Monday, July 29, 2013


Once upon a time

I can hardly remember the cheerleader uniform of my Catholic elementary/middle school other than pleats in the skirt, the colors white and green, and the school’s monogram on the vest. The girls who wore them were short and had muscular legs used to pound the floors of the basketball court as they clapped rhythmically, jumped, and sang or shouted the cheers. For a brief time, I wanted to be one of them, but never “tried out.” Already 5’5” and still growing, I couldn’t picture my long, skinny body fitting in with the blossoming, athletic girls, nor did I, realistically, have the stage presence to perform. My cheerleading aspiration died after that 5th grade year, never to be resurrected.

During my early teens, I began to notice the older version of a cheerleader. Watching football with my stepfather introduced me to the Dallas Cowboys’ cheerleaders. There were no pleated skirts.

At my college, the cheerleaders donned the pleated skirts. With a little bumping here and there between the athletic stunts, the pleats got their share of attention… or that that was under the pleats.

By the time I was well into my adult years, I’d decided that if I ever had a daughter, I would not encourage cheerleading, i.e. dissuade her from it. It seemed like entertainment for the guys; especially the professional sports’ cheerleaders.

Fast forward to the present.

I still see titillating entertainment as the reason for professional cheerleaders, which does not appeal to me; however, I respect the rights of the women who choose to perform; which prompts the question, “Are they cheerleaders?”  In a 2010 New York Times interview, John Mara, co-owner of the NY Giants, said, “Philosophically we have always had issues with sending scantily clad women out on the field to entertain our fans.  It's just not part of our philosophy."

As for young girls basically doing sideline cheering—I think they’re cute. High school and college girls/young women have added more gymnastics to their routines, along with more boys/young men, therefore creating a little interest for me if I just happen to be at a sports event.  The heavy makeup, bare midriffs, and glamorous attire—I’ve become indifferent to it. The look fits in with the clothing that kids wear nowadays.

A newfound opinion, though, stems from competitive cheering. I’ve heard a lot about it and seen bits of it on TV, by chance. I can see myself in the audience at a competition.

The whole cheerleader thought entered my mind when I read Stephanie’s post on competitive cheering. There is a picture of her daughter’s team holding their arms up to catch four girls who are rocketed 15 feet or so in the air, waiting to be caught.  Scary.

Regardless of my opinions on various types of cheerleaders, I give all of them credit for their hard work and their ability to dedicate themselves to their specific talents.

What are your thoughts about cheerleaders and cheerleading?

Monday, July 22, 2013

Noise - starring LOUD TV Commercials

Thirteen year old Girl #3 and I are at the pediatrician’s office sitting in an examination room waiting for the doctor. It is an especially busy day and all the exams rooms are occupied. Lots of babies are here and we hear a little crying. As more time passes, we realize that we are in the middle of a crescendo of different types of crying, peaking with full blown banshee wailing.

My mindset is: There is nothing I can do about it, so I’m focusing on being relaxed and attempting to transform the crying to white noise.  Girl #3 is sitting on the exam table, her gangly arms and legs fidgeting, nose flaring, and eyes squinting—revealing her annoyance. This is a lesson in reality for her. Haha.

A while back, I wrote about a specific noise—loud music—prompted by an experience in a bloodmobile where I had to listen to it while donating blood. I thought of other places where the music is loud, too, like weddings. Most of you who responded, related, and even made me aware of a condition called tinnitus which is “ringing in the ears.”

Noise is everywhere. Fortunately, I don’t have a physical aversion to it; HOWEVER, there are times when I just.don’

My list of the 10 most undesired noise-makers:

10. blaring music while “on hold” on the phone
9. a TV left on in my house when no one’s watching it
8. TV shows in a public waiting room (unless it’s a rare exception, i.e. something I like)
 7. my girls fighting about debating an issue
6. someone singing or whistling when I’m very irritable hungry
 (Strangely, when “Layla the dog” barks, that doesn’t bother me. Hmmm…)
5. people who talk incessantly but don’t listen
4. loud obnoxious people (loud funny people are okay)
 3. one sided conversation into a cell phone
2. any music so loud that I can barely hear myself talk, let alone, the person I’m screaming at talking to
And currently, #1:
LOUD TV commercials!

I know—This was supposed to be fixed with the Commercial Advertisement Loudness Mitigation (CALM) Act, rules that Congress directed the FCC to establish which went into effect on December 13, 2012; however, my sensitivities are still detecting that undesired noise. Could it be me? Usually, my TV time is when I’m in the kitchen.  Let me think—are the commercials more bothersome when other noises are happening, too;  like the dishwasher, the cooktop fan, the oven fan, excited talking children, phones buzzing and ringing, running water from the sink faucet, etc? Or, is it when I’m enjoying a quiet, quick meal at the countertop while catching a little low volume TV? I think it’s both.

While watching the local news recently, when they broke for a commercial (or was it when they came back from a commercial?), even their “We’ll be back” or “We’re back” jingle stunned me. There was no time to mute or turn down the volume.

Anyway, none if this is life altering for me; just doing some mild venting.

What I “do” like to hear: birds chirping, leaves rustling in the wind, ocean waves pounding the sand, children laughing, music I choose to hear, the voices of my family when we’re chatting… peaceful stuff.

What’s on your “undesired noise” list? How about your “pleasant to hear” list?

Image from

Monday, July 15, 2013

Time to Move On

I ran into a friend who I hadn’t seen in a while. We chatted five minutes, trying to cover major happenings in our lives, one of which was her status as a teacher. “I don’t teach anymore,” she said, “It was time to move on.”

During the last year, I’ve been struggling with a decision—nothing major—nevertheless, difficult. It’s my horseback riding lessons. It’ll be five years this September since I first climbed up onto Echo, a lean horse whose height may be 17 hands. Looking down at the ground gave me a feeling of being SO high up and I was slightly nervous; however, before the lesson was over, I knew I’d be back.

Being on the farm gives me a temporary transformation from life that is surrounded by computers, dishes, cars, houses, buildings and highways, to that of a farm house, barns, pasture, woods and animals. Many times I have rushed to get there, but sometime between grooming and tacking the horse, and mounting it, tranquility enters my body. Starting in the two-point position, I stretch my legs and torso as my horse’s gait is a leisurely walk. Soon, the gait changes to a trot in the ring where I have been taught to ride on the correct diagonal. Further in the lesson, I canter. If the mulch footing is not wet from rain, I do some jumping. And then there are days when we skip all of that and head into the woods for a trail ride.

Is it time to give it up and move on?

Getting dressed in my riding “blue jeans,” struggling with my half chaps, cutting carrots for horse treats, gathering my helmet, sunglasses, water bottle, the check book, and jacket and gloves if it’s winter, takes time. Then there’s the 23 minute ride, the lesson, playing with the animals, and the ride back—two to two and half hours of my day. My lesson is only once a week (though rain and other things limit me to 3 times a month), but still, lately it feels like it takes a major chunk of time away from the long list of other things to do. I’m torn between staying and leaving.

Why? Because I can become a better rider and because I enjoy it? Yes. But will I ever feel that it’s complete; that there is nothing more to learn? No.

This little story and example can represent most things in life. How long do you stay at the same job? Do you move from your house to a retirement community or assisted living? Do you send your adult children out into the world on their own? Do you let go of the person you love or used to love because he or she is making your life miserable? Do you stop breastfeeding your baby or toddler?

Why is it hard to make changes? Not all changes, of course, but so many. Nostalgia perhaps; or fear? Nostalgia is not a problem for me, as I tend to appreciate much of my past, but want to grow and experience the mystery of my future. Fear? Hmmm… What happens if I quit my lessons? Nothing (convincing myself), because if I miss it terribly, I take lessons again. Right?
Everything changes—whether you make the decision to move on or the decision is made for you. And much of the time, it’s replaced with something just as satisfying.

Do you have a decision to make about something that’s hanging over your head? Is it time to move on? Care to share?

Other thoughts?

Below are the lyrics to a song that I seldom hear nowadays, but one that I love hearing when I do. The composer is Bernard Ighner and it has been recorded by a several artists—George Benson and Barbra Streisand being two of them.

"Everything Must Change"

Everything must change
Nothing stays the same
Everyone must change
No one stays the same

The young become the old
And mysteries do unfold
Cause that's the way of time
Nothing and no one goes unchanged

There are not many things in life
You can be sure of
Except rain comes from the clouds
Sun lights up the sky
And hummingbirds do fly

Winter turns to spring
A wounded heart will heal
But never much too soon
Yes everything must change

The young become the old
And mysteries do unfold
Cause that's the way of time
Nothing and no one goes unchanged

There are not many things in life
You can be sure of
Except rain comes from the clouds
Sun lights up the sky
And butterflies do fly

Rain comes from the clouds
Sun lights up the sky
And music
And music
Makes me cry

Monday, July 8, 2013

Nothing is Simple

Baby Boomers in particular, though hardly excluding others—How ya doin’ with managing your finances and household? I’m in the midst of purging mounds of paper that have been stuffed in manila folders in hanging files for years. Before marriage, this wasn’t a big deal. My life fit neatly in a rolling file cabinet, accessible with a few flicks of my fingers through the labeled tabs to find what I needed. Receipts, instruction manuals, tax documents, credit card statements, bank account statements, etc.--not a problem.

However... NOW… it’s a different story. Marriage doubled all the aforementioned stuff because Darling Husband had his stuff and a different filing system, I might add, equaling “work” for me as the household administrator. Finally, after a year or two of marriage, I got the blending and purging and balancing and filing under control… until the babies came along… BUT, Repo Man has never visited and we’ve always had heat, air conditioning, and water… except that time when I was pregnant with Girl #2 and turned on the faucet and nothing came out.

I assume having the administrator job is not an issue for some of you, but for those of us who had parents born or raised during the Great Depression who had to work very hard as adults to own a house and car, we were taught to save and file… just in case. Problem is: We have several times the amount of accounts, memberships and material things that our parents had. Gone are the days when you pulled out your ledger on pay day and wrote 4 or 5 checks for the monthly bills; which brings me to the current.

My menopausal brain is on overload!

After clearing my office/den of everything to refurnish, I refuse to bring everything back into it. Sooo… I’m working. What I have learned is that over the years, the filing was happening, but no purging. And because EVERYBODY and his mother have a web site nowadays, I can trash or recycle a lot of the paper.

You might ask, “Why not toss “all” of the paper?”

“Well, because when I need to see what my stock is doing or why my Target bill is so high, it’s easier to pull the paper from the file than to go through my password list, find the password among 100 user names and passwords, type it in, be told that something is incorrect, try it 2 more times, get told that it is now deactivated, go to one of my numerous file boxes, find the hanging file containing the specific manila folder, locate the 800  number, call the company, have a new password sent to my email inbox, go back to the web site, change the temporary password to another password (because you can’t use the old one), scratch through the old password on my password list, and write the new one down.”

I have passwords for everything from financial institutions to phone services to grocery stores to retail stores to libraries to social media to charities to medical services to eBay to utility providers to email accounts, and more. Plus, I have a list of my children’s passwords and my mother’s.

Passwords to online access can be a pain at times… but, I still like it.

Another system that has caused a slight annoyance recently is my online banking. Because of a bank merger or whatever, my bank forced us recommended that we open a new checking account and decided that we wouldn’t get a monthly statement. “Fine,” I thought, “The statement is online;” until I noticed that it doesn’t name the payee of the checks we’ve written! The only way that I can see who we wrote a check to is to individually click on a transaction on the account screen that pulls up “one” check image. All other types of transactions (debits, credits) name the payee. Hmmm…Tax time is going to be a bear as I click on each check image trying to find that check to the Red Cross. Do you think this is their way of saying, “Stop writing checks.” So now I’m back to recording the check in a “paper” check register until we use our debit card for EVERYTHING.

Online banking can be a pain at times… but, I still like it.

Got any gift cards under the junk in the kitchen junk drawer? I found a few. I blame it on my children who don’t know the value of a dollar. Anyway, thankfully, most gift cards have no expiration, however, when I went online to find the value of one of them, it was $0. Hmmm… A maintenance fee of $2.50 per month (What are they maintaining?) charged after a year of inactivity quickly wiped out one of the kids’ Christmas gifts. Nice that they have a web site for checking balances, however, a system to email the gift card holder that they are getting ready to take the money away would be nice, too.

Gift cards can be a pain at times… but I still REALLY like them.

And while on the subject of kitchen junk drawers, one of mine is actually a semi-organized coupon drawer with a space for take-out menus, one for retail store coupons, and the last for grocery store coupons. There’s nothing like an episode of Extreme Couponing to get me clipping. Too bad that I forget to take the coupons with me to the grocery store 70% of the time. I’m better with retail stores.

So maybe those new 3-D looking scan images will become more popular and I can use my recently acquired smart phone to take advantage of coupons and sales. Hmmm…

Learning new features on my smart phone can be challenging sometimes… but I like it and have grown to accept it as a potential addiction; and that someday it will eliminate the frustration of forgetting my coupons.

Today, I found out that one of our service providers did not get our payment that was paid with online Bill Pay. The woman on the phone asked if I had proof that I’d paid, to which I answered, “Only my online bill statement that I can print a portion for you.” She said, “Nope, that won’t do.” So I paid the $27 again after she assured me that they will refund me if they or I find the missing money out in cyberspace; otherwise, I’ll be calling that 800 number again. I said to her, “Nothing is simple.” She said, “That’s right.”

So yes, even with the annoyances, I’m all for the new advances in technology, though I don’t know what effect it’s having on our brains.  My 80 year old mother is even on board, albeit with her own learning curve going on. Last month, she was on facebook responding to a dead person with a little pleasantry.

“Gotta check those dates Mom.”

How do YOU feel about all the technology?

Monday, July 1, 2013

Cosmetic Surgery

The beige bandage on my brown face was probably noticeable to everyone whose path I’d crossed. I’d forgotten it was there until I ran into Jackie at Target.

“Are you okay?” she asked.

It took me a second or two to answer.

“Oh. Yes. This?” as I instinctively pointed to my face. “I had a growth removed; sort of like a mole. It wasn’t a spot, but it was tested anyway. They’ll give me the results next week.”

“Oh, that’s good,” Jackie responded. “You have to be careful about these things.”

“Yeah, I have a lot of them on my face. A few black people tend to get them; they’re like old age spots, I guess,” I say with a small laugh. “People think they’re freckles so I just go with it. The one that I had removed got big and my mom kept asking me when I was going to have it removed. Plus, Cindy Crawford has a big mole on her face; why can’t I have one?” I say as I laugh again.

Jackie, who is about fifteen years older than me, says, “I’m with your mother. And I’ve always thought Cindy should have had hers removed. Why would you want a lot of stuff on your face?”

Stuff on our bodies… Hmmm… Is it normal?

In most cases, it is, so why are we always changing and fixing things? I color my hair, but have yet to go under the knife, aside from having corns removed from my two pinky toes. Though I’m not one to obsess over my body, I’ll admit that there is one thing I’d change if there was a tried-and-true method, but I’ll keep that my little secret. And no, it’s not a boob job. Besides, surgeons seem to have mastered that area.

A Google search asking if plastic surgery is increasing shows numerous web sites featuring articles that say it is. Not surprising. Evidence of vanity is all throughout history. It seems that people haven’t changed, but rather our accessibility to the means to make the changes, along with advances in surgical techniques.

But, is it mostly vanity that makes us want a procedure? Heavy breasts cause back pain. Droopy eye lids can affect vision. These are valid health issues, although getting them fixed has an extra benefit of making a person look… better? What about my protruding facial growth? Honestly, it didn’t bother me as much as it bothered those who had to look at it. I became concerned when the seasonal heat arrived and worried that the sun would continue to feed it and that I’d wake up one morning with something the size of a pea sitting under my eye. Sooo, I did it. It’s gone. There’s just a tiny scar left that may or may not fade. I like the new almost original look.

A lot of teens are having surgery, too. The thought of it disturbed me until I read that much of it is to pin back ears, reshape noses, reduce breast (girls and boys) and to give symmetry to breasts. I really don’t know if I would allow my child to have any of this done if she had an inferiority complex, but can understand the empathy a parent must feel for their child.

For adults having cosmetic surgery, the strong opinions I once had, I no longer have. The reasons why people make physical choices are always going to be subjective, so I’ll just mind my own business. However, if you want to get tucked, nipped, lifted, botoxed, brotoxed, injected, suctioned, tattooed, scraped, scrubbed, tightened, enlarged, implanted, reduced—what have I missed? I’ll hope the best for you. Who knows? I might run into you at the office a few years from now when gravity is at its best. I’ll be the one in dark sunglasses.

For it? Against it? Depends on the circumstances?