Mr. Fear

It has been a little over two weeks since I started this blog. I was introduced to this on-line notebook by my new BFF, Jane. She started her own blog in January, and simultaneously put herself on Facebook. In a nine week time-span, she has made virtual friends all over the US and parts outside its borders. She has also reconnected with long lost friends and acquaintances. She is a regular reader of several other blogs and was the guest stop on a blog tour of a published author. She is encouraging me to follow her lead.

Yesterday, as I clicked on Jane’s blog and then followed the prompt to the tour, I could feel my heart pound a little faster and my blood pressure begin to rise. I was having a mini panic attack triggered by my old friend, fear. Mr. Fear has been my nemesis. He knows just how to push my insecure button, which causes my tail to tuck between my legs as I head for the hills. Mr. Fear knows that I have run away from making a commitment to writing several times over the past several decades, dating as far back as high school. He would love to see me hang it all up again, another notch in his belt. I have been tempted to let him take the prize once more, but then I remembered that when he showed up five years ago in my room on an Oncology unit, I sent HIM home packing. (If you let fear win when you are battling a life-threatening illness, the chances are good that your choice will be a fatal one.)

I did allow myself to be intimidated by all of the scary places that I will have to go in order to broaden my scope as a writer. I even had to shut off my computer, pick up a cloth and clean house for awhile. (Dust does not scare me one bit.) However, I eventually sat back down at my desk, turned the computer back on, and wrote. I even began re-working a story for a possible submission to a writing contest. Oh Mr. Fear, come out, come out wherever you are……………..

The Pack Mule

My son has a new bath-time ritual. Instead of putting his dirty laundry in the hamper himself, he hires our dog, Lexi, to do it for him. He gets undressed and then piles his clothes on her back. She does not try to shake off the unfamiliar items. She either stands still or walks slowly to wherever I am. She looks at me with this face, which says, ” There is something on my back. PLEASE get it off, now!” Our Lab, the pack mule. Two animals for the price of one.dsc002803

The Movie Critic

Just like any child, my son has progressed from diapers to briefs, from a crib to a big-boy-bed, and from pureed yummies in a jar to food in its original form, served on a plate. His most recent stage of development has been a switch from animated, G movies to those with PG and PG-13 ratings.  It has been a gradual process of sorts, but in the past year or so, his preference for the mature movie has really taken off.  I mentioned this “growth spurt” to a co-worker, who quickly jotted down a list of classic, must-see DVD”s. We carried the list with us to the public library and the local Blockbuster, where we frequently borrow or rent our evening entertainment. (Also known as “movie night” at our house.) Here are just a few of the big-boy movies my son has caught up on:

Big,Field of Dreams, Forrest Gump, Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, Rain Man, The Wizard of Oz, the Mission Impossible trio, the Indiana Jones series (this was in preparation of the fourth Indy flick that was released last year), and just about every James Bond film that has ever been released. (For the record, there are over 20 Bond movies. Junior only has a few that remain unseen, and so far, he prefers Pierce Brosnan in the title role.)

I am enjoying this new phase. Together, we have headed to the theater and taken in a few recent hits, such as Ironman, Hancock, and Marley & Me.  This is yet another reminder that our children do not remain little for very long. I am just grateful that he still wants to be seen with me in public!

The Girl in the Photo

I have a black-and-white photo hanging on a wall in my bedroom.  The young girl whose image is frozen in time is probably three or four years old. One might think that this child is my daughter, but the truth is, I don’t even know her name. The photo was taken in the summer of 1977 at Ball State University in Muncie, Indiana.  My friend, Peggy, and I were on campus participating in a week-long journalism workshop, where we focused on studying photography. Our days were filled with classroom instruction and lots of hands-on experience snapping photos. We then developed the fruits of our labor in a darkroom.

I shot the picture of the young maiden one evening as we passed by her home. She agreed to strike a pose for me, and in an instant, I captured the image that is framed on my wall. She is seated on the edge of her sandbox, clutching a cup or bowl of some kind, most likely a digging and scooping device. She has blond, Shirley Temple curly hair, and a lollipop is firmly implanted between her lips. She is wearing a white, girlie t-shirt and dark shorts, and her feet are housed in a pair of Stride Rites, with one shoelace conveniently untied. She sat perfectly still, looking directly into the lens of my Nikon.

One recent morning, as I lazed in bed soaking up the quiet, my eyes wandered to the photo. I began wondering what had become of my young portrait model. (She would be in her mid-thirties by now.) Did she have a happy childhood? Had she been a rebellious teenager? (In the photo, her eyes have a mischievous stare.) Did her young days spent growing up near a college campus inspire her to pursue a higher education, or did she choose some other career path? Is she someones wife or mother? I’ll never know. Wherever and whoever she is, I hope she is well.

Self-Induced Unemployment

In today’s economy, there is no one in their right mind who would quit their steady, paycheck-producing job, except me. (The operative words were “right mind.” There is nothing “right” about my mind.) I resigned from my part-time, administrative assistant position in December of 2008, with no hint of a job prospect on the horizon. Now, before you start thinking that I had totally lost my marbles, I do have a plan.

1. I have an alternate source of income, which covers the necessities-food, utilities, gasoline, medical expenses, my Walmart habit, etc.

2. I own my home and car.

3. I have no credit card debt. (Yes, you read that correctly, and I know that it is un-American.)

4. I have an emergency fund. (This makes Suze Orman proud.)

5. My son and I lead a pretty frugal lifestyle. We rarely dine out, have no cable TV and we eat Macaroni-and-Cheese every night. (Just kidding about the Mac & Cheese. That was a flashback to my college days.)

With #’s 1-5 in place, I have the freedom to take the time to figure out what I want to be when I grow up.  First, I would like to do some volunteer work in the mental health field, which will enable me to utilize my BA in Psychology. (I have to dust off the old diploma and get some current work experience on my resume.  I have been busy doing other things, like raising a child, surviving cancer and doing clerical work.) I am actively seeking a volunteer position that will hopefully, someday, turn into something permanent with pay. (I’ll let you know how that goes.)

Secondly, I am finally taking the time to do some writing. (This is also referred to as “pursuing your passion.”) I believe that most of us, if not all of us, would love to get paid to do something that doesn’t even feel like “work.” I am not being compensated for the writing I am currently doing-blogging, journaling, and putting the finishing touches on a short story-but that is okay. I am practicing (and practicing and practicing) for the real gig.

By the way, that job that I “quit” back in December? I am the ex-employee who just keeps showing up. (Actually, I have been summoned by the HR Manager to help out with various projects.)  I just punch in my code, enter the building and begin working. No one has called the cops-yet.

Attitude Adjustment

I began the day out of sorts.  I walked around in a kind of funk all morning.  My son came up with his own perception. He flatly commented on my “state” with his own diagnosis: “You are in a bad mood.” Thanks Dr. Freud.  I had a host of things that required my attention, which I begrudgingly attended to one by one, all the while yearning to go back to bed. I kept telling myself that I could talk myself out of my blue mood. (I believe that most of us can pick our mood flavor of the day, just like we select a breakfast cereal or a pint of Ben & Jerry’s.)

All morning, I listened to the voices whispering in my ears. The angel kept saying, “You can choose happy.” The devil answered, “Go back to bed, pull the covers over your head and hide.”

Miraculously, the sun emerged and the temps warmed. Change was in the air. I could feel my spirits lifting. The angelic voice had won.  Kind of scary that I hear voices, huh?

The Scent of a Woman

I take my dog, Lexi, for daily walks. We both look forward to these excursions. I am able to enjoy the great outdoors, and if the the sun is shining, receive a complimentary dose of Vitamin D. Lexi is able to burn off some excess energy, and take in all of the wonderful “deposits” left by other creatures, domestic and wild. I also use our daily constitutional as an opportunity to socialize Lexi.

We adopted our lovable Lab from a rescue nearly three years ago. I do not believe that Lexi had been abused by her previous owner, but she does have her “issues”.  She is afraid of loud noises, such as motorcycles and large trucks. She tries to chase after anything that has a need for speed-joggers, cyclists, or skate-boarders. She likes some humans, not others. Ditto for canines. (There is no predicting who is a friend and who is a foe.) I think that her insecurities are fear-based, the result of a lack of proper socialization as a youngster. I use our daily cardio workout as a way to familiarize Lexi with the outside world, and to enable her to conquer her demons.

Our training is slowly beginning to pay off. We both have made lots of friends as we continue to pound the pavement, day after day. Lexi is especially fond of two male dogs who live in our neighborhood. A few times a week, we head in the direction of this particular home. Lexi begins whining in anticipation of visiting with the boys, and possibly sneaking in a good butt-sniffing session. Often, the yard is devoid of the dogs. (Our walk time must not coincide with their potty break.) Lexi is disappointed, yet she never fails to let them know that she stopped by. Like clockwork, she faithfully squats in the yard and leaves them a little “liquid present.” I hope they appreciate the gift.


My errands today included a trip to the supermarket. In addition to stocking up on staples, such as bread, milk, cereal, salad-in-a-bag and toilet paper, my cart also included the following:

Jello Chocolate/Vanilla Swirls Pudding


Weight Watchers Chocolate Cake

Weight Watchers Chocolate Brownies

Chocolate Ice Cream Cups

Snack-size Snickers, Twix and 3 Musketeers

Notice a pattern here? A huge percentage of my grocery tab included items containing the by-product of the cocoa bean.  One look at the calendar and I knew why. It is PMS time. My monthly visitor is due in about five days. My son might say that a good old fashioned chocolate binge isn’t the only symptom of my impending monthly cycle. He claims that I get my “mean face” on.  Maybe,  I just need to increase my infusion of chocolate in an effort to ward off a personality change, she says as she pops a Hershey’s kiss into her mouth!

Accentuate the Positive

Earlier in the week, I had lots of running around to do-the gym, errands, doctor appointment, etc.  It seemed that everywhere I went, I had positive encounters with complete strangers.  I exchanged some friendly small talk with a woman in my Spinning class. I traded smiles and a “hello” with the woman pumping gas across from me. I shared grins with others as we passed in hallways or out on the street. The trend continued at home, as I received encouraging emails from family and friends.  Was all of this cheeriness the result of a warm, spring-like day? Possibly.

I would like to believe that there was more at play here than just nice weather.  In light of all the bad news that we are bombarded with everyday-rising unemployment, dips and crashes in the Stock Market, foreclosures, wars and more, people are choosing to remain upbeat, and have a need to connect with others-even strangers.

Positive ALWAYS trumps negative.

Junk Mail

My husband has been deceased for over seven years, yet he regularly receives mail to an address he never lived at, in a state he had only visited once or twice in his lifetime.  He receives magazine subscription offers, applications for credit cards, and my personal favorite, a request to extend the warranty on his car. What car?  Have times gotten so tough that companies are now soliciting business from the dearly departed?

I believe that my husband is in a better place. There is no Reader’s Digest, MasterCard or hybrid car where he is. There isn’t even a post office. The only “mail” that my husband and other spirits receive are the thoughts and prayers from us earth-bound beings. No postage required.