Here’s a Reason to Smile

Life can sucker punch you at times. While you’re bent over trying not to regurgitate your breakfast, you’re not smiling. Smile? When I just got slugged?
Give me something to smile about, and then I’ll smile.
Judging by the frowns on people’s faces and the creases created by them on foreheads, I think there isn’t enough to smile about for most people.
And since I’m the gal who actually built her upper body strength in boot camp by smiling…I thought I’d help you out.
What? You don’t see how smiling builds muscles in the arms, shoulders and back?
Well, if you’re at Boot Camp and you smile, one of two things will happen:

  1.  You’ll get bugs in your teeth
  2. The Drill Seargent will punish you

Exact conversation from the summer of 1984 (and no, I’m not too old to remember back that far):
DI: Do you think this is summer camp, private?
Me: (eyes darting from side to side) Uh…NO, DRILL SERGEANT.
DI: The why are you smiling? (This is a rhetorical question so I stare straight ahead and wait for the rant.) Do you think this is fun?
Me: NO, DRILL SERGEANT.
DI: I think you’re having too much fun, private. Drop and give me 20.
Me: (Assumes the pushup position) One, Drill Sergeant.
DI: I can’t hear you private! Louder. (Yes, they really do say that while you’re counting out your repetitions.)

Anyway, maybe that story gave you something to smile about. And for the record, it didn’t keep me from smiling. I didn’t smile all the time (like when I was being tear gassed or after I’d hiked 20 miles carrying my 100 pounds of gear).
Why not smile? Think about how your face automatically wants to respond when you see a smile.
And afterward, you feel a little better. It’s like relaxing those facial muscles cues something inside your chest.
So, I thought I’d share a few things that made me smile recently.
My cat skidding across the wooden floors in pursuit of a well-used crochet item.


Seeing this sign when I drove into the Fred Meyer Parking Lot


A three-word text from my husband. No, it wasn’t “Is dinner ready?” I’m sure you can figure it out if you think hard enough.

My book cover shared on the page of an authentic fan (a person I have never met who reached out to me after reading one of my books)
Cute kitten pictures on Facebook (or Instagram or Pinterest)


A funny line in a book

Finishing my to-do list for the day


Now, I could continue to list some things. I smile an awful lot, and sometimes at the craziest things. (How many people do you know who grin maniacally in the Fred Meyer parking lot because they see a sign?)

Instead, I’m asking for your stories.

What makes you smile? What was the LAST thing that made you smile? Feel free to share memes or screen shots in the comments. Let’s give each other a reason to smile today.

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Happy Birthday to The Man

Happy birthday to the man…

Born June 27, 1965
Born June 27, 1965
  • of the hour
  • I’m married to
  • of my dreams
  • who puts up with me day after day
  • who proposed to me 29 years ago and married me 28 years ago
  • who is the best father my boys could have
  • who I’m glad to grow old with
  • who spoils me
  • I love…still…after all this time
  • who looks at me with awestruck eyes
  • who loves me…still…after living with me for nearly three decades

Okay, the man’s a saint! I admit it. I’m the one who calls him “Mr. Wonderful” after all.

Back in 1982 when two cute seniors flirted with me the day before school started, I never would have imagined one of them would be my husband. And it wasn’t the one I dated first, either.

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This is a man who stood beside me through the births of two sons (well, there were those few moments he was nearly passing out, but I hardly remember that).

After the birth of son #1
After the birth of son #1

This is the man who taught our sons to shoot hoops, ride a bike and drive a car.

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Yes, he’s an amazing father. My boys are blessed.

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He spoils me with great trips

Caribbean 2016
Caribbean 2016

And I let him spoil himself with Mustang convertibles

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He has a sense of adventure that parallels mine

Ziplining 2016
Ziplining 2016

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Not to mention a sense of humor

Thanksgiving 2012 -085

And didn’t he help me make handsome children?

Now we’re blessed with daughters, and our family is complete.

Thad & Kacy Wedding 2016 - 0627

Happy birthday, Mr. Wonderful. I’m glad you let me talk you into dating me and then trick you into marrying me. I hope I make you half as happy as you’ve made me.

Here’s to another 50-some years, right?

 

Funeral, Memorial Service or Something Else

quote-about-grief1“I don’t want a funeral. Don’t cry when I’m dead. Have a party and laugh about my stupidity, hilarity and ingenuity.”

My husband looks at me like I’m crazy. As much as I cry when a loved one passes, he thinks it’s the epitome of hypocrisy that I expect people to laugh after my own departure from life on earth.

I’m all over Ecclesiastes chapter three and think that the time to weep and mourn for me can happen in a dark room somewhere. When they hold my service, I want laughter (and for me laughter often involves tears).

In that case, I don’t think a funeral or memorial service will be appropriate for me. After planning a memorial service for my mother, I had no expectation to laugh during the service. Laughter at a funeral would be even more blasphemous, right?

These days, people hold a service after a loved one passes and call it “a celebration of life.” That sounds more my style. Of course, in the throes of recent loss, I find myself choked up and ruining my makeup at these events, too.

Some people have the knack for enticing people at the reception after such a service to share an anecdote. Others join in. Soon, people are smiling and laughing. Reminiscing is the healthiest way to mourn a loss.

Was I ready for this when my mother was in her hospital bed dying? Not really. The evening I witnessed her last breath, could I think of a funny story to share? Nope. As I sat across from the funeral director, did I believe cracking a joke would lighten the mood? Negatory.

These events aren’t the appropriate time and place for cutting up. Sometimes people share anecdotes at the end of an organized service that bring a smile or a titter of laughter. That’s okay. Those who feel it’s appropriate to join in will do so; others will cry and grumble.

I prefer a small gathering of family and close friends in a neutral location – after the reception perhaps. Get the stories flowing. “Remember when Mom piled ten kids into that VW bug?” “Picking up rocks from the garden plot was torture, but Mom sure grew the best green beans and peas afterwards.”

This is the type of casual get-together that I’m talking about when I tell my husband I don’t want people blubbering over my death (after all, I’ll be rejoicing in the presence of my Lord and Savior; what’s sad about that?). Of course people will cry (some will be tears of joy) when I’m dead. My place in their lives will be empty.

Image courtesy of babble.com
Image courtesy of babble.com

We don’t cry for the dead person. We weep for ourselves. Our loss is their gain. Grief isn’t an indulgence; it’s a necessary step in resuming our life – now changed in the absence of a vital player.

How would you like to be remembered when you’re gone? Have you ever been in a funeral-type service where the air crackled with joy rather than grief? If so, why was that the case?

Pet Follies

Yeah, this is a cat's life
Yeah, this is a cat’s life

Sometimes, I really just need to laugh. As much as I enjoy reading blog posts with thought-provoking information, there are days when that feels “ho-hum” because my brain is tired of processing facts.

Last week, I chuckled while reading two uproariously funny posts. In fact, you may have heard a hoot of laughter when this blogger told her cat and mouse story. I’m talking about Kristen Lamb and you can read the cat post here.

Usually I read blogs at lunch or after dinner. That Thursday, I saw the notification while I was eating breakfast, so I clicked on my WordPress app and began to devour it. (WARNING: don’t drink hot coffee while reading this.)

It made me think of my own cat stories. People understand that I prefer the company of my cat(s) over most other forms of company. I’ve already informed my husband that I will become a “cat lady” if he ever decides to precede me in death.

His response, “At least I’ll already be dead.” Well, if that’s what you want *stares daggers into his back.*

The cat we had when we were first married thought he was a supreme hunter. In fact, he was a house cat for the first two years of his life, and we had him declawed because it was more affordable than new furniture.

Without claws, this cat could climb trees and catch mice and birds. He even jumped on the back of the neighbor’s dog, riding it for a few seconds until he was sure it was leaving our property.

Back in the “leave the garage door ajar” days of cat care, we came home to the scene of an epic battle. Feathers floated in the air as the electric opener rolled back “door number one.”

My cats are awesome. They bring presents and leave them on the doormat. They don’t bring them in the house or put them in my bed. I praise them loudly and give them scratches under the chin when they bring a mouse or bird for me.

One morning, we were out working in the yard. I stepped out of the side door and saw my cat had something in his mouth. It was larger than a mouse, but it was black and furry.

It was a bat. I convinced him to drop it and proceeded to lean over and study it, wondering how he caught a bat in the morning. Don’t they only come out at night?

“Honey, look, Stache caught a bat!”

I lean in closer. The bat springs from its faint into my face.

Of course, I screamed and dodged, screamed and covered my head, and screamed. (Did I mention there was plenty of screaming? I’m not much of a screamer, but this was an exception.)

The cat ran away when the bat was moving, too. Yep. Of course, it could have been the blood-curdling screams that sent him crawling under the deck. I choose to believe it was the terrifying bat.

What did my husband do? Laugh. Of course, he patted my shoulder and said, “It’s gone” or some inane drivel meant to stop my hysteria. He thinks the bat flew into the side of the house and fell to the ground, stunned. The cat picked it up from there.

Note to self: a bat flying at your face is scarier than a hairy, eight-legged arachnid crawling on the bathroom counter.

What sort of funny pet stories do you have? If you got even a little chuckle from my story, I’d love to know about it.