Archive for February, 2015


Lessons Learned from San Diego in February…

I haven’t written a Lessons Learned post in a while. And you’ve missed it? Me, too. So, to take care of both of us, I’m bringing it back briefly.

Last weekend I spent time with my hubby, which isn’t all that novel, except that I was also spending it with his work colleagues and their wives…in San Diego…in February. My mom and dad had lived there during Dad’s time in the Navy in World War II. Mom had always said it was one of her favorite places to live. She loved visiting the world-famous San Diego Zoo many, many times, so it was definitely on my list of San Diego attractions I wanted to see. Fortunately, the hubby felt the same way. Here’s what I learned along the way:

1. If your hubby says you need to leave for the airport at 9:45 am, you will hear 10 am in your brain. I call this “night owl brain processing.”

2. Any time the hubby has to travel by air with his wife, it’s a source of irritation for him. I think it has something to do with the fact that I don’t have those “Flash the pass and breeze through all TSA checkpoints” thingies that he has.

3. All those thingies have names like “Priority”, “Executive Level” and “Platinum” in them.

4. I must be “Low Priority”, “Peon Level” and “Cork.”

5. Those with the designations listed in # 2 and # 3 do not have to worry about the following things: a) Do my sox have any holes in them? b) Am I wearing sox? c) If no, to question b, then did I bring my foot sanitizer? d) Does my foot sanitizer bottle contain less than 3 ounces and fit in one sandwich bag? e) If the foot sanitizer manages to leak, did I remember to get a new sandwich bag for those 3 precious ounces? f) Do they sell new sandwich bags at the Starbucks kiosk? g) Did I remember to remove my titanium fake arm, fake leg, artificial heart, brain plate and knee pins before entering TSA security? h) When was the last time I remembered to use the computer sanitizer on my poor abused laptop? i) Did I remember to buy compressed air to get out all of the Golden Lab fur stuck underneath my keyboard? j) Did I take off all the jewelry that shows people I’m actually more than a peon with cork status?

6. Because of the concerns in # 5, it will take me about 45 minutes to get through the TSA checkpoint if there are absolutely zero people in front of me.

7. By the time I get through TSA, everyone will know I’m a walking pharmacy.

8. By the time I get through TSA, they will know I am rightly designated a cork peon.

9. Buy new sox.

10. Wear sox.

11. Once we get through TSA and get a sit-down lunch, we will have 90 minutes until boarding.

12. I will be irritated about the 90 minutes. For a night owl, this is critical sleeping time!

13. Even cork peons can complete 6 Medium-Level Sudokus in 90 minutes.

14. Priority Platinum Executive Level people get the polite, smiling flight attendants; cork peons get the surly ones who should have retired 5 years ago.

15. If the latter smiles during a flight, apparently, they are fined.

16. Priority Platinum Executive Level people get warm towels, warm nuts, glass glasses, china plates, real silverware, and warm chocolate chip cookies.

17. Cork peons get a pine cone napkin, dry mini-pretzels in a “space suit”, and a bill for the cardboard box of 5 grapes and an apple. Apparently, cork peons need to eat healthier.

18. If you arrive ridiculously late, thanks to this unseen enemy known as the FAA, then you’ll still be on time to meet your hubby’s boss who flew in from the Netherlands and is on his way to Spain for an undisclosed reason. I’ve never felt so cork in all my life.

19. You’ll lug luggage approximately the size of a moving van to the bathroom while the boss has a confab with your Priority Platinum Executive Level hubby.

20. After lugging the stuff in # 19 to the one and only concession stand at the other end of the airport to get a bottle of water, the cashier will tell you she can help you only if you lug all of # 25 plus a 10 lb. bottle of water to the other side of the concession stand. She must be related to the cork peon level flight attendants.

21. After giving her the “Momma” look, suddenly you can check out anywhere you want.

22. After reading War and Peace twice, finishing the Sudoku book just bought and feeding partridges in pear trees, we can leave for the hotel.

23. The hotel is in outer Siberia.

24. The student population of the nearby college campus must be into Hookah, tattoos, yoga, and vapor cigarettes. My counselor alarm went off with, “What do these things have in common?” Hmmmm….you don’t want to know!

25. Upon arriving at the Siberian hotel, you will actually be astonished to find it really nice with an ocean view. Maybe I’ve risen to Bronze status??? Nah. Must be a dream.

26. The San Diego warm weather has been replaced by Anchorage, Alaska weather. It will leave precisely when you are scheduled to come back to Texas to…ice.

27. Guess who packed her spring wardrobe. That’s what cork peons do.

28. I dress up when others dress down. I dress down when others dress up.

29. Do not rely upon when your hubby tells you to dress up and dress down.

30. The restaurant you thought you were going to eat at is actually a bar.

31. In ocean side towns, all hors d’oeuvres in bars are raw seafood

32. I don’t do sushi.

33. The uber spectacular looking bed in your room isn’t so uber when you bang your shin on the side of the bed at 3 am to go to the bathroom.

34. The black objects in the water are not whales, but surfers. Remind me to get new glasses.

35. If you go whale watching in a huge boat, sit on the port side.

36. We sat on the starboard side.

37. If sitting starboard, grab your beverage when the announcer spots a whale on the port side. Otherwise, your beverage will now be all over the people looking for whales on the port side.

38. My cell phone carrier likes to announce my entrance into Mexican waters with, “You will now be assessed the National Debt for roaming outside the country.”

39. I had a choice about going into Mexican waters?

40. The Mexican waters are on the port side.

41. The USS Ronald Reagan aircraft carrier is spectacular.

42. It was on the starboard side. (Of course! Ronnie would never be caught on the port side.)

43. Sailboats dotting a seascape mesmerize me.

44. Naval bases mesmerize me. (Hmmmm….guess who was a Navy brat!)

45. The San Diego Zoo welcomes you with a flock of flamingos.

46. I like flamingo welcomes.

47. Orangutans fascinate me.

48. Trust your hubby when he says you’ll get along with one other couple well.

49. Take the male end of the other couple with you whenever you can’t spot the designated animal in the “enclosure.” He has animal radar.

50. I don’t cringe when a grizzly bear eats a rabbit in front of me. Especially if there are two of them doing that. I’m scared to hear what Freud would say about that.

51. Ask your tour guide about elephant breeding. Okay. Maybe not.

52. Feed camels by hand.

53. Feed giraffes by hand.

54. Walk on the catwalk above the elephant enclosures.

55. Develop an appreciation for why California condors should be saved.

56 Pandas are shy.

57. The plants at the San Diego Zoo are just as endangered as the animals and are worth more.

58. Take the sky lift ride over the zoo and notice that you’re overlooking gorillas!

59. Learn that you didn’t see everything even though you walked 10,000 steps in one zoo.

60. Note that there is a “San Diego Zoo Safari Park” that is 10 times larger than the San Diego Zoo.

61. Think you’re flying back that night.

62. Learn you’re wrong.

63. Panic when you realize you don’t have enough in your mobile pharmacy for an extra day.

64. Leave wanting more and noting that God sure has blessed us with a diverse universe.

65. It’s okay to be a cork peon. And Mom was right.

Monday’s Post: What did you guess for the WOW?

You Might Also Like: Lessons Learned from a Face Plant; Lessons Learned from Starting a Nonprofit Counseling Center; and Lessons Learned from Being a Part-time Wife


Word of the Day: Grief


If you hang out at a counseling center long enough (like I do), one thing will eventually rear its ugly head over and over again.


Most of us associate grief with losing a loved one. But, in actuality, grief is merely the reaction humans have to any sort of negative change or loss in our lives. As a society we deal with grief poorly. We tamp it down inside ourselves. We try to deny it’s there. We avoid it like the plague.

Why? Grieving a loss is painful and we humans hate and fear pain.

Did you know that Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder and hoarding are considered the symptoms of an ungrieved loss of some sort? It’s true. Once a person actually feels the pain of that loss and grieves it properly, these behaviors usually lessen. Trust me–if a person has developed OCD or hoarding, they are probably going to need professional help to get over that loss.


Word of the Week: mimesis

Book ClubThe March 2015 MIP Book Club Selection must mean I’m a masochist. See why.

Good morning, Word Lovers! Last week’s WOW was abecedarian. Merriam-Webster Online says that it means: one learning the rudiments of something (as the alphabet). I am probably an abecedarian about more things than I care to admit. Exhibit A: I’m typing this while on a plane, which means I have to learn the rudiments of gogoinflight. Let’s just say I’ll probably be an abecedarian about that for more than one flight.

This week’s WOW is memesis. This sounds very sciencey to me. What? You don’t think sciencey is a word? I’m using it anyway. Since science wasn’t exactly my strong suit in school, this should be entertaining for Readerland. Here are my very unscientific guesses for mimesis:

mimesis (\mə-ˈmē-səs, mī-)  1. the biological process which occurs when I sing a do-re-mi scale too early in the morning. 2. what happens to MaryAnn when she drinks a mimosa without a straw. 3. when I become my own nemesis

What are your guesses for mimesis? Go here to tell me how wrong I am.

Wednesday’s Post: Word of the Day

You Might Also Like: Word of the Week: abecedarian; Word of the Week: zeitgeber; Word of the Week: solatium; and Word of the Week: crepitate


Slow Reader Friday: Start

Water Punch

If you are a Christian blogger, most likely you have heard of Jon Acuff. If you are a Dave Ramsey fan, most likely you have seen Jon Acuff. Jon (as if I know him personally) first gained fame by writing the blog, “Stuff Christians Like.” Dave Ramsey noticed his warped sense of humor and put him to work at his organization. Then Jon began writing books with “cute titles.”

Since I am a huge fan of the “cute title” books, his Quitter book caught my attention when I took the Financial Peace University class by Dave Ramsey. While much younger than this naive blogger, Jon is surprisingly good at savvy writing, sensing patterns, and insights into human nature. He is pretty much my guru for writing.  (The only problem is that it usually takes me a long time to read his stuff, admit he’s right, and then implement his suggestions!)

Quitter became one of my first Slow Reader Friday choices and I could not believe how similar our stories are. I think we both fell victim to trying to pleasing society by our early career choices instead of pursuing what God really created us to do. Jon just learned much faster!

Being a professional writer doesn’t usually thrill your parents–it is one of those careers where success is largely determined by others, as opposed to being determined by how hard you work. Thus, when Jon started pretty much putting in print the thoughts in my head, I was enthralled. And so, it only makes sense that I would want to read Start: Punch Fear in the Face, Escape Average and Do Work that Matters

I can see Jon’s progression as a writer in Start. I read the first page and was laughing out loud. For writers, that’s usually rare, because we usually read A LOT. So, little actually tickles our funny bone enough to make laugh out loud. And he quite obviously took the criticism about Quitter seriously. I saw less “writing career bias” in this book than I did in Quitter

If you decide to read Start yourself, I won’t spoil the first page for you. But, expect to chuckle out loud several times, so maybe don’t read this book during a boring meeting where people actually expect you to be paying attention.

The premise of Start is that the life your parents probably wanted you to pursue to ensure your financial viability and stability is probably not what you were called to do. And if that is true, then you have a choice to make: Be “average” or be “awesome.” The average life is fine if you want that stability. However, if deep within your soul, you long to be awesome and have an inkling that you are pretty awesome at something that others around you admire (because they aren’t that awesome at that same thing), then perhaps you are meant for the “awesome track.”

Acuff is honest–the awesome journey is hard! First, people don’t understand it because they chose the average track and they only understand average. Thus, you’re often forced to seek out others who are on the awesome track to help you on that journey and they are either so few and far between (particularly if you live in Podunk, USA like moi) that you have difficulty locating them or they are extremely busy human beings with actual entourages wherever they go, that you’re never going to gain access to their awesome wisdom.

Acuff also points out that there are a ton of myths about working towards awesome and thus, you are forced to continually confront and squash those little suckers right out of your thinking patterns. He accurately tells you that being awesome is difficult work with long hours involved.

My only criticism is that I wish Jon had spoken more about doing what’s right in God’s eyes even if it doesn’t quite match up with what you envisioned doing in your awesome life. I am happiest when I write full-time. But, right now I think God seriously wanted a nonprofit counseling center started in my community. And my crazy resume and writer lifestyle actually is a plus for doing exactly that. So, some of my writing time is going to be nixed as I follow God’s leading to do something important for my friends, neighbors and community members.

On one of the first seasons of The Apprentice Donald Trump took his contestants to the Central Park skating rink. He told the contestants that for years, the city of New York tried to put an ice skating rink in Central Park. It never got done. Donald Trump looked at that and said, “I have enough money to put that skating rink there right now. And it’s the right thing to do. It’s time to give back.” Was building a skating rink Donald’s Trump version of awesome? Nope. We already know that. But he did it anyway…because he could.

I’m no Donald Trump. I’m a borderline good writer at best. And writing is definitely my version of awesome. But, I also know more than the average person about counseling, event planning, Facebook promotion, training, encouraging the next generation and putting people together because their skill set is needed to create something needed in our community. And thus, I’ve put writing my books on the back burner until I can get Compassion Counseling Center off the ground. Are there days when I yearn to go back to full back writing? Yep. It occurs more than I really want to admit. But, am I proud of the nearly 65 hours of counseling we have done in our first month of operation to help some people who might not get counseling any other way? Absolutely. It’s worth the sacrifice of my book writing time. Will I maybe regret this choice in about 10 years? Yep. Probably. But will I also be proud of myself for heeding God’s call to play by His “playbook” for me instead of my own? I believe so.

What is God calling you to do today? Do you feel “out in left field” about it right now? Congratulations! You’re on the right track.

God’s going to take your unique talents and the people around you to do something awesome–it may just look different than what you originally envisioned. And reading Start is an excellent place to begin that journey today.

So, what’s keeping you from awesome? Fear? Lack of support? Debt?

Punch it in the face and get busy.  We have God’s work to do.

Monday’s Post: Do you know the definition of the Word of the Week?

You Might Also Like: Slow Reader Friday: The Rabbi Who Found Messiah; Slow Reader Friday: Unstoppable; and Slow Reader Friday: Twirl


Word of the Day: Sacrifice

giving hands

Sacrifice is a word most hate to use these days. It implies pain, giving up something of value, or at the very least, delaying gratification. But it’s a word worth revisiting today, Ash Wednesday.

As most of us know, Ash Wednesday commemorates the 40 days of Jesus being in the wilderness without food in preparation for his ministry to the world. We celebrate Ash Wednesday because it is the beginning of 40 weekdays before Easter–the season of Lent.

Many people choose to sacrifice, or forego, something they thoroughly enjoy at this time of year. They give up chocolate, red meat, TV or something else that feels essential to their existence and enjoyment of life. In exchange for such a sacrifice they hope to regain some control over eating habits, find more productivity or to reconnect with the Lord.

While all of these are honorable pursuits, may I suggest another kind of sacrifice? How about sacrificing some time to do something good for someone else? Or give some money (that was intended for enjoyment) to a worthy cause? Even sacrificing a smile here or there could be really monumental for a person who needs a little kindness.

Just think how much better your end of the world could be if you did 40 acts of kindness beginning today and ending at Easter? Yes, it might be a small sacrifice, but think about the joy that would not only bring your kindness recipients, but also you! Most of us find joy in helping others–a joy that cannot be equaled by paltry possessions or some experience.

And also think about how joyous Easter will be for you and your family if you commit to such a practice this Lent! It might be more than worth the sacrifice. And that might be fitting for celebrating a Man who sacrificed Himself as an ultimate act of kindness for you. 

Friday’s Post: Where my mind wants to go…

You Might Also Like: Word of the Day: Love; Word of the Day: Avoidance; Word of the Day: Red; and Word of the Day: Absolute


Word of the Week: abecedarian

Good morning, Word Lovers! Last week’s WOW was zeitgeber. This word intrigued a bunch of you! Unfortunately, no one successfully guessed the definition. Merriam-Webster says that zeitgeber is: an environmental agent or event (as the occurrence of light or dark) that provides the stimulus setting or resetting a biological clock of an organism. If that is the case, then clearing brush from lots is a zeitgeber for me!

Today’s word is no “shrinking violet.” Why? Because it’s not exactly a short word! And I feel like I should know abecedarian. Let’s see how close I can get to the true definition:

abecedarian: (ā-bē-sē-ˈder-ē-ən) 1. a person who likes to recite the alphabet 2. a person who does math exclusively with an abacus 3. a person who dares others to recite their ABCs in public

What’s your guess for abecedarian? Go here to tell me about it!

Wednesday’s Post: An odd day


Word of the Day: Love

Heart - Sky

Every February I get a little irritated. Why? As I read Facebook at this time of year, I will encounter at least one status statement from a single person who despise the celebration of Valentine’s Day.

I understand their feelings since the American version of this holiday tends to focus on romantic love. And if you’re not single by choice, then Valentine’s Day is proverbial salt in your wounds.

But, we Americans, single or otherwise, are missing the point of this love celebration. In a world where people are burned alive and beheaded while these horrific acts are being videotaped, we all could use a little more love.

Love isn’t just about romance. Love is also about caring when no one else cares. Love is about being kind when it’s easier to be unkind. Love is about patience when you’re running late. Love is about extending peace and joy to those you encounter each day.


Word of the Day: Avoidance



Let me guess: You’d like to avoid reading this post. Congrats! You, like most of the world, deal with unpleasant things by avoiding them. Guess what? I’m a chronic avoider, too.

Is this a characteristic you’d like to change about yourself? Again, welcome to the “Club.”

I’m realizing that the wisdom I admire in other people is acquired by hitting your head against some “wall” long enough that you eventually realize your head hurts and you change some aspect of hitting your head. You pick a softer surface the next time. You wear a helmet. You take Tylenol. You STOP hitting your head. You break through that “wall.”

In other words, wise people have just been through the trial and error process so long that they eventually figure out better ways to handle tough situations or projects.

It doesn’t take a brain surgeon to realize that the things we avoid bring us pain, boredom, anger or some other negative feeling. So, avoidance is a good thing, right?


Word of the Week: zeitgeber

Good morning, Word Lovers! Last week’s WOW was solatium. Merriam-Webster Online says that solatium is:  a compensation (as money) given as solace for suffering, loss, or injured feelings. So this means that when I lose my keys for the 49th time, I should get paid??? If so, I think this is a practice which needs more emphasis in our culture!

This week’s WOW is zeitgeber. Since I never took German and this word definitely has that “flavor,” this could get really interesting for my definition guesses:

zeitgeber: (ˈtsīt-ˌgā-bər, ˈzīt-) 1. the acne on Goober’s face (the younger generation just said, “Who’s Goober?”) 2. the person who pops the acne on Goober’s face 3. gawking at acne in Berlin

I warned you it would be interesting. What’s your definition guess for zeitgeber? Go here to tell me all about it!

Wednesday’s Post: Word of the Day!

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Word of the Day: Red

open hands

Beginning when I was 39 years old and had a 4 year old, 9 year old and 13 year old, I had two back-to-back heart attacks even though I was perfectly healthy. When this occurred in 1999, WebMD didn’t even list my heart condition as a possibility for such human beings. Fortunately, that has changed.

But, there is still much to be done for Prinzmetal Angina, which affects 139,000 Americans. Prinzmetal (named after the researcher who discovered the phenomenon) has a 50% death rate and when diagnosed (only by the divine intervention of God), I was told I could have a heart attack every 10 to 15 years from that point forward. We still don’t know much about why my coronary arteries like to spasm out of the blue and cause blood clots and their resulting heart attacks.

I seem to like to have my heart attacks in pairs and I hate being late, so a little over 14 years later, I had heart attacks # 3 and # 4.