Happy Birthday to my Baby!

Twenty-three years ago yesterday at a few moments after midnight, my he-will-forever-be-my-baby son entered this world.

Yesterday, we celebrated that occasion. It was a huge family dinner. My four, their wives and the family of my baby’s wife.

My baby has a wife?

I know. Wasn’t it just yesterday he arrived in the world?

So tiny. This is hours after he made his grand appearance in 1993
So tiny. This is hours after he made his grand appearance in 1993

Right. Yesterday…plus twenty-three YEARS.

But I remember how happy he was as a baby. He made the cutest gurgling noises. Like he was singing to himself.

We called this one the Under the Table Jig
We called this one the Under the Table Jig

And he seemed almost indestructible: falling off decks and through windows. But he didn’t always escape unscathed.

His enthusiasm for living rubbed off on all of us.

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It didn’t surprise me when he decided to take to the stage. People at church  had been saying he was going to be a preacher for years.

Stage debut as a Keystone Cop in Aladdin
Stage debut as a Keystone Cop in Aladdin

He was always a natural ham. Why not add makeup and bright lights?

Like all actors, he had girls hanging off him
Like all actors, he had girls hanging off him

How did he get from a playschool graduation to this in three blinks of my eyes?

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As an adult, he headed off to college. And graduated from that before I’d begun to fathom how he would deal with those student loans.

My two sons...and the daughters they so thoughtfully brought me
My two sons…and the daughters they so thoughtfully brought me

And now, he’s married. He and his wife have their own little love nest. And student loans.

But life isn’t about loans, it’s about love and living each moment with joy.

And this baby boy of mine has been doing that second part well for a lifetime. What’s not to love?

If you know him, how about commenting with a favorite memory?

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WWDT

Dating Tips from Wonder Woman

Superheroes can’t date. Or maybe they can date, but they can’t fall in love.

“Love is like a bullet in the head” – DeadShot from Arrow

This doesn’t mean our gal Wonder Woman doesn’t have dating guidelines. After all, she’s a pretty opinionated person. How could she be an American icon without addressing the institution that births so much romance?

Green Lights

Some things the opposite sex says and does make even WW consider the whole dating game. After all, she’s entitled to a night out that doesn’t involve fighting and chasing.

Or maybe you think a good date involves a little bit of both of those things.

In any case, here are a few green lights that let you know a person might be worth dating:

  • They don’t have Superman hair
  • They offer up genuine compliments
  • Their flirting isn’t status quo with everyone they meet
  • They smile more than they frown
  • They can talk about things that interest you (talking about books earns triple points)
  • They take pride in their appearance
  • They are more interested in YOU than in giving you the low-down on themselves

It doesn’t hurt anything  if your eyes don’t bleed when you look at them. And if you have a shared hobby that can act as a first date locale, it’s even better. (I’m thinking Giants baseball, but WW is looking hard at the Air Museum.)

Red Flags

Sadly, it’s much more likely for the red flags to start popping up after a few dates. Most people but on their best behavior when they first ask someone out on a date. If you spot any of these flags BEFORE the first date, run fast and far in the other direction.

These are obvious signs that a date will be less than fun:

  • They check themselves out in the mirror or fish for compliments
  • All conversation revolves around them
  • They interrupt you when you’re talking
  • They say negative things about other people
  • They flirt with others while you’re together
  • They don’t like to read (WW shook her head over this one, so I lined it out)
  • They spend more time checking their phone than interacting with you
  • They flash cash or name drop or try to impress you with superficial things

Yes, these are all huge hints that as far as this relationship goes the bridge is out ahead. It’s one reason why WW prefers to hang out with her friends over spending time with someone she might find attractive or date-able.

Keep it Fun

Dating can be an entertaining aside, but WW opposes the idea that dating never leads to anything more. Most people use the dating game to sift through possible marriage candidates.

WW has no intention of putting a non-hero in the line of fire.

However, if two people honestly are just looking for companionship, dating can be one way to find it. Friends can date. Dating doesn’t automatically indicate a romantic liaison.

If you’re dating just for fun, let people know up front. Maybe not before the first or second date (because “I’m dating just for fun” puts some people off), but definitely before things heat up to a beyond-friendship level.

Do you have any dating advice for Wonder Woman? Is Steve Trevor her one and only love? Do you agree or disagree with her tips?

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Superman Needs Cellulite

Superman: the perfect ideal. Flawless. All the men want to be him. All the women know he’s too good to be true. What the man needs is a little cellulite.

Okay, maybe that’s more of a woman flaw. But let’s face it, perfect heroes are unrealistic. The average person doesn’t relate to them.

This is why every great writer knows that the best protagonists have a flaw -or twenty. It’s not called an Achilles Heel for nothing. When the only thing that can defeat a guy is a piece of rock from an extinct planet in a different universe, there’s not much tension in the story.

Why so Perfect?

(And yes, I hear the Joker saying this just like he does the iconic line “Why so serious?”)

According to the director of the newest Wonder Woman film (coming in June 2017), there’s a reason Superman has over-inflated muscles and perfect hair. Apparently, this image is how men want to see themselves. “That makes them feel like the hero they want to be” says Jenkins.

Looks like an over-inflated balloon to me

Ugh. And I thought women were the only one with messed-up body image issues.

I do NOT think a man with pecs and biceps bigger than his thighs is the ideal image of a hero. And certainly not a REAL man.

Do we really need a perfect ideal?

If the answer is yes, let me direct you to the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. Within those pages, you will meet the flawless, ideal man. He was perfect in every way.

And guess what, he didn’t have sculpted abs or a poster-boy face. In fact, he was pretty ordinary. Records from history and the Bible (which is an accurate historical accounting but since it’s considered a religious book some people equate it to a fairy tale), Jesus Christ was so average-looking that he wouldn’t garner a second look.

It wasn’t his physical appearance that made him incredible. Nor was it his ability to heal every disease and raise people from the dead (although those are God-like qualities for sure).

He opened his mouth and spoke with authority. Wisdom dripped from his lips. Furthermore, he walked His talk.

So, if you’re looking for a perfect hero – there you go.

Why flaws Make it better

Most of us prefer to see a little bit of ourselves in the guy we root for in a story. You know, someone who messes up. Says the wrong thing. Trips over untied shoelaces. Burns the biscuits.

These slights and failures give us hope. Hope that maybe we will be better tomorrow.

We need reassurance that our major mess-up today didn’t end every future opportunity.

Have you ever walked out of an interview thinking, “I nailed that” only to get the call (or worse yet a form email) stating they’d hired someone else? That’s disappointing, sure. But we don’t condemn ourselves as a failure in those cases.

We notice we have mustard in that spot just below our throat that we can only see in the mirror. Our tongue tripped over the answer to the technical questions. Nothing but a blank slate came to mind when the interviewer asked, “Why should I hire you?”

After that interview? We know it’s our fault they offered the job to someone else. They’d have to be idiots to hire someone who couldn’t even answer a few questions with panache.

When our heroes slip and get mud on their faces, we feel for them. We’ve been there. We know the agony.

If they get up and save the world afterward, it makes up willing to hold up our chin and try again at whatever defeated us today. Sure, it might be fiction, but when it pulls us in, it becomes as true to us as the sunrise.

We need to believe that no person is beyond redemption. Every mistake must have a counterpoint, a way to make things right.

It shouldn’t be easy. The bigger the mess up, the longer and harder the climb to success should be.

We’re more likely to relate to Batman because we understand his demons. We can feel the pain with the Arrow because we’ve experienced life-crushing losses too.

Superman? There’s no Kryptonite in our world, so his perfection holds us at arm’s length.

What sort of “cellulite” would you give Superman to make him more relatable? What character flaws pull you closest to the heroes in a story?

Still feeling grateful in August

So did you guys miss it when I didn’t post my week of gratitude memes last Saturday?

Sometimes, I feel like these posts go out into a void. No comments. No likes.

Okay, that sounded like whining. Which is totally the opposite of gratitude.

On to this week’s memes!

Monday

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Yep. Guacamole is a healthy addition to nachos (which aren’t healthy no matter what. Sorry. It bums me out too.)

Tuesday

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Naps are a thing of wonder. Especially when I have a headache. Or don’t feel well.

 

 

 

 

Wednesday

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First I had no patio. Then we had extreme heat. I need some quiet time in the sunshine.

Thursday

D224 I love my house. I love the office I have here. Home is paradise for me.  Aren’t I one lucky woman?

 

 

Friday

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And there’s more to come.

What are you grateful for? Maybe I’ll make it into a meme. Next month.

WWDT

Wonder Woman Stops Terrorists

Our world needs superheroes. Instead, we’re plagued with villains. If Wonder Woman were here, she would stop terrorists in their tracks.

Since this is an election year, every little thing that happens in America gets used as propaganda. For this campaign or against that one.

And when the big things happen? You know, like a hundred people getting shot in a night club? The politicians are crass enough to use that as a stepping stone for their platform.

Terror and Terrorism

I’ve been in a car accident. I’ve been in several almost accidents. What I felt in those moments that stretched into endlessness? Terror.

And it wasn’t very pleasant.

Maybe some of you get an adrenaline rush from it.

And I understand the rush that accompanies being dropped from a hundred feet above the ground only to be snapped back at seemingly the last moment. I’ve done it. It’s called Geronimo.

You know why that sort of terror is okay? Because I chose to inflict it on myself.

A terrorist on the other hand never asks permission. Or forgiveness for that matter.

Terrorism is the use of violence and threats to intimidate or coerce, especially for political purposes (according to dictionary.com)

Wonder Woman stops violence in its tracks. Her bracelets send bullets back at the shooters. Her lasso forces the truth out of them.

In short, there’s no intimidating her. And that’s what we need in this day and age.

Vote Wonder Woman

I avoid all things political. This is something WW and I have in common.

But enough is enough.

We could use someone dedicated to fighting for right in the current political climate. Someone who doesn’t shudder and hide when a violent act of terror is rained on innocent people. Someone whose motives serve others rather than themselves.

She won’t stand up and push to pass new laws that infringe on the rights of citizens. No call to ban guns (although she doesn’t need them to fight crime – lucky her) from WW. It’s not in her nature to look at the victims and make some statement about their guilt or innocence.

We’re all guilty of something. No one deserves to be gunned down in the middle of a night out.

It would be nice to have a leader who stood up and said, “This has to stop.”

If only we could dial up the Justice League or The Avengers.

But then the media would scream about vigilante justice.

But where is the justice for these terrorists? Who will stop them from spreading terror?

I vote Wonder Woman.

If only she weren’t just a fictional character.

What do you think?

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The Headaches of a Dream Come True

Rat-a-tat-ta-tat. The sound echoes from behind the closed patio doors clear at the opposite end of the house. A headache pulses in my temples. No dream comes without a few headaches.

Case in point: my dream patio

One day we were talking to a landscape designer who was giving us the brush-off. After all, we waited until the middle of his busy season to ask for a design and a quote.

A few weeks later, a designer is sitting at our dining room table talking about payment plans.

Because a nearly 600 square foot patio of paving stones doesn’t fit the under-$10,000 budget we had for the project. Because dreams are costly. But that’s a subject for another post.

A week went by with nothing. Then everything snowballed and the work crew was showing up the next day – a full week before the original start date.

The first thing to go is the old patio.

Just like our life, if we want to start a new career or new hobby or new healthy lifestyle, we have to get rid of the old. It’s not enough to keep the card-making supplies in the back of the closet now that you’re into quilting. As long as they’re there to fall back on, you’ll be tempted to quit on quilting if it gets too difficult.

The workers needed a jackhammer to break down the less-than-100-square-foot cement patio. And it took them nearly two full days to render it into pieces small enough to recycle as gravel bedding beneath our new stone.

That’s the noise you heard at the beginning of this post.

And it gave me a headache. It made concentrating on writing difficult.

Because anything worth having will involve some uncomfortable episodes.

Clearing out the old is a messy process too.

PatioRubble

Our outdoor cat shied away from the rubble when he came in for his food that night. The next morning, he waited atop one of the flat pieces to be let in for breakfast.

It’s great when we can recycle the old into the new, but most of the time it needs to be hauled off to the dump.

Second case in point: my dream of a writing contract (for a novel)

I’m still waiting to hear back from the publisher on the novel I submitted in May.

A vein popped in my forehead as I typed that.

Say_What

The editor whose been my go-between with the publisher sent word that the publisher hasn’t even opened my manuscript. It’s on the top of the slush pile, though. The first order of business come August will be reading the manuscript so she can give me an answer.

Oh, it’s already August you say? Well then I should hear any day now.

My heart hurts as it expects a “no.” My head pounds out all sorts of platitudes that make my skull feel like a too-tight screw.

In a few weeks, I’ll post pictures of my dream patio (minus the fire pit, water feature, and lighted gardens which will come later). The days of taking ibuprofen and hiding out far from the patio doors won’t even be remembered.

Because a dream attained is worth the pain.

What dream is giving you headaches right now? Take a moment to imagine yourself on the pinnacle of attaining it. What do you see?

WWDT

What’s Wonder Woman Watching on TV?

Television. That which has been dumbing down America since the 1950s.

Sorry, that’s what Wonder Woman says. And I agree with her.

According to a 2014 article in the New York Daily News, the average American watches more than five hours of television every day. That doesn’t include the hours surfing the Internet or playing on phones or tablets.

In a lifetime, the average American will spend NINE YEARS watching TV.

Not me. I’d rather read a book.

However, with so many people watching television, there must be something worth watching on it, right?

Here’s what our gal Wonder Woman watches:

Big Bang Theory

(I know all my Creationist friends just got offended by the name of this program. It’s a sit-com about nerdy scientists who obviously ascribe to this theory. Just because I watch it doesn’t change my belief about the origin of the universe.)

Four nerdy scientists who struggle to socialize in the real world.

Wonder Woman needs a good laugh after a long week of saving the world. The puns and lovable geekiness of this show gives her the warm fuzzies.

She would like to gag Sheldon from time to time and finds Raj adorable. It’s a peaceful thirty minutes away from reality.

CSI

(There are more than one? Well, whichever one is on when she flips on the TV is the one she watches.)

The inner workings of a criminal investigation amaze her. All that work scanning crime scenes for DNA and cloth fibers.

She prefers her take-action, catch-them-at-the-crime tactics to those microscopes and test tubes. Barring that, she will lasso her prime suspects and get the truth of the matter in a few moments.

The criminal justice system can take over once she’s got a signed confession, which she happily delivers to the police with her trussed up felon.

 

 

 

 

 

The Olympics

Our gal, WW,  loves seeing red, white and blue waving in the wind while the athletes prove their physical stamina. (Yes, I mean the American flag. NO, the flag pictured here is NOT it.)

In fact, she knows she’s dressed for some beach volleyball. Her skin tingles at the thought of pitting herself against world-class athletes. You know in something that isn’t an Amazonian fight to the death.

It’s nice to see people in friendly competition for a change. There’s too much nasty back-biting and underhanded dealings in the real world.

Facing opponents in a physical challenge is something she understands.

The rules for fencing and shooting might be a little vague. Weapons used to do something other than neutralize the enemy? And still she’ll choose watching that over synchronized swimming.

What are you watching on TV these days? Make a recommendation for our girl WW.

telemarketers

A New Age of Telemarketing: Do these things really sell stuff?

Have you ever picked up your phone and been asked by a real person to complete a survey? Maybe to earn the chance at a gift card at WalMart or something?

The other day I was minding my own business, typing along on my current novel-in-progress. The phone rang and I answered.

Answering the phone without recognizing the number on the caller ID screen isn’t the best idea.

A really sweet-sounding girl told me I was qualified to win on of five gift cards in a drawing that very night. All I had to do was complete the automated survey to be entered into the contest.

Well, shoot. It’s an election year. I might get to give my opinion on the stellar options in the race for president. Who wouldn’t want to do that?

So she clicks me through.

A litany of recording begins.

It starts innocently enough. Asking if I’m on medicare. If anyone in my household is diabetic. Press one for yes and two for no. All my no answers generate another question.

Then the tone changes.

“If you’ve been involved in a car accident, you might be entitled to compensation. Press one now to speak to an agent or press two for the next offer.”

Of course I press two. But when did my survey questions morph into infomercials for Allstate Motor Club or medical insurance?

I decided to see the “survey” through to the end. For curiosity’s sake.

Several of the “offers” were repeated more than once. It took about six minutes for the machine to wend its way through the pre-programming.

Suddenly a different recorded voice-male-congratulated me for reaching the end of the survey. All I had to do to be entered into the drawing was hold so someone could verify my email address.

My email address? They called me on the phone. Why would they need my email address?

Another young lady came on the phone and said I was entitled to a gift card worth twice what I was offered at the beginning of the “survey.” Could she transfer me now so I could claim the offer?

This sounded suspiciously like one of the offers that had been repeated twice during the automated “survey.”

“No.”

She sounded surprised. “I’ll transfer you so you can claim your $100. Okay?”

“No.”

After a brief pause when I thought I heard her gasp. Do people actually fall for this ploy? You know they are going to try to get me to buy something in order to claim my prize.

I’m waiting for her to ask me for my email. I intend to ask her why she needs it. They’ve got my phone number. The guy who ended the survey told me that winners would receive a phone call.

Instead, she surprises me. “You don’t qualify for the prize drawing at this time. Thank you for your time.” Click.

I’m stunned. I stare at the phone in my hand. Did a telemarketer just spurn me?

And what about the promise of a chance to win a gift card in a drawing later that night? All false advertising I guess. A ruse to get me to listen to the spiels marketed under the guise of a survey.

If you get this call, hang up. Unless you think you’re one of the people entitled to money from the obscure class action suits mentioned at the beginning of the “survey.”

Do they really sell things this way? Do people click through for the 75 percent off two five-day vacations? Are there people who still believe in getting something for nothing?

I don’t know, but this is a friendly warning. If you answer the phone to the chipper young woman promising you a gift card if you take the automated survey, say no thank you and hang up.

It will save you ten minutes. And maybe get you removed from the call list. If you’re lucky.

Do these calls really sell stuff? Have you bought something from a call like this? Share your experience with the rest of us.

One more day and July is gone

July, a month meant to be the dog days of summer. Going, going, gone.

The same can be said for another week.

Counting time week by week makes it whirl away at quite the clip. Maybe posting these memes wasn’t the best idea I ever had. *touches the gray hair at her temples*

Day after day, there’s so much to be thankful for. I’m having no trouble filling my calendar with #365DaysofGratitude. What about you?

What makes my gratitude sing this week?

Sunday

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Most of the time I get my scoops in a dish because an ice cream cone on a hot day is a big mess.

Monday

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My husband actually had one with RAT BAT written on it in bold, Sharpie letters.

Tuesday

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I love a good hike, but take my advice and don’t don new boots for the trail. Inner strength never gets old.

Wednesday

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In my (imaginary) mountain cabin, I have a pet bobcat. Even the wolves are too smart to mess with him.

Thursday

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Another Wonder Woman Thursday. I hope my actions can inspire others to heroics.

Friday

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Now that brings back memories from my short stint with college co-ed softball. The bruise on my left shoulder took on every hue in the dead-blood-cell rainbow.

Blink twice and August will be here. No matter how fast it flies, I’m so grateful to take the time to count my blessings.

How were you blessed this week?

Cherised_Journal_Banner

A Cherished Journal

Life is never appreciated quite so much as when Death comes calling. The same is true of this journal chosen for the 2016 Cherished Blogfest.

As a writer, I have stacks of journals. Finely bound books with gorgeous illustrations…

Journals

Spiral notebooks covered in scrawling ink and lead…

Spiral Notebooks

And then there’s the Cherished Journal.

Cherished Journal

After I wrote in in the other night, I realized there were only five empty pages waiting to be filled.

Tears puddled. I flipped to the first page, lovingly inscribed by my mother. She purchased it during a ladies’ retreat with a group of women from church.

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Years from now, when I’ve forgotten what the lessons were about that October in Seaside, Oregon, this note from my mom will crackle like a fire in my heart.

Because three short months after she wrote those words, my mom graduated from this earthly plain. Now she waits in Heaven to impart more encouraging words – someday – when I have moved past this life.

This made me think, not for the first time, how neglectful we are of the people in our lives. People we love tend to see the worst from us. We pick up the phone and vent at them when a day turns mean.

How many times have I snapped at my husband because something or someone else hurt or irritated me? Too many to recount. And the thought shames me.

On the other hand, how often have I hugged him and told him what he means to me? Since the day my mother broke the earthly chains, this has happened more frequently.

But less so the further from that painful goodbye I travel.

Do I really need someone dear to me to depart in order to cherish those who remain?

It chills me to think this has become the way of things in my world. Casual words and flippant teasing dominates the conversation. What about meaningful remarks of sincere appreciation?

I hold the cherished journal in my trembling hands. It blurs. The dry ink can’t be touched by my teardrops.

Open Journal

But can my heart? Will I finally learn the lesson this simple gift – now filled with my own thoughts and plans – tries to teach me?

Don’t wait for Death to show you what is truly cherished.

Live today with words and deeds that cherish all those whose presence in your world is a greater gift than any book or heirloom or brightly wrapped parcel.

Who will you cherish today?

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