Would My Dad Know Who I Am Now?

Father’s Day is a happy day for some, and a sad day for others.  And then there are those like me who are happy/sad.  My dad is gone, but I have a husband who is a wonderful father to my three boys. Now we celebrate the day spoiling him with presents, good food, ice cream, and miniature golf.

My father died when I was twenty.  I have spent more years living without him than with him.  The hardest part for me now is realizing he never got to know the grown up me.  He knew me as a child, his youngest daughter.  I was daddy’s little girl, but my heart aches when I remember how mean I was in my later teenage years.

He knew me when I was bratty and terribly moody.  I have one vivid memory of a sunday afternoon when he drove me back to nursing school. I don’t know what he said or did, but I clicked my tongue, rolled my eyes, and said something horrible to him.  Did he shush me, or lecture me about my behavior? No.  He just looked away and watched the numbers change on the elevator.

He died shortly after that. Why is it on Father’s Day I have to remember that stupid day?

If I had a magic bean that could grant me one day with my dad, would he know me when he saw me? Would he recognize my face, my voice? It’s been thirty-one years and I’m not who I once was. I’ve changed in so many ways.

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I would know him.  His deep brown eyes, his big, toothless smile.  He loved popcorn, country music, horseshoes, and staying up late to watch John Wayne and Kung-Fu movies.  He was most content reclining in his lawn chair in our backyard, smoking his lucky strikes while listening to the birds songs and the scratchy buzzing of the locusts.

I would know my father.  He is etched in my memory, cut into my heart. I’d recognize his voice, his walk, his whistling.  He’d smell of old spice and Wisk laundry detergent.

My tall, kind, patient, long-suffering, always there till he wasn’t, dad.

I think he would know me. I imagine him saying,

Sweetie, I saw it all.  Your career, your wedding.  I was there when your boys were babies – handsome kids. Will reminds me of myself when I was his age.  I saw them walk across the stage to get their diplomas.  I saw it all.  I’ve watched you all these years, and you have made me so proud. I love you.

Of course he would know me – he’s my dad. He would always know me.

I love you too dad. Miss you. XO

Me and my dad.
Me and my dad.

Originally published June 16, 2014

Turn Heads With These 10 Gramazing Words!

Awesome is an excellent word.  So is amazing. But don’t you agree they’re over used?

I had an awesome time.  That movie was amazing.  How ya doing?

Amazingly awesome.

I like to use the A words reverently, sparsely, when no other words will do.

Maybe you’d like some alternate words to use too?  Try These 10 gramazing stand-in words. They’re fun, and just as powerful. Sprinkle them in your writing or in your feedback to others.

Kryptonian You reached kryptonian heights with that speech!

Fly That car is so fly!

Kickass  Those are some kickass moves!

Wicked That sequel was wicked!

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Transcendent I am blown away by his transcendent writing.

Capital You did a capital job on the presentation!

Magnificent The hotel was simply magnificent!

Rawk That song is so rawk!

The honey pot The finale was the honey pot – a sweet ending to a perfect day.

Double rainbow brilliant Are you kidding me? That was double rainbow brilliant!

awesome

Why not try your hand at coming up with your own sparkling wordage to describe something really impressive?

How about exponentially excellent. Deluxe. The capstone. Over the top great. Phi Beta Kappa…

And when no other word will do,

go ahead and use awesome.

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3 Ways To Get Noticed

You can write a better than great blog post, but if you only get a handful of readers, are you ok with that? Of course not. The point of blogging is to share your opinions, experiences, and knowledge with the world.

With a potential 3 billion people audience and 150 million bloggers worldwide, getting people to read your content is a challenge.

It starts with an intriguing headline.

Ask a question. Solve a problem. State a claim. Make a list.

Your reader has clicked in, now you need to deliver what you promised.

BAM! Get to the point.

We all scroll and skim. Trim the fat and get to the meat or we are off to the next headline before you can say, Tic-Tac Sir?

Dumb-and-Dumber

Next,

Give me eye candy.

Break up your text with cool-with-attitude pictures and images that invoke my emotions and make me want to stay awhile.

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Then,

Teach me.

Life-hack me. Tell me something I didn’t know. Give me a short cut or a brilliantly unique perspective.

Make me come away with thinking, finally, after so much digital time suck, I have found you.

There you are!
There you are!

Plus!

Give me a bonus.

Something I wasn’t expecting whether it be a tip on free stock photos or a link to Starbucks secret menu.

Most of us bloggers are small satellites in cyberspace.

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To get noticed don’t be run-of-the-mill average. Stand out even once, and your audience will keep coming back for more.

6 Places I Find Inspiration for Writing

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All the top social media blogs I read tell me where to find ideas for hot blogging content.  So off I go browsing Amazon’s top sellers for my niche, check out Drudge, and see what’s trending on Twitter.  Next stop: Copyblogger and time suck some more, and then I notice the clock has tick-tocked to dinner hour and I’ve got nothing written.

What is wrong with me? Do I have writer’s block? Am I a procrastinator? Or am I trying too hard and discouraged because I’m such a teensy fish in a multitudinous ocean.

If I don’t come up with a killer headline, or a list of how-to’s and secrets that will change your life – I am DOOMED.  You will leave me to read a better scripted blog post by a social media rock star who has the content that delivers what YOU want.

The influencers’ advice isn’t working for me.

Truth? I want to write what I want to write in the way that I write.  I know there are at least three people who read my blog and come back faithfully. Thousands would be cool. But three is enough. Instead of being a me-too writer I’m a come-alive writer.  And I will write for three.

Where I Find Inspiration for Writing:

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  • Conversations: I talk to people and listen with the intent to learn.  I find out who they are, what they’ve been through, what they like, what their dreams and aspirations are. I ask, “Tell me your story.”  That’s the best content you are ever going to find.  Real life, real people.
  • Museums: I took the above picture at the Rochester MAG one sunday afternoon.  That’s my son off to the side listening to the pipe organ concert.  It was transcendent, holy.  I was moved to reflect and consider the lilies.  As I stroll the museum halls I take notes of ideas, my feelings, and memories invoked by a work of art.
  • Nature: It is vital to be quiet and escape from the constant connection to the digital world.  Whether it be sitting on a hillside, playing in the snow, walking through the woods – some of my best writing comes from being still and listening to the heartbeat of nature.
  • Family: Past, present, and future. Aunts, uncles, sisters, brothers, parents, grandparents, pets. I read old letters or journals from those who have passed. I talk to my boys and ask about their day.  They are my muse. I’m blown away when they tell me they liked what I wrote. I’m euphoric when I see them write, read their words, and consider maybe I inspired them, just a little?
  • Music: I will often listen to an album and either write by hand or type on a blank page unedited, freely, continuously until I’m satisfied I’ve emptied my creative bucket.
  • Experience: Crazy things have happened to me. I have cheated death. I have teetered on the edge of cliffs and have had rocks thrown at me. I could fill a thousand journals with knowledge, wisdom, thoughts, fears, truth.

There is inspiration everywhere, we just have to keep the internal critic away and use whatever inspires us.

Here’s a nugget of truth: write what you like, in your voice.  Don’t try to fit the mold, break the mold. And in the end, be you. The world wants to hear what you have to say.

Don’t ask what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive, and go do it. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.

Howard Thurman

Celebrating Despite The Pain

This morning I am groggy from a poor night’s sleep.  My knee is aching, and I have procrastinated my holiday baking. I should be sprinkling chocolate jimmies and rainbow dust on my crisp on the edges soft in the center melt in your mouth buttery sugar cookies.

Yet here I sit. Bemoaning.  Maybe you understand?  If not you, then no doubt there is someone in your life who has pain – whether it be physical, mental, or the anguish of loss.  We’ve seen the sorrowed faces in the media- the first Christmas is the hardest.

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To the suffering, the pained, the ones who face uncertain times…

Even if it’s only for today, for tomorrow. Let’s not allow pain to overshadow the beauty of celebrations.  Push through and consider Maya Angelou’s words,

maya angelou

My house is quiet.  I see the angels on the mantel, the garland flowing across and the twinkling white lights.  Silent Night is playing in the distance.

We need to smile, to celebrate. To bake cookies, to watch It’s a Wonderful Life. To hold the hand of the person we are with and find  joy amidst the pain.

I’m thinking of you today, and tomorrow, and the next.  Don’t be afraid.  Live life. Have pain, but don’t be the pain. There is joy here. You can celebrate.  You must celebrate.

Yes I will rise
Out of these ashes rise
From this trouble I have found
And this rubble on the ground
I will rise
Cause He who is in me
Is greater than I will ever be
And I will rise

Sometimes my heart is on the ground
And hope is nowhere to be found
Love is a figment I once knew
And yet I hold on to what I know is true

Well I keep on coming to this place
That I don’t know quite how to face
So I lay down my life in hopes to die
That somehow I might rise

Yes I will rise
Out of these ashes rise
From this trouble I have found
And this rubble on the ground
I will rise
Cause He who is in me
Is greater than I will ever be
And I will rise

Close your eyes, close your eyes with me tonight.  Let us listen to His call.  Let us listen to the Father’s call. ‘Cause His heart, yes it is beating. His heart is beating tonight.

Yes His heart is beating for you tonight.

Amen? Yeah, Amen.

Be a Halloween Hero: Give a Top 10 Candy

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Halloween has got to be one of the best days ever – Ring a door bell, say the magic words and ding-ding-ding – candy is delivered into your plastic pumpkin bucket.  I love Halloween! The sound of rustling leaves, the chatter of kids and parents, giggles, and an occasional shriek or “boo”.  For us, it’s never been about spooks and ghouls, it’s always been about the candy.  The goal: get out there and get it because it’s the Willy Wonka jackpot of chocolates,  sweet n’ sours, and everything wonderful!

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My fellow Americans, I charge you to be generous and give the kiddos what they want.  They have put weeks into planning and making costumes, will endure hot and sticky masks and itchy make-up, and have rehearsed their Trick-or Treats and Thank You’s.  So don’t be a tightwad or Halloween scrooge.  Don’t give out any of this going right into the garbage crap:

No list

If you want to see happy monsters, be a superstar and give out these Top 10 All-Time-Sure-to-Please-Favorite candy:

  1. Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups
  2. M&M’s (Peanut Butter or Pretzel are wicked!)
  3. Snickers
  4. Kit Kats
  5. Twix Bars
  6. Butterfingers
  7. Sour Patch Kids
  8. Skittles
  9. Airheads (regulation size)
  10. Almond Joy

Remember, NO fun size or mini anything.  If you are going to give mini’s then let them take a HANDFUL.  Anything less and you might as well turn your lights off and go to bed.

P1150595Any other not to be missed candy suggestions you want to include? Add a comment.

Puppy Dreams

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I love to watch my dog sleep.  He curls up on our couch or his fluffy doggy bed, head and paws touching, tail tucked close to his body and falls asleep in what seems like seconds.  Soon I hear little woof-woofs while his nose twitches and paws move gently as if running through air. What is he dreaming about? Is he chasing the bunny, playing at the dog park, or running to greet me?  Or, is his puppy dreaming nothing more than sleep reflexes as his brain does what all dogs brains do when they sleep.

He wakes, pops his head up and looks around and our eyes meet.  I think he is confused for only a moment wondering, how did I get here?  Wasn’t I running with the deer in the woods, birds singing, squirrels chattering. I came so close to the edge of the forest where I have never been before.

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His head drops back down and he sighs deeply, sometimes he yawns, then he slop slops his mouth and swallows.  Maybe his dream gave him a juicy steak or his most revered treat – a hot dog.  Whatever may have happened, or not happened, he is off to sleep again just-like-that.

I love to listen to my dog sleep. I laugh when he sleep-barks and am contented by the sound of his rhythmic breathing.  I have to resist the pull to snuggle him close, to stroke his back, scratch behind his ear, and lay my head on his chest.  The boom boom of his heart moves me and the single lick to my face he grants is a sweet gift. His gift tells me everything is alright, I am loved, I am safe.

I love him.  My beautiful, gentle, boy is asleep, his paws flutter and I can’t help but watch him.
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Never Hire This Guy to Do Your Yard Work

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Three things I hate to do: ironing, painting, and weeding. Ironing: solved. I buy wrinkle-free no fuss clothes.

Painting: taken care of. My husband loves to do it and agrees that I should stay away from a paint brush.  My hatred for the task is blatant. I leave unsightly drip marks, missed spots, and I ruin brushes by dipping them too far in the paint can.  He’s fired me from painting and it’s fine with me.  I thank Shel Silverstein for his help in getting me out of that chore.

If you have to dry the dishes 
(Such an awful boring chore)
If you have to dry the dishes
(‘Stead of going to the store)
If you have to dry the dishes
And you drop one on the floor
Maybe they won’t let you
Dry the dishes anymore

I got out of weeding for a long while because my mom liked to do it.  Pull this, whack that, trim here, get every green thing out till all that is left is thinned out perennials and black dirt. She considered weeding an extreme sport and went off the deep end with what should be plucked and what should not.  We had no choice but to let her go as chief gardener.  We’ve given her sock sorting instead.  It’s ok that I have to do them over after she leaves.  Sorting for a ten feet family can be tricky.

Weeding is now my headache.  Either I suck it up and do it, or I allow the vegetation to creep over my beautiful stone pathways,

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crawl up my siding, and choke to death my lilies, roses, and various other flowers the owners before me lovingly planted and nurtured.

Ribbet collage

My yard is too big for me to handle, so I hired this guy. He said he’d work for chicken.

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Huge mistake. This is his idea of pulling up weeds:

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He gets an A for enthusiasm, stamina, and he’s freakin’ adorable, but his technique was slipshod, messy. All I asked was for a little help pulling up some weeds, and he goes berserker on me. Dirt flying willy nilly, ripping through roots with his teeth, digging down deep all while making this high pitched ear piercing sound.

BERSERKER MODE
BERSERKER MODE

I’ve learned my lesson.  If you want a job done right, don’t hire your mom or your dog. Hire a professional.

After receiving his chicken wages and a long overdue bath, he settles in for a well earned nap. Take another look at my first picture. Can you spy Frodo doing his “yard” work?

P1150011How about you, have you regretted hiring a non-professional?  I’d love to hear about it in the comments….

5 Sure Signs of an Egomaniac: It’s All About Selfie

Big EgoWhy do some people have such huge egos? You see it all the time in celebrities, the fifteen-minute famers, the co-worker who takes credit for everything (even your ideas), and the friend who is just too into herself. Does she really think I want to see yet one more selfie?

Here’s the thing, a big ego is seriously stupid and even dangerous.

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5 Sure Signs of an Ego-maniac:

  • You bask in recognition and live for the cheers of your audience. You crave the limelight.
  • You think you know everything and and never admit mistakes, never apologize.
  • You take credit for other people’s ideas and work.
  • Your business card or signature list every degree, credential, or certification you have achieved and then some.
  • Conversations are one sided: all you talk about is you. You have no interest in learning about others.

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You, You, You, You. You are the center of the universe.

How long can an ego run rampant before it destroys relationships, careers, businesses, or kills someone? Here’s the fix: quit feeding the maniac’s ego.  Just like a toddler’s temper tantrum, if you ignore it, it will eventually stop.

Whether superstar, nobel prize winner, or the guy sitting next to you on the plane, we are all the same inside, and trust me, I have seen plenty of people’s insides. We are guts, blood, waste, bone, and skin. We have a brain, a soul, and a personality.  We all have unique talents, feelings, dreams, and fears.

My guess is the egomaniacs aren’t reading this.  But, if you are on the precipice of egomania land, do an about face and start moving as fast as you can.  Life is way too short to be lived for selfie.

P1100285Pop the overinflated ego balloon and come back down to earth. Life is richer and the air is cleaner.

A healthy ego is good, but keep it in check. Too much and it gets to be like dust in the eyes – you can’t see anything until you clear it away.

Is The Worst of Times The Best of Times?

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of light, it was the season of darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us….Charles Dickens

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Certainly you’ve heard that opening line from Dickens’ A Tale of Two Cities.  I didn’t realize the first sentence was all the above and a bit more that I left off.  Wordy, but powerful, and these twelve words, unforgettable.

Dickens

Life is ups and downs. Joy and sadness. Wealth and poverty.

Where are you, and more importantly, how are you reacting to your circumstances? Are you sitting pretty on a pot of gold, enjoying a lucrative career, fame?  Do you have uninterrupted success and everything I dream of? My friend, be wary of the breezy, prosperous times.  Enjoy them, but don’t forget these cliché reminders: keep it real, stay humble or stumble, pride comes before a fall, keep both feet on the ground, at the top we all sit on our bottoms, and everyone has to use the bathroom. I wanted to say we all poop but I thought that wasn’t very classy.

If your life is rough, if you are deep in some hole or walking through one fire after another, don’t give up. It is often in the midst of despair that life takes on new essence. We discover who we are and learn we can endure, grow, persevere.  We find meaning in little things and embrace the preciousness of the small, good things that we do have. Thank God for the worst of times.  The worst of times are the best of times.

Another Charles once said,

If God should always rock us in the cradle of prosperity; if we were always dandled on the knees of fortune; if we had not some stain on the alabaster pillar; if there were not a few clouds in the sky; if we had not some bitter drops in the wine of this life, we should become intoxicated with pleasure, we should dream “we stand;” and stand we should, but it would be upon a pinnacle; like the man asleep upon the mast, each moment we should be in jeopardy. We bless God, then, for our afflictions; we thank him for our changes; we extol his name for losses of property; for we feel that had he not chastened us thus, we might have become too secure. Continued worldly prosperity is a fiery trial. Charles Spurgeon

The worst of times can be the best of times.  I never did finish A Tale of Two Cities, but I sense if I embrace the opening line, I have a good understanding of the story.  It’s life.

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