Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Practice What You Preach

Let’s get this out of the way. I don’t like to practice, and I rarely preach. I hate it when people preach to me, and I’m sure they would prefer I keep my preaching to myself. I don’t even like practicing. I never liked practicing—not my piano, not my script, not my letters, not my speeches. So, there you have it. The King said, “Too many notes,” when he heard Mozart. I say, “Too many experts,” when I hear someone trying  to convince me of something, particularly if I’m not interested in it.

In the past year, people have preached to me about topics ranging from dental care to eating lentils. When I see people climbing the steps to their soapboxes, I just want to wash my hands of the whole thing.

I remember when my teen-age daughter used to say that I yelled at her. I may have raised my voice once or twice, but the incidences to which she was referring were not among those. Her definition of “yelling” was contradicting anything she didn’t believe or like. It took me a long time to figure that out, as I had a screaming mother, and I swore I would never yell at my kids. Right.

So what do you preach? Can we define “preach?” I’m sure if we asked five people, we would get five different answers. Preaching, to me, is when someone figures I’m not smart enough to get it the first time, so they need to bang me over the head with it citing umpteen examples and repeating themselves in different tones of voice. I’m like the teenager. Once I hear the first word of the message, my ears close, and I shut down. The “listening” look is on my face, but my thoughts are on my next blog or my grocery list.

So what do you like to practice? Would you preach about it? Just askin’.

Monday, April 24, 2017

Today, I offer my readers a blog written by my savvy, reflective daughter, Katey McPherson. Katey’s words always resonate with me, not just because she’s my daughter but because she is in the mainstream (single  mother of four daughters working night and day as an advocate for young people who need guidance in the area of cyber safety).

As I reflect on her blog, I am comforted by the concept of the comma. Having spent a restless night worrying about issues that I had labeled with “periods,” I now try to reframe them with commas. How about you?

Commas. Periods. Semicolons. I never know when to use them. I love to write, so that makes,it, hard, to know, when, to, use, them.  😏
I had never thought punctuation had another meaning. It was simply a way to express yourself. It puts pizazz in something! It ends a sentence. It makes lists: It makes you question things?
Until Easter. We ventured to a new church for Easter. Not because I didn't want to go to our beloved church, but honestly, getting 4 kids ready for Easter service at 7:45 a.m. made me tired just thinking of it. So we went to Saturday night service at a church down the road. I was kind of bummed, feeling like I was almost sac religious. But then something awesome happened.
The pastor began to recount the meaning of Easter. The pain, the death, the healing and the rebirth and resurrection. He kept saying over and over, "This was not a period, this was a comma".
He went on to outline that when in life you think something is over, it's really just begun. When something tragic happens, it's easy to put a period on it. When something tough happens to you, outside of your control, we often automatically put a period on it. Why don't we choose the comma? Why is everything so final? What if we looked at tough things, unfair things, not what I wanted, not what I deserved, I really wanted that but didn't get it things, as commas instead of periods?
You see, he explained, out of pain comes suffering and then healing in some way shape or form. Out of heartbreak comes vulnerability. Out of desire comes passion, and none of those are final events.
So this week I tried it. I put a comma on it. And it totally changed the way I saw things. Nothing was final.
The red paint on the carpet? Comma.
The nasty email from someone I have never met? CAPITAL COMMA.
The news that someone I love is ill, comma. That's not a period, that's still a comma. She's not done. She's just in the middle of a gigantic effing comma.
It's never impossible until it's done.
Jenna,Tammy Nash Naylorrr), Skyler Erin Koffman Smithhh), Emma Ildi Laczko-Kerrrr)Heather O'Kelley Boersmaaa, all examples of my commas,
Big, gigantic, successful, full of grit and grace commas.
So instead of a ring, put a comma on it.
Dare you. Let me know how it goes,,,,,

Sunday, April 23, 2017

(notice number of people at beach--typical for our Sunday beach time--yup, all ours:)

Sunday “To Do” List: 4/23/17

  1. Go to Beach
  2. Walk Beach
  3. Sit on Beach
  4. Go to breakfast
  5. Shop at boutiques
  6. Go Home
  7. Take nap
  8. Get ready for dinner at favorite restaurant
  9. Go to dinner with friends
  10. Come home
  11. Put on Snuggy
  12. Go to sleep

Tough life:)

Saturday, April 22, 2017

     1100. ELEVEN HUNDRED. One thousand, one hundred. One one zero zero. Why should this number mean anything to anyone? Today is my 1100th blog post. Yup, Ladies and Gentlemen, I have written 1100 blogs in the past three years. Some of my friends say to me, “How on earth can you think of something to say, much less write about it every day of the week?” At my age, I have another 1100 times 20 (Lord willing) to deliver. The question is, “Who’s reading them?” 

     Three years ago, when I decided to take my writing online, as my books weren’t selling all that well (I was too humble and embarrassed to try to market them myself), I chose blogging as a safe place to express my thoughts. My essays started out humorous (thus the title, Laughter Effects), but as time has elapsed, topics have become more reflective, and, hopefully motivational and inspirational. 

     So who wants to listen to some septuagenarian deliver daily slice-o-life thoughts? Well, guess what? I only know of three or four of my “followers;” the rest are from foreign countries I cannot spell. That’s fine, though. I am not writing to be famous. I am writing because I love to write and because if I touch one life in some meaningful way, I have made a difference. Unfortunately (I think), blogspot doesn’t allow you to comment, so I don’t know if people love or ignore my rhetoric. N’importe. Sometimes, I write in French just to get my former 3000+ students to see if they can still understand “la belle langue.” 

    Every so often, a friend, or someone I’ve met and forgotten will write me an email and say, “I read your blog today, and it really moved me,” or “I read your blogs, and they always speak to me.” That’s all I need, folks. Just a kind comment every so often, and I’m energized to keep them coming.

     I try never to preach. I don’t like people telling me what to do, how to live my life, how I “should” think or feel. I throw out some personal experiences, and I ask some pointed questions. It’s up to the reader to decide how much to read and whether they want to reflect and/or act. I grew up learning to respect my elders. That didn’t mean I had to agree with them, but I always listened. Funny, some of the most poignant and motivating comments that have pushed me to action have come from complete strangers. A random statement if we are in the right place can have an amazing impact.  

     Today, I ask you a simple question: Whose life have you touched recently? Was it something you said? something you wrote? the way you reacted to something? Who touched your life in the past few months? Was it someone close or a total stranger? Was it something you read in the paper, in a book, heard on TV? The word, written or spoken, is a powerful tool. It can injure, inspire or crush. What do you want to do with yours? Take 11 seconds, and think about it.

73 going on 1101:)


Friday, April 21, 2017



     When was the last time you said, “Boy, oh boy, I can’t wait!” I can honestly say I feel that way about almost every morning of my life. Why? Because I am living my passion. If you dread tomorrow, or you find yourself not wanting to get up in the morning, ask yourself what you are doing that is making you feel this way? “Easy for you to say,” you might think. “You don’t have to deal with my issues and my circumstances.” True, I don’t. I do know, however, that we all endure cycles of living where no matter which way we turn, there are crises, problems, setbacks, detours. Somehow, however, we always seem to get through them. After all, we’ve had more than one, so that should tell us we endured the last. 

      My life has not been perfect, as some people claim theirs is. I am lucky in many ways, but most of what I have and have accomplished, I’ve worked my ass off for, and I’ve endured the roadblocks and emotional injuries that risking implies. I never stop risking, though. Why? Because if you don’t risk, you don’t grow. You stay in your little safe place, and you never experience the humility and growth of failure or taste the delicious flavor of success.

     I raised a family alone. I lost love. People I loved  have died. I have been ill and dealt with life-threatening disease. I know pain, sorrow and depression. I have wanted to crawl under my covers and never come out. Yes, I have bled on the pages of my existence, but as I am getting older way too fast, I am now finding myself clinging  to the healthy days, squeezing every ounce of joy I can from each one.

      How do I do this? I live my passion. What is yours? What do you do that time goes so fast, you look up and hours have passed? What do you do or want to do that gives you inner peace and/or exquisite joy? I chased happiness. Sometimes I caught some, and it lasted a little while. I live joy. Joy lasts. 

     I am dealing with some issues now that make me very anxious and even sad. Tears show up when I least expect them. Yet, still I can’t wait to get up in the morning and dive head first into my passion. I lose myself in it. I don’t think about the pain or sadness that tries to swallow me up. I am too busy jumping for joy tackling the next step of my passion.

      My passion is my purpose. Sometimes I label it “the curse of the capable,” but most often, I say prayers of gratitude to the Big Guy who has given me the tools to find it. Maybe you need to ask His help? Lately, my knees are swollen from being on them so much. Somehow, I always rise.

Thursday, April 20, 2017

    On our recent trip to North Carolina, a friend said to me, “You know when you get into your 70s, a lot of people spend much of their time in doctor’s offices.” Well, Lord knows, I didn’t want to hear that. Since we have moved to Florida, I have had more doctor’s appointments than I care to admit, most of which, however, were to register so we had them in place.

     Since our move, I have had the following medical issues:

1.  Bites on feet from stepping on fire ants
2.  Rash on hands from handling plants
3.  More bites on feet from stepping on fire ants in a different venue (wore shoes both times)
4.  Swollen knee (recurring with no pain or stiffness—just ugly)
5.  Flu (4 days - no flu shot)
6.  bronchial virus (epidemic proportions all over country)
7.  sun spot burned off neck (abusing sun when 12)
8.  dehydration sending me to 24 hours in ER

        None of these was life-threatening, even though some felt like it. They were all fluky things that could have happened at age 9, but because I am “of a certain age,” people label this as “getting old.” 

       There are other things I won’t mention, but suffice it to say that I may be growing old, but I am getting younger by the minute. The more dumb things that happen, and the more preventive measures these doctors prescribe, the sassier I become. I am just getting started, world. Don’t label me, dismiss me, or try to stop me. 

      I have already identified the title of the “Trilogy” I will write when I can’t walk or talk. I have already figured out the next one-woman show I will record when I no longer look good in my gown and bling. I will wear my stilettos to my grave. I will dance in them behind my walker, jump in them over my vaporizer and kick and scream in them when they come for me in the white coats.

    Nope, you can’t stop a Fifi (George, Emma, Kay). There is only one of me, and if you’re lucky, you will rub up against my spirit and take some of my energy for yourself.

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

     After a nine-day  whirlwind trip to North Carolina to perform my George Gershwin one-woman show, we arrived home deliciously exhausted yesterday afternoon. It is always such a relief to get home to your own house, your own bed, your own dust.

     I am happy to report that I am healthy, happy and whole despite a swollen knee which has since mostly repaired itself. Only two small bruises remain as a reminder of the schlepping up and down steps with gowns, music stand, suitcases and miscellaneous “won’t-fit-anywhere” stuff.

     Seeing our custom home nestled among the beautiful flowering azaleas and sitting stately on the green golf course was not as unsettling as I had anticipated. We no longer have a big custom home. We live in a “cookie-cutter” dwelling almost 800 square feet smaller than the beauty we left. The neighborhood doesn’t look as “upscale,” and the trees aren’t full grown. I was worried that we would return, and I would go into a “why-did-we-do-this” funk. But guess what? We walked into our little “jewel,” and I exclaimed, “Yes, I love you, little gem! You may be a cookie, but you’re the best one in the jar!”

     Doing a quick recovery from that first step, I plowed into the mail crawling out with a handful of bills from my ER visit last month. What I think was simply dehydration cost a small fortune. The good news is I am fine; the bad news—fine is expensive. No pity—just facts.

     My “to do” list looks like a book not a sheet, but it will all get done, and if not, life will go on. I am learning what’s most important:  my health and the health of those I love. After spending over two weeks in a sickbed before our trip, all I could think of was being well. Now that I’ve recovered, I am spending some moments thinking about how to stay that way. Sickness is random, and it doesn’t matter what a good citizen you are; you can get zapped at any time to any degree. 

      I awoke at 4:30 am. as usual, and I’m ready to embrace the day, the list and the challenges. I will squeeze every healthy minute from each day, and I will continue to put myself out there and stretch. Why? Because I can, and because that’s what I do. It’s not for everyone, but it’s what’s right for me. 

     What’s right for you? Are you stretching? Are you comparing? Are you celebrating your good health, your energy level, your ability to walk and talk? As the years fly by, I become more grounded in the real value of life:  not being afraid of it—embracing it with all its warts and wonders. Et vous?