Sunday, November 10, 2013

A Beautiful Brain

I would like to introduce to all of you my friend and author Jim Moorman

I wrote a guest blog for Jim, "No Fairy Tale for Cleveland... Yet," a while back, and I'm excited that he is returning the favor. In his own words, Jim's mission is to entertain, inspire, and hopefully offer a few laughs along the way.

His mission is not unlike my own. I, also, try to end many of my stories on an upbeat tone, so this was right up my ally. I would say after reading this "Don't forget to stop and smell the roses." Or at least stop and appreciate their beauty and perhaps even snap a picture or two of them along the way.

A Beautiful Brain

I read recently that our brains process over 2000 bits of information every second. That’s right, every second. The article went on to say that with so much information being processed throughout our day, we tend to tune a lot of it out, naturally. She encouraged her readers to try and “retrain” their brain with a goal of selectively processing information that would have otherwise been tuned out. I was, of course, intrigued, and decided to investigate the possibility.

In order to “retrain” one’s brain there apparently has to be a very clear vocalized intention. The word intention is defined by Merriam Webster as, “a determination to act in a certain way: resolve.” So what was is it that I would be newly resolved to notice? I pondered for a while and then decided that, after what I took as a sign from the universe, I’d like to begin taking better notice of all the beauty in the world.

It seems simple, right? The world is, after all, a beautiful place, isn’t it? It turns out that, until last week, I apparently didn’t think it was. Like most, I progress through my day with my mind racing in a million directions, rarely ever conscious of my present moment. The little voice in my head is always clamoring on about this or that. He’s my little internal worrier. Who needs a call back, what bill needs to get paid, will I be able to find time to get to the gym, and is my daughter’s soccer game at ten or eleven? It goes on like this all day from the time I wake up until the time I go to bed. TV is a good mind number but all that does is really just give my brain a break from the chaos long enough to rev up again the next morning. This “voice” that lives in my brain is probably the one that keeps me alive, but he stresses the hell out of me in the process.

When I came to this realization, I immediately thought of Peter from the movie, “Office Space.” Peter was unhappy and decided to try hypnotherapy. During the session, his hypnotherapist had a heart attack and Peter never really snapped out of it. He walked around in a sort of haze, taking things a lot less serious and essentially becoming more present to his wants rather than the demands on him from others. He was suddenly very free.

While this is a Hollywood comedy (and a good one at that), the underlying concept is pretty awesome. If I can tell that little voice in my head to shut up, maybe, just maybe, I’ll create freedom to be able to choose on which of the 2000 bits of information my brain receives each second I’d like to focus.

So I decided to give it a go.  It’s been a couple weeks and I’ve had mixed, though improved results thus far. That little bastard voice of mine is a persistent son of a gun. When he rears up and I catch him, I simply say, “Thanks for sharing,” and refocus on the moment. When it happens, I’m amazed at what I see. I noticed that my plant, the one that sits on the ledge over my left shoulder every day for nine or so hours has been quite neglected. Brown leaves were plentiful and in need of pruning. The soil had dried out, and a there was a pencil sticking out of the middle of it. My guess is that the pencil was a makeshift stake used to keep the stem upright. Any string that once tethered them was long gone yet there the pencil stayed.

The “moments” didn’t stop there. I started to pay attention to all sorts of things I’d taken for granted only days before. The drive to work had always been a mental prep time for the day, usually wrought with me having pretend fights with people with whom I anticipated a conflict. If I was anticipating a call from my ex telling me I needed to sell something else for my daughter’s school, my fierce rebuttal would be well rehearsed. If my boss tried to suck me in to one of his projects for which I didn’t have time, my objection would not only be ready, but clearly articulated with a sound logic to support it. Then, boom, I’m in the parking garage.

This morning, when started my drive, I received an imaginary phone call from a customer who wanted to wiggle out of his contract because of something that had nothing to do with my service. I scolded the voice and did so aloud, thankful I was in the privacy of my car. It was only seconds after that I noticed the sunrise. It was happening in time with my commute and I was grateful for the opportunity to witness it. Grey clouds turned bright pink, then red. A song started playing I hadn’t heard in a long time. As I sat at the intersection of E.9th and Lakeside, I watched a dozen people walk by a homeless man as though he were a fixture and not a person. I didn’t condemn them or look down on them for walking by. I knew that they were likely slaves to their voices as they embarked upon their day. I felt worse for them than I did the homeless man and asked God for the strength to maintain my resolve in thinking and seeing the world differently.

Last night, after I grabbed my lottery ticket, I walked down to the beach. I never do that, but it was a nice night and I found myself wanting to look for something beautiful in the world at that moment. It was dark. It was chilly. But the light from the parking lot illuminated enough of the beach that I could see some amazing rock and branch formations. It was quiet. The water was black. There wasn’t another person down there nor was there one within sight. It was just me, alone. So when the Great Blue Herron flew down out of the black sky and stood ankle high in the lake about twenty feet from me, I didn’t quite know what to think. There he was just standing there all alone. He wasn’t fishing. He wasn’t walking. He was just standing, chilling out, seemingly with me. He looked over at me pretty intently and seemed content to just share the scene. I did the same and when he finally flew off after about five minutes, I thanked him for the company. It was a unique, cool moment that left me feeling good. I wouldn’t have had it had I not voiced my intention to do so.

Then I came home and read for a while instead of watching TV. I hopped on Facebook for a few and saw that my friend, Zach Walczak, a very talented photographer, had just uploaded some new images. I immediately checked them out, liked most if not all of them, and then, as I was about to navigate away from his page of albums, saw the cover image for an album of his called Sandy Ridge Reservation. I’m sure you can guess what it was.
Photo credit: Zach Walczak (
My lesson in all of this, you ask? Well, obviously, it’s about the grace and beauty of the Great Blue Herron and how overlooked this majestic creature is in my daily life.

No? Not the bird? Well then perhaps the exercise I’ve undertaken and will continue to master is the simple concept of getting out of my own head. It’s pretty amazing what’s there that we don’t see every day. I’m bummed that I’ve unknowing trained my brain to focus on largely negative things and have, in the process, missed a lot of life’s beauty.

Should you feel so inclined, I think you’d find it a worthwhile endeavor to (even if just for a week or two) retrain your brain and maybe see the world in a new, beautiful way – the way Zach sees it.
Photo credit: Zach Walczak (

Photo credit: Zach Walczak (

Photo credit: Zach Walczak (
Photo credit: Zach Walczak (
Photo credit: Zach Walczak (
Photo credit: Zach Walczak (
Photo credit: Zach Walczak (
Photo credit: Zach Walczak (
Photo credit: Zach Walczak (

Thursday, October 31, 2013

To Wear, or not to Wear: That is the Question

Halloween is upon us… hayrides, haunted houses, candy, pumpkin essence overload (not that I am complaining, you can ladle that gourdy goodness on anything and everything for me)... 
... and, of course, costumes.

Oh so many kinds of costumes.

Even “sexy” costumes. **GASP** Aka “naughty,” “slutty,” or “whorish.”

Hey now?!

You can hardly throw a broomstick in a costume shop without hitting an outfit branded with “sexy.” Simple supply and demand. So why does this topic get cauldrons boiling over?

Many eagerly board the black and orange Fashion Police paddy wagon, sirens blaring, “booooooo booooooo,” trolling for those they believe are crossing lines of decency this time of year. 

:: 311 in progress. Indecent exposure. Pirate’s booty… 
NOT a hidden treasure any longer. ::

:: We are in direct pursuit of a 288. 
Conduct not becoming of a naval officer. ::

:: Disturbance in the 3100 block of 13th Street...
of the Hocus Poke-us variety. ::

Make no mistake here, I am talking about ADULT costumes. 

I do not, 
would not, 
could not, 
condone any unsuitable costumes for children or young teens. 

Nor do I think exceedingly inappropriate costumes are amusing. If you are going for “shock factor” or need to accessorize your ensemble with a "Too Soon??!?" badge, it is probably just offensive or vulgar. 

Don’t be a “shit-head.” Yeah, that is a real a costume?! Oy.

I work in Finance and wear business attire at least 70% of the 356 days in a year. The remaining 30%, my wardrobe is supposed to abide by a long list of “age-appropriate” rules. Pfft. Yawn. May I have one day a year, one day, All Hallows Eve, when I can break out of it all; the corporate mold, the fashion laws and bylaws and slip into something that just might involve skin tight clothing, thigh highs or being scantily-clad? Pretty pretty pretty please with a push-up bra on top.

I’m certainly not asking, needing or wanting anyone’s approval.

Come autumn, many woman drink the orange kool-aid and use Halloween as an excuse opportunity to embrace all that is good about being "bad," and to that I say, “hooray for you.” Rock that “sexy” fill-in the blank. And for those who like to dress-up but enjoy a more conservative look, I shout “hell ya" for you, too. 

There are all kinds of pumpkins in the patches, even ones that never want to become jack-o-lanterns. Do we need to judge, label or dispatch the Fashion Po-Po out on those that might have an outlook unlike our own?

This time of the year always reminds me that it’s so much fun to have fun. Simple but true.

Life is short.

Smile more.

Laugh more.


Feel young again and have a blast!

After all, isn’t that what Halloween is all about?

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Yellow Flag on the Turf and on my “Date”

Football fans? Better be. No wusses allowed. Cleveland Browns fans? Eh, it’s rough, amiright? Gluttons for punishment, we are, but we can’t help ourselves. **Sigh**

Assuming anyone that remotely likes football has probably heard about or seen Brandon Weeden’s now notorious “worst pass ever thrown in the NFL” from the Browns' game last Sunday versus the Detroit Lions. “Worst?” Perhaps? At any rate, it is way up there in “boneheaded” passes, as even the quarterback, himself, described it.

Big thanks to Mr. Benny Hill for making this rendition some how tolerable, nay, even entertaining.  

Bad passes and bad football often go hand in hand when we bleed brown and orange. It is what it is. And bad “passes” and bad dates often go hand in hand for this Girlie. 

But never the twain shall meet, right? Au contraire mon ami.

Rewind two weeks. Browns are playing Thursday night… prime-time baby… awesome Cleveland weather (no, that’s not an oxymoron) and I am GO-ING. Woof! Woof!

A guy “friend” with season tickets asked me to go. Fourteenth row seats, might I add. He asked me to several “datey” kinda things, of which I declined every one due to the “date” nature of said invites. I had a boyfriend for a while and he seemed to respect that although he made it clear that if that situation changed he would like a “shot.” Well, I guess that target opened up… single… again.

I made it crystal before going to the game that I was “only interested in friendship.” Said it was mutual. Coolio.

Now mind you, this was the same guy that asked my opinion on some swim trunks a while back for a cruise he was going on. Sure. No problem. Imagine my surprise when I received 3 pictures of him modeling his beach attire. Let’s just say those pics did not get deposited into the Spank Bank.

The excitement to go to my first Thursday night game numbed my apprehension. I was honest and upfront with him.

Friends. Agreed. Nothing more to say than, "Here we go Brownies, here we go."

Pregame tailgating. Check. Food. Drinks. Check. Check. So far, so good.

Game time! 

I’ve been to a lot of Browns games, this by far ended up being the best game I have ever attended. The energy of an evening game. Exciting plays. And a big fat “W” at the end, 37 – 24 against the Bills.

Barring all that was dawgilicious about this amazing and exhilarating Browns win, my non-date was beginning to feel like anything but. Passes and penalties were abounding… not on the field… in the stands.

Underhand pass to my elbow. Flag on the play. False start.

Shovel pass to my shoulder. Flag on the play. Illegal motion.

Backhand pass to my lower back. Flag on the play. Holding.

Shuffle pass to my “I just want to be friends” handles. Not, not, not “love” handles. I was clear… friendship… only. Flag on the play. Illegal use of the hands.

Whoa, more passes flying around than I got with my last boyfriend.

I was lifted off my feet several times with a celebratory hug. Really, a high five would have sufficed. At one point the lift paralleled a pairs skating duo move. Dude. This is football and we are not on a date. Get with the program.

Not withstanding the barrage of yellow flags now at my feet, this seemingly very successful and intelligent man was loosing those attributes with each tick of the game clock.

Some girl stories being thrown in there amidst flags. Even going as far as showing me texts. Caveating his attempts to draw out my green-eyed monster by saying he doesn’t want me to be uncomfortable? Why would I care? I look quite lovely in green, but I won’t be donning my best emeralds or jades on your account. Sorry.

As if Mr. Handsy wasn’t bad enough, enter Mr. Cocky. Bragging. Flat out arguing with me about different subjects. Which, eh um, I was RIGHT. 100% correct. Beyond riled up, I just backed down and let that dog lie even though I wanted to BITE. Grrrrrr. I was not going to win that battle. Mr. Know-It-All knows it all. The Browns won, but I was not going to.

Several times whilst trying to add emphasis to a point, he’d end it with “How’s that?” Said as if he reverted back to Kindergarten. Excited because he was able to relate point “A” to point “B.” Connect the dots. So proud of himself, yet still needing the approval from the teacher. Yeah for you. Now it’s naptime. “How’s that?”

Coddling is always well received by a grown ass woman, as well, right? Wrong. Confident in our beliefs and opinions, we state them clearly. Yes? YES. For example, “I only want to be friends.” Damn, if I didn’t really mean that. And when I say “I like football,” damn if I really didn’t mean that, too. If one more time it was echoed “you really do like football,” in conjunction with a wild-eyed and bewildered look, someone was going to get chop blocked. Flag on the play. Penalty this time, my own. The grabbing and holding my hand while walking the downtown streets, certainly was a slick move by Mr. Handsy but also had a strong air of someone wanting to help me across the street. “Stop, Look and Listen before you cross the street.” Thank you Crossing Guard, but I mastered that lesson a long time ago. I got this. The fourth and long Hail Mary pass.

Cue the Benny Hill anthem again. That theme music is all too appropriate as this night and nonsense was approaching comedic levels. “Mah Na Na Na Na Na Na Na Na Na. Mah Na Na Na Na Na Na Na Na Na.” Great game. Terrible “date” that was never even a date to begin with.

So girls and guys out there alike, if someone tells you, “I only want to be friends.” Believe them. Seriously. Any interpretation or reading between the lines of that very simple and straightforward sentence, might get you a personal foul infraction of “Unsportsmanlike Conduct.”

How’s that?!?!

Let's go Brownies! Let's go! Woof! Woof! Let's keep the bad passes to a minimum, shall we?

Sunday, October 6, 2013

I’ve Come a Long Way Baby

Who had a birthday?

I had a birthday!

A mini-milestone of sorts, as I like to call it. 45. Yep. 45.

45 years old.

Or young??!

I passed through my 20’s and 30’s with little to no dread. Even 40. Came and went without incident. But 45? Pending anxiety rose deep inside of me, much like acid reflux or some other old-timers condition that is sure to be awaiting me in the very near future. Heartburn, that this, this year, just might be the year to change all of that. That the “happy” would be far removed from the “birthday.” That, perhaps, standing high on the top of the bell-curve of my forties would feel like “it’s all downhill from here Sista.”

I put my closest friends on alert that I wasn't sure if I will want to celebrate this year. Stay tuned girlfriends. But as the day drew closer, spending a night huddled up in my bed, possibly with a cat or two at my side, on the day of my birth sounded like a completely horrible idea. Whew.

Plans were made. The big day arrived and I was in a great and grateful mood. (Hint: “grateful” is a perfect catalyst to “great” things)

So now here I stand, 45, balancing on the peak of this decade. Being able to see clearly where I’ve been and what might be in store for me.

How’s the view from up here you ask? Let me tell you, the view is beautiful.

Your past does not predestine your future.

I look down the curve towards my past, where I've been, what I've done. The memories, while they are vivid in my mind; barely feel like they are my own any longer.

An evening many years ago, there was a single mother standing on one foot, the other foot freshly broken, making a box of Macaroni and Cheese for the gourmet square dinner of the day to feed her two young children. Her source of income threatened as she was a waitress, not enough reserve funds for even a gallon of milk, and an ex-husband who supported the race track or bookie rather than his children. This all equaled a fiscal emergency in that exceptionally meager household.

Over the orange glow from an imitation cheese product, that mother decided to enroll in college.

She did just that.

She put a tiny graduation cap on her rear view mirror to look at everyday for inspiration. “Treasure mapping.” The physical representation of want you want to achieve.

She went to school and worked.

She worked and went to school.

She broke another bone. This time a finger in 3 places.

Many trials and tribulations in those years… but…

On Mother’s Day 2001 she graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in Accounting, in cap and gown, with her two children cheering her on in the audience. Doesn't get more “Kodak Moment” than that.

Of course, that “she” is me. I've come a long way baby. I can now afford dairy products. And then some. ;)

I trudged up and through hard times. Only distant memories now.

At 45, looking at the present and the future, I am lucky to have so many people around me that I care and respect. Warms my heart but certainly is not heartburn.

I proclaimed rather publicly, at work, on Facebook, or to any poor soul that had the misfortune to stroll pass me, that I will dance 45 songs at my celebration that evening in honor of the years I have been blessed with. A tradition I hadn't heard of before, but jumped, all too eagerly, at the idea when it was suggested to me. Thank you Mike Fong!

I recommend everyone start this tradition on their birthday. Pick something FUN.

Milestones – shimilestones.

This day was incredible. I danced my 45 songs and then some. On the 45th song I was in the middle of a circle formed by some of my favorite people in the world. A high point and I kept on dancing.

At 45 years old plus 1 day, I laid in my bed, wondering if anyone got the license plate number of the truck that ran me over? Every muscle, ligament and tendon in my body sore. If your blood can hurt, that, too was aching. Feet, knees, hips screaming at me and my non-stop dancing shoes (which were 5-inch heels of course). Nearly 5 hours of dancing is a lot. Who knew?

The old-timers conditions I so feared had arrived already. One. Day. In.

Bengay or not, I've come a long way baby and I've enjoyed dancing through a lot of it.

Happy Happy Birthday to Me!

Thursday, May 30, 2013

A Letter to your Graduate

Graduations to the left of me… Graduations to the right of me.

‘Tis the season.

What a life-altering time it is for the graduates AND the parents.

When my son graduated from high school many years ago the school asked us to write letters that would be presented on their last day of school. What a cathartic experience it was for me. Essential even. Years later, it still resonates with me.

If you have a graduating child or will shortly, I really recommend doing this, and for that reason I’m sharing my letter.

To the Class of 2013

June 3, 2008


Being your mother has been and will always be one of the greatest joys and gifts in my life. On April 24th, 1990 at 1:33 p.m., you were born; a perfect, little baby boy with a pelt of thick black wavy hair, golden skin, and a soft cry, and from that moment on my life would never be the same. I held you for the first time, your first seconds of life, you stared inquisitively at me, one eye squinting, lips puckered, tongue sticking out a bit, and from that moment forth my heart would never be the same. Words cannot begin to express how much you have meant to me and mean to me, how proud I am of you, and how much I love you. 

Who could imagine the immense impact that a mere 5-pound bundle would come to have? I’m positive I’m not alone in that statement. You have touched not only me, but many with your kindness, your compassion, the strength in your beliefs, your sense of humor, and your smile; just to throw a few things out there. 

You were my happy-go-lucky boy, with mounds of curls adorning an adorably pudgy face and with a personality that really stopped people in their tracks. You spread your joy around wherever we went. And I do mean wherever. It was the norm for you to hug and kiss all who crossed your path – family members, creatures great and small, complete strangers, the greeter at Wal-Mart (no lie). You did not care who. It was this enduring kindness that had me anxious… often. I didn’t want to smother your innocence, but at the same time I wanted to keep you safe in a world that, well, isn’t all that safe. I’m quite certain you were the only student in the history of Safety Town to go off with the decoy/bait “stranger” twice. TWICE! Miraculously, you stayed out of harm's way during your “love fest” phase. ~In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.~ All that being said, your heart is one of your greatest attributes. Never lose your ability to see all the good in people. Side note:  let me take this opportunity to formally and in writing apologize for not cutting your hair sooner, those untamed heaps of curls and allowing you walk around looking much like Bozo the clown for far, far too long. I loved it at the time, but in looking back at photos, I honestly don’t know what I was thinking? I guess I’m wrong every once in a while (now you have that in writing, too). 

From before your sister was even born, you were an amazing big brother. That holds true even today. At doctor’s appointments you’d eagerly find her heartbeat and could usually find it faster than the doctor. After she was born, you were so very proud as you walked around the hospital telling everyone, “that’s my baby.” You’d feed her, watch her every second and if I couldn’t find you, chances are you’d have scaled the crib and was just chilling and hanging out with lil Sis. At any one of her ER visits (and there were many), your instinct to “take care” of her was always well beyond your years. I’m grateful to have witnessed such a natural sense of responsibility.

As I told you on your 18th birthday, and I say this through bittersweet tears, with great pride but also great sadness, I am truly proud of the man that you have become.  I could not be prouder of you. My sorrow only comes from the feeling that time has gone by much too quickly. It doesn’t seem remotely possible that 18 years have gone by since you first blessed this earth and my life and that you will be graduating from high school this very evening. I feel there is so much more I would like to do/have done with you . . . more vacations . . . more experiences . . . more memories . . . just plain and simply more.  Of course, there are many more good times to come, but now it is your turn to really take off.  Graduation is not the end; it's a new beginning.  Make me proud, Corbin, I know you will.  

I have learned over the years that time is one of our most precious commodities. Use your time wisely. Relish the good times. Surround yourself with people who make you happy, people who make you laugh, and people who encourage you to become a better person. Don’t spend valuable time with those that suffocate your hopes or ones that don’t help cultivate your dreams.  Don’t spend time with people who put you down or drag you down.

Experience all that life has to offer. Accept opportunities whenever you can.  Laugh often… until your eyes water and your sides hurt. Have lots of fun. Motherly caveat:  don’t be careless in your pursuit of fun, however. Be safe and cautious - don’t go near any balconies on spring break or the like – for the sake of my heart, don’t do any extreme sports, as I could not even handle watching you guys jump on the trampoline – and please, please, please don’t kiss the Wal-Mart greeter anymore. Really. Please. ;)

Find something to be happy about every single day. Happiness may not always come easily into your life, but there is always something you can be happy about, it is simply up to you to discover it. Always truly appreciate all that you already have and all of life’s blessings. You have always done this and I admire you for it. I always wished and it pains me that I couldn’t provide much more to both you and your sister. You never, not once, begrudged not having something and were always very appreciative and thankful for what you did have. You even told me once that we were rich (lol). Let me tell you right now, we are rich!!  Not rich financially, but we are rich in ways that cannot be obtained with any sum of money. And today, thanks to you, I feel especially “wealthy.”        
There’s a saying, “Find a job you love and you'll never have to work a day in your life.” I hope that you select a major and wish you a career so that you can emulate just that, and will never work a day in your life. Nevertheless, bumps on the road of life are to be expected, but you cannot let them ruin your days.  Often, the times we gain the most in knowledge and experience are the most difficult periods in life.  So if things get tough, remember with patience, persistence and hard work you can and will make it through. 

So, dear Son, my golden child ;) ,  thank you for 18 wonderful years (plus 40 days)! I’m expecting 18 more after that and 18 more after that! Thank you for all the beautiful memories! Thank you for in all of your 18 years never ceasing to make me laugh. Thank you for the hours and hours and hours of you sitting on my lap and reading to you, especially “Are you my Mother?” Maybe I’ll read it to you one more time before you leave for college, different voices and all, huh? But sans the whole lap thing because that’s just weird and you are too big anyways.  Thank you for the 10,000+ times we watched “101 Dalmatians” together (never thought I’d be thanking you for that). Thank you for all the endless endearing Corbin chatter (that I will miss incredibly). Thank you for screaming with me and hugging me when I bought your car. Thank you for the Mother’s Day when you gave me roses, the way you came around Grandma’s yard with them and gave them to me and kissed me, like my night in shining armor. Thank you for always trying to be protective of me. Thank you for all the spider killing. What am I going to do now?? You are my favorite son!  J

So on this day, Tuesday, June 3rd 2008, the things I will find to be happy about and let them fill my heart is . . . that you are my son . . . and that you are the greatest son I could possibly have wished for!   I Love you!  You will be missed deeply come September. Go Bucks!

Congratulations –    Class of 2008 


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