Baste, Stir, Taste…Repeat

I drive 45 minutes each way to get my dry cleaning done.

I know, it seems nuts right? But here is the deal, I wear a white lab coat at work almost every day. (It is either wear the lab coat or dress up. Let me tell you a good lab coat can hide a multitude of sins.) I like them to be super starchy, almost to the point that they can stand up on their own.

Not all laundries can make that happen.  Stannard Laundry in Oshkosh, WI can make it happen.

I met one of the owners at a 4th of July BBQ a few years ago.  (If you are reading my blog, it is the same party that was mentioned in Nothing, Absolutely Nothing but a different year.) I was introduced to him as his most loyal customer at which point I explained my commute to his business in search of the world’s greatest starched white lab coat.

After a few minutes of general chit-chat and assuring him I wasn’t a total nut, we ended up having a nice talk. It turns out there is a secret…they use real starch. They also have great service, quick turn around and I have become friends with the staff.  As an aside, the owner is also an Ironman.  (I like this as it would seem that to be an Ironman a person must be dedicated, persistent, as well as physically and mentally strong.)

This has me thinking about Loyalty. What makes someone loyal? Is it the test of time? Consistency? Quality?

For years and years I went to the same dentist…Dr. Vu.  Then I moved and it became more difficult to see him.  I would still go but my visits became less frequent. Finally, he told me I should just bite the bullet and get a dentist in the town where I live.  I thought about it and did.  I have been seeing ‘the new guy’ now for a few years.  He is an Ironman too. Weird, huh?

Friendship is a weird loyalty thing too.  I have friends from childhood, school, working at the Harbor Bar, hair salon, golf…

I don’t really know some of these people very well anymore. They could be terrible people. As in serial killers.  All I know is that we have a blast whenever we get together. Some of them I see only once a year or once every two years.

When we get together it is like zero time has passed and we tell each other everything (even deep dark secrets) and have complete trust in each other.  It is an amazing thing.

Family is interesting. Of course like every family, we have our moments…some good, some bad.

Here is the golden rule:

Only I can speak ill of my family. If anybody else does, then be prepared to die a slow and painful death. That my friends, is Loyalty.

It would seem that there is a recipe for Loyalty.

  1. Start with quality ingredients.
  2. Let it age 20-30 years. Baste with cold beer. Stir vigorously once or twice a year. (My batch prefers background music of live classic rock tunes.)  *(The volume may decrease over time, but the final product will be full of flavor.)
  3. New ingredients may be added as desired.
  4. Don’t be surprised if other people don’t like/understand the final product.
  5. This last item is the most important.  Sometimes it tastes better than others. Forgive it. Keep basting, keep stirring. Taste again later. Sometimes taste buds get out of whack. Sometimes the product is missing an ingredient. Don’t give up on it.
  6. Repeat step 1 and so on.

I am looking forward to testing my recipe on Loyalty very soon. I will keep you posted of any new developments. I hope the recipe works for you too. Enjoy.















I Never Thought I’d Raise a Heathen

My handbag with Pope Francis blessed rosary.
My handbag with Pope Francis blessed rosary.

I had a near miss this week.

It was my late night at work and I was headed home. I drive this route endlessly and can do it in my sleep. I saw the road work ahead signs as I entered the on ramp. Little did I know and apparently nobody else did either that what is usually three lanes of traffic very quickly became one. There were all sorts of cars swerving, breaking, weaving as fast cars and slower cars all got merged…it could have been the Big One. Here’s the interesting part. We all miraculously merged and kept going on our way.

I am pretty sure it was divine intervention. I was saying to myself, “thank you, thank you, thank you Lord.” Was it because I had my rosary blessed by Pope Francis in my purse?

How did a rosary blessed by Pope Francis end up in my purse?

It’s a long story…

The first eighteen years of my life I attended Catholic Church every Sunday, sitting in the first or second pew with my Mom and sisters. Every Wednesday I would attend CCD with all of the other Catholic kids and we would learn about God stuff. It was tricky because there are some really good God stories, but then there are all the rules and regulations. It was hard to go “all in” because it just seemed so 16th century. But we were a tight bunch and there were some perks. In gym class when the teachers forced us to choose teams (barbaric) I would certainly have been chosen last because I suck at anything to do with catching or throwing or hitting a ball, but because of my CCD connection I would usually get chosen third from the end instead.

One time I had to miss church with the family so my Mom dropped me off to go to Mass by myself at a different time. I waited for her to leave and then walked over to my friend Elaine’s family drug store and had a soda at the soda fountain and hung out. My Mom walked into the drugstore. Busted! She just said, “Let’s go.” Everyone knew I was in big trouble. The whole day my Mom said nothing to me. And I mean nothing. Silent treatment. Brutal. I am more of a hot blooded angry person and I just let it out and everyone knows why I am mad and how it could be fixed. Not my Mom. Silence. Later that night, I went into the kitchen to find her. She was washing dishes and crying. She said to me, “I never thought I’d raise a heathen.” Ouch! I felt awful, apologized, cried and still feel bad 35 years later.

There was some kind of funny stuff associated with growing up Catholic. My sisters and I would play “Communion.” My Mom makes these really good sliced cucumbers in vinegar and we would say, “Body of Christ” and “Amen” and then place the cucumber on the persons tongue. We were weird.

I had non-Catholic friends who wanted to taste the Communion wafer. Sometimes they would go to Church with me and I would save my communion wafer and we would split it. There is nothing like the cardboard wafer being stuck to the roof of your mouth and you can’t pick at it so you wait for it to melt.

I liked other religions too. I would sometimes go with a friend to the synagogue. I remember the Rabbi and his brother Howard. Rabbi Mel did a great talk and used modern day events from Newsweek to make his point. I was impressed. Plus, we always went to Burger King afterward and since there wasn’t one in our little town… it was awesome! I still like those chicken sandwiches even though they are terrible nutrition wise.

My first year home from college I tended bar and worked Fri and Saturday nights, and Sunday days. (The dreaded 2-10 shift. Seriously people, it’s time to go home around 6pm.) Anyway, Church was kind of out and my Mom let it go.

So over the next 25 years it’s kind of been a hit or miss thing with going to Church.

I have been to a few that were kind of interesting and left a lasting impression.

I went to an Episcopalian Church in Omaha, Nebraska with some good friends. It was very similar to the Catholic Church with a modern vibe. I knew all of the songs. Plus, they still had the kneelers which I really liked. The whole kneeling thing is a great short term suffering experiment. It is both a physical fitness contest and a test of wills. My butt did not hit the pew.

When I lived in Oshkosh, Wisconsin I went to the First Congressional Church with Pastors Carol and Ralph DiBasio-Sayder. They were really good speakers. I remember a sermon where Pastor Ralph was discussing the film Lars and the Real Girl. If you get a chance, it’s on Netflix, check it out. It is a quirky little film about community, acceptance, friendship and the power of love. Plus, Ryan Gosling is in it.

Years later I would attend a funeral for a young person who had died very suddenly and tragically. Pastor Ralph spoke at the service and was very compassionate and caring. I wept like a baby. I think he is a person who really gets it.

Somewhere along the line I found a few Saints who have really helped me along the way. For those of you who are reading my blog you know I have bought and sold a few houses along the way. Saint Joseph has helped me each time. He is on loan right now, but usually he is on the shelf with Saint Rita. Saint Rita is the Patron Saint of Impossible Causes. So, of course I identified with her immediately. She has really helped me out over the years.

The icon on the shelf was given to me by my beloved Aunt Ginny in 1998, the year I bought my first home. It hung for 15 years in her home in Winthrop, WA and has a faded edge from where the sun hit it. It is the ‘Black Madonna’: Our Lady of Czechoslovakia (the original dating back to the year 1382.) It is dark in color from the years of candles burning in front of it. The slashes on her face were made by a soldier during a war. It is said that the soldier dropped dead after his sword hit the image.

Serious mojo.

Back to the rosary. I visited the Vatican in the late nineties. I wanted to get a blessed rosary but at the time I was broke and thought that it was probably a whim anyway. This past winter a retired optometrist who fills in sometimes went on an Italy trip. He came back with rosaries for the entire staff. One of the opticians is not religious in any way and thought that I would like it better so she tried to give it to me. I was very resistant because it wasn’t meant for me. She insisted. So, I accepted it and Pope Francis has been with me since. The doctor heard about the gift and insisted I keep it and also insisted the optician accept one too! We both did.

So far this year Pope Francis and I have been to a Pink concert, Mexico, a major road trip to Charlotte, NC and Atlanta, GA as well as the every- day driving I do…. I really like having him with me.

He is a cool cat. He must be driving his handlers crazy. I love that too.

My near miss occurred on Wednesday. Yesterday two dear friends of mine very narrowly missed being severely injured. Tonight is the night I say a few of my Saint Rita’s and am thankful for being alive and well.

And that is the story of Gypsy Girl Jilly and the Pope Francis rosary.


Nothing, Absolutely Nothing.

I want to start a new trend.

I want to make being a total and complete sloth a celebrated event. It should be okay and desirable to be able to report that not a single thing was accomplished on the weekend.

Somewhere along the line I got brainwashed into thinking that I really should be doing something fabulous pretty much every moment of every day.  It’s not happening for me, and even if it did, I don’t like doing fabulous things all of the time.

I need some down time.

Years ago on the 4th of July I went to an Indian wedding, a sailing club BBQ and fireworks, followed by a carnival.  This is what my sister calls, “putting 10lbs of shit into a 5lb sack.”  Not to state the obvious but clearly it all doesn’t fit in. I was having fun at the wedding and had a great outfit but had to leave to go to the BBQ.  No chance to change into my cute red, white and blue outfit so I there I was in my fancy silk printed skirt and sandals dancing in the grass. Which was fine until we had to leave to supposedly watch the fireworks from a better spot, but we left too late and watched most of them through the sunroof of my car, which was being driven by someone other than myself who was watching the fireworks instead of driving and we were all screaming “Watch the road!”  I was then coerced into going to the Carnival across the street but it was late and it was crazy and I was still in my fancy outfit and just couldn’t take it anymore.  I went home exhausted and completely fed up.

Here is another one for you.

Picture a long weekend in the Bahamas, staying on a sailboat.  The day before you leave starts out with a walk on the beach, followed by some beers and time at the pool, followed by a game of chess and cheese and crackers on the deck of the boat, followed by a reservation at the one and only nice restaurant on the island…. But wait! At the last minute, just as the romance was getting started….a crusty sailor named Uncle Bob sticks his head into your window and asks if you want to go to a really great party.  You and your sweetheart put on some clothes and get on a boat with Uncle Bob and another couple and you are off to another island. The great party is super loud techno music with food that has flies buzzing all around.  The party animals you are with love it and you stay for a long, long time. There is another stop at another island. You can’t beat them so at this point you are drinking just to survive. This is a true story.  At multiple points in the trip I would ask myself, “I wonder if I could make it if I jump off the boat and start swimming for shore.” This is a clear example of how doing many things doesn’t add up to a meaningful experience.

I can’t blame it on others. I do it to myself.

Saturday started with a trip with my sister to a friend’s house to dig up plants- a whole bunch of hostas, tiger lilies, peonies, etc… really good stuff. It took a while and there were lots of mosquitoes. We then went to our respective homes and planted and watered all of the plants.  It was 80 degrees and hot.  Then we quick took showers, picked up some sandwiches for lunch, got on the boat and relaxed, read and swam for a few hours.  Went back home and got ready to go out to dinner (full hair and make-up) with some friends and to listen to some live music.  It was fun.

Was it enough? I didn’t go to Paris, go sailing, make the world a better place, grow or eat organic food….

Twenty years ago I would have been exhausted sleeping until noon and just doing the boating stuff.  Followed by a nap, no dinner, and going out to the bars until 2am.

In college and a few years afterward we used to lay around watching television all day Sunday.  We had zero guilt about doing nothing. Even if it was a beautiful sunny day. We would lie around watching PBS learning how to garden, paint, cook, etc…. but really we were just vegetating and doing nothing.  Kind of like sleeping, except we were awake.

Yesterday was Sunday. My sister and I planted some more plants, took the dogs for a walk and then…..thank God it rained. A lot.  That made it ok to take naps and watch old movies.  Jaws was on.  I watched some of it but decided to turn the channel because I am still a bit nervous swimming in the ocean.  That movie ruined me.

So what has happened? Why is the need to do something, be productive, have something to show for it mentality stuck in my head? I don’t like it.  I like reading books, listening to music, going to movies and taking naps. That should be allowed on days off, right?

When someone asks you, “What did you do this weekend?” a great answer would be “Nothing, absolutely nothing.” That would be an answer worth celebrating.



The Time Machine Factor

The Time Machine Factor:   = Real Time/ Fun Quotient 

We have all experienced it.  Sometimes time goes by so quickly and sometimes it drags on endlessly.  How is this possible?  I have figured out that real time in days, hours or minutes (it doesn’t matter how you figure it) is divided by the fun quotient to then become the perceived time. Got that?   

Here are some examples.

Youth:  Do you remember being a kid and the days never ended? School was boring and endless, summer started out fun but then got boring and endless.

I am the youngest in my family with two older sisters. Let me tell you, time goes even more slowly for the poor bastard at the end of the line. All you do as a kid is wait to be big enough or old enough to do the fun things the big kids are doing.  Even worse, you are exposed to all of the fun stuff at an early age so that you really are prepared to have fun but are restricted by parents or rules or laws or some other form of regulation.

But being a kid, is kind of fun. I remember lots of fun days swimming, riding bikes and making mud pies sprinkled with my Mom’s flowers (pretending I was a witch and poisoning my enemies).

On a scale from 1-10 (1 being the least fun and 10 being awesome) I would rate being a kid a solid 3. Let’s do the math.

= 24 hours/ 3= 8 hours

So, in kid time one day seems like 3.  That sounds about right.

Love:  Love is the best thing ever. Especially in the beginning.  There has got to be a time machine factor involved here, because how else can you stay up all night, get 4 hours of sleep and go to work with a huge smile on your face? There has to be some kind of time warp.

= 24 hours/ 10 = 2.4 hours

How fun is that!  Being in love slows down life, allowing us to spend more time with the person we love. Fabulous! Sign me up.

Work:  Before we get too excited we have to address the down side of the fun quotient.  Specifically, how time is altered when we are not having fun. I use work as an example, but I think that being sick or angry would work too. For those events I use 1 as my fun quotient. The only way to go lower would be to use zero, but then I think we would be dead.  And when we are dead, time is a whole different ball of wax. I think.

= 24 hours/1 = 24 hours

No surprise there.

Fun:  There are many forms of fun and luckily they all apply to the time machine factor calculation.  It’s why our days off always go so fast.  Planting flowers, going out for a great meal, seeing a movie, walking the dog, listening to music….all ways to change the way the hours roll by.

There is one exception that I have experienced so far:

Boat Time: There is just something about being on a boat.  I love boats.  I have been on big boats, little boats, sailboats, dinghies, canoes, kayaks….I just love them. They completely alter time in a unique way.  Time is both endless and fast on a boat.  You can be reading and look up and it’s been five hours or you can look up from reading and it has been five minutes.

Love time and boat time can be interesting when put together. When it goes well it’s the best time ever! When it goes bad….well, let’s just say that the boat may come back with one less person and leave it at that.  Accidents can happen on a boat.

Make sure to combine love time and boat time with the right person.

Jimmy Buffett knows. I saw a sticker that said,” What Would Jimmy Buffett Do?”  I would say that when in doubt that is not a bad way to approach pretty much any situation.

“These changes in latitudes, changes in attitudes, Nothing remains quite the same. Through all of the islands and all of the highlands, If we couldn’t laugh we would all go insane.” – Jimmy Buffett

How can we alter time?

I am thinking a lot about youth.  Is it the hormones? Is it because we are learning? What is the secret?

I think hormones are going to be the next big thing.

I was going to go see a doctor in Milwaukee to have my hormones tested.  But, it is pricey! It’s like a thousand bucks to just get the basic work-up.  Then, you have to buy the hormones. Would I inject myself daily with HGH if it meant I could lose those extra ten pounds? (Twenty would be better) You betcha!  Especially if it meant I could eat bread and pasta again. Sigh…

Anyway, I never made it to the hormone doctor because I went to the dentist and had to have some of my old silver fillings replaced plus a crown plus apparently I am a “grinder” and it’s making my gums recede! Yikes. So, now I have to spend the hormone money on fixing my teeth and gums. I haven’t had the gum surgery yet, but my options are to “harvest” tissue from the roof of my mouth (yuck and ouch) or use “donor” tissue. My sister and I are calling it “dead people gums”. I am leaning toward the dead people gums. I will just name them Stan and Lila and smile and be fabulous with my new pink gums.

Going to have save up for the hormones. It’s on the list.

Learning is good. And it is fairly cheap.  I want to learn how to play the piano, speak either French or Italian and learn how to draw/paint. Ok, they are all on the list.

Love is a tricky little devil.  It can be so great and also crush you like a bug on a windshield. I am going to work on this area. It’s on the list in pencil, not pen. If I get my gums fixed, my new killer smile might just help me out in this department.

If you are already in love, then you are one step ahead. Now you have to stay in love which is a whole lot harder than falling in love.  Go ahead, pull the trigger.  Book the weekend getaway, buy some new undies, turn on some music…Guys, take your girl out for a walk, hold her hand and ask her how her day was. Throw in a movie or go see a band. Call if you are going to be late. Go to the grocery store with her.  I can feel the love from here.

When in doubt, go for a boat ride. Check the weather first.

It’s Friday! I am going to put my new found time machine factor to good use.  Who knows, maybe it will provide ample fodder for another story. Good luck to everybody this weekend. I hope your day is as fast or slow as you want it to be.

Like a Rolling Stone

I just can’t seem to stop moving. Literally.

Years ago, someone asked my sister if I would be around for a while.  Her response, “She’s a rolling stone.”

Let’s see.

1969-1987:      Mom and Dad’s house. Birth through high school graduation.

1987-1991:      University of Wisconsin –Madison.  2 years in the dorms. My first apartment was torched by an arsonist and the location is where the Kohl center now resides. I find this very suspicious.  Second apartment was a total dive on South Orchard Street near Union South.  The kind of apartment that is still available when the semester has already started.  Year 4 we had a great apartment on Pinckney Street which was right off the square and near lots of good bars.  Perfect.

1991-1992:      Year off.  Spent some time in a shack in Clark, CO, another dive apartment on Langdon Street in Madison, and finally my Mom and Dad’s place again.

1992-1996:       First year apartment was a total dive in Forest Grove, OR.  The following three years were spent in a much better place in Beaverton, OR with my two roomies Nicolas and Trevor.  We are still very good friends. We would have parties after we took our board exams and there would be a bunch of future optometrists getting hammered and lifting weights and being crazy in general.

1997:       Charlotte, NC:  My first job as an optometrist.  I had a pretty decent apartment.  My sister came to visit with paint rollers in her suitcase and we painted the place.  Living room wall blue, my bedroom purple.  We must have done a decent job because I got my deposit back.  When it came time to move, two friends came to get me.  Big Mike took one look at my sofa and said, “Oh no, I am not moving that cheap sofa down 2 flight of stairs again.” This sofa had been purchased for 100 bucks in Oregon at a rummage sale and had been transported to both Wisconsin and North Carolina.  We threw it over the balcony and put the broken bits into the dumpster clearly marked no personal items.  Had a great dinner and bottle of wine at Manzetti’s and got the hell out of there.

1998:       Returned to Wisconsin.  Lived with Mom. (Dad was in heaven by then.) I filled-in all around the area working for a bunch of optometrists.  My Mom was my roommate/secretary/Mom.  Once in a while I run into one of the doctors I used to fill-in for.  Whenever he sees me the first thing he says is, “How is your Mom?” They used to plan my schedule and did a great job.

1998-2000:      I bought my first house on Lake Street.  Great bungalow.  Fabulous garden because the previous owner really was a master gardener. (Unlike, me…. I am a wannabe.)  My Mom helped me plant a raspberry patch and asparagus patch.  Later, both were destroyed by the next owners who built a bigger garage.  It was my first place.  When a good friend got married, I was able to host several of the groomsmen instead of them having to stay in a hotel. I remember making cinnamon rolls from a can and orange juice from a can and they thought I was freaking Martha Stewart. Fun.

2000:       Sold the first house because I was working out of town and the commute was getting to me. Made a small profit, so that was good.  Moved into a historic apartment in an old factory. Great loft.  Historic Fox River Mills.  It was pricey, more than my house payment but fun.  Lived there until I blew my ACL skiing and couldn’t make it up the steep stairs to the loft.  Back to Mom’s…

2001:       Knee better. Rented a crazy apartment above the old dime store on Main Street. I remember I was just getting out of the shower watching CNBC when the Towers fell.  That was such a terrible tragedy.

2002:       Moved to Oshkosh, WI and lived in a small apartment for a very short time.  Bought my tiny 2 bed/1 bath green and white “cottage”. No lake. Just a small, cute as pie house.  The best thing about the place was that it was in the direct path of the largest airshow on the planet, the EAA, which is held every July.  I would be outside watering my flowers and watch the B-52’s fly directly over me.  I think the pilots must of thought, “Who’s the crazy chick watering her flowers in her nightie?” I loved it.

At the time I was dating a much older guy (17 years) who was financially more established and in a completely different socio-economic sphere.  It took a while but eventually I started having some of his friends and family over for dinner. I have to say they were all good sports and didn’t make me feel bad about my tiny house or hand me down furniture.  In fact, I think they liked how relaxed my place was- not fussy!

We used to go to the Pioneer Inn on Lake Winnebago.  It has been destroyed now, but used to have a great little tiki bar with live music in the summer. One particular summer night, the vodka was flowing and I did my best Stevie Nicks impersonation.

‘I’ll follow you down til the sound of my voice will haaauuuunt yooooo.’

To this day my now ex-sweetheart doesn’t like to listen to Fleetwood Mac anymore because it reminds him of me.  It was a really good impersonation.  I did the spinny-dance moves and everything.

2007:       Work change.  Moved to…guess where? Mom’s house again. The tiny house sold very quickly and I was desperate and threw everything into boxes and moved in with Mom.

2008:       Bought my current house.  Super cute.  A little bigger. 3 bed/2 bath.  Great yard, on a river with a bit of a cliff in back.  I did make a few improvements to the place. Always thinking ahead to when I would sell it.

Guess what?  I haven’t sold it.  I have officially been in this house the longest I have stayed in a single place since I graduated from high school.  Woo hoo.  I did put it up for sale for a short time about three years ago anticipating another job change. It didn’t happen.  I am glad I stayed.  I also had a weak moment this winter when we had the worst winter in 100 years.  I was sorely tempted to move south.  But, I didn’t.

I must be planning to stay a while because I am starting to make changes to the place that are just for me- not for adding resale value.  I have never done that before.

All bets are off though if I win the Powerball. Then I might have to buy a compound in Miami Beach and a ski chalet in Steamboat. (A girl can be a dreamer, can’t she?)

Am I still a rolling stone?  It would seem I have worn a flat spot that has landed. I roll a bit and then come to rest, back in the same spot.  That’s ok.  I feel good about it.

The potential to roll is there. As long as I have that it seems to be enough. For now.

Lake Street House Front



Lake Street House Back


Lake Street Bloom
Historic Fox River Mills Loft
Green and White ‘Cottage” Oshkosh Front
Green and White ‘Cottage” Oshkosh Back
Current House Back Garden
Current House Side Yard View of my Neighbor Jerry’s Tree.

The Grind

For awhile now I have been wondering, “Is this all there is?”

Specifically, when it comes to work and everyday life. It’s so boring! I have talked about this with my sisters and some close friends. Basically, we came to the conclusion that our 40’s and 50’s are spent doing the necessary things that will ultimately allow us to enjoy life later. I call it The Grind.

See, unless you are born fabulously wealthy and gorgeous and live on a tropical island…..then maybe it is all ok. But for the rest of us, we are figuring out how we got this far in the first place, do we really want to be here, do we want to stay here, what lies ahead and how do we get there. Whew. I am exhausted.

At least I am not in my twenties. At the time I thought it was great, but I was totally clueless and my life kind of just ‘happened’. I hope it is different now and that young adults have more common sense and maturity than I had. Basically, I went to the same college my sisters attended, did the same stuff, had a blast, and graduated with a History of Science degree. My Dad asked me what I would do with a History of Science degree. I said, “Nothing! I have to go to school some more to actually do something.” Wow. Now, I kind of get why Mom and Dad encouraged me to get a degree like accounting, nursing, teaching, engineering,….you know, the kind you can actually get a job with after you graduate. Anyway, it all worked out. I took a year off, tended bar, cleaned a lot of toilets on a dude ranch, worked in a hospital and figured out that I would/should be an Optometrist. All’s well that ends well…right?

Yesterday I read an article by Betty Liu- Anchor at “In the Loop” at Bloomberg TV on linkedIn called: Why Jeffrey Katzenberg Thinks You Should Stop Following Your Passion. I liked it. The gist of the discussion is that we are always being told to “follow your passion” and you will have a great career and life. Jeffrey Katzenberg actually advised to “follow your skill” and the passion will follow. Interesting. That makes a lot of sense to me.

What is my skill?

The gift of gab? I think maybe so. ( After all, I was voted Most Talkative in high school – scary, but true.) That actually works for being an Optometrist so I am going to go with it.

I digress. Back to The Grind. I am currently reading Thrive by Arianna Huffington. So far, it is hitting home for me. I think this book could be useful for both women and men. It starts out with the notion that we have all been brainwashed to think that success is achieved by accumulating wealth and power. Sure, both of those things are nice to have. But at what cost to our health, relationships and overall well-being? Arianna talks about Thriving which is completely different than Succeeding.

Thriving involves four elements which include: Well-being, Wisdom, Wonder and Giving.

Well-being involves being physically, emotionally, and mentally engaged in the act of living. Right now. Not later. Take a minute to breathe.

Some days I feel like I haven’t taken a breath all day.

I won’t go into too much of the book except to say that I am going to make an effort to get more sleep, disconnect from media now and again, enjoy quality time with people I care about, give thanks, and pay attention to the stuff that really matters to me. I am going to have to think about that part. What really matters to me?

For awhile now I have been doing Affirmations. Sometimes, they come very easily to me. You know, the obvious (but important) ones such as my health is good, my family’s health is good, I have a job, I like my little house, I love my dog. …

Sometimes they don’t come as easily. That is when I say to myself, ” I am thankful that so and so isn’t driving me crazy anymore.” That is probably a borderline affirmation, but beggars can’t be choosers. Or when I am grateful that my life isn’t someone else’s…. that is probably considered bad affirmation etiquette. It’s a work in progress.

I think with a some effort and good humor it’s possible that The Grind may turn into Thriving. Wouldn’t that be grand? On that note, I will go for that walk and breathe…and do some affirmations (the good kind.)














Quit Yer Bitching

I knew I liked him right away. Let’s call him Mr. X as he doesn’t know I am writing this story.

I was listening from my office as he was being screened for his eye exam. We have a number of tests that are performed before I see the patient, and some of them require the patient to lean forward and put their chin and forehead in a machine. I heard him say, “ I’ll try, but I am all stooped over from the shrapnel in my back from Vietnam.” He tried, and he was able to do the test.

When I saw him he had his VFW cap in his hand, and he walked into my office. We shook hands and started our exam. Luckily for me, I had a little extra time that day and I was able to have a chance to talk to him a bit.

He was retired after many years working in road construction. He had been married to the same woman his whole adult life. I asked him, “ What is the secret to a successful marriage?” He said, “Communication! You can’t go to bed pissed off at each other”. I laughed and said that sounded like a good idea. He told me, “not everybody likes me, but everybody knows exactly where I stand. Because, I tell it like it is.”

He told me that Vietnam was terrible. He showed me where his hand had been injured and told me about his back. He had to kill people, or get killed. That was how it was. He was shot in his back, and he told his best friend to leave him. His friend did not leave him. He survived, and was sent home. When he got back to the US he was spit on by a protester.

I told him I was sorry that happened to him. He looked at me, and I looked at him.

Years later, his friend who saved him came to visit him. His friend wasn’t sure about coming because he was a black man. He came to visit, and they were going to meet at the local bar. The friend got there first and walked in the place. They all looked at him. The bartender said….”your money isn’t good here.” Silence. Then the bartender said, “We know what you did for Mr. X and your money isn’t good here because you are a Heroe.”

I loved that part of the story.

Mr. X told me they still get together when they can, but there aren’t that many left. Many of his friends have killed themselves, or been killed in other sad ways. He said that back then, there weren’t any psychiatrists or help for people like him. He said he was a scary guy back then, and it was a miracle his wife stayed with him.

We talked about life, love, good stuff and bad stuff. He says when he hears people complaining, he just says “Quit Yer Bitching!”

I really liked that part too. So, I have decided to toughen up, suck it up, and try not to complain. Because compared to that story, I have nothing, nada, zip, zero to complain about.

Mr. X.

He is sticking with me. I told my Mom and my Sister the story. We have already used the “Quit Yer Bitching” motto several times. I have been doing my job for almost 18 years now. It is the people that I meet that keep me interested in what I do. What a treat to meet Mr. X. Back to work tomorrow, I wonder who I will meet?