll graduate and become an officer by the age of eighteen, protecting her from the front lines, that medics are actually in more peril. “But they have orders not to shoot unarmed soldiers performing medical duties,” she argued. I explained that the enemy doesn’t stop to examine men through glasses ensuring they aren’t medics before shooting. And if a medic gets shot, the war doesn’t stop, a loudspeaker emerges and a commander’s voice bellows, “Alright, who shot the medic? We’re not fighting again until someone answers!” Not in the cards. She still argues. I guess this stubborn girl will find out the hard way. Seriously though, I’m glad she’s using her skills for the good of others. It’s a very mature and selfless maneuver.

Ready to serve her country as long as she is an “off-limits.”

My daughter, who is (as a reminder) sixteen, also has pie in the sky notions of how lovely it will be to move out from under her mother’s roof. Any of you have kids like that? They’ll eat pizza every night and play video games every weekend, while they aren’t at work? Planning on working at the pet store and raking in the big bucks–not a food court. Little does she realize the money is the same, and once the car payment, gasoline, oil change, tires, vehicle inspections, insurance, etc. is paid, she may have enough to split rent with three others. Pizza? COSTCO! Video games? Minecraft and Roblox will have to be EXTREMELY entertaining for a long, long time.

Of course, I had a similar dream. Mine was to dig a secret tunnel in the backyard with a fort underground without my parents knowing. I had drawn an incredibly detailed sketch of the idea with everything included, such as a couch and a bed, a sink, toilet and tub… it was all there. No, I had no idea of where I would get this amazing furniture. Buy it? What? But the dream came to an abrupt halt on the second night. Even though I had a big and obscure board to cover the hole, and even managed to sneak out a couple of nights and dig, my dream came to a screeching halt when I realized I couldn’t just spread the dirt around between the blades of grass and have it blend. And when I did stop, it looked nothing like the diagram. It was a long and slender hole that when I stood in it, my head still stuck out.

The worst was when I screamed from the backyard until my parents rescued me, because I had no way of climbing back out. I was lucky that night. My parents weren’t in agreement, at first, to assist in my escape. But my dad finally got on board when I told him I’d have the hole filled by the next day. I was a kid with abashed dreams, and I wanted nothing more than to see my own kids learn their lessons as well. But while they’re learning them, shouldn’t I be entitled to a break of my own?

Still in my imaginary world of success…. “Leave me alone!”

Like a kid a month before Christmas, I am making out a Wish List of all the things I would love to have but never really plan to own. *sigh*

  • Time to apply makeup properly
  • The ability to shop for more than a bra that fits
  • Walk through my house without hearing the television blaring, “Eat my shorts, Homer!”
  • Comprehend television programming that isn’t animated with closed-captioning to understand
  • Use the clothes washer without wondering if detergent has been poured into the bleach dispenser (although I am impressed they tried)
  • Not have the dog and cat “following” underfoot, demanding to be fed or watered because someone forgot
  • A hot bubble bath in the jetted tub surrounded by tea candles omitting just enough light to play the relaxing music I choose (I saw this in a movie once)
  • P.S. No time limit on the last one

While the likelihood of these happening is the same as catching The Tooth Fairy slipping from beneath my pillow, a girl can dream! The fact of the matter is, once you’re a parent, you’re always a parent–unless it’s a day where your child doesn’t need a ride, money, or a place to stay. πŸ˜‰ Anyone planning on having kids, better keep this in mind–before the only mind you have is lost forever.

Making Time for Good Parents?

Between paying bills, feeding kids, working jobs, and anything else we haven’t got time to name right now–but you know there’s more than we have time to touch on, how can we be good parents? Screw that! Let’s ask this — how can we be good people? And by “good people,” this may shock you a little bit, I mean good to yourself! For real, right now, close your eyes if necessary for a second, and remember the last thing you did STRICTLY because you wanted to.

Doordash story — bathroom and “hello” peeker. Putting my needs aside for necessities of my daughter, that weren’t really necessities. Sick from withdrawals while providing for my daughter… Discuss the stressors.

Visitation and custody problems often directed

The effects of continuing conflict between the parents.

Less opportunity for parents and children to spend time together.

Effects of the breakup on children’s school performance and peer relations.

Disruptions of extended family relationships.

Problems caused by the parents’ dating and entering new relationships.

We need to remember, especially when someone pops off with, “You’re the one that chose to have a kid!” that choosing to love an individual you’ve helped to create doesn’t mean you’re choosing other things such as conflict with your ex. They get some of that credit, and you must realize you didn’t decide this alone. If they were there for the deed… well, you know…

So the “moral of the story is….” that unless you did something SUPER SNEAKY and underhandedly got pregnant without mentioning you “forgot” to take precautions, some of the responsibility is your own. HOWEVER, if the gent was sincere enough to take equal responsibility, isn’t there prevention from him as well? (Open communication is the best beginning to a relationship, BTW). But being a parent is not to be taken lightly. Neither is making time for yourself. And let’s face it–you don’t give up being a person when you become a parent. So make time for yourself. You, of all people, have earned it!

Zombies: NOT as scary as Mombies

This article contains crucial ways of preventing the seemingly inevitable.

First of all, for those who don’t understand me or my philosophies, you soon will be. Besides being, (How do I say it without coughing up dirt?) “experienced” in more ways than Houdini had tricks up his sleeve, I’m a professional learner. Ha ha! If there was such a job, I would be a shoo-in for CEO. The reason is because rather than boasting or moping about experiences, it’s more imperative to ensure lessons have been mastered. What choices could have been made differently? What would those outcomes have likely been? Is it too late to change? If not, it still isn’t the end of the world–it’s more of a beginning to a new world.

Anyone raised by storybooks has been taught that mana is magnificent, and being positive is a trait that would change our world like eating freezing cold ice cream on a warping hot August day. Also what is taught is that going without for yourself to provide for others is always praiseworthy. “Giving the shirt off your back” is considered the noble thing to do. Is it?

Pretend you see two people standing on a street corner in the fluttering snow. They are identical twins. One has no coat and is shivering, while the other is wearing a heavy warm coat. Would it make sense for the person who deliberately planned with forethought to surrender the coat to the thoughtless twin, inviting death? If this happened, and the devising twin died, who would be there to save the remaining twin the next time? What if you forgot your coat and your twin allowed you to live? How would your thinking change?

Zombies aren’t real. Should we be afraid of becoming Mombies?

As mothers, we are not only taught to provide for others before ourselves, but there’s some mysterious instinct that also directs us in this manner. Yet, providing for others all the time and always putting the needs of the mother second defies the purpose; you’re constantly taking from your needs and transferring the energy to others until the your side is barren, cold, sick, and spent. You cannot be the mother your children need if you do not receive what you need to remain strong and mentally intact. Be who your children deserve.

There are a few key things to keep in mind so everyone wins!

  • Time for “Me, Myself, and I” – Yes, finding that moment to yourself seems inevitable. My baby sat in his carrier on the bathroom floor, while I showered, so I could sing and talk to him without him crying in the other room. Times that would normally be relaxing may not have been the same as they were, but relaxing to any degree is imperative… and without a cell phone! Keeping your mind racing is not at all what you need; you need a type of silence so your inner subconscious can speak to your decision-making conscious mind and sort things out. How long has it been? Placing baby in the swing; taking your little one out in the stroller; or even right as naptime begins. Taking just 15 minutes at a time without any distractions can refresh and renew you in a way you never thought possible. Call it your Life Commercial Break, imagining–just a little bit.
  • Use your Mother’s Intuition – And I don’t mean “your mother’s intuition,” I mean the intuition you now have in your survival arsenal of being a mother. Others will usually have great ideas of what worked for them or some amazing technique they read about online. While it’s fantastic they were able to find a solution for their issue–your instinct is a much more powerful drive for you. And for the love of the Easter Bunny, when asking for suggestions (because this can be okay on occasion), it’s your responsibility to back up the claim with research. Let’s face it; which is more critical, your friend getting upset or your baby getting ill? Believe it or not, calling your doctor or taking a few moments of discovery on a notable medical site may help and educate you as well.
  • The Importance of 3 – is absolutely one of the most necessary strategies of being a mom you’ll be proud of carrying out, and it’s likely going to take practice. You may even opt to write down your three priorities clearly and post them where it’s always visible. The first priority must be your own wellbeing–without a sane captain, you’re sure to hit damaging “icebergs.” The second is your infant who relies on you–and it’s easier, because you love your baby–so be your baby’s #1 fan. And the third goal? This one is for your discretion. Your husband, your job, cleaning… you decide. But after you can handle these three major focuses, you can add a couple of others in the coming weeks, keeping it simple at first.
  • Learn to Accept Angels – You can call it God, kismet, luck, or perhaps you simply attract great people because, well, you’re one of them! But regardless of where assistance arrives from, it’s only because you have already earned it and deserve it. Besides, turning it down is sort of like depriving your infant of more thorough care. You know your baby deserves the best–and so do you. Who knows when the opportunity will present itself again? For the love of Sleeping Beauty, accept offers from people. It’s only on occasion. You’re baby won’t be little for long. And let’s face it, you need it. (They may offer because helping makes them feel great.) You’re not going to take advantage of that person who says, “Call me anytime!” What you may opt to do is something in kind, such as sharing information benefiting them: if you’re a marvelous cook, share a great recipe with someone who loves food; if you’re an incredible “thriftmaster,” this could be the perfect opportunity to assist someone who could really use helpful hints; if you are an absolute guru on health and fitness, getting rid of tension, anxiety, and stress…. well, who doesn’t need that? SHARE!
  • Make Sure Your Potential Relationship is Onboard – We’ve all heard stories about toddler siblings feeling left out and disgruntled because they’ve been “replaced.” And we know that including them to entertain while we change diapers, rather than shooing them from the room is a better option. (Believe me, entertaining is something ALL older siblings can do.) But here’s the bizarrely scary thing; there are times when adults suffer the identical angst of replacement–true story. So incorporating even simple processes such as feeding (not breastfeeding, of course πŸ˜‰), changing the diaper, pushing the stroller can all be ways of including your special adult, especially if they seem initially fearful. If the baby suddenly becomes some sort of manipulation to control you–seek a professional. HOWEVER, if you are extremely fortunate and have close, trusted support willing the share the burden whenever possible…. You’ve hit the freaking jackpot, baby! Go with it!
  • Find Trust and Gratitude Within – Sounds so simple, right? Sometimes doing so can prove especially daunting. There’s a significant reason you are where you are right now! This baby is special, and you’re the perfect mommy for this whole new “heat” being added to our “popcorn kernel” world. Without this baby, we may remain cold, hard, pieces of corn stabbing into the bottoms of our feet. You get what I mean, the significance of adding one can be an astronomical revamping. And because of this, remaining aware that action and reaction, yin and yang, positive and negative…. all of these changes of opposition take various increments of time–sometimes years of development. So when you have trust that everything will work in its own time, and you’ll gain even more knowledge for your future, you can relax in understanding that every situation, good or bad, will inevitably morph. When you are able to begin every day by sitting up, or in those emergency cases–sitting down, and being grateful for three events, giving each a moment to resonate, life will be your own. The best thing about this easy exercise, is there are always reasons for gratitude, even if it’s as plain as breathing, understanding, experiencing… always be grateful. And of course, your unbelievable child(ren) who were fortunate enough to have you.

Your happiness is crucial to the development of your own psyche, as well as your child’s. You need to be happy. No Prince Charming can ever change that for you. Waiting for your future to mysteriously alter itself won’t happen either. Even though your energy levels and emotions will ride a rollercoaster for the next while, be sure to lift your arms and scream with joy each time on your way down. Celebrate the positive situation you’ve created, without becoming a feared Mombie of the Jungle.

Nothing can be done to change yesterday, it’s gone. You can plan for the future, keeping in mind your chances of having a 100% success rate is 96% likely not to happen, but that 4% we strive for is worth it when it does. What you do have is RIGHT NOW. Use it wisely; “now” comes once.

Time β‰  Money: Here’s Why!

Money and Time are NEVER equal.

Would you be willing to bet your children on why the statement of “Time equals money” is a misquoted aphorism that is mostly full of shit? How many times have you heard that your time is equal to money? And don’t you hear it most when people expect you to work especially hard? You’ll be shocked as to why this phrase was created, who created it, and why it works–when it isn’t at all true for typical working folks, but it IS for CEO’s and upper management. So, unless you’re one of these individuals, you don’t want to skim past this post, I promise.

Think about this; when comparing two objects, they must be finite, meaning their comparison can’t change for the equation to remain true: adding to one side of the scale means you must add the same measurement to the other to maintain balance, especially when they’re equal. Let’s use my good friend Joe as an example. He works at the grocery store and sometimes he works long hours. His pay isn’t the best, but he could certainly be doing a lot worse. Still, he works overtime as much as possible to provide for his family and ensure their ability to have a little extra spending money… in the short amount of quality time they are able to share. Between the kids’ school, dance and football, his wife’s commitments, and the one night a week he has with his own friends, they’ve all agreed that Friday night is family night, and no matter what, it’s off-limits to planning otherwise. Besides, it’s really the only night that something isn’t planned on the schedule for at least one member of the family. Joe has an abundance of time nor money to spend with his family in mind.

Now let’s look at Tisha’s schedule. She owns a company and must dedicate the bulk of her time to get things up and running until such time it’s doing well enough that she can pay others to do it for her. Even then, she intends on periodically seeing how things are going, checking the numbers, etc. But, she’s done her time, hard work, and risk in getting it setup to flow well. Tisha has both ample time and money to spend with her family…finally. How does this happen?

It all comes down to the initial bulk of time and the way it’s spent. While Joe was playing with friends on the basketball court after school, Tisha was hitting the books upstairs and reviewing the questions she missed on her test so she would know it next time. Inevitably, at graduation, while Joe sauntered away with his buds to the Pizza Den for a celebration, Tisha reviewed brochures handed to her with offers of scholarship programs from high ranking schools. So in this regard, the dedication of time, or lack of it, determined the types of employment each received.

When a superior member of management, working on a salaried wage, gathers time from her employees, more work gets done and tasks are fulfilled, allowing her to reach her deadlines and gain the bonuses she desires, so their time is money for her. Unless something happens along the way, perhaps Joe has an epiphany over a beer one night in his friend’s garage, and learns a strategy of investments that could create a passive income for him, the odds are against him.

  1. Joe never ponders another outlet because he figures he’s doing his best, and it should be enough for everyone to appreciate.
  2. He started this job when he got out of high school fifteen years ago, and his boss treats him as well as his own son. Joe wonders if there’s a chance of running the garage himself.
  3. Everyone knows his name, not just the guys he works with and Penny at the desk, but the customers literally come in and ask for him by name. If he quit and went somewhere else, that likely won’t happen; he’d need to start all over…. his employer sort of counts on that.
  4. If Joe wants to save money, he’s going to have to give something up. His daughter’s dance, his son’s sports, his wife’s girl night, his guy night, or cut back on family night? He’s barely making those happen as it is–and giving any of those up would mean hell breaking loose.

You want to hear something strange that I’ve come to realize recently? Poor guys will always have money. Sounds weird, right? Poor guys don’t have money… but they do! How do I know? Because when they really want something, and don’t want to wait, they find a way to get it.

Not going to tell you the name of the company, or even that I do it, because that would be admitting dishonesty. Sometimes I feel you must be a tiny bit dishonest because not everyone’s horoscope fits snuggly within the twelve month zodiac signs, you know? They can’t possibly make the rules to fit every single person’s life, so exceptions must be made. So here goes.

I am an excellent freaking driver, even though I can’t take credit for it. I come from a line of race car drivers back east. I’ve driven OTR, garbage trucks, dump and pup, school buses, motorcycles, you get the picture. If you get one of those driving a Hybrid Prius, you got yourself a low-cost, high-performance delivery driver. The problem is, I have a horrifically screwed up back and can only do it for a couple or few hours. And even then, running up and down stairs with bags and a camera phone like a squirrel hasn’t been on my list of tricks for a few years. But, my 15-year-old daughter, who is too young to drive, is as nimble as they come. I figure with her parent watching the whole time, she’s as safe as if she’s trick or treating, but we’re not out after dusk. And we never pull any tricks. πŸ˜‰

The way we divide the funds is she makes 25% while I pay for income taxes, insurance, and fuel out of my share. Even though I haven’t sat down to scientifically figure out the mpg average combined with the time of day traffic, etc, to see who makes out the best, I determined that the costs for upkeep, etc. probably use more than 50% of the total. But it’s a little cash, it’s fun, and I get quality time with my kid. Plus, she can be responsible for her own money. Nothing shady.

My main goal is to teach her the value of money and savings. The problem with people who win a lot of money is they spend it. They never put it into a lucrative means with a return. And to top it off, they spend it on ridiculously wasteful and temporary or depreciating things.

Q: Have you ANY idea the financial hit a brand new car experiences just crossing the gutter from the lot onto the road after being purchased? Within 5 years, a $40,000 car is worth $16,000, according to Carfax, keeping in mind, this is a car in good shape that hasn’t been wrecked. Purchase a well-manufactured car with a great reputation and have someone look over it!!! (The second part is especially important.) Never fall in love with the cute little blue paint job, because it isn’t useful sitting broken down in the driveway. A V-8 isn’t gas efficient. Get a hybrid or a 4-cylinder if you can find one. Try to keep it under 50,000 miles unless it’s a Toyota, Honda, or GMC with a longer life value… You can read about that on the web. And NEVER buy the first vehicle you look at! 😳

Q: Can cutting back on fast food really save that much? πŸ˜‚ Even with the financial crisis, 80% of Americans eat out at least once a month, and 20% eat out once a week, bringing the average of one person to $1,200/year, according to a poll taken by Renolon. And that’s when we decided to drive for fast food companies. Imagine your annual vacation if you didn’t eat out for a year! And on top of that, you’d actually contribute to healthier bodies and less medical… Wow!

Q: If you can’t run around naked, how can you save over $1,600 annually, per person, on clothes? (Unless you’re a woman…. then it’s more likely $1,800 to $4,800/year.) And how much is that per family, Kmart shoppers? What? A new used car? Unless you’re planning on someone holding you down on the ground, giving you a wedgy, and looking at your underwear tag, nobody cares what brand you got on. No one really looks at your socks, bra, or belt. Buy things that feel good against your skin and do the job. You may need to look a little at first, but you’ll find it. And second hand stores! HOLY CRAP! I’ve gotten stuff with original tags on them from Liz Claiborne. Levi Strauss, Anne Klein… for $5. You just need to be willing to look. It’s worth it.

Let’s pretend for a moment that you get together with the fam and determine you guys want to go on a really cool trip, or better yet, make a small investment ($3,000) into a Vanguard account. And make no mistake, youthfulness really pays off here. Compounding does incredible feats when you begin at an earlier stage. And while I certainly wish I was getting paid for advertising the company, I am not. I’m specifically attempting to help others do what I didn’t do. And it doesn’t cost a dime to learn. NO PRESSURE!

So now you know; if you are going to come out ahead at all, you must decide which it is you are willing to invest—money or time? Because if you don’t invest now, you will ultimately be investing them in the future, like it or not. UNLESS… you are smart enough to sacrifice a little now and play with the big boys, NOW, you’ll forever be sweeping the stables while the kids are in bed, because guess who stated, “He that can earn ten shillings a day by his labour, and goes abroad, or sits idle one half of the that day, though he spends but sixpence during his diversion or idleness, it ought not be reckoned the only expense; he hath really spent or thrown away five shillings besides.”

You’ll be shocked as to why this phrase was created, who created it, and why it works. Remember that time is money, and while Benjamin Franklin was quoted as saying it, time is money…. Good ol’ Ben never actually used his time to coin the phrase himself. He admittedly used someone else’s because he had better things to do with his time. Case and point, right?

Think you can’t? Think again!

When you really need a change, crossing your fingers is less effective than crossing your legs–even temporarily. Everyone wants to change something, and it’s always easy–sometimes even fun–for the first little while. We get to remind ourselves that we aren’t losers. We really can do it. And all it takes is a little effort and some time to end up right where we deserve to be. Maybe it’s painting a room. Perhaps it’s dropping a few sizes in clothing. Or even just picking up a new hobby. Whatever it is, it’s going to be easy. After sharing a story of this past week, try to recall when this happened to you, and then what you did or maybe could do differently next time.

A single mom of two young children. NEVER been on my own before and suddenly cast into the world with no one for support. It was scary. What was even more frightening was I was injured and could find no foreseeable way to change our circumstances other than wait until the courts were finished fishing through the paperwork on the man who ran a red-light and hit a 7-month pregnant woman. It took 5 years to resolve and 5 years of my children being homeless while we waited for all the red tape to unwind. By the time it was done, I was as trusting a puppy who’d been kicked and thrown into the muddy backyard during a rainstorm. For me, this hike was quite an accomplishment–alone. A decade later.

Our incredible view from atop of the death-defying Turtle Hill

A hike always seems like the easy way to do things. Scenery, fresh air, no traffic, no noise, just us and nature. Okay, I wasn’t completely alone. I had my trusty Azure with me, and she is as adventurous as they come. And nothing gets past her, especially if it smells like food. The hike was called, dangerously enough, Turtle Hill. And while it may not sound like a particularly scary title, you go ahead and say that from the comfort of your chair. I was terrified! (of Turtle Hill) The beginner trail that families were encouraged to introduce hiking to their younger would-be hikers, taking an arduous 15 – 30 minutes to climb. 😁 I guessed it would take 45 after stopping to periodically catch my breath along the way. Without boring you any further, I’ll just say that I didn’t think I would even make it. Thanks to Airpods, the Arcane, League of Legends soundtrack and my tireless pup, there was no escape but to the top, where Azure also claimed her territory!

Azure found the perfect spot to claim as her own on her very first trip.

Feeling a sense of exhilaration I couldn’t share with anyone because it was a ridiculous claim to anyone with a normal life, I smiled, Azure smiled, and we celebrated with ice cream. Azure gets a special bone Cold Stone manages to put out for pups. We were so ecstatic that we found a exercise we could both participate in and enjoy, that we decided we would come back for a total of at least two times a week. and possibly even three!

The following day, I used my new Streaks Workout program, that I downloaded on my iPhone for a few measly bucks and absolutely worth it. With a Quick 6 minute workout, an Everyday 12 minute workout (which I’ve also completed), a Tough workout in 18 minutes that I’m working my way up to, and an Extreme 30 minute workout. Considering I’ve only completed the 6 and 12 minute workout and what they have to offer, frankly. I’m too chicken shit to even glance at the thirty minute workout. But it isn’t expensive, and as a single parent, that’s all the more excuse I don’t have not to do it–or something like that.

Friday, two days later, I’d set the goal to go back to my nemesis, Turtle Mountain! Okay, okay…. Turtle Hill. But today, it looked like a huge mountain when we pulled up. I hadn’t slept well the night before–tossing and turning. Yet I told myself I’d made a commitment. If we aren’t going to maintain commitments to ourselves, what makes us think we can maintain them for anyone else? The entire purpose of commitments is in maintaining a sense of moral obligation to ourselves, isn’t it? So, I reasoned. The forecast was set at 56*… the perfect temperature to keep cool in the desert for the long haul with all the 184 lbs of body heat I was packing, and I’m not talking about guns and ammo. It’s all natural, baby. Sweat pants, T-shirt, dog, water, I was ready.

Azure and Polaris “ruffing it up” at the park.

As the dirt clouds whirled around my car when I came to a stop, I wondered if I should maybe just walk around the sidewalks lining the grassy lawn at the park. If I walked it enough times at a really fast rate, I could get my heartbeat up past 125 bpm… enough to burn calories. And the last time we were there, Azure met Polaris–a really big and super stinky puppy friend that loves getting wet and rolling in the dirt. Then again, that would mean that when we got home, she’d have to endure her third bath this week… and I don’t think she’d like that much. So onwards and upwards, it looked like. I climbed out of the car and opened the hatchback of my mountain climbing Prius to let the wild animal loose on the wilderness. Immediately, she recognized where we were, (after all, she had claimed it already), and checked to make sure I hadn’t chickened out. I sighed and noticed the snowflakes melting on my forearms and flying through the air. “Seriously? Is this a sign?” But Azure didn’t think so and began booking up the trail while I gathered the leash. water bottle, Airpods, and set the music as well as the app for measuring my heart rate and distance. Sucker, I laughed at myself, but then again, I had committed to come–at least to my dog.

The wind was blowing hard. The air was chilly, and I hadn’t brought a jacket. Tough beans! Near the bottom of the trail. a bunch of tumbleweeds were packed across the gully-type trail so tightly it appeared as an almost deliberate act. My stupid paranoia kicking again, I thought. My parents were huge advocates of my self-talking failures, and if nothing else they taught me stuck, that surely managed to be one of the few things that did. I have a feeling a lot of you know exactly what I’m talking about, right?

Tiptoeing around and stretching over them, I cleared the tumbleweeds into the cleared out area and continued, coming across another batch at the next turn, and figured I’d turn it into a game. Then a third group a bit further up. Geez, this seems so much harder than last time, the thought swirled through my head, if I can just finish, my time won’t be as good, but I’ll still have finished. Azure, who claimed the hill last time by taking a healthy dump at the top, was skirting back and forth across the trail, through the brambles, causing pheasants and other birds to pitch frantically into the sky. This had to have been one of the best days of her life. The snow disappeared from the sky and it was clear again.

Azure feels the need to reinstate her claim.

Suddenly, I realized I was having a difficult time catching my breath, and my inhaler for my asthma was down in my car. Okay, okay, just stop a minute, my voice said, rest and catch your breath to see how far you can make it. No one can blame you. You have asthma. Ahead was a turn and I couldn’t recall if that was the top or if there was one more length… I wasn’t thinking clearly (even on Turtle Hill). No one can blame me? No one even knows I’m here! I’ve already done too much to quit. I looked ahead to the drop off ahead where the trail turned, took as deep a breath as I could muster and pushed out every fragment of air in my lungs possible. Then, I did it again. I started walking, and a new voice entered my head speaking; it was my high school voice from my cross country track days, telling me to put my body on autopilot and only focus on my mind. Turning the music up, my body went numb and my head took over, focused.

Before I comprehended what happened, I was standing at the top, and I saw the sky… a bright beam between the clouds, as if it was there awaiting my return. Glancing at my watch, I beat my time from two days ago by ten minutes! My heart rate was just above 150 bpm. I couldn’t help but smile. I was actually proud!

Looking around for Azure, I found her reinstating her claim once again. Geez!

When I was finished patting myself on the back for a job well-done, we headed back down the hillside, not resting nearly as long as we had the first trip. The music was louder, my steps more deliberate and in time, as I scurried down the side. Tiptoeing again through the tumbleweeds, I nearly fell a couple of times because the tread of my shoes is all but existent. I had mixed feelings as I first imagined the scene for others below if I fell; a large dusty tumbleweed crashing down the mountainside. Reality set in and I considered all the large rocks I could fall on and hurt myself, unable to ask for help if the situation was right. I wondered if Azure would go find help the way Lassie or Rin-Tin-Tin would do, or if she’d need to be taught first. Rather than letting these thoughts clutter my mind, I decided it would be easier just slow down and not fall at all.

Passing through the tumbleweeds, I was taking my final step through when my shoelace got caught in the dried out branches. They wrapped around my ankle and clung to my sock and pants. Reaching over to remove them, a sharp needle-like point stabbed into my index finger. That’s when I noticed the entire tumbleweed was covered in thorns. They were poking my ankles as I struggled to figure out how to remove the stickers from my laces, my ankles, and the rear of my achilles tendon without having them pierce my skin again. Somehow I did.

Standing tall, I looked at the jumbled mess I’d managed to circumvent five and a half times, laughing while I leaped, all because I was unaware of the danger. And had I realized these painful adversaries to begin with, I would have had the perfect excuse to go for a walk at the park. This suddenly reminded me of a video I’d seen a few years back of a coach getting behind one of his players to prove the kid’s own self-worth. It made sense to me then, but now it made even more sense. When we cannot see our limits, and no one tells us that it’s the most we can expect, we can accomplish unbelievable feats… even on Turtle Hill.

Success comes in so many forms. How were you successful today?

Getting into my car, I peeked into the mirror and was shocked to see my face was only about half as red as it had been two days ago. My time was faster and my face less flushed. What happened? Was it an act of some god? Was it the hypnotic trance that humans put themselves into when they’re under a stress that they comprehend as being necessary? What do you think was the cause of this strange sense of temporary amnesia toward top, preventing defeat?

Why are you Crossing your…

Is it truly confusing?

When someone mentions crossing their fingers for something, we automatically understand they are on the brink of a life-changing event–or at least a situation of great importance. When they cross their eyes, it’s a semblance of silliness and occasionally mockery. But when a woman crosses her legs, it’s always prevention. If she isn’t attempting to maintain composure of her bladder, or she’s attempting to maintain a sense of protection, either subconsciously or modestly. Either way, crossing anything means an obvious change in direction. And some people cross their heart as a way of saying that nothing could be more true. It’s understood.

What does it mean when someone crosses the line, or is so emphatic that they cross it twice; double-crossing? And how did “crossing” become such a picturesque phrase? My suspicions reveal that it all started back in the time that crosses were placed as headstones or criminals were hung on them in display of their wrongdoings. What is a cross really? Simply put, it’s two of the same object with one side laying atop of the other–that is all. Whatever it means is whatever we have conjured up in our own individual heads for it to mean, whether we accepted someone else’s word to establish our own thinking or arrived at our own conclusion. That is all.

And to understand all of these definitions with the ability to communicate, some sense of conformity must be present. If we didn’t conform to learn language, we wouldn’t be able to explain what we needed, wanted, or offered. Many of us wouldn’t have an income, a religion, or a neighborhood whose buildings all resemble each other. Conforming can be a rule that must be followed if you want to remain.

This bullying happens all the time. When is enough enough?

This brings me to my purpose today–speaking for suicidal teens whose parents refuse to accept them, despite the studying they’ve been doing for the 4.0 average and High Honor Roll grades. Because clearly that isn’t enough for the parents, let alone society’s acceptance. No stress. None at all. As parents, we like to believe we understand our children because we love them. And we feel incapable of assisting them if we can’t–but the fact of the matter is, matters are much more complex than they ever were when we were their age. It’s much more dangerous, and families spend less time together than ever before. Just look at the rate climbing in the United States—-There’s no sign of slowing for over a decade.

Can you think of one small change to make a difference?

The real stress for my daughter’s girlfriend is that she cannot reveal to her parents the deepest of all secrets; the secrets that go against conforming to their religious beliefs and the belief system that could get the entire family in trouble if discovered. The secrets that reject all of what people have been taught–not learned on their own accord–but taught by others, to reject their own intelligent, caring, and thoughtful child because of sexual preferences. The deepest, scariest secret of all is hiding a true self from her family because of the conforming rules of society. The rules that state that no matter how she thinks, behaves, desires, or works toward, it doesn’t matter—because she’s gay. She’s more likely to be accepted if she was a failing student and a thief, as long as she preferred males.

Last Saturday, after weeks of planning, my daughter’s date picked her up in a tricked-out car she paid for by herself, and surprised her with matching bow ties. They went out to eat at a spectacular picnic setting with “fancy” McDonald’s grub and another couple. One of the other couple’s sister took some extraordinary photos with waterfalls, waterwheels, streams, ducks, and flowered bushes behind them–the four beaming faces smiling all the while. The meticulous planning went off without a hitch–right up until their arrival at the bustling festivities. A night to remember. The Junior Prom.

The two students manning the entrance in tuxedos were faculty members’ sons, welcoming everyone in. As my daughter and her date arrived in “smalltown” Utah, a slow song played over the sound system, and the young men suggested they hit the dance floor right away.

“No thanks,” my daughter’s date politely rejected the invitation. But that wasn’t enough for them.

“C’mon!” the boys jeered as they each grabbed a small girl, pushing them toward the dance floor as the students moved aside, clearing a path.

The year is 2022. People are conforming. Children continue learning behavior from their parents. Are we teaching them to work hard and treat each other well, or are we teaching them that the privileged go unpunished and others must conform or be condemned? Perhaps we’ll need to figure out crossing that bridge when we come to it, right? After all, second best thing people are good at besides conforming is procrastinating. And just look at us now. What are we crossing? Are we crossing the line? Believe it or not, your thoughts count. Say something!

For anyone concerned as to whether the Junior Prom turned out a successful, they left immediately following the scrimmage, located a place less expensive and actually had fun. Due to my daughter’s fear the neighbors will see the photos and begrudge her, I must allow the “stomping of my garden,” without posting any of the beautiful photos they have had taken.

When they leave, it’s a good sign?

Anyone who’s been a parent in love with their kids has a deep understanding of what it’s like when they’re gone. If you’re like me, it happens more than once. The first time is after you take them to school the first time, thinking of how hard it will be for them–and they’re perfectly fine. They may even be excited to make new friends and learn about things to share at home.

“What?!” I can’t believe it and a miniscule portion wants to scream, “Traitor!” because they’re fine without me. Every day, excited to be with their new friends and their entertaining teacher. When they get home, they get to relive the experience by sharing with mommy or daddy. So being strong examples, we wait until we get home to the empty house and sit down for a minute–and we survive in the terribly quiet house, wondering what we should do now.

Joined the track team after soccer and baseball

It doesn’t take long for them to stay overnight at their friend’s house or worse, they go camping for a week with the scouts or some other big kid summer program, promising to teach them life skills while having a good time. Every day you expect the phone to ring with the bad news that they are so home sick, they need you to rush over right away and reaffirm their independence. Sure, I’ll ask them if they’re positive they don’t want to stay and create incredible crafty t-shirts and memories with their friends. Every time my parents sent me away to camp, there was always some kid bawling in the corner, or throwing up because they were so homesick. I always thought of them as weak. And a little itty-bitty part was selfish and wanted my kids to need me too. But, they didn’t. In fact, when they got home, they seemed physically bigger, more mature, and certainly more independent. So, I pulled back. No helicopter momming for me. No siree. You watch my bravery!

Now my son’s twenty. Like a lot of kids, he has no idea what he wants to do with his life. Or let me rephrase that, he has a whole bunch of ideas, just no direction; he’s still figuring it out. So he decided he’s going to do like a trial relationship with his girlfriend in California for a few months. I’ve got to hand it to him, pretty bold idea. If you can live with someone for three months, with the ability to leave any time you want, but manage to stick it out, that’s enough time for a few bumps in the road, right? He says I’m not allowed to call him every day. So I don’t. But I look at his photo like a girl with pet allergies admires a Persian cat, knowing he’s someone else’s kitty box to change now. Such is life…

Azure plans her next treat adventure!

Okay.

“Alright, Missy, the jig is up!” like my Great Grandma Sissy used to say when I danced thru the bedsheets she hung on the clothes line. She couldn’t really catch me, so she’d mutter I was full of malarkey and tell me to gather up the clothes pins off the lawn, place them in the woven basket, and bring them in. She was a wise old woman who didn’t like cats, kids, or anything but cigarettes and coffee to best of my memory. Still, she called me on my crap then, and still does it in my mind now.

Still, I can’t possibly be the only person bold enough to admit I miss my kids when they’re away. Share your stories. If you don’t have kids, talk about your pets. When Azure got fixed, she was at the vet’s overnight. It’s weird sharing your bed with a footwarmer that isn’t there. Go on, tell me I’m clingy!

But for now, I should go check on my fifteen-year-old and see what she’s up to! She’s been in her room for a couple of hours online. She could probably stand some milk and cookies about now. Or not. πŸ˜‰ She is planning for the prom on Saturday.

Sometimes, as difficult as it may be, I think the hardest part of being a parent is when I choose to do nothing, especially when I can tell they are making a mistake. I usually give them my point of view and allow them to make a choice with more information to weight in on. But when it comes to learning from errors, the best thing you can do is wait. Just like when they were little, you brushed the sand off, rinsed the wound, and strapped a Band-aid on it. If it was particularly bad, you’d need to give them the additional kiss to expedite the healing, right? Being a parent is so much more important than being a dictator–it’s about being a teacher, an example, a mentor, and someone who listens quietly when they need to speak, and returns the conversation without placing blame or “I told you so.” Doing that never gains any ground, only makes the parent appear as a pompous ass. Be the one they actually come to ask advice. πŸ™ƒ

Sometimes You Must Look Back

Oh My Grandma Would Totally Forget
“Oh My Grandma Would Totally Forget.”

You know how everyone always tells you to look forward because you cannot change the past? They’re only telling half the story. Sure, while it’s true that you can’t change the past, how many times is the same mistake repeated because we insist on forgetting about the past altogether?

It may be a horrible example, but it sort of makes me giggle to think about a skateboarder missing one wheel. Let’s say they come barreling down a paved road on three wheels and the board teeters, tilting over where the wheel’s missing, and the skater endos! Agh! And instead of considering what went wrong, tucks the board beneath his arm and heads back up the hill to try and improve his skills. He’s sure if he practices, he’s going to figure it out, right? He’s not! First of all, NO skateboards have three wheels; they’re on two axles. And I know some of you caught that and continued reading anyway. Thank you. But I’m sure you all got the message: the crash has nothing to do with the kid’s skills, it has to do with him having three wheels. Nobody can skate on three wheels… not even Shaun White (even though he retired). This means he isn’t stopping long enough to consider what the real problem is, but assuming it’s his level of skill needing to be be perfected.

Definitely do look back at your mistakes. Figure out how you made them so you can quit hurting yourself. What you shouldn’t be doing is reliving the error after you understand what caused it and beating yourself up over for no apparent reason. There are those who nurse on a big, fat serving of guilt, but really, no one deserves that.

  • Were you fairly certain the event would turn out the way it did, but proceeded anyway?
  • Did you plan ahead?
  • Did you bother to discuss the idea with all involved before executing the plan?
  • Were you planning on at least three “what ifs” in case things weren’t exactly as planned?
  • Was someone else involved in the decision making that really had no idea or skin in the game?

So my advice is to look over your shoulder just long enough to see your mistake and determine if it actually was your doing, and how you can prevent it next time. If it was out of your hands, you need to size up the one responsible. Notice how many negative impacts happen to you because of them. If their share is bigger than yours—well, you know, perhaps consider lightening your load, especially if others are suffering because of it too.

If you’re able to understand what happened right away, as Tony Soprano used to say, “Fuggit about it!” And for God’s sake, don’t do it again! Tomorrow is a perfectly wonderful day waiting for your arrival and the next lesson you’re going to learn. Spit on your hands, grab a vine, and swing! (Only yell if you’re really feeling it!) You are a lion, my friend…. it’s time to focus on you and your amazing friggin future because you, my friend, have certainly earned it.

“Criminals are Made, not Born.”

On April 20, 1999, a devastating story hit the broadcasting stations and newsprint all over the country. Two young men, dressed in trench coats and loaded up with artillery, marched through a high school and unloaded a hail of bullets on teachers and students alike, killing 15 people in cold blood. These boys are considered “cold-blooded killers” by most who heard about the events leading up to the devastating moments of hell. But the end of their hell was the beginning of so many others’. And their lives had to have been horrific, at least in their minds–otherwise, there was no purpose. Without some sort of purpose, there’s no plan of action. Yet, the heaping mounts of evidence proved inconclusive as to the means to an end. Why?

At what age do kids learn gun safety?

So far this year, 141 school shootings have taken place across the United States, and the numbers are growing, according to Reuters.com. While officials blame the growing violence on the pandemic, stating that the irregular schedule of parental supervision may be one of the driving forces, that is only an effect of a cause–a cause that’s out of our hands, which means it’s the perfect means of placing blame and letting parents off the hook. My prediction is that the problem goes much deeper than some illness disrupting our schedule, although an unpredictable schedule will certainly increase irritability to some extent. But I actually feel the blame belongs exactly where it’s attempting to escape–the parents.

“I’ll give you something to cry about!”

“I’ll give you something to cry about,” I still hear echoing through the depths of my mind, my vivid imagination occasionally causing me to wince. “You understand?” The voice continues, growing more impatient, “Answer me, I can’t hear your brains rattle.” Is the answer after I vigorously nod, petrified to even open my mouth to speak. If I can’t find the courage, my mouth is forced open from the scream escaping as my backside burns beneath the rapid and forceful swinging of the leather belt.

“Y-y-yes. Yes, I h-hear you,” I finally manage to get out just to make the hitting stop. The throbbing pain acknowledges that tomorrow welts will be where the numbness is now. I’ll need to dress for gym in a private stall again so nobody sees the marks.

“Now go to your room before I really give you something to cry about.”

Crying is wrong. Crying is bad. Crying causes more pain. No crying–ever. And so my subconscious manufactures a plan–a safeguard if you will, to prevent me from being hit as much. No crying. And when there is no crying, where do the tears go? They fester. They twist and turn in my throat and wretch my heart, sinking like a rock in my stomach, and lying there like a heavy stone. But the air in my lungs fights to erupt from my throat, and it does–in roaring uncontrollable laughter. Laughter that seems to infuriate my father more as the blows become harder and the room’s colors fade into a fuzzy gray–like flannel. Soft gray flannel. Warm, comfortable, and welcoming. A safe place far away from the pain for a little while. For now.

Don’t get me wrong. I certainly didn’t get abused every single day. And the days that I did wasn’t always a single occurrence. And it didn’t even matter how many “stones” were received on a particular day. What did matter was how far they filled me up, hardening my insides, creating a stoic persona. Now, I could have easily turned out to be the red-headed clown in a movie theater gunning down innocent people to “prove a point,” the way James Holmes did when he killed 12 people and injured 58 others during the midnight premiere of “The Dark Knight Rises,” except for my secret weapon. You see, the anger and frustration must and absolutely will come out eventually. There isn’t room in there for all those stones once you run out of room… they need to be removed. The big question is, how?

The fact of the matter is, you must be smart enough and brave enough to find a way to channel your anger and frustration. While there are several professions who utilize the skills of those releasing trauma through comedy, a huge chunk of comedians are thought of being bipolar, so their parents can shove a pill in their mouth and send them to bed rather than parent them correctly 1) because they won’t have to face the cause, and 2) the doctor makes a profit. Case solved. Next!

How long do memories last?

Boxers Mike Tyson, Oscar de la Hoya, Sugar Ray Leonard, and Callum Hancock found a useful way of coping with their own abuse by learning to fight back in their own defense. And while some people may fantasize about being taken unwillingly, it’s clearly different when it’s actual.

Artists have a special way of allowing the “creative juices to flow,” don’t they? The reason those words are in quotations is because often times those juices aren’t born from creativity as much as rage. Angry artists, exotic dancers, screenwriters, and novelists all get their material ideas from an experience somewhere they’ve encountered. And what can be more emotional than a memory?

So, outlets are what people need. Getting out of the house, away from the non-physical, mentally violent video games, television shows, and movies where there’s no release of energy–only pent up aggression, ready to explode–to get rid of those stones. And it’s getting worse.

Violence is born from a lack of healthy release

There’s something more that needs to be told as well. Although the Columbine shooting set off a trend, moving to Sandy Hook, and over 1,000 more schools into a shower of gunfire, there was one very ill individual in the late 1920’s who took matters into his own hands. After working over 6 months at planting explosives throughout the school, he murdered his wife, and drove back to the school to ignite a bomb to blow up the wouldbe rescue benefit of the townsfolk. And the message the authorities found fastened on his fence, behind the barn he’d burned to the ground with animals locked inside, said, “Criminals are made, not born.” Although Andrew Kehoe appears to have been a man quite far off his rocker, he seems to have hit his nail dead on.

Bizarre Memories of a Sex Maniac (Mind-Viewer Discretion Advised)

Okay, okay, I am no maniac by my own standards… but what exactly are those standards anyway? Every “wo”man for him (or her)self. No one else can ever tell you what your standards should be. They are clearly different for each person, but hooking up with a stranger on a two-day train ride? What? “Yep, been there and done that,” as they say.

The most intriguing and romantic, yet mesmerizingly bizarre two days of my life to date. I was on my way to Chicago to spend a little time with my sister, Jenny, her husband, and her new baby, via the train. Granted, I was petrified to travel from Salt Lake City, Utah to Aurora, Illinois by myself, but sometimes you have to stick your neck out for the sake of experience. Am I right? This, mind you, was quite a long time ago. So either it was much safer then, I was totally naive, or a combination of both. I had no children yet, and my son is now 20, so please don’t tell him I did this mindless stunt. I’d hunt my kids down if they tried this travelling alone crap.

When I boarded the train. I was shy, as I always am around crowds of people when I am alone. I’m sure there are a great many people like that–which is the main reason elevator rides are so quiet and uncomfortable, right? And I’m seated by the window so I can have a great view–although the majority of the views were not unlike the scenes from movies where it’s the same background showing over and over again, redundantly… tree, telephone pole, cactus… tree, telephone pole, cactus… tree, squirrel! Okay, enough already! I was bored silly! I decided I needed to brave the crowd and at least get a drink. So I made my way to the car with the restaurant. If you’ve ever walked on those moving sidewalks at the airport… well, you know. Like that, but wobbly, as if you are at the airport after a couple glasses of wine. By the time I got to the bar, I needed the drink to counteract the wobbling!

In my early twenties, prime of my life, I managed a few numbers, if you know what I mean. And this other girl, at least as attractive as I was, saddles up to the bar and asks for three drinks. Whoa! Either she knew some weird secret or there were more of her somewhere because she was of a petite stature comparatively speaking to me. Then again, I was 5′ 9″. My hair was auburn and tightly curled, parted on the side–just the way I’d paid to have it styled professionally once a month by the hairdresser, and it bounced beneath my shoulder blades. The color brought out the bright blue of my eyes, which matched the girl’s. Her hair was straight, blond, and hung to her waist. She was gorgeous. I don’t remember her name, though. Because I noticed the thick accent when she ordered and asked where she was from as she awaited her drinks, we began a conversation about how she was from Germany. She’d come with a couple of friends to see America. Then she invited me to join them.

Of course I did. She was cute. What are the chances her friends would be too?

Making our way to the lower deck, she introduced me to her boyfriend (don’t remember his name either, and don’t care) and a totally hot third-wheel named Daniel Gosch. Yes, my friend, after thirty years, I still remember Daniel–the guy who spoke to me with hand gestures and laughter as we clumsily attempted to guess what the other was attempting to say. Because it was so long ago, I only remember bits and pieces–and pieces. We sat side by side in the seats for a moment, snuggling under a blanket… until I “disappeared” for about 10 minutes. Feeling him wiggle while holding his breath, so as not to alarm other passengers, I wanted him to be able to share an incredible story of America when he returned home. I also gave him a modeling photo of me. And before you ask, yes, I did carry them with me. This was long before car phones, much less iPhones. And I was a dancer, so I always had photos on my person.

We got along so well, that the first night I was there, I called my sister and explained that I’d be arriving a day later than originally expected. And if you feel the need to judge, I’m okay with that. I got the experience. And I continued my “welcome to America” visit that evening–several times in his room while his friends “christened” the country from their own room next door.

Blond golden curls, blue-eyes, straight white teeth, and broad shoulders–that man. A memory I made that evening has lasted a lifetime. Keep in mind, I’m NOT at ALL suggesting anyone do such a mindless and careless act… in hindsight, it was irresponsibly dangerous. But I often wonder what Daniel Gosch is doing now…. as I sit here typing, preparing to pick up my daughter from school. Welcoming my son home from his job later. Taking the dog out for her walk, and stroking my kitten as she winds around my feet. I heavily sigh and rest my head on my fist, elbow perched next to my trusty communicative device in this age of COVID we now live in.

Do you ever use your memories for a little “commercial escape” from the doldrums of today’s reality? If so, please let your guard down and be free for a second. I did!

By the way, what do you think the chances are that Daniel still has that photo of me?

For the aftermath of a sex-crazed girl who clearly got all of the physical excitement out, but will never be rid of the challenges of the mind, feel free to visit the “mature” MJ at my non-dancing job by visiting Waking Lions Hypnosis. Until then, leave me a line!

Be Brave. Be Strong. Be True to You. And take Time to Focus on You!