Friday, November 26, 2010

Things To Be Thankful For

I woke up Thanksgiving Morning to the sound of a hard rain on my roof. I pondered the fact that it is Thanksgiving, and although I know I have much to be thankful for, I admit I am sometimes guilty of not keeping that fact top of mind.

Alone in the house, I began to focus on that. I missed my girls, I reflected on past Thanksgivings with a full house--and felt sadness that the holidays have not been the same without my girls home, without my parents, without my husband. Trying to snap out of it I marveled at the pouring rain. I looked at my dogs lying next to me, warm and dry and tried to think of so many who have no roof over their head. It's so easy to focus on those things that drag us down. Easy to think about what we don't have. what we want instead of those things that we have now and should be appreciative of.

I turned on the TV to a news story about a local church preparing Thanksgiving meals for the needy--again reminding me of those who don't have a place to go and eat and share the love of family and friends; and any twinge of sadness and focus on my "problems" seemed to fade. The next news story was on Black Friday. A reporter was on the scene of a local store where people were camped out, some since Tuesday, so they would be the first in line for the deals. The reporter asked a man who was camping with his young daughter how it was going since the weather had turned so cold and rainy. He complained that he had to get more propane for his heater because" no one wants to be out on a night like this with no heat."


One the one hand, there are homeless people sheltering themselves from the rain, living under bridges or makeshift tents because they have nowhere to go, while this man was "camping" for 3 days so he could get a deal. It brought to mind the story of the man who was trampled to death at a Walmart last year on Black Friday. Have we lost our minds?

It was the reality check I needed Thanksgiving morning and a reminder to focus on being thankful for what I have not what I don't. To start every day with an attitude of gratitude. If you have your health, a roof over your head, a job and at least one person to love and who loves you you are blessed with more "gifts" than so many.

Happy Holidays.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

A One Of A Kind Experience

I am a big believer in karma. There have been times when I have witnessed something that seems so wrong or unfair, that the only way I can justify it's senselessness is that somewhere down the road there will be knowledge gained or lessons learned for a person, a family, a community or a world that can make the injustice make more sense.

I am also a believer in the Universal Law of Attraction. That "like" attracts "like" and if you are in the presence of good and positive people and events good and positive things keep coming your way. Conversely the same goes with negativity.

Yesterday I was in the presence of a lot of positive vibes and good karma. In the unfortunate and sometimes even tragic stories that accompany how so many dogs and cats got to One Of A Kind Pet Rescue comes the end result of good people doing good things all in one place.

My on air partner Scott Wynn wrote a blog the other day about the effect this new state-of-the-art rescue facility had on him after taking the tour. He spoke of the hard to describe energy felt just being there. And yesterday, at the grand opening celebration, I knew what he meant. Of all the "remotes" and "appearances" I've been a part of in my radio career, this one felt different. So many people came. Hundreds. So many of them said that they had been hearing us talk about the place, hearing our once a week pet adoption feature over the last couple of years, hearing about our own dogs, our own love of animals, and the good work this particular rescue place does in our community, and they were moved to come.

This place is like no other. It is --or should be--the model for how homeless animals should be cared for. Clean, bright. Roomy. Each dog has a "suite" with a door than opens to a run, and then a fenced green area for socialization. There are all window viewing rooms so potential adoptive parents can spend time with the animal. The cats have this incredible space...a tower of spiral steps with cubbies on every level for the cats to hide in if they want. Room to be social. Room to be alone. Room.

It was cool to be in the presence of volunteers, workers and animal lovers of all ages in this wonderful environment that just seems to "breed" good karma. If you live in our area and can patronize their retail pet store for your pet needs, or grooming or perhaps utilize their dog trainer...know that it is a non-profit, and proceeds benefit the mission of caring for animals in need and rescuing them from euthanasia.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

I May Not Feel Like Voting...But I Will.

I’m happy Election Day is almost here. Not because I am looking forward to exercising my right to vote…but because I am tired of the mud-slinging and overall negativity that has completely overtaken my world. My mailbox is overflowing with junk mail that gets straight into the recycle bin. TV is unwatchable, and my email is full of political spam. The only thing presented is how terrible the “other” candidate is and there are very few solutions being offered.

Yes, it’s difficult to know who to vote for if all you go by is the ads. It makes me just want to say “why vote?” And in fact, I’ve heard many people around me say that they are so turned off by the political climate in our world today that they may not vote this year.

We can’t let that happen.

We take the right to vote so for granted in these United States. For women, especially,it is crucial to remember how valuable is our right to vote. It took until 1920 for women to attain that right, and other countries, like Russia, women got the vote before we did. When Woodrow Wilson took office, women protested in front of the White House asking for their right to vote and many were arrested for "obstructing traffic" and thrown in jail. During the infamous “night of terror” which began on November 15, 1917 guards at the Occoquan prison were given an order by the warden to teach a lesson to all the women that had been imprisoned there for picketing for their right to vote. More than 30 women were arrested during this time and for the many weeks of their incarceration the only food and water they had was infested with maggots. Dora Lewis was put into a dark cell and thrown up against an iron bed that knocked her out cold. Later affidavits mentioned that she had been, dragged, beaten, choked, kicked and swung around by her hair. Lucy Burns was handcuffed with her hands above her head, beaten by several guards and left for the night gasping for breath and almost bled to death. There are so many more stories of women who paid the price for simply “protesting” for their right to vote. For OUR right to vote.

It would take 3 more years for women to win the vote, but can you imagine the triumph these women felt? And can you imagine how they would feel today witnessing the apathy and lack of participation so many have for this hard-earned right? We should be grateful for ourselves and for our daughters and their daughters after them and honoring their fight by never missing the opportunity to vote.

If you believe everything in the news it seems there is nothing right going on in this country, but the fact that we have the right to express opinions (yes even the negative ones) campaign and protest and then vote in itself what is right and good in our country. Across the world in countries like Iran, the elections are a joke. People risk their lives to go to the polls, and once there, they often vote out of fear, because if the person they really want in doesn’t get elected, they are afraid of the repercussions of their vote. In our country, the only consequence we suffer are frustrations of unfilled campaign promises, or disappointments that our candidate didn’t get in, or if he or she did, that they are stifled by the process so that it takes forever to get something done.

But eventually, it can get done. There are good men and women running for office. There are Issues of importance that affect our communities that need our involvement. Whether it’s a school levy, a controversial issues we about a right to legalize pot, gay marriage, abortion or to raise or lower our taxes our vote can and does make a difference. Especially on the local level.

It takes a little effort, but we can do research on each candidate and issue on the ballot. Most candidates do have websites that outline their philosophy and position in most of the issues we are voting on. There are various newspapers and news organizations that present their “endorsements” and you can at least go and read their reasoning whether you agree on it or not. Political blogs can present varying points of view on an issue you may be struggling with.

The League of Women Voters sponsors valuable non-partisan websites to help educate you on the candidates and issues and you can type in your city and state to get to your local issues. Here’s a link to the National Website:

Here’s the link to the Akron Area.

Do the right thing. Vote.

*research on the suffrage movement from

Saturday, August 21, 2010

The Benefits (are there?) of Being Single

“I never thought I would be single at my age”

Most of us 40 to 50 something singles probably feel this way. If you never married you wonder how time got away. If you are divorced, you really did believe the “until death do us part” line when you said it. And if you are widowed, you didn’t expect death to “part you” this young. No one thinks it will be their family affected by cancer, divorce, loss or single- parenthood and that they would be single or alone at their age. That happens to other people.

As the youngest of 7, I’ve always had people around me. When I left for college I had roommates in a dorm, then roommates in an apartment, and then even though I had a couple years of living in an apartment by myself after starting my career—I always had people around. Mine was the crash place if someone couldn’t drive home or a temporary home for people needing a place to stay. My boyfriend and soon-to- be husband was around quite a bit, too. Then came marriage and kids. Not a lot of alone-time.

But I have it now. And I’m learning to appreciate it. I mean I do get lonely sometimes, but after 8 years being single and now with the kids out of the house I’m doing a lot of eat Pray Love type of contemplation without traveling to 3 countries that begin with "I".

I’ve done a lot of dating over these several years and I’ve found that life and relationships look different now than they did in my 20’s. I know what I want. And most importantly, I know what I don’t. I’m now feeling pretty comfortable in my own skin. I’ve also learned it really takes a long time to feel comfortable in your own skin.

Being single gets a bad rap. I’ve read article after article quoting study after study indicating that married people live longer, and that single people who live alone are prone to depression and other health ailments. But I don’t know if I buy all that. Don’t get me wrong, I have nothing against marriage. I had a good marriage. And I have people in my life that I look at with admiration and a little bit of envy because they have loving, long-lasting, seemingly happy marriages. On the flip side, however, I watch some of my friends negotiate through some not-so- happy relationships and I relish in the fact that there are some benefits of being alone. Or at least, being alone until you fit the right fit. Right...not perfect.

I don’t believe in the perfect fit.

No one fits like a glove. There will be something about everyone that will drive you crazy. So short of infidelity or abuse…I believe that acceptance of the fact that annoying habits, thoughtless moments, and ill-tempered behavior happens with everyone is crucial in any relationship. We accept it with our kids, and many of our friends, so why not our significant other? To leave someone with the goal of a finding “the perfect match” somewhere else is crazy. They may not do one the thing that your spouse does that you just can't stand, but you can bet they’ll do something else that might drive you just as crazy…or worse. “The beast you know is better than the one you don’t” as my Dad use to always say.

I heard a great song the other day by a country artist Joanna Smith. She is lamenting that all her girlfriends are getting married. She says she doesn’t want to be "nobody's ball and chain", or nobody's "reason for poker game" or nobody's "baby get me a bud light!"

And I don’t either. I'm not going to be that woman whose husband can’t have their own hobbies, nights out, or friends without getting nagged. And I'm not going to be that woman who can't do the same without having it start a fight. I have friends (men and women) who are in relationships where they are always walking on eggshells. They can’t do anything, go anywhere or have a life without fear of starting a fight. Life’s too short for jealously and mistrust, so if I see even an inkling of that or any other controlling behavior in a man—I run.

Right now I like that I make and spend my own money. I can spend it on myself, my daughters, my grandson or my friends and don’t have to ask permission or beg forgiveness. I can go away for a weekend, stay out late or sleep in and not worry that or some other some small thing is going to set off a fight. I can have a beer, a martini, or a cigar...and not have anyone be mad at me. Is there a danger in no accountability? Perhaps. But I do have 2 daughters that regularly remind me of my faults :-).

I am not jaded. Nor an I a pessimist…in fact, I am cautiously optimistic that someday I just might find someone to hang with who has a pretty similar perspective on life and relationships. But in the meantime-I believe the burdens we experience happen so that we can learn life lessons.

I have been blessed with a burden…and I’m learning to accept and do my best to enjoy exactly where I am in life. And acceptance of our current situation is really the only way to feel content.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Songs That Make You Feel Something

I just love music. I'm not a musician or a song writer, but I feel I have the heart and soul of one because I there are times I can just FEEL a song so deeply. Since I was young I have always found that a song that could somehow express what I couldn't to describe where I was in my life. And sometimes no lyrics are needed to soothe my soul. Man...there's nothing like a sweet, soulful guitar riff...Or the sounds of a simple acoustic solo piano piece.

There are just those songs that were there for me when I needed them. Songs that describe a situation where someone was able to get inside your head and express what you can't, making you feel so not alone, and proving that we are all probably more alike than different.

You've been there, right? Your first heart break. That one coming-of-age summer. A family vacation. A party song.

I've been loading my ipod with songs from my collection from all eras. From Jackson Brown and Van Morrison to 80's rock to Eric Church and Miranda Lambert songs. Yesterday I had my ipod playing on shuffle when a song came on that I could totally relate to right now. At this exact point of my life. It's a song from several years ago, mid 1990's, by Trisha Yearwood. It's one of those cool album cuts that may not have been a huge chart hit, but it sure hit me yesterday.

At this point in my life, I'm getting use to the fact that I don't have the same responsibilities I use to when it comes to my role as a parent. For the last 8 years I spent my time and energy on my girls, and my work. As a single parent, supporting my family financially and emotionally had been my focus. "I need to get them through high school. I'll start thinking about what I'm gonna do in 4 years", I'd think. So I'd save for school clothes. Car insurance. College. No risk taking. Moderation has always been my philosophy.

So now, with both girls out of the house I've started to think more about what I want to do next. There's sort of a freedom that I am realizing I have and it is both scary and exhilarating at the same time. So, when this song came on yesterday I didn't expect it to hit me the way it did, but it did. And I hit replay like 3 times and decided this will be my new theme least for now.

I thought I'd share :-). But you gotta go look it up on itunes and listen. It's so much better set to music.

I Want To Go Too Far performed by Trisha Yearwood

Everything in moderation, that's the way it's always been
Never gettin' out of control - never hanging it out
Always reelin' it in

I saved my money for a rainy day
But now I've had enough of playin' it safe

I wanna go too far, I wanna go too fast
Somebody draw the line so I can blow right past
I wanna spend too much, I wanna stay too late
I'm gonna roar too loud, I'm gonna be that way
I wanna play too hard, I wanna go too far

I'm the one they all depend on
Sensible, predictable, and strong
But every now and then,
I feel like I've played that role too long
I need to rock the boat, I need to speak my mind
Just this once let it all unwind

I wanna go too far, I wanna go too fast
Somebody draw the line so I can blow right past
I wanna spend too much, I wanna stay too late
I'm gonna roar too loud, I'm gonna be that way
I wanna play too hard, I wanna go too far

I've gotta set this spirit free
That's hiding here inside
I feel like a bird in a cage
It's time for me to fly

I wanna spend too much, I wanna stay too late
I'm gonna roar too loud, I'm gonna be that way
I wanna play too hard, I wanna go too far

Album: Thinkin' About You
Songwriter(s): Kent Robbins, Layng Jr Martine
Release Date: January 1, 1995
Label: MCA Records

Is there a song that fits a place you've been?

Saturday, July 10, 2010

LeBron: a hometown girl's perspective

I think of myself as an optimist. I really do view life with a glass half-full perspective, and sometimes that view, in hindsight might make it seem as though I view the world through rose-colored glasses. Which may be why I thought, no, I was SURE LeBron was staying. I didn't think he'd stay over the money, hell, he'd make tons no matter where he went. I figured he'd stay because it was about legacy. I thought there's no way he can leave the area where he grew up, where the fans adored him, where he had an opportunity to take all the years of disappointment Cleveland fans have endured and turn it around and be the ultimate hero. Where he could be to Cleveland as Jordan is to Chicago. In leaving, he'd never achieve that legacy.

But maybe, at 25, you don't think about legacy. Or, how to get one may look a lot different at to him than to many of us who have lived twice as long. Clevelanders may have pinned their dreams on LeBron, but maybe that's not fair, because maybe that dream wasn't his dream. Being on a championship team playing with 2 or 3 other champions as good or better than he is must be his dream. Having the opportunity to build a team that creates a dynasty by winning multi-year championships clearly brings him closer to his goals that playing here does. And although my view is that winning in Miami with other superstars won't be as sweet as winning in Cleveland, that may not be the view from his world.

To so many, LeBron's "Decision" took him from one of the most loved to one of the most most hated in just a few hours. I've heard it expressed that he is second only to Art Modell right now as the least popular in Cleveland. He has been called a narcissist, an ego maniac, selfish, disloyal and worse. And maybe it's my Pollyanna attitude popping up again, but that saddens me.

I'm a mom with kids not far from LeBron's age. I've thought about my kids, who love their hometown, but want to grow and experience different things. If, after doing their thing for 7 years they want to go somewhere else...I would want that for them. LeBron James is still a very young man you know. A really talented really rich young man, but he still doesn't have that much life experience; and the experience he does have has been sheltered and so extreme from his humble beginnings. It may be hard to remember that he was raised under less than ideal conditions with no father figure or male role model until he got to St V and came under the mentorship of a caring coach. Most of us know more than enough about his mother.

And so, what do we expect? Aren't we at somewhat at fault for pinning all of one city's hopes, dream and expectations on this one person? This "kid" who spent his first 15 years in one living situation and then from 16 on was hurled into another. Hailed as the next Jordan since his rise at St V, LeBron has been courted and coddled. Then, at 18 he signs on in the NBA, and is given almost complete control at calling the shots. Who, at the age of 18, 20 or 25 would do much better epecially when making millions upon millions? We called him "the King", painted his face 20 stories high on the side of a building, elevated him to the height that there is nowhere to go but down. And we're surprised? I'm surprised he has been as together as he has been this last 7 years. No one is giving him any credit for anything good right now.

He really is just a young man who happens to have some amazing talent as a basketball player. That doesn't make him a smart business man. It doesn't make him mature. It doesn't make him a savior. For God's sake he's not curing cancer. He hasn't negotiated peace in the Middle East. What a surprise that once again, making any one person a role model, especially a sports figure is a recipe for disappointment.

And yes, I'm disappointed. I get that his leaving not only puts our Cavs in a major rebuild mode after being one of the best teams with the best record in the NBA this past season. I get that the local restaurants and bars will suffer if the games don't sell. But we've been experiencing this in Cleveland with the Browns and Indians for so many seasons, we somehow do survive. And we will this time.

I've also heard the total opposite expressed: "with all the problems we have in this world, who gives a crap about LeBron!" It is absolutely true that we have plenty of real stuff to worry about: the war, the oil spill, crime in our streets, no money inn our schools. Poverty everywhere while we watch some 25 year old kid--one of many overpaid sports figures fret about where they are going to make their next zillion. But still, sports in their many forms can offer an escape from the problems of the world for a short time in the same way other hobbies and distractions can. Sports can teach so many life lessons in how to be, in in many more cases these days, how not to be.

I can still find a lot of good things to say about LeBron. He gave us 7 great years. He sold tons of tickets and bolstered the Cavs, the Cleveland economy and Dan Gilbert's pocket book for these past years. He got paid a lot, but he helped make a lot too. And for the past week has given the media something to talk about making my morning show prep easier. But he has also has done a ton of charity work including his annual bike-a thon and work for the boys and girls clubs. I'm from Akron, and I graduated from the same high school he did, I live 2 doors down from one of his best friends from high school, and watched him play basketball with that St V gang from the backyard. He was always gracious and polite to me, and nice to my daughter and her friends. I'm still proud to say he is from my hometown. I'm still a LeBron fan.

I wish he had stayed, but I wish him well. I still want him to call Akron his home town. I hope he keeps his house in here. I hope he still spends some of his millions here. I hope he raises his family here instead of South Beach, and I hope he stays out of trouble, as he seemingly has been able to do for these past 7 years. And finally, I hope the Cavs and the fans will focus on the team instead of one player. Which can end up being a very good thing.

But hey, I'm an optimist.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Never Too Old

I'm a new grandma. I thought when I said those words I'd be, well...old!
Or at least older. Although I guess I need to face the fact that 50 isn't exactly young, it always seemed to me that the term grandma should apply to someone much older than me. But here I am, a grandma, and so far, it's pretty cool.

I've heard many say that one of the great things about being a grandparent is that you get to love and spoil your grandchild and then you get to give them back. I was thinking as I held my grandson in my arms that it's almost like a "do-over". I can make up for any mistakes I made with my daughters with him. My favorite Bill Cosby bit had him wondering what happened to his parents when they became grandparents. He was sure they weren't the same people who raised him, because they were too nice! He described them as "old people trying to get into heaven"

In my first few weeks of grandma-hood, 2 emotions have hit me the hardest and surprised me with their depth of impact, but I have struggled to find the best words to describe them. Love and Pride seem so obvious and overused that and I wish I could come up with different words. But like the first time either of my baby girls were placed in my arms, the powerful wave and depth of the emotion I felt was completely indescribable. My child, this miracle that I grew inside my body, was now out of me and a real person. My husband and I were completely responsible for this tiny human being who was now so completely dependent on us.

Time to grow up!

And now, my child has a child, a further extension of us, and the realization that our family will continue into future generations has me again feeling a range of emotions. Sad because my grandson will never know his maternal grandpa; yet at peace knowing he carries his name, his genes, and now his legacy. The knowledge too, that I can have some small part in the nurturing of this baby is an honor and a blessing like nothing I have known before.

The pride part comes with watching my daughter and her husband bond as a new family. It is so difficult to have them living so far away, but in these few years away I've watched her grow into this amazing young woman, and now mother. She has adopted an wonderfully healthy lifestyle and has educated me on so much. An excellent cook, she has influenced me to adopt a vegetarian lifestyle and taught me some amazing recipes. Having never lived in the city, I am now learning as I live vicariously through her experiences in San Francisco. Walking to shops and stores; taking public transportation, experiencing a city full of life and hustle and bustle that although I'm not used too, I am learning to appreciate. And now, with my youngest daughter just moving to Chicago, I'll be adding to my learning experiences through hers.

Watching my girls grow up and turn into these amazing young women has left me in emotional disarray. I miss them so much, and I am realizing a part of my life, especially my parenting life has passed now. Now, I watch as it is their turn. And while I still know I have much to offer and they still have much they can learn from me...I am coming to the realization that my role as a parent will continue to evolve, but happily that there is a new phase of life I have in front of me. Exciting, scary, sometimes lonely...but I am excited about the lessons still to learn, for all of us. They say that when you stop learning you stop growing, and I think that's probably true...except to grow old.

And that knowledge somehow makes me feel... well....YOUNG!

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Mother Teresa on Life

We received a really nice note from a listener and I wanted to share it.
It is from Brittany Elaine Weichmann.

"I listen to you two every morning =) On my drive to Bay Village from Cuyahoga Falls. This evening on my drive home, you were talking about Mother Theresa quotes and here is one of my favorites from her on "Life"

Life is an opportunity, benefit from it.
Life is beauty, admire it.
Life is bliss, taste it.
Life is a dream, realize it.
Life is a challenge, meet it.
Life is a duty, complete it.
Life is a game, play it.
Life is a promise, fulfill it.
Life is sorrow, overcome it.
Life is a song, sing it.
Life is a struggle, accept it.
Life is a tragedy, confront it.
Life is an adventure, dare it.
Life is luck, make it.
Life is too precious, do not destroy it.
Life is life, fight for it."

-- Mother Theresa...

Monday, May 24, 2010

Truths Most of Us Can Relate To

1. I think part of a best friend's job should be to immediately clear your computer history if you die.

2. Nothing sucks more than that moment during an argument when you realize you're wrong.

3. I totally take back all those times I didn't want to nap when I was younger.

4. There is great need for a sarcasm font.

5 How the heck are you supposed to fold a fitted sheet?

6. Was learning cursive really necessary?

7. Map Quest really needs to start their directions on #5. I'm pretty sure I know how to get out of my neighborhood.

8. Obituaries would be a lot more interesting if they told you how the person died.

9. I can't remember the last time I wasn't at least kind of tired.

10. Bad decisions make good stories.

11. You never know when it will strike, but there comes a moment at work when you know that you just aren't going to do anything productive for the rest of the day.

12. Can we all just agree to ignore whatever comes after Blue Ray? I don't want to have to restart my collection.. .again.

13. I'm always slightly terrified when I exit out of Word and it asks me if I want to save any changes to my ten-page research paper that I swear I did not make any changes to.

14. "Do not machine wash or tumble dry" means I will never wash this - ever.

15. I hate when I just miss a call by the last ring (Hello? Hello? Darn it!), but when I immediately call back, it rings nine times and goes to voicemail. What did you do after I didn't answer? Drop the phone and run away?

16. I hate leaving my house confident and looking good and then not seeing anyone of importance the entire day. What a waste.

17. I keep some people's phone numbers in my phone just so I know not to answer when they call.

18. I think the freezer deserves a light as well.

19. I disagree with Kay Jewelers. I would bet on any given Friday or Saturday night more kisses begin with Bud Lite than Kay.

20. I wish Google Maps had an "Avoid Ghetto" routing option.

21. Sometimes, I'll watch a movie that I watched when I was younger and suddenly realize I had no idea what the heck was going on when I first saw it.

22. I would rather try to carry 10 plastic grocery bags in each hand than take 2 trips to bring my groceries in.

23. The only time I look forward to a red light is when I'm trying to finish a text.

24. I have a hard time deciphering the fine line between boredom and hunger.

25. How many times is it appropriate to say "What?" before you just nod and smile because you still didn't hear or understand a word they said?

26. I love the sense of camaraderie when an entire line of cars team up to prevent a jerk from cutting in at the front. Stay strong, brothers and sisters!

27. Shirts get dirty. Underwear gets dirty. Pants? Pants never get dirty, and you can wear them forever.

28. Is it just me or do high school kids get dumber & dumber every year?

29. There's no worse feeling than that millisecond you're sure you are going to die after leaning your chair back a little too far.

30. As a driver I hate pedestrians, and as a pedestrian I hate drivers, but no matter what the mode of transportation, I always hate cyclists.

31. Sometimes I'll look down at my watch 3 consecutive times and still not know what time it is.

32. Even under ideal conditions people have trouble locating their car keys in a pocket, finding their cell phone, and Pinning the Tail on the Donkey - but I'd bet my behind everyone can find and push the snooze button from 3 feet away, in about 1.7 seconds, eyes closed, first time, every time!

~Didn't write 'em but had to share 'em

Friday, April 16, 2010

Happy Ending: A Thief Does The Right Thing

Last Friday night, Dawn Marie Wilson (no relation to me) was enjoying herself at the Miranda Lambert concert at the Akron Civic Theater. Her leather Dale Earnhardt Jr jacket was draped over the back of her seat for most of the show. After the encore, she reached back to put it on, and it was gone. She was devastated.

The jacket, she told me in an email sent the following morning, was not really worth that much monetarily, but to her it had great sentimental value. Her dad had given it to her as a gift, and it represented memories of their combined love of racing.

That following Monday, I read the email on the air during the Wynn and Wilson in the Morning show on WQMX. The story was also posted on the morning show's Facebook page. Calls flooded the studio lines and tons of comments were posted on Facebook, with everyone hoping for a happy ending, similar to the ending that came with a story about a guitar theft weeks before.

Lat month, Country singer Justin Moore (famous for his hit "Small Town USA") had his guitar stolen from the stage after a performance in Michigan. He put a plea out via social networking asking for his guitar back. He explained it had sentimental value and encouraged the fan to do the right thing. Justin's guitar was returned, with a note of apology. The fan said he was drunk and over-excited and just jumped on stage and grabbed the guitar, and acted foolishly.

Alcohol sometimes makes people do dumb things, we all know that, and so when we put out the plea for the jackets return both on the air and on Facebook, we compared the two incidents and said this one was also probably alcohol-induced. We asked for the bandit to do the right thing. As Scott said; "you'll never feel good about wearing it."

This morning, Scott opened a box that arrived in the mail. In it, was the jacket with a simple note that said "Please accept my sincere apology." We announced the jacket's return on the air and on Facebook, and again, the response from listeners was overwhelming and positive, with the overall theme of renewed faith that people, if given the chance, will "do the right thing."

So. whoever you are, thanks for doing the right thing.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

An Ever-Changing Role

There's no handbook.

Parenting is a learn-as-you-go process, with much of what you start out doing (for the good or the bad) is what your parents did. Or, much of what you swear you won't do as a parent is from those same experiences.

Parenthood changes you. From the minute that baby is placed into your arms, nothing is ever the same again. You are completely and totally responsible for another human life. Exciting. Horrifying. Enlightening. Sobering.

A baby changes everything.

And so you go. From day to day, through the stages of infancy, through babyhood, into the toddler years. Then its preschool, elementary school, through adolescence and the turbulent teens, and finally into adulthood. And then... you start to try to let go, at least a little, as you send them away to college. And who would guess that letting go could be so hard?

I remember thinking when my girls were babies that it sure would be easier when they were a little older, walking and talking. Then they began walking... and I began running.

Then I recall thinking it will be easier when they get into school, that their days would be more structured and they would learn and grow and make friends and, well...then came homework and tests and frustrations and bad influences and hurt feelings. And I struggled between letting them fall and picking them up.

Life got more complicated as I became the single parent of two teen aged girls, and became a chauffeur, a counselor, a cheerleader, a coach, a friend, and an enemy and I recall thinking "things will get easier", maybe when they get their license, maybe when they go to college.

Yeah, right.

Now, both of my girls are young adults, and my role as a parent has turned into more of an observer, especially for my oldest who is now married and about to become a mother.

I watch them struggle with decisions and start to open my mouth and then have to bite my tongue! Or sometimes I don't...and realize that I can't just jump in like this anymore. I have to wait until I am asked for an opinion, and not give unsolicited advice. (And I fail at this a great deal) I want to share my knowledge and experience. I want to say "do this" or "don't do that".

But I have to keep repeating to myself that I am who I am because of my experiences. I am a combination of my successes and failures. And I learned more from my mistakes than my successes--and in fact, we all learn more from our failures and it is those lessons that lead us to our successes.

And yet, even though I may know these things...I still want to mentor, teach, encourage, protect and even defend everything about my baby girls, who are not babies anymore. And in fact, I am learning that now, not only am I more of an observer, the roles between mother and daughter are reversing.

I am learning things from them now. They are teaching me. Both have had more experiences, lived and traveled and done more things at their age than I had by the same age. Both are opening my mind to new ways of thinking politically and socially. I am continuing to be exposed to new concepts and ideas as I continue to learn acceptance, tolerance and new ways of doing things.

I've heard the saying that a good teacher knows success when their student goes further than they have. Because the cool thing about teaching (and parenting) is; you can give all your love and knowledge away and yet you still have it! But you can watch it grow bigger and stronger in the ones you have given it to!

My oldest daughter, now with child will be a great mom. As will my younger daughter when it is her time. Both of them will be better than I was, because they will take the best of me and the best of them and their dad.

And me?

I will do my best to adjust to this ever-changing role from parent to grandparent' and to accept and forgive myself for the mistakes I've made and continue to relish wherever this road leads.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

I don't like Springtime

I really don't want to sound negative when I say I don't like Spring. Especially when those around me are acting like giddy school-children on these rare sunny, pleasant days we've been having around here lately. Me? I'm just being a realist. Or maybe I should say a cautious optimist. I've lived in this part of the country my whole life, and like Lucy pulling the ball away from Charlie Brown, I'm just not going to fall for it so soon.

March comes along and we get a glimpse of what is to come.  We get a a thaw...the sun comes out for one, maybe two days in a row and in desperation we pull out our shorts and sandals. You see tops down on convertibles (even though the heat is on full blast) and folks heading to the golf course. I want to say- "warning warning Will Robinson...don't get your hopes up! "Don't switch the wardrobe and put the sweaters away! Don't fall for it! It's not over yet!" Yet I...hopefully, do the same.

Then Lucy pulls the ball away.

After 3 days of paradise; 3 days of thinking maybe the worst is over; one weekend of mowing and planting,  the weather forecast calls for  plummeting temperatures, sleet and snow. Your plants have to be covered, you are back to scraping ice off the car window.

Spring is a big fat tease.

It gives you a taste of what you've been dying for, only to pull it away from you when it is just within your reach. March 20th comes and goes...daytime temperatures lag behind by several weeks, because the earth and sea (or in our case, the lake) take time to warm up. And then April's showers come and my backyard with my two loping, frolicking dogs turn it into a mud-pit. Spring for a dog owner means yard clean up and lots of paw wiping. It is the season of mud.

So for those of you who love spring, and think its the most wonderful time of the can have it! I will enjoy the days we are lucky to get with a vengeance. I will soak in the sun for my much needed vitamin D production, and I will wait through this one for my other favorite seasons, which order Summer, Fall and Winter...followed by Spring.

Little Darlin', it HAS been a long cold lonely winter. And I can't wait for the return of consistently pleasant days. And when they arrive, I will be one happy girl! But in the meantime, I will prepare for the cold, hope for the warm, and not be frustrated or surprised or angry by much that happens in between.

Happy Spring! :-)

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Losing Friends Daily

I caught up with my best friend from childhood recently. She lives in Boulder and although we don't talk but a few times a year, once we do it's like no time has passed at all. I love having a friend like that.

We talked about the things we are involved with, and how both of us as we get older, find ourselves wanting to do things that make a difference in areas we believe in, but that in making any attempt to "make the world a better place" we seem to be losing friends. That is difficult for me. I liked to be be liked (who doesn't?) I pride myself in my ability to use diplomacy to resolve conflict in my work and personal life. I work hard to use verbiage in person and in my writing so as to make my point but not offend. I have always believed in the "you catch more flies with honey than vinegar" and find more people will be on your team if you play this way.

But sometimes, when you become a voice for something you believe in you lose friends.

My Boulder friend is a teacher, and in her many years working with children she has seen the best and the worst scenarios, and has become a voice for those without one in situations of suspected abuse, neglect or extreme family dysfunction. She also speaks up about teaching personal responsibility to kids and their parents and raising expectations without over-rewarding kids for just doing what they ought to to. She's lost a few friends.

Another friend who now lives in California has a child with learning disabilities. While always a great mom, she went from being what most of us would consider a "normal" wife and working mom to an amazing advocate for children with similar disabilities in our public school system. Her being a voice for these kids didn't win her any popularity contests and there were many challenges she faced in getting changes made. But her accomplishments are many in this area and many children (and parents who didn't have the time, dedication or courage) have benefited from her work.

Advocates for people with disabilities, for children, for the elderly, and a bit further back for civil rights or the women's movement did not have it easy. At the very least they were scorned and abandoned by many. At the very worst they were beaten, jailed or killed for their cause. Thank God for the people who were passionate for causes that now, with the hindsight of history--were good.

Over the last 10 years, my eyes have been opened to the unbelievably cruel business of growing animals for food inside factory farms.  I have learned that if you make people feel uncomfortable about choices they are making, they get angry. In raising issues that seem very common sense, it is easier to label me as "a crazy liberal or PETA activist" (of which I am neither) than to just have an open mind an listen with the defenses down. If I could beg your indulgence, I ask your indulgence on what I feel are 3 common sense points on my position for animal welfare:

1) Factory Farming. I am NOT telling anyone to stop eating meat. I am asking everyone to get educated on what is being done to our food supply in factory farms. Anyone who does the slightest bit of research, visits a large factory farm, watches the movie Food Inc or the HBO documentary or Meet Your Meat will see that our country's large factory farming practices are corrupting our nations' meat supply and hurting our nation's health. The sidebar is that it is also horrendously cruel to animals. I didn't know then what I know now. Now that I do- I want others to know. I want laws to change. I want our food supply safe. I want animals treated well. And if people choose to eat meat, to support local farmers who raise they animals in a free range environment. Laws need to be passed. I believe if people knew, if they saw what goes on, they would be sickened and would want laws changed. It is the "extremists" who publish hard to watch videos that are helping to get the word out. If you saw a pigs being de-skinned while still alive., or baby calves living in a box with only small holes and no sunlight so they are tender for veal? Or lambs having their legs tied to they don't move? Or chickens de-beaked so they don't poke each other? Or hens in cages so small they can't spread their wings or turn around. Or cows going into the slaughter machine still alive as they are cut up piece by piece. (They are suppose to be "stunned" first-most are not.) If you heard heard the screams--you'd agree there needs to be change.

2) Puppy mills. 7 years ago I bought my purebred Sheltie from a pet store. Many in my life have pure bred dogs from breeders. Many breeders do it right, and treat their animals well. But many don't. So there needs to be more regulation. Pregnant moms in a puppy mill don't lay on the floor of the family room by the fireplace. They are kept pregnant to bear litter after litter and live in a cage their whole lives. Most are euthanized after her 7th, 8th or 10th litter. The Amish in Ohio are known for their extreme cruelty in managing their puppy businesses. Undercover farm hands on an Amish Maltese farm witnessed atrocities that would melt the coldest heart. Many dogs are so in-bred they have numerous health issues and 60% of purebred dogs from puppy mills end up in shelters or worse. I didn't know then what I know now. Reputable breeders suffer from not having laws than punish those that run puppy mills.

3) Chaining dogs. Why have a dog if all you do is chain it to a tree to live in its own waste in the hottest summer and the coldest winter? I'm talking 24-7 365 day a week chaining. I've seen collars grown into the necks as dogs slowly choke to death. Frostbit paws. Dogs dead from starvation at the end of a chain. Shouldn't there be laws to discourage animal cruelty and punish those who break it? Many states are passing laws preventing this cruelty. All states should.

I'm for common sense. I'm for doing what's right. But because so many don't, we have to have some regulation. My Republican friends call me a liberal because I want "more legislation" and yet--without legislation for extreme unfairness, whether its for children the elderly, the disabled or for animals with no voice--how do we make change happen?

PETA may negate much of the good they could do and loses credibility with some of their antics and can the point be made without showing the horrible videos of the puppy mills? Or calves being nailed into their crates for veal?

How do we force change when people just don't want to know what is really happening? And are these causes worth losing friends?

Sunday, January 31, 2010

Musings on a Meat Free Year

Last year, I decided to give up meat for Lent. This February marks one year of my being meat-free. I admit, because I was never a big meat-eater (I mostly ate chicken and an occasional hamburger) I didn't think it would be that difficult. It was, actually, tougher than I thought. Anytime you tell yourself you CAN'T have something, of course, makes you want it more. I've been craving a Swenson's burger from day one!

My reasons for the decision were personal, and when someone would ask, I would share those reasons. But I have tried hard not to come off as preachy, or cause-driven at the least, or judgmental at the worst.

I've eaten meat for 50 years. In the past 2 years, however, I have learned through reading books, articles and watching documentaries on PBS and HBO that like many big businesses there is a great deal of corruption in the factory farming industry in general and the meat industry in particular. So I hope if you decide to read on, you will know that I do not have a problem with people who still choose to eat meat, but just want to share what I have learned because there has been more and more publicity on this subject of late. In fact, this past week, Oprah aired a program on where our meat comes from, and several of my friends said "wow, the stuff exposed on this show is what you have been talking about!".

Like so many industries, the meat industry has gotten very big--Walmart big, and has not had the right kind of regulation. Too much regulation would put restrictions on these companies that would cause a profit loss. So, the big corporations behind these huge factory farms use their money get the lobbyists keep the laws and restrictions light. As this country has witnessed, big business with little regulation can certainly lead to corruption as we've seen in our financial, pharmaceutical, and other industries. For the purpose of profit, livestock has turned into a mass-production business. Problem is, we are eating the results of this mass production, and the results are causing major health issues. Back in the day, cattle used to graze on grass on acres of land. Hens and chickens were cage free. Pigs lived on farms with room to eat and grow. It takes a few years for an animal to grow to an adult so they can be slaughtered for food, and factory farms have found a more profitable way of producing more livestock to grow more quickly.

Many researchers believe (although the stories are squashed) that the reason our young girls are developing breasts and going through puberty as early as 8 years old is due to the hormones in our meat and poultry supply, added to spur quick growth. The antibiotics injected into these animals is adding to the crisis of resistance to disease. There are many studies linking the additives in our food supply, even in the insecticides and pesticides used to grow vegetables inside factory farms, to causing so much of the cancer and autism rates we've seen in the past 10 years.

And INSIDE is the key word. On so many of these farms, calves, cattle, pigs and poultry never see the sun. They never see the outside of a pen. They are born, raised and slaughtered indoors. The same is true for so many of our vegetables. The red, green and yellow peppers that looks so perfect in our stores are artificially colored, and grow inside, under UV lights with additives some researchers say take away their nutritional value.

And if you are still reading, the living conditions of living feeling creatures inside so many (not all) of these farms is heartbreaking, and the slaughter technique used by many big business farms is horrific. There are ways to do a clean kill that are not being practiced. Pigs (one of the most intelligent animals next to humans and chimps) are often thrown into vats alive, to have their hair removed as are many calves. It takes too much time to kill them first. The cattle experience their horns being cut off, multiple brandings, and tagging of ears with staple guns; while pigs have their tails removed, which is excruciating as it is their pain mechanism, so they won't move in their pens for the time they are grown.

I never knew, never wanted to know where the meat I ate came from. I'd go to the grocery store, buy it, cook it and eat it. But now that I know, my passion on the subject, both for the cause of our health, and for animal welfare makes me want to speak out. I am mostly alone in my meat-free lifestyle. There are only 3 other people in my life who do not eat meat. So I am not suggesting no one eat meat anymore. I am suggesting that with a little research, (made easy with the Internet) you can find local farms that raise their animals and grow their produce the old-fashioned way. Supporting those farmers will be healthier for everyone. And you can feel better that the animals were treated humanely and lived a good life.

I know some believe it isn't appropriate to post cause-related subjects or information on a social networking site like Facebook; and that it should only be used for connecting with friends. While I keep learning lessons about how to use new media technology, and I know it has its blessings and curses, overall I believe social networking can be used to foster positive change because it can get information out to so many so quickly. And there are some causes I do believe are worth sharing. When I have posted links and information on animal welfare, or on the controversial Issue 2 last fall, the postings on my wall got intense and a few people were offended. I am sorry about that. And I learned a few lessons. A friend of mine who explained the benefits of Issue 2 (which passed by the way) assures me that its passing will actually help put a stop to some of the abuses in Ohio that were happening. I hope she is right.

I hope social networking can be used for the good, in that useful and thought-provoking information can be shared in a positive, informative, productive and not mean-spirited way. And I will work toward that goal in my future posts.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Communication Advice... from Mom

I recall a piece of advice my mom gave me years ago, when I was in grade school school. After a crackdown on note writing in class where teachers would catch note passers and read notes aloud she said "don't ever write anything down on a piece of paper you wouldn't want read in front of the whole class." In this age of digital communication and Instant-everything, from texts to Facebook posts, Tweets, Snapchats, and email (which is almost old-school) the advice rings truer than ever, but now its "don't post anything  you don't want read across the world in an instant.",

Innocent notes passed in class in 6th grade have turned into "sexting".  Facebook,  Twitter, Instagram and Snapchat has kids who don't have the maturity to understand the consequence of their words and digital actions has them making mistakes that could follow them a lifetime. Online bullying is at an all time high with consequences that often end in life-change, or life-ending results. Anyone in IT will you delete doesn't really mean delete. Once is posted, tweeted or sent, it's out there forever, and can come back to haunt you. If its profound and good, all the better, but if its not... well,  ask any number of celebrities and politicians who have gotten caught with their pants down (so to speak).

So what to do when you have a thought, an opinion, a frustration that you just have to vent?

I have a technique I've shared with my kids and others others that has worked for me and it's cheaper than therapy. When I was young, I found that whenever I was extremely passionate about something...whether I was working through a decision, was very upset or sad, or especially angry with someone, I would express it by writing it down. On paper. Most of the time, I would vent, cry, and rant and then, I'd go outside and light the paper I wrote everything on and watch it burn. The negativity would go up in smoke and I would mentally let it go. It now seems rather Zen-like. Hmmm maybe I was ahead of my time!

I believe its a technique that still works, although through the years I've adapted it to the computer. When I'm making a difficult decision I write down the pros and a word document--not online or in an email or a post. Whether it relates to a job, a money issue, or more importantly, how to talk to someone about a difficult issue; personal or professional--writing your thoughts down gives you the chance to state your entire thought process with no interruption or argument. Then,  walk away from the document. Wait on it. Mediate on it. Pray on it. Maybe for an hour, maybe 24.

I often find when I re-read  my words, I can see how they may be taken if I was the recipient. I can edit your my message, see how often I repeat my point (something I am guilty of) and I see clearly the way I handle myself when upset, angry or struggling through something.  Sometimes I read what I've written and think "wow" I came off like a jerk and I'm so glad I didn't have that conversation then! If it was a purchase I was considering, I often don't want it the next day, or, conversely, I still do, and feel better it wasn't an impulse. Often, a good night sleep changes the way I look at something, and 24 hours later, it  just doesn't seem that important.

In this age of instant communication we need to slow down and work through it. Giving your thoughts more time can prevent a lot of damage.  To ourselves, our relationships, maybe even our finances. Maybe there are some things that were better about the way Mom use to do it.