Sunday, December 21, 2008

Common Sense Economics

Have we lost our minds?

When I'm dealing with my own finances, I know my shortcomings. Because I'm no financial expert, I go to people who I know are. I read books by Dave Ramsey and Suzy Orman. I use the services of an advisor. I look at how people who are successful in life and in business and I emulate them. So, why can't the auto industry do the same?

Toyota and Honda have a business model that works. They are making money when the American car makers are not. The big difference? Their management/labor relationship. Toyota and Honda make a great product and have a fair compensation package. So what will it take to use that level of common sense in the American auto industry? How 'bout blowing out every current exec and starting over...completely over. And that includes getting rid of an antiquated business model with regard to labor.

Back when unions were formed, they were needed to fight the greed and corruption of management and unfair working terms. Now, the tables have turned, and the American public perceives it is the union that epitomizes that which is destroying the auto industry. We hear from the labor side that they have made plenty of concessions. But even with those concessions they are nowhere near the average American's compensation package. An autoworker for GM makes double the wage, has premium health care plans that cover not only them, but extended family and retirees for life. No other industry has this level of coverage. If I were faced with a salary cut or job loss, I would take a cut. Most regular folks with common sense would. Labor leaders have us believing they'd rather be unemployed than concede further.

The management should be re-built from the ground up. They lost touch with reality long ago and all of them should all be canned. That it didn't dawn on one of these knucklheads that their opulent first trip to Washington might not just look was just plain wrong! It took an outcry from the media before they grounded their private jets and drove hybrid cars to the second beg-for-money meeting in Washington. Will a multi-billion dollar bailout change how these clowns think?

The pain of any of the auto companies going into bankruptcy would be deep. We are warned it would be like the Great Depression. But like an drug addict, sometimes you have to lose everything and totally hit rock- bottom before you learn and change. Even the worst-case scenario would not match the Great Depression. We have programs and systems in place that will prevent that level of destitution. Those in unions will survive. Capitalism, competition and legislation now takes care of what unions use to do to protect workers.

In my own life; I sure do want a bunch of stuff. But I don't have the money, so I just don't buy it. I cut back this Christmas. I have two kids in college, and a mortgage to pay. I somehow pay those bills and more months than not I am stretched. Of course I feel terrible when I hear someone is losing their home to foreclosure, or can't pay a credit card debt...but when I also hear plans for those debts to be forgiven, I am angry that the people like me who do the right thing are being punished.

Common sense dictates we need to learn the lessons our parents and grandparents learned from the Great Depression, like if we don't learn from history...we may be bound to repeat it.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Tough Times Can Bring Out The Best in People

Last weekend, I was decorating my house trying to get into the Holiday spirit, but I found myself feeling a little blue. I understand that the holidays can intensify feelings of loss and lonliness, and that for many people, feeling sad is normal at this time of the year. For me, the realization that my husband and both my parents are gone, and my girls are away from home hit me hard and had me feeling sort of sorry for myself. So, in an attempt to distract myself, I went to work, and began to edit some of the interviews we had recently done at the station for our Tree Of Lights Radiothon.

As I listened to the heartfelt and inspiring stories from men and women like Tina, Amazetta, Kenny, Timothy and others, I felt as though God was tapping me on the shoulder, snapping me out of it. Here were these men and women who had gone through such challenging times, and they had come out of it stronger, and were using their stories to inspire others.

And inspire they did.

As I listened to each of them talk; as I took segments from each and placed music behind them...I must have gone through a box of tissue. I'm certain that their stories were a good part of why so many generous people stepped up over these past few days during the WQMX Tree Of Lights Radiothon to support the work of Haven Of Rest. The men and women who go to the Haven are in such need. And when they get there, those needs are filled. Not just their physical needs, but also, their emotional and spiritual needs.

I wasn't quite sure what to expect when we began our plea for donations because the economy is so tough right now. But so many people who came in to make a donation said that it was because times were tough they wanted to donate more. And that was the overall theme. Even though times were tough--most people acknowledged that there was always someone else who was worse off.

I want to thank the current and former residents and clients of the Haven, who were courageous enough to share their stories. And I want to thank the staff for helping to make miracles happen. And I want to thank all of you--who generously donated to our radiothon to help us raise some $40,000 so the Haven can continue their ministry.

And I am also thankful for the reality check...because now I feel I am in the true spirit of the holiday season.

May you be blessed this Christmas season.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

The view from 50

For days, weeks, even months I've been anticipating with cautious optimism, the impending date of my 50th birthday. I anticipated that I might feel any number of emotions as this day capped a year of life-changing events including my new status as an empty-nester, my mom's passing, and new responsibilities at work.

As I sit here pondering the significance of this new milestone, I think of the opportunities ahead of me, and I feel very grateful for life at 50. I consider the opportunities that were not available for my own mother at the same age; and I feel more optimistic than I have in a long time.

I look with admiration at women who also hit this milestone this year: Michelle Pfeiffer, Ellen DeGenerous, Oprah, Madonna & Sharon Stone. And then there's Diane Keaton, who at 57, produced her seventh movie and played the heartthrob of 39-year-old Hollywood heartthrob Keanu Reeves in Something's Gotta Give. Christie Brinkley at 60, who when advertising the Total Gym looks better than most women I know half her age. And Susan Sarandon, who at 61, is still the American prototype for the sexy older woman, a title she earned in her 40s.

Several years ago, Frank Kaiser wrote a wonderful essay in praise of older women. To all women 40 and beyond...and to the men who appreciate them, this is worth the read:

In Praise Of Older Women

As I grow in age, I value women who are over 50 most of all. Here are just a few reasons why:

An over 50 woman will never wake you in the middle of the night to ask, "What are you thinking?" She doesn't care what you think.

If an over 50 woman doesn't want to watch the game, she doesn't sit around whining about it. She does something she wants to do. And it`s usually something more interesting.

An over 50 woman knows herself well enough to be assured in who she is, what she is, what she wants, and from whom. Few women past the age of 50 give a darn what you might think about her or what she`s doing.

An over 50 woman usually has had her fill of "meaningful relationships" and commitment." The last thing she wants in her life is another dopey, clingy, whiny, dependent lover.

Over 50 women are dignified. They seldom have screaming matches with you at the opera or in the middle of an expensive restaurant. Of course, if you deserve it, they won`t hesitate to shoot you if they think they can get away with it.

Over 50 women are generous with praise, often undeserved. They know what it`s like to be unappreciated.

An over 50 woman has the self-assurance to introduce you to her women friends. A younger woman with a man will often ignore even her best friend because she doesn't trust the guy with other women. A woman over 50 woman couldn't care less if you`re attracted to her friends because she knows her friends won`t betray her.

Women get psychic as they age. You never have to confess your sins to an over 50 woman...They always know.

An over 50 woman looks good wearing bright red lipstick. This is not true of younger women.

Over 50 women are forthright and honest. They`ll tell you right off you are a jerk if you are acting like one. You don`t ever have to wonder where you stand with her.

Ladies, we praise over 50 women for a multitude of reasons. Unfortunately, it's not reciprocal. For every stunning, smart, well-coiffed hot woman of 50+, there is a bald, paunchy relic in yellow pants making a fool of himself with some 22-year-old waitress. Ladies, I apologize. ~Frank Kaiser

I am thankful and optimistic about the days and years to come. Turning 50 scared me at first, but it sure is better than the alternative!

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Precious Time

If you're like me, you often complain about not having enough hours in a day. So in this hectic, time-starved world world we live in, today should have felt like a real gift; because today we turned our clocks back and miraculously picked up one extra hour.

How did you spend your time?

Perhaps you slept in a little longer, or did a few more things around the house. Or, maybe you forgot about the time change until you saw your cell or computer clock an hour off.

As for me...I found myself thinking about the Tim McGraw song "Live Like You Were Dying". It's the story of a man in his early 40's who found out he had just a short time to live. There's one line in that song that really affects me: "I spent most of the next days, looking at the x-rays and talking 'bout the options and talking 'bout sweet time."

Although I loved, lived with and walked alongside a man who heard those words when he asked "how long do you think I have, doctor?" I can't begin to know or understand what it must feel like to know your time is limited. I only know how I felt, and knew I could never fully empathize, although I wanted to.

God, I tried to.

What I do know is that the problems we had that seemed insurmountable just hours before we heard those words were forgotten. They melted away. The days, weeks and months that followed had me noticing everything about time. And every detail in the world around me...imagining how he was looking at the colors of the trees, the smell of the flowers and the smiles of his children.

The clock was ticking. Time became precious in so many ways...and it became our enemy in so many others. When we had to "fall back" that year, I recall listening to people complain about losing an hour of sleep. I thought of him losing an hour of living. And me losing an hour of him. Even an hour became so precious.

Thinking of it makes me not want to take anything for granted. It makes me want to remember that pain, if only because in doing so I can appreciate the now. What I have. The people in my life that I love. My girls. My friends. My family. My co-workers.

There's a little boy in Barberton fighting for his life right now. Strangers, friends, neighbors and an entire community are trying to offer Josh Metzger and his family emotional, financial and prayerful support. That is, of course, a wonderful thing. We can do what we can do...but what no one can give him is more time.

All we can do even if for a day or so, even for an hour or so, is slow down, look around and appreciate time with the people who are important to us. Live every hour to the fullest. Be a Tigger and not an Eeyore. And try, as the song says "to live like you were dying." Because life really is so short. And time really is so precious.

Even an hour.

Note: Josh Metzger has an inoperable-fast growing brain tumor. You can make a donation to the Josh Metzger fund at any Fifth Third bank in the Akron area to help the family defray medical costs.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Lessons At Every Age

My daughter Laura came home the other night; another all-too-brief visit from college. She was frustrated at a poor grade she received on an English paper, and crumpled under a blanket on the couch admitting "college is a lot harder than I thought it would be".

In my effort to make her feel better, I began my "momisms", which, I just can't help, and I start to share some of my own transition issues from my first year at college. I tell her that it's normal, that lots of kids have a really tough time their first year, and so on. And then my friend Elizabeth walks into the room.

Elizabeth is 10- plus years younger than me, smart, beautiful; isn't married and does not have kids. She is is an amazingly talented woman, especially in the area of writing, and this is Laura's area of interest. She told Laura her struggles in school; how she didn't get to walk the stage, had to take a class over the summer, then get her diploma. How she started and then dropped out of college more than once because it was so difficult. How she came out of it, survived and learned valuable lessons which of course she couldn't see at the time, most of which had nothing to do with the classes she took.

The following day I was on the air with my partner Scott, who also doesn't have kids of his own, but who often talks about his friend's children who mean a lot to him. Scott is a man who shares his common sense tidbits of wisdom in an easy to digest manner every day (probably due to years of training on brevity in communication due to his choice of career). Many of those "Scott-isms" click with me an hour or maybe a day or two later.

As I told him about the conversation that took place the night before he told me he sometimes feels his thoughts and opinions when shared with a young person don't have as much credibility with parents because he doesn't have kids of his own. I admitted that it was clear to me today that parents, including me, can be cocky in their assumption that their advice is the best vehicle for their kids, when in fact, life lessons lessons can be learned from so many people at every age, no matter how old we get.

In fact, we are doing our kids more of a favor when we step back sometimes and let someone else do the talking; allowing them to be exposed to people of all ages, races, religions, socio-economic levels and political beliefs. Exposure, discussion and learning through other's successes and failures is so valuable.

Both of my girls are in college, and I' thinking I need to chill out about actual grades. College is a learning experience for many things...the least of which is the actual classes you take. The real life lessons that will help them become independent, productive, discerning adults comes from living away from home, self-discipline, compromising through roommate issues, frustrations and yes, failing papers.

Disappointment is character-building. We learn more from our failures than our successes. And interestingly, the older I get, the more I realize how much I still have to learn.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Finally: Real Answers To That Age Old Question...

Why did that chicken really cross the road?

The chicken crossed the road because it was time for a change! The chicken wanted change!

My friends that chicken crossed the road because he recognized the need to engage in cooperation and dialogue with all the chickens on the other side of the road.

When I was First Lady, I personally helped that little chicken to cross the road. This experience makes me uniquely qualified to ensure right from Day One! That every chicken in this country gets the chance it deserves to cross the road. But then, this really isn't about me.

We don't really care why the chicken crossed the road. We just want to know if the chicken is on our side of the road, or not. The chicken is either against us, or for us. There is no middle ground here.

DICK CHENEY: Where's my gun?

COLIN POWELL: Now to the left of the screen, you can clearly see the satellite image of the chicken crossing the road.

BILL CLINTON: I did not cross the road with that chicken. What is your definition of chicken?

AL GORE: I invented the chicken.

: Although I voted to let the chicken cross the road, I am now against it! It was the wrong road to cross, and I was misled about the chicken's intentions. I am not for it now, and will remain against it.

AL SHARPTON: Why are all the chickens white? We need some black chickens.

The problem we have here is that this chicken won't realize that he must first deal with the problem onthis side of the road before it goes after the problem on the other side of the road. What we need to do is help him realize how stupid he's acting by not taking on his current problems before adding new problems.

OPRAH: Well, I understand that the chicken is having problems, which is why he wants to cross this road so bad. So instead of having the chicken learn from his mistakes and take falls, which is a part of life, I'm going to give this chicken a car so that he can just drive across the road and not live his life like the rest of the chickens.

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN: We have reason to believe there is a chicken, but we have not yet been allowed to have access to the other side of the road.

NANCY GRACE: That chicken crossed the road because he's guilty! You can see it in his eyes and the way he walks.

PAT BUCHANAN: To steal the job of a decent, hardworking American.

No one called me to warn me which way that chicken was going. I had a standing order at the Farmer's Market to sell my eggs when the price dropped to a certain level. No little bird gave me any insider information.

Did the chicken cross the road? Did he cross it with a toad? Yes, the chicken crossed the road, but why it crossed I've not been told.

ERNEST HEMINGWAY: To die in the rain, alone.

GRANDPA: In my day we didn't ask why the chicken crossed the road. Somebody told us the chicken crossed the road, and that was good enough.

Isn't that interesting? In a few moments, we will be listening to the chicken tell, for the first time, the heart warming story of how it experienced a serious case of molting, and went on to accomplish its lifelong dream of crossing the road.

ARISTOTLE: It is the nature of chickens to cross the road.

JOHN LENNON: Imagine all the chickens in the world crossing roads together, in peace.

I have just released eChicken2008, which will not only cross roads, but will lay eggs, file your important documents, and balance your checkbook. Internet Explorer is an integral part of eChicken2008. This new platform is much more stable and will never crash........reboot.

ALBERT EINSTEIN: Did the chicken really cross the road, or did the road move beneath the chicken?

COLONEL SANDERS: Did I miss one?

Note: I can't take credit for writing it, only sharing it. This is one of those emails that has been going around, and things just keep getting added on. Who knows its original source? And, who cares. It made me laugh out loud and I hope it did the same for you!

Friday, September 19, 2008

The Legacy Of Theresa Wilson

It's amazing to think that because one man and one woman fell in love, a family legacy was born. I treasure and honor the memory of my Mom and Dad, Ralph and Theresa Wilson, and my amazing family. It is incredible that in her lifetime, and in mine, a disease that many of us had never heard of is now approaching epidemic proportions.

A few short weeks ago, Theresa Wilson passed away from complications of Alzheimer’s disease. It is in her memory and that of her sister, my Aunt Dorothy and in honor of all those families battling this disease I am participating in the 2008 Alzheimer's Association Memory Walk. My siblings and I have committed to raise awareness and funds for Alzheimer research, as well as for care and support for people already affected by the disease.

Memory Walk funds help the Alzheimer's Association advance important research into better treatments and a possible cure for Alzheimer’s. And for the millions already affected by the disease, the Association offers care, education, support and resources in communities nationwide.

Currently more than 5 million Americans have Alzheimer's. Unless we find a way to change the course of the disease, 16 million Americans will have Alzheimer’s by

If you’d like to support the fight against this terrible disease, you can follow the link on the right to donate to our team.

On behalf of the millions of Americans who are living with Alzheimer’s, thank you for supporting my efforts.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Free At Last

My beautiful, gentle mother, Theresa, was released from the bondage of Alzheimer’s disease Friday afternoon, Sept 5th, 2008. Although the worst of her suffering occurred during the end-stage, in hindsight, from the first symptoms until her death she probably had the disease for at least 8 years. This is consistent with what research shows about the disease, that from onset to death, the average length of time is about 10 years.

In those early years of her illness, we didn’t realize that forgetfulness, repeating questions, and other mildly unusual behavior was anything other than getting older. And my dad, her champion and protector, covered so well. When she stopped cooking, he made it seem as though he enjoyed it and it was his turn after all these years. When she stopped driving, he’d often tell her that maybe she’d drive again “when she was feeling better” He was so quietly diplomatic and face saving. Rarely, if ever asking for help.

I see it all clearly now, I didn’t then.

As things began to get worse, we got more involved, but still, he took care of her. His patience, love and quiet suffering…we knew she was declining but had no idea how bad it was. When he died suddenly 2 years ago, the grief of losing her partner of 63 years was too much for her to bear. She plummeted, and my siblings and I got a crash course into this devastating disease.

Alzheimer’s Disease is becoming a national tragedy. While more deaths still occur from cancer, heart disease and other ailments, Alzheimer’s is now the sixth leading cause of death in America. In 2008, there are over 5 million Americans with Alzheimer's. Experts predict that 10 million baby boomers will develop Alzheimer's in their lifetime. This disease is quietly growing into a national epidemic.

It’s an insidious, cruel illness, not only robbing the victim of their memory, but also, the very essence of their personality. It begins a process of grief and loss that can last literally for years. My mom’s been gone for awhile, and yet, there were days when she would smile at me with some level of recognition. Days when I would walk in and say "hi mom" and she respond "hi honey". On those days of lucidity, my siblings and I would go home and send a family email, sharing a ray of sunshine; as if there was a glimpse of hope with each story of recognition. Those moments were gifts.

We can read the research reports, and listen to the doctors, nurses and caregivers speak from their experience. We can share stories with other families who have loved ones suffering; but in the end, we can never really know what level of cognitive ability the suffering patient has. Every person is affected differently, every family has different experiences.

My niece was getting married Saturday, the culmination of a year of planning. My mom let go the day before, and I'd love to think it was because she wanted to attend. After years looking at, through and past us as we sat with her; on this Saturday she and my dad were looking down and she was saying "Wow, it's so great to see everyone. I haven't seen any of you in years, and now I see you all because I am last!"

At last.

Note: I wrote a blog last September that was, an ironic but somehow appropriate prelude to this one. Code To Freedom

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Cha Cha Cha Cha ...Change

Some people, maybe most people I know, hate change. I know that change can often be inconvenient, uncomfortable and even sad...but hating it is futile because that is one of the few things we can truly count on happening in our lives.


I've had a great deal of it these last several years. A new life as a single mom, a new home, new job and changes within that job. And while some of these changes have been terribly painful and others wonderful, all have shaped me to be who I am at this moment.

My two daughters graduated from high school these last two consecutive years. Sending the first off to college last fall was tough, but sending my baby off this coming week, I admit, frightens me more. Because I know with her departure comes a period of transition, and I am doing my very best to embrace it. But I am finding it challenging because along with excitement I feel for her, I also feel doubt combined a tremendous sense of loss...for me.

This chapter of her and my life is over. With my baby leaving, the day-to-day get the girls up and out, and packing lunches, worrying about dinners, juggling schedules, deadlines and homework are done. And I don't get any more do-overs.

Did I do this mothering thing right? Is she prepared? Will she make the right decisions? Who's going to clean her room? How is she going to do with out me? And...ok... let's face it, how am I going to live without her? This fun, funny vibrant personality, who along with her big sister, has been everything I have lived for for so many years. Although I know I will still live for and through their successes and failures, college issues, boyfriends, and more...the struggles will be different.

Worries change too. Now its about their overall safety, from date rape to drinking to dorm crime, to remembering stupid things I did and praying they don't make similar mistakes. But with that worry, there is a sense of acknowledgement. And trust. I raised them right...they'll make many right decisions. And many wrong ones. And when they make the wrong ones, they'll learn. As I did. You don't learn from your successes. You learn from your failures.


My parenting will change. My role will change. It has already.

I am now an advisor, and from the sidelines, a cheerleader and a GPS as they both navigate their own course. I hope it is my GPS voice they hear saying "turn left, follow your heart, don't do this, that." And as I found with my older daughter, they do come back home...and they are changed, in a good way. It's like they grow up and leave you as children, and then return home as these mature adults.

I'll always be their mom, but the next phase now begins.


I am doing my very best to embrace it.

But...if I'm doing so well...what's with the teardrops on this keyboard?

Saturday, July 19, 2008

The Power (and pain) of Email

Email. One of the greatest inventions of all time? Or the end of communication as we once knew it?

I could argue points either way.

For the most part, I'm a fan of email. On a business level, I can accomplish a great deal quite efficiently by responding more expediently to people by getting right to the point, especially when some just have a quick question. I admit that sometimes I don't call someone back right away because I know I have to have more time to spend to talk to that person, where with an email, I just type and click "send."

I've been reminded lately that email can have a very dark side: and that is in it's perceived anonymity. People can hide behind their email address, and when facing a computer screen rather than a human face or even a real voice on the other end of the phone, can say some of the most unkind things imaginable. It's like they forget a real human being with feelings is sitting on the other side, reading their cruel remarks.

As a program director, I've take a number of complaints from listeners over the years for the many stations I've worked. I've seen the complaints get uglier as the years go by an use of email has increased. People have gotten more comfortable, and more courageous behind this email mask. In the early to mid 90's when people were just starting to use email more regularly, I managed a radio station that had a high profile morning man, and he'd often say things that raised the temperature of our listeners. I'd get phone calls and written typed letter complaints, and a few email complaints about something this guy said. As the years progressed, the verbiage changed from a polite "I was personally offended by this or that", to profanity laced personal attacks, some from the same person.

One of the air personalities on our sister station talked to me about some of the emails she gets. She said that she may get 5 "I love you on the air" emails, but one hurtful one negates all the positives. Christi Nichols is so good at what she does, and I can tell her all day how talented she is, but one dagger has her down for days. It is such a reminder how powerful hurtful words can be.

I've been filling in on the air for our recently departed morning show co-host on WQMX. Shannon Alexander resigned, of her own free will, and is now staying home full time with her kids. Over a several day period I have received several emails from people saying they really miss Shannon but they were happy for her and they thought I was doing a good job filling some big shoes. Many cited many fun bits they had heard Scott Wynn and I do on the air. I was feeling good after reading the nice ones. And then...another came in.

This guy said the new girl "sucked". That I had absolutely no personality, that my voice was "annoying" and that we should get the old girl back. It was a brutal very personal attack that really hurt my feelings. I responded as politely as I could and then, a day later, I got an interesting reply back from him. He seemed embarrassed about his first email, and he said he was sorry he was so hard on me. He just really liked the other girl and didn't know the story. He said he should learn to keep his "big trap shut" and said he'd give me another chance. To his credit, he apologized and that meant a lot to me. But it made me realize that like so many others, it just didn't dawn on him that there really was a real person with real feelings on the other side, reading these mean-spirited words.

There's been a lot written about email, but I thought I'd add to that with my own little list of Do's and Dont's after being a victim of its wrath:

Do use spell check

Do use punctuation

Do double-check who you are sending to (some email programs use the auto fill-in feature and complete the wrong email address for you)

Don't send an email when you are angry. It's helpful to write a response to get your frustrations out, but save it, and read it later when you cool off. You may find writing it was all you needed and you may hit delete. Or you may edit it and send it with a softer tone. In the end, an angry email makes you come off like an idiot.

Don't type in all caps. It is perceived as screaming and...well... you come off like an idiot.

Don't type in all lower case. It is perceived as careless and it seems as though you must have no grammatical skills and yes, in fact, you come off like an idiot

Don't accidentally hit Reply All instead of Reply. That can really make you come off like an idiot if the wrong people read a reply not intended for them

And if you have any complaints about the contents in this blog...

Don't send me a mean email. I can't take it anymore!

Although polite comments are welcome :-)

Friday, June 13, 2008

A Lot Has Happened In 6 Years

I watched a TV show last night where the lead character woke up after 6 years in a coma. Not only did he have almost perfect recall of what happened before he fell asleep, he also woke up with extra sensory perception, as a part of his brain never tapped into had been somehow stimulated. Although that part made for the main storyline...I was lost in the what happened during the six years he was sleeping sidebar.

And, as you can imagine, a lot happened in 6 years.

He asked his doctor to call his mom, but she had passed away. When he saw his fiance', he learned that she had moved on with her life. As she tried to fill him in on what had been going on in her life, she made a few news event and pop culture references, telling him about a musician he hadn't heard of. She then said "I'll bring you her CD" catching herself with "oh wait, do you know what a CD is?"

I turned off the TV and marveled at the "coincidence" (which I don't believe in) of my watching that program on this particular evening. You see I really don't watch much TV so the timing of my landing on that particular show with that particular storyline wasn't lost on me. It was the eve of the six year anniversary of Phil's death.

I know this sounds crazy but I've laid awake at night and imagined some sci-fi plot that makes it possible that he walk through the door. Maybe he had amnesia or was captured by aliens, who knows...but somehow he walks in and we pick up where we left off. I know a lot has happened in six years, and like the character in the TV show, I know picking up where we left off would be difficult. But still...what would he ask? What would he be amazed about? What would he think about the world, politics, pop culture, today's current crop of country artists? What would he think about me...and his girls?

I thought about how Laura was 10 and Elise 13 when he died. Now almost 17 and 19, he would marvel at the young adults they have grown into. Although technology has progressed, because Phil was always an early adopter,I don't think he'd be too surprised at where we are 6 years later. He had a cell phone before most people did, paid over a thousand for a video camera that now costs a quarter of that, and even sold a guitar or two online before I even heard of eBay. I do think he'd appreciate the digital advances in media, however, and I'm sure we'd have a different (very expensive) TV than I do now! And, this whole social network thing and blogging would be new to him.

As I write this, I realize I don't have one digital photo of Phil, which is why he isn't on any of these pages. I really do need to go to the photo albums and scan some in.

Yeah...a lot has happened in six years, but one thing remains constant. One thing hasn't changed and never will.


Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Oh, for the love of....Dogs?

It's no secret to those who know me that I love animals... especially dogs. I'm a strong believer that children and animals need our special protection because they have no voice of their own. They enter the world completely full of trust and can be molded and affected completely by those who have the power to do so. And if put into the wrong hands whether through cruelty or ignorance, that power can have horrible consequences.

Fortunately, our society is becoming more aware and less tolerant of abuse against children. Through education and the media, it is more likely that known abuse of a child will be reported now that at any other point in our history. That is less the case for animals.

Some people may notice the dog chained to their neighbor's dog house in the worst cold or the worst heat...and ignore it. Some people believe dogs belong outside. Or that chaining a dog is perfectly acceptable. It's none of their business. Extremists for the cause of animal rights, like extremists of any cause have made some skeptical about getting involved.

As summer approaches, I'm asking you to open your eyes, ears and hearts to the animals around you and be their voice if you spot abuse or neglect.

It isn't acceptable for a dog to be left in a hot car, even if the windows are cracked. It isn't acceptable for a dog to be chained outside with no protection from the elements. If you see a dog chained in the sun, odds are the owner doesn't care enough to keep the water bowl filled either. That animal is suffering and living a tortured life.

Maybe you don't want to get involved. You don't want to be on the bad side of a neighbor who treats his dog that way, right? But there's a lot you can do anonymously. You can call the humane society and make a report so they can investigate. Take down the license number of the car and call the police; or report the car to the customer service center of the store. No one ever has to know it was you that made the call, but you'll feel better.

Last night my dogs were frolicking in my fenced-in yard. I heard a ruckus that sounded like a real dog fight and then a yelp--and I came running. I figured the two "boys" were fighting over a chewy bone again and called them into the house. It was then I saw a large puncture wound on Charlie's left side. The trip to the 24-hour emergency room vet was traumatic. It was heartbreaking to watch him in stress and pain. 8 staples later, we were home, but I found myself lost in thought about "the least among us". Although I don't exactly know how Charlie got his injury, I thought about the many animals who have been purposely abused and injured. Or those ignorant pet owners who may not think they are purposefully causing pain--but they are.

Our radio station, WQMX, has a weekly pet adoption feature on Thursday morning. We have learned of situations that have put most of these homeless animals in their circumstance that most people would find appalling. And in so many cases, there are people who had to have seen something, had to have known. It is our station's goal to not only raise awareness but also find loving homes for these wonderful animals.

If you or someone you know is thinking about getting a pet, before you spend money at the pet store or go to an expensive breeder, visit your local animal shelter or humane society. For a look at some of our featured pets, and for more for information and links to numerous non-profit animal rescue organizations click here:

Note: The 7th annual Pet Expo is at Hardesty Park in West Akron this Saturday June 7th and will feature tons of rescue organizations on location with loveable pets you can take home that day. The Pet Expo is presented by radio stations WQMX, WONE and WAKR.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Proms and Graduation Parties

My youngest daughter is going to prom tonight. And, she graduates from high school in 2 weeks. I was telling my friend Shannon it feels kind of strange to know I've bought my last prom/homecoming high school dance dress.

She asked me if I felt sad. I pondered that for a moment. Not exactly sad; but I do feel something that is somewhat hard to explain. A mix pride and relief.

The relief is that I am that I'm at the end of the long tumultuous high school years with both my girls. Although I admit, I won't feel really comfortable until my baby is home safe tonight from the whole after prom thing. It seems every year you hear some story about kids and accidents and....well, I don't want to think about it.

And then there's the pride part.

I'm proud of both my girls, no doubt. Laura's motivation for life is inspiring. She's graduating from high school one year early. And she isn't waiting for fall to start college classes. She's starting this summer to get some of the tough classes out of the way. My oldest, Elise is successfully finishing her first year of college in San Francisco.

But I've decided that I'm proud of myself too. I did it! I got my girls through the challenging years of high school as a single mom. Although I know we've still got college to get through and my job as a mom will never be done, this one phase that I feared so much is almost behind me.

When Phil died I made a promise that my girls would be my highest priority. I was going to focus on my daughters and my career and put everything into supporting my family. Then, once they went off to college, I could focus a little more on me.

So, as I start planning Laura's graduation party, I'm thinking ahead...and I'm going to plan a second graduation party--for ME! Why not? I'm thinking it's really the parents who should get the graduation party. We're the ones who dealt with the raging hormones, stayed up worrying countless nights, struggled as our kids hung with friends we didn't care for, and boyfriends we wanted to clean a gun in front of.

yeah...I'm going to have a graduation party and invite friends who have accomplished this same huge well as my very cool extended family. Sometimes I feel like it really did take a village to get my kids through high school. It's the beginning of a new phase of life for both of my daughters. And now, it's the beginning of a new life for me, too.

Now that's worth a celebration!

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Happy Mother's Day

In honor of Mother's Day, here are a few great quotes from some pretty smart women.

If you bungle raising your children, I don't think whatever else you do well matters very much.
-- Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy Onassis

A mother's arms are more comforting than anyone else's.
-- Princess Diana

A mother is a person who seeing there are only four pieces of pie for five people, promptly announces she never did care for pie.”
--Tenneva Jordan

It is not until you become a mother that your judgment slowly turns to compassion and understanding.
-- Erma Bombeck

Though motherhood is the most important of all the professions--requiring more knowledge than any other department in human affairs--there is no attention given to preparation for this office."
--Elizabeth Cady Stanton

All that I am or ever hope to be, I owe to my angel Mother."
-- Abraham Lincoln

When you are a mother, you are never really alone in your thoughts.A mother always has to think twice, once for herself and once for her child.
--Sophia Loren

Making the decision to have a child-it's momentous. It is to decide forever to have your heart go walking around outside your body.
--Elizabeth Stone

There is no friendship, no love, like that of the parent for the child.
-- Henry Ward Beecher

The heart of a mother is a deep abyss at the bottom of which you will always find forgiveness.
--Honore de Balzac

Thursday, May 8, 2008

10 Reasons To Smile

Today I attended the "Go Red For Women" luncheon to benefit the American Heart Association. I've sat through a number of these types of charity luncheons over the years, and I must admit, I have found myself looking at my watch and zoning out while presentations and less than exciting speeches are made. Not today.

The food, provided by the Hilton Fairlawn was delicious and appropriately heart-healthy; but it was the speakers who made the event. While we ate, there was a brief, educational talk by Suzanne Hughes RN, with accompanying bullet points on the screen about heart disease and what we should know to stay healthy, plus life-changing warning signs that many of us miss. There were brief testimonies from women of all ages who had experienced some level of heart disease and survived to share their story of inspiration and encouragement. But the highlight was the humorous talk given by keynote speaker Dr. Kay Potetz, professor at Baldwin Wallace, who is motivational speaker and humorist. I sure wish I had a professor like her when I was in school!

Dr. Potetz had us in stitches with her simple message about the health benefits of a positive attitude and in particular, of smiling. It sounds too good to be true, but there is no denying that everything she said was true. She had facts and figures from research studies mixed with silly photos of animals, kids, and people to prove her point, that smiling can change everything.

Here are 10 great reasons to smile.

1. Smiling makes us attractive. We are drawn to people who smile. We want to know a smiling person and figure out what is so good. Frowns, scowls and grimaces all push people away -- but a smile draws them in.

2. Smiling Changes Our Mood. Next time you are feeling down, try putting on a smile. There's a good chance you mood will change for the better. Smiling can trick the body into helping you change your mood.

3. Smiling is Contagious. When someone is smiling they light up the room and change the moods of others. A smiling person brings happiness with them. Smile lots and you will draw people to you.

4. Smiling Relieves Stress. Stress can really show up in our faces. Smiling helps to prevent us from looking tired, worn down, and overwhelmed. When you are stressed, take time to put on a smile. The stress should be reduced and you'll be better able to take action.

5. Smiling Boosts Your Immune System. Smiling helps the immune system to work better. When you smile, immune function improves possibly because you are more relaxed. Prevent the flu and colds by smiling.

6. Smiling Lowers Your Blood Pressure. When you smile, there is a measurable reduction in your blood pressure.

7. Smiling Releases Endorphins, Natural Pain Killers and Serotonin. Together these three make us feel good. Smiling is a natural drug.

8. Smiling Lifts the Face and Makes You Look Younger. The muscles we use to smile lift the face, making us appear younger. Don't go for a face lift, just try smiling your way through the day!

9. Smiling Makes You Seem Successful. Smiling people appear more confident, are more likely to be promoted, and more likely to be approached. Put on a smile at meetings and appointments and people will react to you differently.

10. Smiling Helps You Stay Positive. When we smile our body is sending the rest of us a message that "Life is Good!" It is the ultimate anti-depressant.

This was one of the most remarkably entertaining and informative events I've attended and a great example of how a charity luncheon should be done. Each segment moved quickly. The speeches were brief and to the point, chock-full of information that was as easy to digest as the meal. But Dr. Kay Potetz's use of humor to deliver a message about smiling was ironically...well...funny! And brilliant. So force yourself to smile when you make your donation to The American Heart Association. For more information you can call the American Heart Association local chapter at 330-664-1908.

Note: additional reasons to smile came from an article on From Mark Stibich, Ph.D.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Randy Pausch: A Life-Changing Message

Randy Pausch is a 47-year-old computer-science professor at Carnegie Mellon University who was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. In September, Pausch said goodbye to his students at with one last lecture called "How to Live Your Childhood Dreams." Millions of people have seen all or part of Randy’s “Last Lecture” on either You Tube or the April 9th ABC special that ran on this incredible man. Those who have seen either the full lecture, or the many abridged versions call it the lecture of a lifetime.

Unless faced with the unthinkable ourselves, who among us knows what we would do and how we would react if we were faced with the finite. Randy Pausch has chosen to use the time he has left to inspire others by sharing lessons he’s learned on his life’s journey.

I can’t do justice to the message this man has to bring to those who take time to really listen to his words, but I can say that what he has to say is nothing short of life-changing. Here are just a few tidbits of his amazing wisdom:

On living: “If you live the right way, Karma will take care of itself”
On career setbacks: "Brick walls are there for a reason. The brick walls aren't there to keep us out. The brick walls are there to show us how badly we want things.”
On adversity: “In the face of adversity, don't complain, just work harder. Your patience will eventually be rewarded.”
On Anger: “I have never found anger to make a situation better”
On criticism: “Your critics are the ones telling you they still love you and care”
On patience: “You might have to wait a long time, sometimes years, but people will show you their good side. Just keep waiting.”
On life: “We have a finite amount of time. Whether short or long, it doesn't matter. Life is to be lived."

Tim McGraw recorded a song a few years back called “Live Like You Were Dying” It was about a man in his early 40’s who was told he had a short time to live. When asked what he did when he heard the news, he said he went skydiving and rocky mountain climbing.....and he loved deeper, spoke sweeter and gave forgiveness he’d been denying. He said “I hope someday you get the chance to live like you were dying.”

You or someone you love may have heard the unthinkable words: “There’s nothing more we can do…we expect you have a few months.” Like Randy, my husband heard those words when he was the same age Randy is now: 47 years old. What we and the people around us instantly gained was immediate clarity on what was important: relationships and time. Precious…sweet…time.

Phil’s been gone 6 years this June. Life gets in the way and sometimes I forget the lessons I learned 6 years ago. God bless you and thank you Randy, for the reminder on what is really important: "You can't control the cards you're dealt, just how you play the hand."

Please take time view the original full lecture from Randy’s Last Lecture at Carnegie Melon below, or at the very least, one of the shorter abridged versions. I am not exaggerating when I say it is life-changing. I've included links on the right, or you can copy and paste the links below into your browser:

Full Carnegie Mellon version:
Not as much time? This one is about 9 minutes
View the ABC special

Note: this is another in a series on inspirational people.

Monday, April 7, 2008

No Coincidences

(This is Part One in a series on people I know who inspire. People who’ve taken the lemons life handed them and with them, made lemonade.)

One of the qualities I admire most in a person is an ability to take a bad situation or circumstance, learn from it, and turn it into something positive. For those currently experiencing a crisis, this may seem like an annoyingly Pollyanna viewpoint. However, I’m a believer in the old saying "everything happens for a reason", and that somehow, someway, something good can come out of even the worst circumstance if we are open.

Mark Biviano is the Senior VP of Sales for the Rubber City Radio Group, the parent company of WONE, WAKR and WQMX (where I work). At lunch recently, I shared with Biv (as he is known) and the others at the table that a former boss and friend of mine had just lost his job. I was expressing concern over his family and future in this uncertain economy,

It was then I learned a few things about this man.

Some 15 years ago, Biv held the position of General Manager at a radio station in Cleveland. He was good at what he did; loved the job, the people and the radio business in general. But as things go, the company got sold and changes were made. After years of success and loyalty, he found himself unemployed.

As a man who’d been running businesses and had the task of hiring and firing people, he now was in the same position he’d put others into. It felt different on this side. He recalled the things he’d said others when others lost their job. “It’ll be ok. You’ll find something else.“Hey, these things happens.” Words that sounded empty, almost cruel now that he was hearing them.

Biv opened up about what was to be the darkest time of his life. A highly intelligent man, he was not only despondent over the fact he had lost his job, he was unable to grasp why this company would let someone like him go. He was good at what he did. Such a hard worker. The first to arrive in the morning and the last to leave at night. Didn’t they value him? Confusion led to anger, then to anxiety, then to despair. His self-esteem plummeted and he fell into a depression so deep that he said he couldn’t get out of bed.

That was 1991. But what makes Biv’s story inspiring is what happens next.

He realized he was depressed and sought help, and through a process of self-actualization he began to move on. In 1992 he joined the University of Akronas Adjunct Professor in Communications, Broadcast Sales & Management and Communication Research. In 1994 he went back to school and got his Master’s Degree, graduating in 1998. In 2006, he joined the staff at Kent State University, also as Adjunct Professor. And yeah, he landed another job. This one. Since 1993 he’s led a team that consistently surpasses budget goals when most radio stations in the region fall well below.

The fact that he so openly shared his story was inspiring enough. Pride might prevent others from doing so. But he has no problem sharing it because in doing so he can use his bad experience to encourage others. He is once again in a position of making difficult decisions, but now really understands what it is like to experience job loss. He considers the life-changing effect releasing someone from has and doesn't make the decision lightly. Now, when he hears of someone who has lost their job, he reaches out.

If he’d stayed at that station in Cleveland, would he have his Master’s degree? Be teaching at 2 Universities, and end up in a work environment where he counts his blessings every day?

I think not.

Mark Biviano took lemons and made some sweet lemonade. He’s living proof that every single thing you go through lead you to where you are today.

Oh…and that friend I mentioned earlier, the one who lost his job recently…he shared with me that his elderly father was just diagnosed with cancer. He’s been taking him to doctor appointments, handling all the details of his care, dealing with his mom’s fragile emotions. How could he have possibily been able to handle this if he were working, he wondered to me aloud?

Hmmm. There are no coincidences.

WQMX Rising Star Showcase: A Local Tradition, A National Example

A lot of people think that once an artist gets a record deal, they immediately become stars. In fact, the percentage of artists that record a song on a national label that becomes a hit is actually quite low. As listeners, we turn on the radio and hear a song we like, not realizing the blood, sweat, tears, time, and money that went into getting that song on the radio.

One of the things newly signed artists do are called "radio tours". Once an artist gets signed to a record label, a representative from that label takes the artist around the country introducing them and their music to local radio. They stop in, meet the program director and music director, and often play a song or two live in the station's studio, conference, or even the coffee room for staff member.

Several years ago, WQMX management came up with a great idea: since so many artists are coming through the station, why not have them play for more than just a few staff members? Hence, the Rising Star Showcase was born. After several years, the photos lining the walls represent a virtual who's-who of artists who've played the room. Some have gone on to be big stars, like Rascal Flatts, Martina McBride, Sara Evans, Blake Shelton, Taylor Swift, Brooks and Dunn, Big and Rich to name just a few. Others, though still talented, became one hit, or no-hit wonders.

WQMX has earned a solid reputation locally and nationally for helping to expose up-and-coming artists to listeners via this exciting, exclusive venue. In Nashville, word spread among radio and record companies nationwide about this cool radio station in Akron, Ohio who not only treats their listeners to an awesome experience for free...but in doing so, exposes music to the greater Akron-Canton-Cleveland market, spawning record sales and helping to launch careers with this station's support.

A few radio stations around the country have emulated WQMX's showcase concept, but most artists coming though tell us that ours is the coolest radio venue they've ever played. We're proud that the WQMX Rising Star Showcase has become a local tradition, and a national example for other stations.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Carrying The Weight

I've been single for 5 years now. I've gone on a lot of dates, met some terrific people, made some great friends, and have even fallen in love once. These experiences have been enlightening, and have taught me not only what I want, but more importantly, what I don’t want out of love, life and a long-term relationship should I ever decide to share my life with someone again.

During this time, there are 2 words I’ve heard people use interchangeably: Baggage and Issues. I’ve heard the warnings: “Stay away from that one…too much baggage”. “Look out…he’s got more issues than Newsweek” as if the two were the same. They are not.

Most people would describe baggage as an ex, kids, extended family, caregiving issues with aging parents, maybe even some health issues. No doubt there can be challenges dating someone with these things in their lives. However, if someone has relationship-related baggage that comes in the form of friends, children, extended family and co-workers, I'll pay the price.

Some people, on the outside, seem like they have all together. But on the inside their victim mentality, self-focus, critical nature and challenging personality leave them with plenty of issues but very little baggage in the form of strong family ties, lasting relationships or long-time friends.

I’d much rather be with someone who’s baggage involves spending time nuturing a relationship with their kids; putting them first. Someone who takes care of a sick parent, or who makes their extended family—even if somewhat dysfunctional, a priority. Someone who has friendships that might compete for their time. Baggage that leaves someone comfortable enough in their own skin they don’t “need” another to be complete is a good thing.

You can't live 40-some years and not have some baggage. Each of us has at least a back pack or carry-on; plus one or two we’re allowed to check as long as they don’t exceed the weight limit. And then there are those of us who have to pay extra for bags that are over the limit of what is seemingly acceptable.

I'd rather travel the world with someone with a few bags than someone with a light load. People with light baggage often have heavy issues.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Easter Resolution

Although New Year’s Day is the first holiday of the year, because it follows Christmas and is in the dead of winter, to me it never really felt like the new beginning it was suppose to. I was never much of a new year’s resolution person anyway, so to me it was the day to clean up after the old year!

Easter Sunday, however, represents New Beginnings to me. To Christian Believers, Easter Sunday is the most celebrated of all Christian holdiays, because the concept of Easter is the foundation of our faith.

That Jesus Christ was born, lived for 30 some years and died can be documented through the writings of his followers. There are many who may not believe that this man was the son of God but concede that there was an historical Jesus who walked the earth and did great things: as a healer, teacher/rabbi, and philosopher. They concede that He was seen to be a threat to those in charge, so they arrested him as though he were a common criminal on a Thursday, tortured him through the next several hours; crucified him on Friday and laid him in a tomb, hoping that would be the end of it.

If the story ended there, however, we wouldn’t still be talking about it some 2000 years later. If he really was "just a great man" who like so many others, lived and died in a tumultuous time under the oppressive Roman rule of that day, why did His story capture the hearts and minds of so many that even to this day they put their lives at risk for their faith in Him?

The story didn’t end on that Friday because Easter Sunday happened. Easter Sunday is the foundation of the Christian faith, because the basis of Christianity is not just that this man Jesus Christ lived and died, but that he overcame death when He rose on Easter Sunday.

Today, to me represents New Beginnings, and although the weather is not cooperating, it feels like the beginning of Spring and the beginning of a new year. So, I am going to take this opportunity to make and work to keep a few resolutions that I didn’t make on New Year’s Day; to improve my life and the lives of those around me that I can affect. To work hard to make the world a better place, with something as simple as a smile or a random act of kindness, or something larger that I may not know is coming until God puts it in front of me.

Want to join me in this resolution?

Happy Easter.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

My Road Trip During The Storm of ’08

We all have a "how I survived the snowstorm of '08 story". Yours may involve a stranger lending a hand…or a shovel. Or, maybe you were one of the many stranded at an airport, or on the road.

My story began as a business trip last Tuesday. WQMX morning show co-host Shannon Alexander and I were set to leave for Nashville for the Country Radio Seminar (CRS); a 4 day convention. CRS was to kick off Wednesday morning with a breakfast session with Garth Brooks, but we wanted to get in Tuesday night for a party Warner Brothers was hosting that included an intimate performance by Randy Travis.

It may be hard to recall, but that Tuesday (before the Friday snow began) we had another weather event. Rain was turning to ice and snow and we had winter weather advisory in effect. That morning we learned our flight was cancelled. Our staff meteorologist Tony Jackson from the weather channel tracked the storm for us, however, and he assured us once we're south of Akron, the driving for our route was good, so Shannon and I decided to make it a girls' road trip. Our co-workers thought we were crazy to drive, but we looked smart when we got there by Tuesday night and made it to the party…while flights out of Cleveland were cancelled or delayed for the next 2 days. Our boss Nick Anthony didn't get in until Wednesday night.

We had an amazing 4 days of music, fun and, believe it or not, learning how to improve our craft via educational sessions and seminars along with the wonderful experience and hanging with some of country music finest (but that's for another blog). The survival story came when it was time to go home.

The storm that was about to hit was making national news. Interestingly, its projected path from the south was pretty much our exact path—from Nashville to Akron. In Nashville, warnings started Thursday nigh when the local news told viewers to get to the store and stock up to prepare for 3-5 inches of snow, the most they'd seen in years. Being from Northeast Ohio…we scoffed. 5 inches? Ha! But they have no snow removal equipment, no salt, so 5 inches was a big deal in Nashville. Heck, they cancel school at the mere prediction of a snowflake! The real story, however, was what was brewing from Columbus to Cleveland.

By Friday night the predictions were bleak. Some left early to catch a flight, and that may have been smart. By Saturday the snow began and all flights to Cleveland were cancelled. In fact, they were cancelling Sunday's flight as well, and Cleveland's airport was closed. Most travelers to Cleveland didn't make it home until Monday night.

Shannon and I figured we made it down safely so darn it—we'd make it back. Besides, we had driven my trusty RAV 4 SUV there, so we had no choice but to drive it home. Nick decided to join us because 1) his flight was cancelled and 2) I think he was worried about us and felt there was safety in numbers. So off we went.

The first 5 hours were fairly smooth. The roads were dry and he skies clear. Sunshine accompanied us all the way until, not surprisingly, we crossed into Ohio. We hit the bad weather like a wall during that long flat expanse of nothing on I-71 between Cinci and Columbus. We began to look for motels, and everything was booked.

The highway began to look like a junk yard, with spun out cars, pick-ups and semis strewn everywhere in positions we had to contort our heads to figure how that happened. We couldn't go a mile…often less with out seeing another vehicle in the median, or on its side past the berm. The semis were the scariest sight…because it was clear once they lost control on ice there was no regaining it…and they took anything in their path along for the ride. It looked like the road hadn't seen a plow, but I think they just couldn't keep up.

We finally got lucky and got the very last room at a dump about 30 miles south of Columbus. They called our room a "suite" but it was actually a meeting room with a grungy couch and one of those pull down Murphy beds coming out of the wall. Shannon almost screamed as she pulled back the bedspread to expose the yucky stains. Nick ordered a roll away bed…which had a metal bar strategically placed down the middle of his back! Once we were settled in, we decided we'd like to kick back and have a beer before we turned in, but as luck would have it—we were in a dry county! Instead we copped a sugar buzz when we loaded up on chips, twizzlers, hostess cupcakes and pop.

Sunday morning we hoped the plows had time to clear I-71, but there was only one snowy lane, and we crawled. We hadn't gone a mile before we saw a semi overturned, still smoldering…the snow black from the charred remains of the fire. 10 minutes later we watched a Jeep Wrangler hit ice and spin out—somehow gaining control in the path of a semi…who never hit the brake. It was one close call after another on the longest 4 hour drive of my life.

My hands still feel numb and like they will be in that curled position for days. I had to pry them off the wheel when I finally turned into my driveway, where I immediately got stuck. 500 miles in the snow in the worst weather imaginable and I got stuck in my unplowed driveway once home.

But I was home.

Safely. Thank God.

Friday, February 29, 2008

Follow-Up: 10 Things A Woman Should Never Say To A Man

Ok. fair is fair. I posted the 10 Things A Guy Should Never Say To A Woman, so it's only right to post a follow-up. Freelance writer Craig Playstead put this list together, pointing out that although guys are guitly of saying things they shouldn't, it's time we ladies knew there are a few things that won't score us any points with the man in our life. For the most part, men an open book, but there are a few things women say that make guys cringe.

So, as a follow-up...

Here's a look at 10 things women say that drive men nuts.

1) "That looks cute."
For the most part, men hate cute. We don't want to hear about it, we don't want to see it, and we sure as hell don't want to be it. If we come down stairs after getting dressed and you tell us we look cute, there's a 100 percent chance we're changing. We're supposed to be your protector, your rock, and cute does not fit into that picture.

2) "We need to talk."
These four words shut off a man's brain faster than long division. When men hear you say that they immediately go into flight mode. And anything they can do to get out of this conversation—and better yet, your apartment—they will. There are plenty of other ways to approach a delicate conversation, and getting us in a place where we feel comfortable is a good start.

3) "It's just a game."
Actually, it's not just a game. Sports are a major part of our lives and the outcome has as much to do with our mood as just about anything else. Is it fair? No. Is it right? No. Is it immature? Maybe. But it's life. Sometimes we just care too much. We understand that it doesn't make sense, but you should be happy that we're that passionate about something. Telling us that "it's just a game" is like us telling you that Oprah's just a talk show host.

4) "Nothing's wrong."
Please don't tell us nothing's wrong. The look on your face could make the toughest guy on the planet weep like a third-grade girl and your arms are crossed so tight you might explode. We're not mind readers; tell us what's going on. And don't make us guess because—believe me—you won't like what we come up with.

5) "I sound like my mom."
The mere fact that you might turn into your mom someday scares the hell out of us. Don't say it, even in jest—it's not funny. We actually believe (and pray) that the saying "every woman ends up looking like their mother" is an old wives' tale. If we didn't, no one would ever get married.

6) "I just want to be friends."
No you don't. You just want us to stop calling you. This is a lot like pulling off a band-aid. Do it quick—don't prolong the agony. Most of us take "I just want to be friends" as "There's still a chance," so if there isn't just make it a clean break and move on. Everyone will be much better because of it.

7) "Size doesn't matter."
Don't lie to us. We know it does, and we're doing our best to make up for it in other ways. It's best just to not say anything at all.

8) "What are you wearing?"
We're wearing whatever's clean or whatever you tell us to. We don't plan out our wardrobe days in advance, but we do actually try and look presentable. It may not work a lot of the time, but we do give it a shot. Giving us direction is completely encouraged though, so go ahead and suggest … nicely.

9) "Do you think she's pretty?"
Of course we do, our standards are much lower than yours. But just because we check her out doesn't mean we think any less of you. We try to be as discreet as possible, but for the most part, we can't help it. It's in our DNA. When an attractive woman walks by, it's best to just pretend nothing happened.

10) "Which outfit do you like better?"
I'm going to be honest here—90 percent of the guys out there are not going to tell you which outfit they like better: They're going to try to pick the one you like better and not get into a holy war when the babysitter is due any minute. To us, you always look good. Getting a couple cocktails and spending as much time as we can without the kids is our ultimate goal for a rare night out.

By Craig Playstead
Original story:

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

10 Things You Should Never Say To A Woman

I didn't write this. But I am doing a public service to all men by sharing it! My good friend and boss Nick Anthony always asks: "Do you want to be right or do you want to be happy?"

By following author Jessica Murphy's advice, you may not be right, but you're bound to be happier!

It's true: Some comments are better left unsaid.

But as a sophisticated man of the 21st century, you already know this. You know you're not supposed to comment on your girlfriend's weight, or tell her that her friends are hot. And you know she probably feels the same way you do about the phrase, "Can we still be friends?" Additionally, you've found that honesty, while valued in most situations, can sometimes offend. What you say to defuse tension in an argument often stokes the fire. We understand that the female psyche can be complicated, and we're here to demystify what may seem like strategically placed trapdoors.

Here are 10 things most women don't want to hear:

1) What did you do to your hair? Unless we've cut our own hair, and this is not common; someone else did something to our hair. It wasn't us. And most likely we've gone to a lot of trouble and expense for it. "I like your new haircut" is infinitely better, and shows you're paying attention. It's also far superior to the generic "You look different," which tells us you're as clueless as ever.

2) They both look the same to me. We understand you care a lot less than we do about the outfits or the registry dishware we're asking you to compare. But they can't possibly look exactly the same, can they? Give us something. Anything. Mentally roll the dice and pick one, so we don't worry about your vision'"or worse, that you don't care.

3) Relax. A kissing cousin to "Don't get so worked up," this generally creates the exact opposite effect you're shooting for. When you say "Relax," what we hear is that you think that we're being irrational over nothing, and this makes us do anything but relax.

4) I've got it all under control. Ha! Famous last words. Refrain from using them if you don't want us to take fiendish delight in your getting lost because you won't stop for directions (if we're late, there will be fiendish fuming), or because you're missing a piece to your flat-screen television because you said you didn't need to read the assembly instructions.

5) You're not one of those feminists, are you? Yikes. Chivalry may be nearly dead, but saying this will drive the last spear through its heart. Feminist or not, a woman is likely to be offended by the question. Just be yourself. Be kind, open the door, offer to pay, and go from there. We can choose to accept or share in your generosity.

6) When are you due? Take one second to imagine a woman turning to you and responding, "I'm not pregnant," or "I had the baby six months ago," and you'll understand why you should eradicate this question from your vocabulary. In one nanosecond, innocent'"even considerate'"curiosity can turn to deadly, if unintentional, offense. And there's just no way to recover from this one.

7) You're being emotional. In the heat of the moment this may be true. But unless you want your partner to become more emotional or get angry, you're better off keeping this observation and its off-limits follow-up question'""Is it that time of month?"'"to yourself.

8) You're acting just like your mother/my mother/my ex-girlfriend. All three are problematic. An ex should be mentioned sparingly, and never in comparison. Why would we want to remind you of a person you broke up with? And come to mention it, why are you thinking about her? You see the slippery slope. Conjuring an image of our mother or your mother can be equally grating. We want you to treat us as individuals and not as mere products of your (or our) upbringing.

9) You complete me. We've seen "Jerry Maguire" and most other romantic comedies far more often than you, and while we may (or may not) like cheesy movie lines, they usually fail in real life. We understand that the possibility of romance makes inexplicable things come out of a man's-and sometimes a woman's-mouth, but keep the compliments real and honest and sincere and say you love someone when you mean it.

10) Do you really think you should be eating that? Yes. She should be eating it. Even if she told you she's given it up.

Original article:

Thursday, February 14, 2008

True Love

It's Valentine's night, and I'm propped in my queen sized bed with my trusty laptop and loyal dogs lying comfortably around me. Last night at this time, I was in the same spot, dreading the day that stretched before me: Valentine's Day, a day for lovers, a day single people like me dreaded.

I didn't always feel this way about Valentine's Day. I used to love it. I used to be the recipient of romance in the form of flowers and chocolate and romantic gestures. For 19 consecutive Valentines days, my late husband made sure I had a dozen red roses. In fact, roses became his signature; but not just on Valentine's Day or special occasions. He'd bring flowers home often, for no reason at all.

The first time I received roses from him was after our first date. I was surprised to get them the next morning with a note that said how much he enjoyed the evening and how he hoped he could see me again. Surprised because although I thought we had a great time, he left so abruptly after our concert date I thought I read him wrong. Phil wasn't much of a drinker, and apparently his mix of wine at dinner followed by 2 beers at Blossom had him feeling a little queasy. At the end of the evening he walked me into my apartment and rushed away, leaving me thinking he didn't enjoy the night as much as I did. Turns out he threw up in the bushes once outside. I didn't hear that story from him until almost a year later.

Throughout our dating life and all through our marriage he brought me roses fairly regularly. I'd ask him why. What was the occasion? He said there didn't have to be an occasion. When the girls came along he'd get me a dozen, and give each of them a single rose. It became his trademark. I guess God rewarded his good husbandly behavior because one night he was on his way home with a dozen roses in the passenger seat and he got pulled over for speeding. When the officer asked him where he was going in such a hurry, Phil pointed to the flowers. The officer said his wife would kill him if he gave a ticket to a man rushing home to his wife with flowers so he let him go. Phil decided he should keep artificial flowers in the car all the time "just in case".

This morning my 16 year-old daughter came into my room to kiss me goodbye before she went to school and I to work. We both agreed we weren't too much into the Valentine's Day that lay ahead of us. As she hugged me goodbye she told me she loved me and said "Valentine's Day is a day to celebrate love in I'm going to celebrate all the people I love...especially you!" I smiled and hugged her back. Her positive attidude was contagious.

At about 3:30 this afternoon, I walked into my office after a meeting and there were a dozen red roses on my desk, and a note that said "Dad told me to do it".

My Laura, so much like her Dad in so many ways, had surprised me with the roses she knew I had come to miss so much.

True love comes in many forms.

I am blessed with true love this Valentine's Day after all.

Saturday, February 9, 2008

Online Dating Part 2

I received a number of emails and more than a few humorous stories in response to my Wacky World Of Online Dating blog from a couple weeks back. I heard mostly from men, who, I suspect, wanted to point out that it's not just men who give not-so-good first impressions. So, I thought I'd share a few of the stories.

Sam (I've changed the names to protect the innocent) told me he had more than his fair share of interesting first and last dates. After a few photo and email exchanges he really enjoyed meeting one woman over coffee. He really liked her. She was cute, funny, and thankfully honest enough to admit she was married. Unhappily, (obviously) but still, married. He said he was at least appreciative she told him that right away, rather than a few dates in.

Another woman he went out with got so drunk on the first date that she threw up in his car. Yet another took a phone call during dinner, and proceeded to engage in a 3 way conference call with her mom and her brother'¦who happened to be making the call from prison. He gave up on online dating.

Gary shared the story of a woman who he dated for over 8 months. He really cared about her and thought it was getting serious. He was sure it was exclusive, too, until the morning (after he stayed at her place) she took a call from, you guessed it, her other boyfriend. She admitted then she had been seeing him and another the whole time.

Mark told me a story of a woman he took to dinner. She ordered her second glass of wine before he made a dent in his first, and by the time he ordered his 2nd, he lost track of what glass she was on, but he was sure she was ahead of him 2 to 1 easily. After dinner she suggested they move to the bar and she ordered yet another glass of wine. Against his better judgment, he carried the drink he was nursing from the table to the bar and waited while she went to the bathroom. She never came back.

My own experiences have not been as dramatic as any of these. Although I've met a number of people that I didn't necessarily click with romantically, I've met some really nice guys, and remain friends with a few of them. I've really only had 2 bad experiences.

The first was a guy who made a great first impression. He was a nice looking, intelligent, executive-type guy that I thought had potential after our initial meeting. After an enjoyable dinner on what was our second meeting but first real date, he grabbed me as I was getting in the car. His attempt at a kiss was aggressive and akward... was the wrong moment, the wrong approach, the wrong everything. I got home to an email inviting me to go away with him for weekend for "more of what we just shared." Yuck. What we "shared" was awful. After sending him a polite note telling him I didn't think we were a fit, he continued to email and call for weeks. Kindof scary.

Another guy that was charming on date 1, so I went on date 2, when he told me he was still living with his ex-girlfriend. They had separate rooms, he explained, and both were dating others. He wanted to know if that would bother me.

By far, the biggest complaint I hear from men and women about online dating is that there is a fair amount of misrepresentation. Many people found they met someone who looked nothing like their posted photo. Others stretch the truth about their age, living situation, relationship or financial status.

There are success stories, though. I know someone who met a woman on eharmony and they've been dating almost a year. Another friend told me a success story that should be used on one of those TV commercials. His wife's sister was widowed, and through an online dating service, she met and married a wonderful man. He shared that the widowed mom had just married off her second daughter, and this man, now her husband, made a wonderful toast that honored the girls' father and his memory, and how he was there in spirit. That one success story gave me hope that there are still wonderful men (and women) out there and on or off line, if it's meant to happen, it'll happen.

Although there is no real way to insure you won't have a bad experience, and meet someone who has misrepresented themselves online, that is certainly also the case if you met someone at random, in person or, especially at a bar. One might argue online can be safer because there is some level of screening you can do before you meet.

Every year, tens of thousands of people get married as a result of meeting on an online dating service. If you choose to try online dating, below are some tips to stay safe and get the most from your online dating experience from

1. Arrange to meet him.
When meeting for the first time, never allow your date to pick you up from your home. In fact, your date shouldn't even know your home address yet!

2. Meet in public places.
For a first meeting, always meet in a public place where other people are in close proximity. You may also want to consider going out with a group of people, or a double date.

3. Go dutch by paying half of the bill.
It's always respectful for the man to offer to pay the bill. Unfortunately, some men ruin the gesture by expecting something in return. Therefore it may not be a bad idea for you to go dutch. Pay half the bill so that you won't feel under any obligation to "return" the favor.

4. Remember that alcohol affects your judgment.
The biggest threat to a person's judgment, when on a date, is alcohol. Not only does it affect your judgment, but alcohol also lessens your inhibitions. If you are drinking, keep your drink in sight at all times and don't get so drunk that you don't know what you are doing. Better yet, try to avoid alcohol on your first date.

5. Use your own mode of transportation.
Provide your own transportation to your public meeting place and make sure you have more than enough gas.

6. Don't assume that a man is safe.
It's important never to let your guard down when on a first date. Never assume a man is safe just because he claims to be religious or a gentleman.

7. Don't let him know where you live.
If you want to see him again, arrange a second date and then take it from there.

8. Avoid secluded areas.
Remember - stay in a public place for your first date and avoid secluded areas such as parks.

9. Listen to your gut.
If something doesn't feel right, it probably isn't. And if you haven't met him before, and you know at the beginning of the date that something doesn't feel right, then leave immediately.

10. Always let someone else know where you're going. Be sure someone knows where you are going and who you'll be with. You might even consider arranging a time to call and check in. Or you could arrange to meet up with friends later that night.

11. Give him your cell phone number.
It's safer to give out a cell phone number instead of your home phone number because someone armed with your home phone number can go online and easily find out what your home address is.

12. Always remain alert.
Even if you're having a blast and the chemistry is great, it's a good idea to remain alert the whole evening. Make sure you have a cell phone on you.

Dating safely is very important. In the initial stages of dating and online dating, you are still getting to know someone you know very little about. By creating a safe environment to know the person, you're creating a better situation for yourself.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

So You Really Want To Help?

This past November, two women I know lost their husbands unexpectedly. At a time when most people were making arrangements for Thanksgiving and Christmas; diving into the season of shopping, food and family, these two women were making different arrangements; diving into a difficult season filled with grief, not joy. Having lost my husband 5 years ago, my heart aches when I hear of the death of someone's spouse. I have a sense of what's ahead for these women, and the people who want to support them.

Whether in our 20's, 30's 40's or older, at some point in time we will be faced with the challenging task of wanting to comfort someone who has faced this type of loss. In my experience, although I had a very large network of family, friends and co-workers who were there for me big-time in the immediate days following Phil's death, only a select few, most of them family, were around to face with me the incredibly difficult weeks, months and yes, years that were ahead of me.

And that it totally understandable. People get back to their own lives. Everyone has their own families, work issues, problems and busy life to deal with. And, to some degree, the fact is, your friend facing this loss has to go through much of this journey alone. No one can be there during the darkest of times, which for me, was (and still is) between Midnight and 6:00am.

After reading an article sent to me by my good friend Tony Thomas, I was inspired to compile this list of Do's and Don'ts for those desiring to help a widow. Many were in the article, and I added a few of my own. Sometimes one of the best ways you can offer comfort is not only to know what you can say or do that might be helpful...but to also know what not to say or do!

Do's and Don'ts
Do stay connected. There is already a huge hole in our world. Don't assume we need 'space' to grieve. If we don't want to talk, you'll know, but if we do, your effort at connection can be a great gift at the right time.

Do say you are sorry for our loss. It may be a simple statement but its true. You are, and we appreciate you are, and sometimes less is more. It's even OK to admit you don't know what else to say.

Don't say "I know how you feel". Unless a person has lost her husband/spouse through death they do not understand how we feel. Do they crawl into an empty cold bed at night? Do they open the door of the fridge to plan dinner for two, only to remember there is no one pulling in the driveway that loves pot pies? Do they run their fingers through their hair and realize theirs will be the only fingers making that simple sweet gesture? Do they pick-up the cell to make a call, only to one will answer? It is unfair for us to expect them to understand. Every grief experience is unique. Many widows I spoke to talked of people who said said "I know how you feel" because they lost their parent, their grandparent, or a friend. Losing an elderly parent...losing anyone is terrible, but it is not the same as losing a spouse. This isn't the time to share your story. We may be able to listen to your story later, but not now.

Do talk specifically about our husband. So many people avoid mentioning his name, thinking they don't want to "remind us" of our loss. Hello? Like we've forgotten? Like we don't think of that person every single day? Tell a story, share a memory, a quality you remember, his acts or words; serious or humorous. We are comforted by knowing our husband has not been forgotten.

Do invite us to anything. We may say no, and that's OK, but we will appreciate being asked.

Do accept that we are where we are. Some marriages are brief, some long. Some marriages are healthy, others dysfunctional, intense, or remote. Death comes suddenly or in tiny increments over years. Again our experiences are so different, as are we. So is our journey through grief. Do not assume we go through the outlined grief process 'by the book.'

Don't make 'conversation only' offers. That's when you don't know what to say so just to make conversation you offer to do something but then you don't follow-up. "I'll call and we'll go out to lunch", for example. We'd rather hear you say, "I've been thinking of you" than make a "conversation only" offer.

Don't say "If there's anything I can do, just let me know." As with the above "conversation offer," most of the widowed won't ask for help, but they do need it, especially if they live alone.

Do be specific. "I've some free time on Saturday, why don't I come to your house and mow your lawn." Handyman work, lawn care, grocery shopping or something like this is really helpful.

More don'ts
A few glasses of wine into a laugh/cry session with friends led to the "dumbest" things people said to us. Here are a few good ones...and yes, these were things people actually did say--so let's call this the "so dumb they should be obvious" list of what not to say: are you? ( how the hell do you think I am?)

--I know how you feel, my dog died last week. (ok, I love my dog but...come on)

--At least you're young...and skinny. You'll have no trouble! If I lost my husband I'd be doomed. (Gee thanks, nice to know I'm so much better off than you! and that you think I can still snag a man!)

--What happened to your husband, I didn't even know he was sick (then why are you here?)

--At least he's not suffering anymore (yeah, but I am!)

--You should sell you house...there's too many memories there. (That's the point, my memories are all I have)

--Now you can do all the things you like without worrying about him! (????)

--You need to move'll help you forget (oh yeah, I'll get a replacement and forget all about him)

--You need to start dating (only you know when you are ready for that)

One of the most helpful things you can do for someone dealing with loss is to be a good listener. Sometimes, just your physical presence and desire to listen without judging are critical. Don't worry so much about what you will say. Just be there. Concentrate on listening to the words that are being shared with you. Your family member or friend may relate the same story about the death over and over again. But your gift is to listen each time. Realize this repetition is part of your friend's healing process.

Finally, give your friend or loved one permission to express her feelings without fear of criticism. Think about your helper role as someone who "walks with," not "behind" or "in front of" the one who is grieving.

Friday, January 18, 2008

The Wacky World Of Online Dating

Two years into what I now call my second life (my single life), I was walking in the park with my girlfriend chatting about work, family and life in general. Eventually the conversation turned to my love life…or lack thereof.

“Are you dating yet?” she asked.

“I go out.” I said. “I have some good male friends. I’ve had a few fix-ups, but no one special.”

I then lamented that it’s much more challenging to be single in your 40’s than in your 20’s. The pool of single people when you’re young is much larger than in mid-life. Most of the people in my world are married. I don’t do the bar scene thing, and although I have a cool job, I rarely meet single people through work, or at least, single people my age. Akron, Ohio, I have determined, is not exactly a hot bed of activity for singles.

“Have you tried online dating?” she asked.

I admit I had thought about it. I had even perused several dating sites, and on one evening of boredom I completed the eharmony personality profile. But I was skeptical about joining the world of online dating.

“It seems desperate”, I said. “If I’m supposed to meet someone it will just happen when it happens.”

She disagreed and said that if she were single she would absolutely go online. She thought it was a far better way of meeting people than just by chance, especially in a bar. She then told me a success story of a friend who had met someone online.

I thought about it. I did some surfing, and I concluded there were many benefits. You can scan a profile and learn at least the basics about someone: their hobbies and interests, family background, work, even religion to see if there is some common ground. And, while looks aren’t everything, there does need to be some form of physical attraction, and I liked that you can see a photo.

I had that conversation with my girlfriend 2 ½ years ago. Since then, between her urging and that of others, I gave in and gave online dating a try; on and off sporadically. During that time I met some very nice guys, and had one serious relationship. And though none of them turned out to be the happy ending promised in the commercials, I continue to enjoy a friendship with a select few. As open-minded as I have tried to be, however, I have determined that this form of dating is not for me.

What brought me to this revelation?

It was a communication with a man that made me realize that online dating was like shopping for a partner the way you shop for a car. And somehow, that just feels strange. You log in, and type your search specifications and up pops a bunch of photos. This one looks nice, but it doesn’t have a sun roof. I like the looks of that one, but it has too many miles, and wow, this one doesn’t have a very good track record of performance.

Back to whats-his-name; the final straw in my online dating life. His first email told me he liked what he saw in my profile. That I stood out from the rest, blah blah. I can tell a lot about someone by the way they write, and can quickly determine whether I want to continue the communication. After a week or so, I believe in meeting the person in a safe, comfortable setting. If you communicate via email or phone too long without meeting you can set up false expectations. Someone may seem great on paper, but you have to meet in person to know if there’s any chemistry.

So, when the idea to meet for coffee came up, I suggested a day and time. He then committed the big crime in my book. TMI (too much information) He told me he couldn’t meet with me then because he was meeting with another woman he’d been communicating with, and suggested another time we could meet. He then went a step further and said he would much rather meet with me than this other person, but he couldn’t cancel now. He told me more about his other online meetings with women, ending with the disclaimer that he said he was an honest person, and felt he needed to share all this.

That was the wake-up call.

Of course I’m not naive enough to think people don't communicate with more than one person at a time. But full disclosure of this, along with details of all his other failed dates and disappointments fell into the TMI category. But, hey wait... wasn’t I guilty of the same thing? Window shopping …lining people up, comparing features and benefits…scheduling test drives?

I sat here and thought about many of the crazy dates I'd been on. Those dates where 20 minutes in I'm praying for the night to end. Thinking "why is he saying that?" "Why would anyone share this information?" "Why the hell am I sitting here?" Not wanting to be in that situation again, I politely ended the correspondence with "what's -his-name" without meeting him in person.

Online dating has the potential to lead to serial dating. There’s always another profile that looks better. And there always will be. The grass is always greener. It’s not real life. I don’t mean to sound judgmental. Especially since I felt like so many people judged me when I tried it. Although it didn't work for me, I know there are success stories. I know it works for some people. An eternal romantic, I love to hear those stories.

What’s been most beneficial to me from the online dating experience is that it’s gotten me back out into the world of dating after being with the same man for 20 years. It’s helped me figure out not only what I want…but what I don’t want. I know what my deal-breakers are. Although I’m open to finding love again, I’ve accepted that 5 years of being single may turn into 6, or 10 or forever.

I was blessed to have true love once… until death did us part, and because I am an optimist, I have hope it could happen again. Although my online dating life is over I will still date when the right opportunity presents itself.

Hope springs eternal.