Sadie Hugs for You


Every now and again I provide an update on our senior diva…Miss Sadie.  She’s doing fairly well as she approaches her 14th birthday…which will make her 98 in pup years, carry the one, add a two.  Amiright?

We have a lot of construction in progress at the house and I was worried, worried, worried about how she’d handle the disruption, the noise.  Depending upon the day, the time of day, her escape route to go potty is one of three different doors. The poor pup doesn’t know which way to wander when she’s gotta go.  It’s like a game of chance – roulette, if you will.  Maybe a fun house?

Sadie’s technique is to give us a look – a pleading ‘hey dumbos…where am I going THIS time?’ and we scoop her up and either exit through the laundry room, the kitchen, or the family room doors, depending upon which route is accessible. Each has its own hurdles and merits and by the time we figure it out, clueless humans that we are, Sadie heaves a hefty sigh, grateful that we’re finally headed toward grass.

You may be wondering…what happens when we’re not on the spot ready for her ‘look’?  Yeah, that happens.  Not often, but when we’re not paying close attention to her majesty, her “chosen” spot is a primo location right in front of the fireplace, which isn’t so bad, really.  An accident, should she have one, becomes fairly focal-point noticeable, so there’s that. (And I cannot believe I just typed a sentence about a pile of poo being a focal point…what has become of my life?!)  I figure if she’s gonna make a mess, I should thank her for squatting and doing business where we can see it…versus the alternative.  Who wants surprise poop on their slippers?  Not me! (And no, we tried the pee-pad idea, thank you very much. The Queen sniffed it and pooped next to it.)

Our girl is famous, as I guess all Chihuahuas are, for burrowing under blankets – the more, the better.  Sadie disappears beneath a mountain of fleecy goodness in order to turn down the volume of pounding, sawing, whacking, and booming…but lately she’s taken to positioning her head so she can keep an eye out, if necessary, to see if the noisy disruptors are worth a look.  Mostly not, but I was amused recently when she began sleeping with her right front paw exposed, in addition to her snout.  Ready for action at any moment – just in case mom (me!) walks by with a carrot or a dog treat.  My way of offering penance for disturbing the Queen’s slumber and allowing all of the noisemakers into the house in the first place.

It’s only Tuesday…but the cacophony has me so disoriented…are we sure it’s only Tuesday? No matter what your day is like, I’m sending hugs from sweet Sadie…and yes, a couple of the hugs are from me.  Just because.

Vicki ❤

Finding the Funny Bones


No, no. This isn’t a Halloween late-arrival.  Nope, not a post I forgot to…post.  Can’t a girl share a skeleton image, here and there, without provoking All Hallows Eve imagery?  😉 I haven’t made my point yet, but trust me, these skeletons are good time girls…maybe boys?  I can’t tell from here.  Just the same, there’s no downer drivel here, just good stuff, courtesy of George Bernard Shaw.  Well, yes, he – the famous author and me, just me.


Shaw wrote, in his 1930 novel “Immaturity”:

Some of you know I enjoy unpacking family history, sometimes bringing discomfort to light because that’s where I’ve made meaning from bucketloads of drama.  I don’t mind the muck and the mire, I’m an emotional adventurer and I’m down for the duty. The dirty duty. Spelunking with the ancestors, uncovering bits and pieces that, singularly, mean little but smooshed together?  Oh – portrayals of truth, triumph, and peeks into the lives I cannot touch, at least not directly, with many loved ones long gone.

For every bit of unseemliness that I discover, there are joyful aspects.  My family had plenty of skeletons but darn it all, they also knew how to make the most of the madness and dance.  We were the ‘fun house’ no matter where we lived, party central, because my parents knew that laughter was magic.  It didn’t make the turmoil disappear but from their examples, I learned that ‘dancing it out’ was a remedy in and of itself because it lessened the magnitude of the heavy stuff, even if only for a while.

As my parents grew older, the best part of family get togethers were the memory lane moments – the unplanned yet consistent after dinner traditions of ‘telling tales’ about one another’s mishaps and goofy adventures.  There were so many…and because everyone was ‘dancing’, there were no arguments, no insults – just laughter at, with and around one another. 

From me to you…okay, and a little bit from David Bowie… Let’s Dance!

Vicki 💕

Join us for more fun…inspiration and stories from the heart…at The Heart of the Matter! 🤍

When You Crack Yourself Up: The Silly Shorts Edition

So…I did something super stupid last week.  I’ve been maligning myself – left and right – for succumbing to the sugar monster within.  Not just for a day, but the entire expanse of “holiday time”, which consists of (here in the U.S.) the sugar rush known as Halloween…marching through Thanksgiving (hello pumpkin pie)…and into Christmas (strudel, cookies, coffee cakes) and New Year’s (fancy desserts I don’t normally eat…tiramisu, chocolate souffles…you get the idea).  Other people are enamored with turkey, dressing, heavy, meaty hors d’oeuvres but not me.  Bring me sweets, my insatiable demon shouts.

Let me think this through, then…if I do the math, that’s a bit more than a day or two of falling off the wagon. 🤣 Oy.  I’m not obsessive about sugar or truly any food, but the older I get, the more I recognize the inflammation impact of imbibing in too much sucrose, fructose – in any and all forms.  It’s my sugary, slippery slope.  Once I begin the slide, I’m doomed until I hit one of my enlightened, epiphany moments and climb back to reality.  All things in moderation.  Got it.  But remember, Vicki?  You don’t do moderation well, dufus!

So, I’m feeling better. Thanks for asking! 😉 I’m back in the saddle with a little self-control and daily Pilates and a bit of cardio – helping me to feel better, less tired, more normal.  Cheers to me!  But I’ve got some ground to cover – literally – before the waistband on my jeans is less tourniquet and more wearable…for more than three minutes. 

Still with me?  So, let’s get to the super stupid thing.  I’m not a runner, but I fancy the lightweight running shorts for workouts.  Good range of movement and I appreciate the pockets.  I have a slew of shorts – all the same – so the excuse of ‘whoopsie – no fresh duds, I’ll need to skip today to do laundry’ isn’t an easy out.  I know all of my tricks.  I think so, anyhow? 

The day in question, I hustled to get the sports bra on, the shorts, the compression socks, the base layer, the sweatshirt, fill my water bottle, find my towel…all for the 30-second commute to the basement.  I was feeling smug because I managed to get ready in record time before Sadie (#1 poochie mama) suspected a thing.  She hates it when I go to the basement and she can’t.  It’s a mess with construction going on and it’s hardly safe for humans; certainly, a no-fly zone for our sweet old lady Sadie. 

Feeling triumphant, pleased with my speediness, I got downstairs and started my routine and was instantly miserable.  Forgiveness for the oversharing, if that’s how you might perceive what’s coming, but my shorts were ridiculously riding up.  I could not get those suckers to sit where they were supposed to, if you know what I mean. Still, I trucked along, stretching, and doing my warmup, whilst frequently yanking at my shorts.

A smart woman (which clearly I’m not) would’ve slowed down to inspect the shorts, right?  Nope – not me.  I was mad because they were uncomfortable but rather than go with an obvious answer…like maybe my shorts were on backwards…I rolled into self-loathing.  “The damn shorts, too?  Another example of too many cookies?!”  I figured my discomfort was my fault, all cookie and sweets related, accounting for the extra snuggy-ness of the shorts.  Did I stop to investigate?  Nope. 

I finished my workout.  Mad, glad and everything in between.  Sweaty, but I finished.  As I grabbed my phone to slide it into my pocket before I headed upstairs, I couldn’t find the opening in the side of my shorts.  What the heck? So I struggled a bit, and when I finally got the pocket to reveal itself, I tried to slip my phone in and it went in…but towards my tush. I’m sure you figured this out before I got to this long-winded reveal.  Stupid silly Vicki put her shorts on backward.  Hurrying, yes, and rather than attributing the ill-fit to something plausible and easily fixable…like flipping my shorts around to the front…I instinctively attributed the odd fit and discomfort to cookies and all of their associates. 

But wait – there’s more!  By the time I figured this out, I could hardly control myself as a giggle fit took over.  The good news is that no one was home but me and the pooch because I’m not sure how I would’ve explained the self-imposed hilarity to any humans in the house.  My shorts made me laugh?  Oh my.

Thanks for reading…and unpacking this with me.  In the end, I recognize that I need to be better to my body, in a few different ways.  What I consume?  Sure thing.  How to dress myself?  Yes, yes – that, too!

Vicki ❤

Join us for more fun…inspiration and stories from the heart…at The Heart of the Matter! 🤍

Photo by Gratisography on Pexels.com

A Few Beads Short


I have a very bad habit of scrolling my newsfeed when I can’t sleep.  I know that goes against all the good advice – much of it I’ve given to others – but the mystical and mighty late-night allure of the i-Pad is powerful and I say it helps to distract me from the well-intended techniques, like counting sheep, deep breathing, and progressive muscle relaxation that often fail me.  It’s a habit I’d like to quit, but I’m struggling – especially when I run across something to snicker at, which only reinforces my naughty, overnight perusing.

This morning?  At 3am I gave up on my own wellness drivel and swapped in technology. It was a self-defense maneuver, listening to the hubster and pupster’s concerto of snoring. I was defenseless.  (Yup – that’s my story and I’m sticking to it!) 

Straight away, I landed on a piece about dear Prince Harry’s soon-to-be-released-but-why-bother-we’ve-heard-it-all-anyway memoir and I laughed out loud.  At 3am. 

Guy Kelly, writing for the Telegraph shared some hilarious observations about the scuffle and turmoil between Prince Harry and his bro, Prince William – the notorious rumble in the Nottingham Cottage kitchen.  Kelly wrote: 

“It’s a riveting passage, with many of the hallmarks we love from Prince Harry’s previous hits, including his aptitude for instilling anecdotes with the melodrama of a telenovela, his tendency to include details that do nothing but confound the reader about his lifestyle, and his remarkable gift for letting His Truth only bolster the widely held view that he might, just might, be a few beads short of a necklace.” (emphasis added by me!)

That?!  That?!  Maybe it was just 3am funny, but it still holds up at 8am, I say.  I lost a few of my beads when I read that paragraph…that phrase.  I think I’ve always been a few beads short of a necklace, truth be told, 😉 but Kelly’s fantastic imagery sent me into a chuckle fit. 

Forgiveness if you don’t find this equally funny – or perhaps not funny at all.  And I don’t mean to malign the monarchy, the Royals, the ‘firm’.  I’m just amused.  Which prompted a rabbit hole of wanton discovery as I wondered…now at 3:10 am…about the origin of the phrase “clutching pearls”.  You know how 3am minds are…wanderers tolerating wonder.  Know what I found?  The whole “pearl clutching” to express dismay and shock, Scarlett style, is pretty rooted in literary history, going back to at least 1910:

 From Chapter X of The Rake’s Progress, a romance by Marjorie Bowen 3, published in The Gentlewoman (London, England) of Saturday 12th February 1910:

The Countess Lavinia stood silent; she had no words to meet the occasion. Only once before had she spoken directly with her husband, when he had brought her home to Lyndwood Holt, and then, as now, he had silenced her. Her dumb hatred of him rose and swelled in her heart to agony; she made a motion of her hand to her throat and then clutched at the pearls on her tight bodice.
The Earl glanced away from her as if he found her not worth of his attention.
She gave a little gasp, and the string of pearls broke and came away in her hot hand.

What’s the point?  No point.  I’m just sharing and lamenting the fact that this will be a three-cupper…of coffee day.  Ah…maybe I’ll toss in a ‘cuppa’ in deference to dear Harry and enjoy some tea.  One thing’s for sure…I won’t be clutching any pearls as more revelations (if there are any) from “Spare” are shared. 

Vicki 😊

Talk Nonsense, You Say?


Don’t mind if I do!  Folks who know me are aware…poor souls…that a tired Vicki is trouble.  Yes, yes – on occasion, exhausted moi morphs into a crankster…a crabby patty…but just as often, I’m plagued by gargantuan giggle fits when sleep’s eluded me.  Childlike humor takes over…a full regression into a maturity level akin to toddlers.  Poorly behaved toddlers.  (Actually, strike that.  I feel like I’m maligning toddlers and who wants to do that?  Not me. I LOVE toddlers.  They are aware of rules, generally, but sashay right by them, professing innocence with those wide-eyed ‘who me?’ stares.) 

When I’ve crossed over to bedlam, suddenly EVERYTHING is funny.  Simple mishaps and goofy antics become epic freefalls of hilarity.  Sometimes the unsuspecting onlooker will join in – I’m famous for sweeping others in, before they know the peril they’re in.  Isn’t it amazing that belly laughs can do that – pull people closer – either to join in or gawk? Mostly gawk, I suppose – especially when they’re not in on the joke.  Or worse, when there IS no joke.  Just a scene…lots of snorting, incoherent speech.  You get the picture.  I’m grateful my family tolerates me when I become stupid-silly-me.  (Wait – I think they tolerate me, but now that I think about it, where did everyone go?)

Today is one of those days.  I could bust out, ride the wave to goofy town, at any moment.  Without warning. I thought you should know.  And no, it has nothing to do with a hangover or too much New Year’s Eve fun.  I drank iced tea, okay?  And coffee – it was medicinal.  Whether it’s the sweet pooch Sadie and her nocturnal roaming or time-of-life fun for me where sleep becomes elusive, I’m kinda a walking zombie.  (Oh geez – no offense intended toward any respectable, non-brain-noshing zombies. They probably need love, too, right?)

What’s helping me?  As I plopped at my desk a while ago, I moved a pile of this-and-that; the same pile I’ve been herding around my desk that’s needed attention for months, and found…believe it or not, a Dostoevsky quote that provided much needed grounding. 

I don’t know how long it will last, or when a spontaneous snooze will commence or more silly will surface, but I loved this normalizing, liberating thought.  I think it excuses my overwrought self, just a bit:

“Talk nonsense, but talk your own nonsense, and I’ll kiss you for it.  To go wrong in your own way is better than to go right in someone else’s.”

-F. Dostoevsky

Nonsense? Who’s to say?!  I know I’m being fully myself today but it’s just one of my fun facets (that’s my story and I am sticking to it).  Maybe what seems like incoherence to others might result in a flash of brilliance or insight.  It could happen.  I mean I’m open to it.  But if it’s coming, it should hustle.  I feel a nap coming on. 

Happy New Year, with love!

Vicki ❤

Holiday Hijinks!


I don’t recall the ‘why’ but I’m learning that’s my least favorite queryWhen, what, where and how tend to spur a drilldown with a payoff, but ‘why’?  Not so much.  I think it’s because some things in life just happen…the inexplicable, the magical, coincidental, the maddening.  Exploring the reasons, the why?  Unnecessary adventures that often yield little insight.  (Bad ROI for my business-y friends.)

That’s where I start with this silly remembrance.  I don’t know WHY the dear hubster was a prankster with my mom.  I suspect it was because mom pivoted between tragedy and comedy – daily – and keeping her on the funny side, as much as possible, was good for all of us.  I should remember to thank him for his service!  😊 His best bit ever? It involved holiday hijinks with M&M candy…

Late one Christmas Eve, not long after we were married, the hubster took mom’s gigantic brandy-snifter (something that normal people would use as a terrarium or a goldfish bowl but to mom, it was ‘just a candy dish’) and he painstakingly sorted five pounds of those tiny M&M candy discs – by color – and layered them back into the bubble-shaped bowl.  It looked like geological layers…rock formations…chocolate-coated candy-style. I think the order was brown, yellow, green, blue, red.  I wish I had a pic…but I don’t.  Can you picture it in your mind? 

Back in those days the hubs was a night owl.  Less so now…we like our sleep more than shenanigans…and this little escapade was nearly an all-nighter.  The next morning, mom was the first one up but she went straight to the kitchen to get little quiches ready, make the coffee and put cinnamon rolls in the oven.  Our Christmas morning routine was to nosh a little, open presents, nosh some more, complain we were full, take a walk around the block and by that time we were ready for more – presents and nibbles.  Oh my, the holiday excesses! 

Given all of his hard work, the hubster was disappointed when mom didn’t react to his M&M masterpiece – for hours.  She walked past the hall table where the big bowl sat, not giving it a second look.  Later, my dad saw it and busted out laughing…a spit-take with his second cup of coffee.  He knew immediately it was his dear son-in-law’s handiwork and wanted to linger in the room to be there…to catch mom’s reaction. You know – the payoff.

Finally – and only because mom needed to fetch some doo-dad from a nearby cabinet – she noticed the bulging bowl of striated M&M’s and just stood there. Frozen. Hubs thought for sure she would pin the caper on him – immediately.  Nope!  Instead, she screamed, “Holy shit!” “Someone’s been in the house – we’ve been robbed – see what’s missing!”   Why on Earth she thought the M&M display was the dastardly deed of a burglar, we’ll never know.  Her first reaction was about trespassers??  Evil, no-good bandits staking out the house just to play with five pounds of candy?

After a few seconds she realized we were laughing…unable to contain ourselves.  She looked at the hubs with a fun, narrow-eyed twinkle and said, “Oh YOU!  I bet you were up all night doing that!” (true) and then, “You’ll never know what I might do to retaliate…you know, when you’re sleeping!” This was one time when mom was all bluster and bravado.  She loved the attention, the time and energy that went into the joke. For years afterward, she regaled others with the story, “He got me…he really got me!”

Every birthday and Christmas afterward, mom gifted the hubs with hefty bags of M&M’s, typically disguised, or snuck into other presents as a loving reminder of the M&M caper.  It was their thing – their sweet inside joke.

After our daughter was born, I found a holiday recipe for cute reindeer cookies (see pic) and began making them annually, as a tradition.  The only hitch?  We’ve established that M&M’s don’t come in bags by color, right? The reindeer cookies require only a single red candy for the nose and two brown for the eyes.  You know where I’m headed.  Yes, for at least twenty years, as our DD (darling daughter) grew up, we continued the sorting madness, by necessity, in order to ferret out the brown and red ones – essential to make our Rudolph cookies.

In conclusion:

  1. If you play a prank on someone, be aware that it might set the stage for years of associated silliness, like the endless tiddly-wink fiddling and sorting of slippery candies.
  2. Buckle up.  Traditions are inescapable.  If I had to guess, we’ve made ten dozen batches of reindeer cookies every year for 20 years.  Carry the one, add the two, divide by nine…I think that means we’ve sorted enough M&M’s to bake 2400 cookies. 
  3. I don’t care. I’d do it all over again…and there’s a batch in the oven now.  Come on over, wash your hands. I’ve got a fresh bag of M&M’s on the counter and could use your help.

Merry, Happy, Everything – from our house to yours!

Vicki ❤

Cheers to the New Year!


Happy Holidays, friends! No, not just Santa Claus stuff for those of us who celebrate Christmas…I’m talking about the brand-spanking new year, 2023, that we’re about to greet.  It’s within reach…all shiny and new with that new car/new year aroma. 

When I was a kid, I thought I detected a distinctive crackle in the air in late December, heralding possibilities…all clean and fresh…straight from the factory.  No scratches or dents…ready for cruising to destinations of all sorts.  Maybe you’re headed down familiar roads or perhaps new adventures await.  Maybe both? Call me excited.  I am – for all of us – and I think I hear that magical crackle right now…if I listen closely enough.

I’m not much for resolutions but I like the symbolism that January provides…allowing us to cast off unpleasantries of the ‘year that was’ with optimistic hearts. It’s hard for me to look away from pain and suffering and heaven knows there’s been plenty over the past twelve months, but I’m ever hopeful about humanity and goodness and I’ve found that here in the blogging world.  Goodness.  Kind people reading and sharing.  Telling stories of triumph and trauma along with winsome tales of humor and wisdom. 

I’m especially grateful for the opportunities to learn from and connect with, fellow bloggers. Thank you for reading, for your kind comments, for allowing me to share my often silly and bittersweet reminiscences about my family, my world.    

Over the next couple of weeks, posts to “Victoria Ponders” will still pop – just with a little less frequency as I slow down to enjoy my blessings – my family and friends.

But I want to leave you with a smile, for nowReady?  Here it comes…

My mother was a party girl at heart and Christmas was her favorite time of year.  Even when money was tight, she’d find ways to rally people together with her infectious humor and charisma, often for a good cause, raising money for worthy charities.

Truthfully, though, for my mom, any holiday = dress up time.  Here’s a favorite photo from my childhood – mom in a Santa costume that she made by staying up all night.  Mom learned the scheduled Santa became ill, so to avoid cancelling a holiday shindig for sister Lisa and other disabled children, she crafted her own Santa suit by pulling an all-nighter and whipped up a costume – evidence in the photo:


Despite many maddening qualities, mom was often good-hearted, even as a last-minute Santa stand-in. The Santa suit?  It barely held together for the party, but it did the trick and that was all that mattered.

Ho, Ho, Ho – from me and my mama and here’s to all good things in 2023!

Vicki ❤

You Win…My Admiration AND a Cupcake!


I’d like the thank the smart and sassy person who provided this morning’s chuckle…but I have no idea of the source.  If you do, let me know.  I saved it as a scrap. (Yes, I’m still working out my organizational issues…it’s akin to the mess I make when I clean a closet…everything needs to come out, but wowzers – I hate the motivational buzz kill when you create a cyclone scene before the cleaning commences.  Don’t you agree?)

Back to the scrap, my barely discernible, sun-faded and raggedy scrawl.  I understand from my friend Michelle that this precious tidbit is a popular pin on Pinterest.  She’s right – I found it there – betwixt and between other ‘motivational’ bon mots.  Maybe the scrappy version I found was a remnant saved by one of my relatives? Maybe it’s a voice from the past – from my mom, who was a painter and a creative, tortured soul in her own way?  I dunno, but I LIKE it. 

Such a build-up.  I can hear you thinking – just share it already!  Here you go:

Stages in the Creative Process

  1. This is Awesome
  2. This is Tricky
  3. This is Crap
  4. I AM Crap
  5. This Might be Okay
  6. This is Awesome

Think about your last creative foray…did you run the gamut, from #1 all the way back to #6 – basking in your awesomeness?  That’s a fun, full-circle experience, I say.  Me? I often get stuck after I pat myself on the back (#1) and find myself lingering at #5 – but only after I schmooze myself out of the quagmire that is #4:  I create crap; therefore, I am CRAP. 

Most of all, these silly ‘stages’ make me laugh. Even when our creations don’t meet the wacky, often arbitrary standards we set for ourselves, we’re still making something…from nearly nothin’ – whether it’s artistry in words, painting, photography, music. For that, I say everyone deserves praise and admiration and a resounding standing ovation…I declare you…AWESOME.

As a reward, I’d love to send you a cupcake…all pretty with extra sprinkles.  Since that’s impractical, just imagine…and enjoy.

Vicki 😊

Vicki in Wonderland

Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland could be a best seller today…in a whole new genre… if its wisdom was rendered anew in a snazzy self-help format.  So many lessons wrapped in biting humor…j’adore…and I always will. 

There’s one snippet, especially, that stokes the fire in my creative furnace.  It works every time…a wee segment from Chapter 5 where the ever-caustic straight-talk from the Queen cuts through. 

I think her words have the capacity to work wonders (wink!) to counter modern day malaise, creative funks.  Just enough of a goose to toss me back into the game.  “Get in there, girl”, I hear the Queen saying, “You’ve got stories of your own to tell!” 

Here’s the message from the “Queen as Coach”. Thank you, Lewis Carroll:

Alice laughed. “There’s no use trying,” she said: “one can’t believe impossible things.”
“I daresay you haven’t had much practice,” said the Queen. “When I was your age, I always did it for half-an-hour a day. Why, sometimes I’ve believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast.”

Yes, yes.  From the Queen’s lips to my ears…head, heart.  Alice was whining…just a tad.  I can’t, she laments. Not unlike my sometimes negative, lackluster voice…the heckler in my head.  You can’tEven if you did, it’s not good enough.  Alice and I share inner critics who shut us down before we find our groove.  Our creative lane.

In my head, I also imagine the Queen uttering, under her breath, “Pish-posh” as she deftly commiserates with Alice, while also busting her chops.  “Believe in the impossiblebut for pity’s sake, you DO need to do the work.  Get up early and crank it out!” 

Yes, my Queen.  I hear you.  I don’t know if I can conjure six impossible things before breakfast but maybe I can take a swing and round up one or two.  If I believe I can…Vicki in Wonderland.

Big smiles…from me and the Queen,

Vicki 🧡

Plate Spinning

Definitely not me at my best…my plate-spinning self.  Sometimes, borne of necessity we find ourselves doing too much at once and the more I think about my choices, I realize I am my own worst enemy.  Most tasks do not need to be accomplished in Herculean, super-human style.  I choose, very often, if I’m honest, to test my limits and load up my plate…and then add more plates and before you know it, I’m the plate spinner and I’m not happy.  I don’t like to see things roll off, fall off or crash and burn.  And they do.

So, welcome to a Thursday morning session of Self-Talk with Vicki 😊.  No admission fee and you’re free to leave…but if you linger, I promise a chuckle or two, at my expense.  Never yours. 

Other than my chronic failures as a juggler, the inspiration for this noodling comes from my friend Kendra and her blog, “An Audience of One”.  Kendra posted recently about whoopsie issues where she candidly made a few honest, relatable mistakes.  So relatable that I think it’s time for me to come clean. Take a look at her post…you’ll enjoy it, especially the part about sharing her screen in a meeting.

Here’s my story…my confession.  I should know better because I’ve done this more than once but the most glaring example was in a professional setting where the stakes were high. The issue was student conduct related on a college campus and my hearty team and I were rallying at light speed for safety reasons.  (Still, that’s not an excuse for poor execution on my part.)

The venue isn’t important to the story – just think of any urgent situation you’ve been involved in and swap out my details.  A common denominator, though? Good teams practice and conduct drills, in advance, to be diligently prepared.  We did many, many ‘tabletop’ simulations and involved stakeholders at all levels within the campus community. If everyone stayed in position, ready to do their part, we were as prepared as we could be.  Maybe I got comfortable? I don’t want to share all the details for privacy reasons, but maybe one day over a cup of coffee, I’ll fill you in. 

The good news?  There were no life-threatening injuries and the person of concern was successfully transported to a local hospital.  To get to that point, however, substantial sweat and adrenaline were required…and multiple conference calls on land lines, cell phone group chats and team site messages.  So many touchpoints, but they’re necessary.

The incident in question was nearly under control but one player – one very key player, Jim (not his real name) was out of position and incommunicado.  He didn’t respond on his cell, ghosted me on teams and when I asked, no one had heard from him.

A few of us paused in a meeting room and tried an old-school conference call…and since Jim was the one we were trying to locate, it never occurred to me that he might be on the other end of the call.  Note to self…forever and ever, amen:  Victoria:  Never open your mouth – especially if a rant is bubbling up – unless a roll call’s been done first.  Know who’s there.  Did I do that in this instance?  No ma’am and no sir.

Before anyone could get a word in edgewise or sideways, I barreled forward – and I was mad.  I could’ve said it more delicately.  Something like, “Hey – has anyone connected with Jim?”  Of course, I didn’t do that.  My delivery was more like this: “Bloody hell – where is JIM??? In addition to everything else we’re managing, we need to send out a search party for him!?”

I think my actual delivery was less venomous, but I know the tone was bad and the “bloody hell” part was for real.  I was honked off and everyone who knows me could hear it, picking up on the take-no-prisoners tone that’s my trademark blend of angry mom and overwrought teacher.  Still, I carried on, starting a fresh rant when a quiet voice, on the call from the conference room across campus, interrupted and said, “Vicki – umm…you might not know this, but Jim…Jim’s right here.”

Egg on face.  Actually, a whole omelet…maybe a frittata.  I felt terrible, embarrassed, and realized I’d just delivered an excellent portrayal of what NOT to do in a leadership position.  Communication at my worst.  The best I could do was respond, “Thank goodness, Jim – I’m sorry about my flash of anger.  I thought you’d gone AWOL on us. We’ll talk later…” and I tried to carry on but I felt about two inches tall.

Later that morning, as I licked my wounds a bit, I realized my lashing out at Jim, publicly, was a teachable moment – for me. I was trying to spin too many plates of my own, while managing a tense situation and could’ve delegated better, improved my own response…if I’d been more self-aware. I apologized to Jim again, and he acknowledged that he dropped the ball and should’ve been more responsive. Maybe so, but still.  I didn’t need to…as my dad would say…’show my ass’. 

And this concludes the Thursday morning installment of Self-Talk with Vicki. Don’t do what I do.  Do better and if you are prone to juggling, maybe spin fewer plates, if you can.

Vicki 😊

It Was Never About the Mashed Potatoes

Holiday time isn’t for everyone.  Such a mixed bag of tricks…I swear it feels like a continuation of Halloween.  We’re surrounded by manufactured cheer.  For some, the festive and formulaic films on the Hallmark Channel are a tonic. For others? They have an ironic, unintended effect, prompting prayers for amnesia so we can avoid comparisons to our own family members.  You know them. Every family has one or two…those provocateurs wrapped in reindeer sweaters. 

I have a dear friend…let’s call her Dottie.  She’s the cutie in the pic with me. Dottie and I have been friends for 20+ years, which means she deserves a special commendation for her veteran status in “Vicki-land”.  I adore her because she is smart and big-hearted. I could go on…and on…but in truth, the qualifications for best friend status could stop at those two characteristics.  Smart and big hearted.  That’s Dottie.

In her work-world, Dottie’s respected, sought-after and the spotlight only adds to her natural glimmer and glow.  Her family, however?  They believe she’s just an over-educated caterer.  (No offense intended to caterers but I don’t think Dottie’s advanced degrees and credentials are required.)

For reasons I’d like to attribute to laziness, Dottie’s family enjoys holiday feasts because she creates them. Yep.  She plans the menu, does the shopping, and lovingly transports her tasty cuisine to her sister’s home.  Her sister who lives an hour away. 

Maybe in our youth we accept certain roles when dumped (I mean…placed) upon us within the family.  As we get older?  Traditions suck – especially if you’re the sole supporter of some of them. I don’t care how often a distant uncle belches his gratitude after polishing off a two-plater-feast-o-rama. It’s not enough.  I don’t care how often second cousins and hangers-on (where did these extra people come from?) comment on the ‘tender bake’ of your homemade yeast rolls, or how juicy the turkey is.  No.  No.  No.  You guessed it.  Not enough. We yearn for consideration, respect, kindness.  Even if only a tad.

What about the mashed potatoes I mentioned in the title of this rant?  Yeah, I’m getting to that.  The spuds were responsible for obliterating Dottie’s dwindling holiday cheer.  See…when you are the designated purveyor of everything for your family feast, you need to plan ahead – just a smidge.  I love the idea of a sous chef or Keebler elves, but I haven’t met any yet and neither has Dottie.

Unwilling to bet her oven gloves on magical helpers, smart girls like Dottie make a LENGTHY shopping list…check it twice….and map out the cooking, baking and prep in the same way I imagine a four-star General goes into battle.  Except she’s got no troops.  It’s just her…so the timeline…the second big task after all the fetching and gathering is done…becomes mission critical. When do I prepare what…as she scans the menu and strategizes. 

Thanksgiving’s always on a Thursday, right?  You know this. Surely Dottie’s sister did, too, but that didn’t stop her from calling the afternoon before Thanksgiving – you know, the day we call WEDNESDAY to proudly proclaim she’d be the princess of potatoes.  Hey there, darling Dottie, loving sis.  So…let’s see…I really want to help and considering you’re bringing everything…I’ll give til it hurts and maybe do the potatoes.  See me?  I’m SO helpful. 

When we’re not stretched so thin that we’re like rubber bands ready to snap, even a late-in-the-game helping hand is nice.  When you’re up to your armpits in a messy kitchen, juggling too much, the intrusion of a half-hearted “offer” is insulting.  And that’s how Dottie felt.  Not helpful.  Was she wrong?  No. There’s no ‘wrong’ when it comes skyscraper levels of emotionality at holiday time.  What you feel is what you feel…but what you say and do…oh, those are the moneymakers or the deal breakers. 

When Dottie called me, not long after her sister’s offer, she was ready to cancel Thanksgiving and bail on the whole shebang.  As I listened, I couldn’t blame her.  She’s been used for years…and yet…pointing out that it MIGHT BE that she’s changed…and her family’s the same as ever…seemed helpful.  Maybe it’s okay for Dottie to be angry but funnel the heat toward adjusting her response.  And she did.

Dottie did her duty. She delivered the feast (without the potatoes) and rather than assume her typical position in her sister’s kitchen, she explained that she’d let others tend to the remaining prep, as she took a comfy seat on the sofa.  “Do you want to help with anything?” one of her nieces asked, no doubt flummoxed to see Aunt Dottie relaxing while everyone else spun into action.  “No – I see you’ve got plenty of help. I’m good right here”, was Dottie’s succinct and satisfying response.

One of the best things about friends is the post-mortem chats.  Post-mortems about anything – family feasts, annoying neighbors, dry cuticles – you name it.  When Dottie and I compared notes about Thanksgiving I was thrilled to hear about her new persona.  Less ‘Dutiful Dottie” and more “Do-it-Your-Own-Damn-Self-Dottie”.  Yep – it was never about the mashed potatoes. 

Vicki 😉

Loving Lisa – Elvis Style

My sister Lisa is a developmentally disabled adult in her early 60’s.  She’s a delight in so many ways – a savant when it comes to family memories (good and bad) and she’s quite the connoisseur of pop culture and trivia.  Don’t test her knowledge of classic TV from the seventies or eighties…her magical brain is like a lock box of celebrity this-and-that.  But still…given her intellectual challenges (born with brain damage at birth, surviving as a preemie when no one thought she would) Lisa can get a little mixed up with details from time to time and I’m learning I need be aware of her emerging tendences to creatively (but not maliciously) swap and pair details from TV-land with real life.  I’ve written about Lisa a couple of times, if you want to peek into more of her story but that’s the shortest summary I can offer…as a prelude to something silly.

While prepping our Thanksgiving feast last week, Lisa and I decided to watch the latest epic “Elvis” film…the Baz Luhrmann hot mess (sorry, I should’ve said “spoiler alert” first) that rendered me nearly helpless in the kitchen.  Is THAT Tom Hanks…really Tom Hanks?  At first, I was mesmerized by the fat suit and then…his bizarre Dutch-Southern U.S. accent in his portrayal of Colonel Tom Parker?  I needed to wander closer to the screen – more than once (dare-devil style with biscuit dough all over my hands) to confirm what I saw/heard.  And apologies again if you watched the film and loved it.  Parts of it were cool…who doesn’t love period set-design and costuming?  Austin Butler as Elvis?  Pretty amazing…but the story?  I’m not sure how Baz wrapped it up because Lisa and I bailed with about 30 minutes remaining.

Lisa nodded when I asked if we should say adios to Elvis and quipped, “Yeah, I don’t need to see the end.  Elvis dies on the toilet, right?” 😉 So we swapped in holiday music and said goodbye to the oddball movie and turned it off.  Now THAT was a rare occurrence.  Lisa and I love films, generally of all sorts, and I can’t think of the last movie we ‘walked out on’ – whether from the comfort of the family room or in a theatre.  We stick it out…you know…our mutual admiration of creative efforts, if not the finished product.

As we settled back into the mess in the kitchen, I was still processing the potpourri of Elvis factoids that flew out of Lisa as we started the film.  Here’s where I need to be careful.  My sweet sister – functioning at the intellectual level of a forever eight-year-old – can be incredibly reliable and accurate with fun facts and celebrity trivia.  BUT, if she’s on a roll, she can pillage and pilfer “facts” that only exist in her head.  On occasion, she’ll embellish and/or pick a detail from one story and attach it to whatever the current convo is about.  It’s hard to explain…am I making sense?  (Nod if yes.  If no…it’s okay to stop reading here.  I won’t be mad.)

One of those fun-facts-offered-as-Lisa’s-very-own-Elvis-trailer-preview-reel was this: “Vicki, did you know Elvis had a twin?”   We were setting up stations in the kitchen for biscuit-making, stuffing, and pie prep and maybe I misheard her, I thought.  Color me dubious…this was a tidbit I’d never heard about.  I gave Lisa a look and said, “Are you sure?”   And she replied with a little defiance and pride, “Yes, yes” she said, “I know lots of things other people don’t pay attention to.”

True enough, I thought, that’s my Lisa and dontcha know a few minutes later, the movie tended to the topic of Elvis’ twin.  I might’ve missed all that was shared – I think it was a scene with Elvis and his mother. I should probably go back and look again but I know what I heard.  Lisa was right!  Feeling vindicated despite my doubting look, Lisa shouted, “See – see – they just mentioned his twin in the movie.”  I was gob smacked. 

Lisa did it again!  I paused and gave her well-deserved praise.  “That’s awesome…you’re right…you pick up on fun facts that a lot of us miss!  Good job, Lisa.”  She was pleased as punch with herself…I could see it as color rushed to her cheeks.  Flushed with pride – literally.

Maybe she figured she was on a roll? After that ‘twin win’ and the good vibes she must’ve felt, Lisa jumped into kitchen duty with gusto, especially enthusiastic as she mixed the stuffing…adding the butter into the dry bread. More landed on the floor (to pooch Sadie’s delight) than remained in the bowl but I didn’t care. The hilarious part was Lisa’s monologue. “Yes” Lisa repeated several times, “Elvis DID have a twin! And did you know he named his daughter Lisa Marie after me? I think mom knew Elvis and they both liked the name.”

Lisa’s rosy cheeks were more crimson than flushed at this point…I wondered if that was a ‘tell’ that she knew she was telling a whopper?  I’m not sure.  What I do know is that our mother never met Elvis…but Lisa’s feel-good moment, attaching herself to Elvis’ life and his daughter was fun for her.  Rather than wreck her vibe I just said, “Wow…that’s hard to believe…but it’s a good story.” 

And Lisa? She knew I knew she was playing fast and loose – embellishing real life with fabricated fun. She smiled and said, “I know, right? I think I’ll tell Rosie. She believes all of my stories.” God Bless Lisa’s bestie, Rosie. They’ve lived together for years, and Rosie doesn’t give a rat’s patootie whether Lisa’s “stories” are fully factual or not. The “Lisa Show” can be great entertainment for Rosie…and sometimes for me.

Hugs to you – from me and from Lisa!

-Vicki 😊

Swoopy Wave of Fun

“Your Song” by Elton John is one of my all-time favorite tunes and it will be…forever.  There’s a lot of hub bub about Sir Elton’s final tour and even if it was reasonably possible, I wouldn’t try to attend a show.  I’ve got too many delightful memories of Elton from my youth.  Privileged is how I feel when I think about being a child of the 70’s with a soundtrack that included the Eagles and Elton John, most of all.  (Well, Jackson Browne was a fave, too…but if I start down the road of naming secondary ‘favorites’ this post will be far too lengthy.)

One chunk of “Your Song” continues to speak to me, across many decades, including an odd flash that occurred this morning – involving this verse:

If I was a sculptor…but then again, no

Or a man who makes potions in a traveling show

I know it’s not much, but it’s the best I can do

My gift is my song, and this one’s for you

At the literal crack of dawn, I found a leaf in the shape of a heart (pictured above).  I wasn’t looking – it was just THERE – on the back step as I took Sadie pooch out for her first potty call.  If the lovely little leaf had been even slightly ‘left of center’ I would’ve missed her altogether.  Instead, the sweetest bit of morning sun, combined with dewy frost, created a coppery shimmer, demanding that I take a closer look. My pic does a lousy job of capturing the sparkle. Use your imagination. 😉

Just a few days ago I remarked to Wynne Leon that I never find leaves as picturesque as those she snips into her fun posts…especially heart-shaped specimens.  Hmmm…never is a big word.  Now I figure I wasn’t looking closely enough to see a beauty when she’s right before me, coppery glow, and all.

As I picked up the delicate specimen and brought her inside, along with Sadie, of course (who…side note… was giving me a look that screamed ‘What the heck – let’s go! I pooped!  Time for breakfast!’) a variation of “Your Song” popped to mind:

If I was a sculptor…but then again, no

Or a GIRL who makes potions in a traveling show

I know it’s not much, but it’s the best I can do

My gift is this LEAF…and this one’s for you

Heaven only knows why THAT song in THAT moment popped to mind and the tiny twist with two words?  The silliness of it had me humming the whole “Your Song” tune as I moseyed about, making coffee, and feeding Sadie.  It was fun and weird – but I’ll take it ‘as is’.  When a swoopy wave of fun rolls in…especially on a Monday…I say don’t investigate further.  Just enjoy.

-Vicki 😉

Blogging Buddies

I’m a returning blogger…back in the saddle for a few months only…with years and years in between and even then, my previous efforts were professional posts, with just a soupcon of Vicki tossed in for fun. 

When I decided to give WordPress a whirl over the summer, I had low expectations.  No – scratch that.  I had no expectations.  I figured, nothing ventured, nothing gained, and I hoped the daily practice of writing – spitting out words, ideally in a cogent manner…ideally helpful…sometimes funny…oh – and endearing…I hoped for endearing…might help tone and tighten my writing skills. 

I also know myself. I’ve adapted to academic writing when I needed to (dissertation and all) and writing textbooks…but letting my essence, good bad (and often) otherwise, free flow from fingers to keyboard is nirvana. Heaven…for me…but I know I may not be everyone’s cup o’ tea. What rolls out may not be of interest to all but still…it’s ME…and any errors, omissions, bad syntax, or grammar? Not intended to harm the hearts, eyes, souls of readers who are better writers. Promise. After a few weeks, I was pleasantly surprised when sweet fellow bloggers received me, encouraged me, inspired me. More than I’d hoped for.

Blogging for enjoyment was the goal. I left my day job behind and launched headlong, about two years ago, into my consulting business, which I Iove…because my clients are terrific and whether I’m working with individuals or groups, it’s a rare experience when I don’t benefit as much or more than those who pay me.  How’s that?  Well…forgiveness for the repetition, but connection in life is everything to me.  Allowing ourselves to be known, “seen” and when combined with opportunities to serve and lift up a fellow human?  Best.Stuff.Ever.  The feedback from clients, specifically about blogging was unexpected and affirming with nudges…Vicki…keep writing…blog more, please.  So, I pivoted to WordPress and here we are.

As I’ve balanced blogging with other projects – helping others and getting a book ready for my publisher – I’ve seen a shift in how I use my time and it’s because of you.  Yep, you – the person on the other side of the screen reading this. I’ve fallen into a comfortable cadence of WordPress writing, mostly in the morning, interspersed with other duties. I enjoy reading and commenting on the posts of fellow bloggers.  Fellow bloggers who are smart, wicked-smart, and funny.  Fellow bloggers who are insightful and knowledgeable on a range of topics…teaching me about music, art, literature, philosophy, and technology while expanding my worldview of cultures and history.  I love the person-first stories, the photography, the poetry, the tips, and tricks. I’m in awe.

While out with a dear friend for breakfast last week, I forgot to turn notifications off on my phone.  She knew I was dabbling with blogging again and asked, as I apologized and silenced the WordPress app, my two email accounts, text messages and IG, “How’s the blogging community?”  She’s seen the lively comments and caring tone in exchanges with fellow bloggers and was curious.

She’s right about the caring tone.  So many lovely acquaintances…dare I call you friends? The blogging relationships are unique in my life but no less endearing, just because they’re virtual.  I laughed at my friend’s question, “How’s the blogging community” and replied, “It’s richer and more rewarding on an interpersonal level than a lot of conventional, you know ‘brick and mortar’ friendships.”

It’s a bad habit to laugh at my own silliness, but the ‘brick and mortar’ phrase tickled me.  “Oh” my friend said, “That’s how it is…I’m brick and mortar, eh… so what do you call the blogging friends?”  I didn’t have a witty answer for her…I dunno, I thought.  They’re magical, insightful, thoughtful…and ‘real’ in the most important sense and the fact that they’re slightly intangible, physically, doesn’t diminish the depth or positive regard.

I shared that explanation with her, while shoving pumpkin pancakes in my mouth and she nodded, following my train of thought, and said, “That’s so cool. It’s that thing you always talk about…meeting people where they are or in this case…wherever they are.”

Yep.  She’s got me…this tried-and-true, ‘brick and mortar’ friend.  Sharing, caring, demonstrating to each other that we matter is the stuff of a life well-lived.  If you’re a new friend reading for the first time…or you’ve popped into my blog here and there, know that I look forward to getting to know you, too. And for those who’ve supported me in the blogging world thus far, I’m grateful for your kindness, your good humor and your big hearts. Blessed to call you ‘friend’.

Vicki ❤

P.S. The puppy pic is not mine…I don’t know who deserves credit… but how cute, right?

Gratitude and HATtitude

lady in black hat

I forgot I was wearing it, probably because my brain was still thawing out?  Wooooo…when the temps drop in the Midwest, it’s no joke and the one-two punch of piercing cold and unrelenting wind?  Wowza. 

Still, despite the cold, I’m out doing my thing because errands need to be run, right?  I love swooping through stores doing the quick round-up of this-and-that…trying to avoid crowds as much as possible (which…as we veer closer and closer to Thanksgiving around here is hard to wrangle – crowd avoidance, I mean).

Yesterday…while attempting to navigate as if I was incognito…a sweet man bounced me out of my inner world to join the human race.  We both approached a checkout lane at the same time…you know that moment. Kinda like the experience we have while driving and the 4-way stop.  You go…no, no, you go…and I’m pretty sure Todd Fulginiti wrote about that recently in a fun post. 

Anywho…polite awkwardness surfaced as the kind gentleman waved me into the line ahead of him and said, “Right back at ya”.  Right back at me – what?  I wondered.  I smiled and said thanks…but I think my clueless face conveyed dimness…that I didn’t get his witticism…didn’t know it WAS a witticism.  Then he pointed to my hat…

I’ve bored a few of you with my lament about hats…several weeks ago.  I know I need one…but I struggle to find a “good” one for my bowling ball extra-large pumpkin’ head.  But I like my smiley face hat.  You know – smiley faces and all.  Very, very Vicki – to the point of being annoying – and yes, I’ve heard about it for years.  (“You’re too sunny, too smiley…it’s fakery or pharmaceuticals.”  I won’t tell you who shared THAT comment but it wasn’t very nice, right?)

I realized the kind man’s “Right back at ya” was about the smile…on my hat…when he pointed to it.  Ohhhh.  Yep!  “Thank you!”  I said and he followed with “I should’ve said ‘right back HAT-cha’ to be more clear.”

Love that…such a fun and wee little life affirming moment, trading smiles in the checkout line.  My kind of moment. 

From me, and my hat…here’s hoping you find your own HATtitude of gratitude…and time to giggle when you can.

Vicki 😊

Welcome to My Brain…Days of the Week as “People” in My Head

Sunday: Yes…Sunday. Meet Swoosie – she’s a mix of light and dark, full of glorious anticipation, yearning for much-needed down-time, both for herself and the rest of the house. She’s the champion of self-care…all 1950’s housewife personified. Think of her in a crisp housedress, with nary a hair out of place. That’s Swoosie…or I should clarify. That’s morning Swoosie. Blissful, long, healthy brunches – both tantalizing and nutritious are Swoosie’s super skills. Sunday mornings with Swoosie (after brunch, of course) are devoted to ushering in the sweet smell of clean laundry and the time to methodically put said laundry in proper places – drawers and closets (as opposed to teetering stacks on the stairs or truly any flat surface). Yes, SMS (Sunday Morning Swoosie) is all about neatness and nice. Sunday afternoons? The clouds roll in. Dark and dank as Sunday Afternoon Swoosie arrives – full of spit and sass. Her apron’s a little askew and beads of sweat about unfinished household crapola appear on her forehead. This “pm” Swoosie? She loses the smidgen of softspoken-ness she had left from the morning, trading it in for a cantankerous bark. She’s sullen Swoosie, having dismissed the sunny and sweet Swoosie with her gray tones, foreboding. Worse? She ushers in the Sunday sweats, the first waves of Monday malaise. It’s coming.

Monday brings Martin.  Martin’s all about the lists.  He likes them and lives by them.  And he’s bossy. Rather than remain in his Monday lane, Martin likes to cross over…thinking it’s his job to be leadoff man to get the whole week in order, not just his day.  Martin’s often critiquing and organizing what Tuesday and Wednesday should tackle, occasionally at the expense of his own tasks – you know – like actually getting out of bed and out the door.  His spreadsheet brain fixates on the rest of the week, logging ‘to do’ items and looking ahead, all the way to Thursday and Friday, too. He thinks it’s his purview. It’s not.  But he means well.  Martin makes lunches, considers calendar conflicts and overscheduling.  He’s the mensch and we love him, but still, if he’d stick to Mondays only, the rest of the week would be less stressful.  Why?  We can never meet Martin’s goals.  There are too many items on his punch list.  He’s maddeningly ambitious.

Twinkles is Tuesday and she’s our flower child. So grateful that Monday is over, she wants to celebrate – everything – like she thinks she’s Friday?!  Twinkles wants to savor a bit more coffee, because she survived Monday and because Wednesday casts such a shadow.  Wednesday is a tyrant (more about Woodrow soon) and Twinkles needs time to breathe and prepare for the mid-week rush and Woodrow’s wrath.  She’s not the airhead everyone thinks she is.  She knows Monday Martin’s ambitions are falling to pieces, fragmented already, so she tries to help – bartering and tweaking his lofty list into smaller subsets of lesser goals.  I can’t get the car in for service AND washed, so getting it washed will do.  Actually, it’s raining, so nature took care of that for me. Win!  At least in Twinkles’ mind, but Martin is frowning. Woodrow, too.

Wednesday?  Atten-tion!  Woodrow is the drill sergeant, and he knows it.  He’s the brass. What we need…he declares…is D-I-S-C-I-P-L-I-N-E and he’s just the bad boy for the job.  Woodrow equates lecturing with pep talks.  Long ones:  Suck it up Monday Martin, you whiner, you always shoot for the stars.  Don’t you know this crew?  And Tuesday Twinkles – what kind of name is that?! Stand up straight.  No, rainwater isn’t the same as WASHING the car – where are the suds??  And if you hadn’t been so busy with your chai tea latte we might not be in the quagmire, right here, on Wednesday.  I’ve gotta get tough with all of you punks…I get the squeeze, see, picking up remnants from Monday Martin and Tuesday Twinkles while still trying to steer this sorry ship through Thursday and Friday…and we know what problems they bring. And don’t get me started about Saturday…

Thursday brings Trudy and she’s always mad.  Those ‘soldier on’ messages from Woodrow don’t motivate Trudy one iota – they just annoy Trudy because she’s the authentic almost Friday – and deserves a lot more respect.  She’s the prelude to the weekend, maybe not prom queen worthy but she WAS in the court!  And don’t forget, Trudy’s responsible for Friday eve…the auspicious gateway to freedom and Friday fun.  That’s right.  She originated the Thursday night party vibe, but seriously, she gets no credit whatsoever.  Why can’t Martin and Twinkles get their acts together, so Woodrow doesn’t unload on almost-Friday, I mean, me – terrific Trudy?  Thursday should be a glorious, slow descent into fun.  Celebrating the hard work of the earlier days, but with an eye toward sleeping in, eating out and adventure.  She hates Francine.  She’s all “Friday, Friday, Friday” this and that. 

Hello, Francine.  Friday’s girl is all about shifting blame.  She’s the Teflon Barbie. Watch your back, everyone.  The slippage from earlier in the week – the game of hot potato about who’s doing what?  Francine bats clean up and if she can’t get it done, she does one of two things:  1.  Blames Martin and Twinkles (cause Francine’s been in cahoots with Woodrow for years) or 2. She feigns ignorance and laments that Trudy is terrible at relay races and tag – never relaying mission-critical information because she’s too busy encroaching on Friday fun with her wannabe Thursday eve nonsense.  What’s Francine to do? So, she unloads all of the ‘deets’ to Monday Martin, sending it both by email, text and Teams chat and makes sure she cc’s the others…they should know she’s no pushover and she’s not afraid to be a snitch.  Why doesn’t she hand off to Saturday – and Steve?  Oh geez.  You haven’t met him yet.  Well, here you go.  You’ll understand.  Saturday Steve is the dumping ground and the land of make believe.  Think I’m kidding?  Meet him yourself…

Steve-arino, Mr. SaturdayHey, hey, thanks everyone, great crowd, great crowd.  I just flew in from a crazy week and boy are my arms tired, heh, heh, heh.  Yeah, yeah.  Do we have any married couples?  Are you still fighting about the load of stuff on Monday Martin’s list?  Yeah, I bet you are! And parents, do we have parents in the house?  Anyone overwhelmed with the playdates and piano classes, swimming, and Ju-Jitsu?  I love how you all think Steve-arino can handle it all.  Thanks for the vote of confidence, but you should be listening to Woodrow more.  I know he’s a bully, but he knows stuff.  You can’t dump a whole week of socializing, parenting, hunter/gathering (at Costco) and that thing you call WORK and think the other days are gonna save you.  My recommendation? Have a Swoosie sit-down and get rid of that meditative mumbo jumbo on Sunday mornings.  There’s your breakdown…but hey, that’s my time.  You’ve been a great audience…good luck, suckers! 

-Vicki 😉

You Choose…What Matters to You

Einstein

I’m so bummed.  It appears that a quote that I’ve loved for decades is a fraud…at least some think so. 

“Not everything that can be counted counts, and not everything that counts can be counted.”

-Albert Einstein

Apparently, Einstein paraphrased or ‘adopted’ language that, at the source, seems attributed, first, to William Bruce Cameron. According to the “Quote Investigator”, Cameron authored a textbook in 1963 with the title “Informal Sociology:  A Casual Introduction to Sociological Thinking” and within it, sits this passage:

“It would be nice if all of the data which sociologists require could be enumerated because then we could run them through IBM machines and draw charts as the economists do. However, not everything that can be counted counts, and not everything that counts can be counted.”

My noodling got messier.  It seems Cameron himself may have blended two thoughts together, “borrowing” from, potentially, four other thinkers:  Hilliard Jason, Stephen Ross, Lord Platt and George Pickering.

Ruh-roh…that was my first thought.  My second thought?  I knew it!  There was no way Einstein was responsible for one of my all-time favorite quotes.  He was too smart and I’m too…you know, ME…a little dim and definitely not a scientific intellectual.

That quote?  It might’ve been the only pearl attributed to Einstein that I can grasp.  Not because he was lacking in brilliance…no, no…quite the contrary.  The brand of brilliance that I think of when I hear “Einstein” is of the untouchable variety.  Concepts and truths that I’ll admire…from afar, on the other side of a vast intellectual void that separates great minds from my simpler mind. 😉

No, I’m not trolling for a compliment.  I’m just speaking the truth.  I don’t have the bandwidth or capacity to grasp even a smidgen of Albert’s intellect.  Maybe folks who are more science-oriented can connect – approaching status that might be peer-like. In the same gray matter ethos. Not me.  I’ll be the one in the stands with pom pons…expressing gratitude with enthusiasm…borne of admiration, not understanding. 

Why the big dust-up about this quote? The first time I read it, it felt like a heaven-sent message, just for me. And then I thought – Einstein? This meaningful morsel came from Einstein?  I feel a tad vindicated now, because I was skeptical, dubious before – thinking it must’ve been inaccurately attributed to him, simply because it resonated so easily for me, on a soulful level. 

Those fifteen words? Life changing wisdom, if we can let it in.  Years ago, upon discovering the quote, I celebrated — look at me! Inspired by Einstein.  Instead, according to the Quote Investigator, I should direct my admiration toward a hodge-podge of dudes who pilfered a bit, here and there, passing around a couple of cool phrases about “what counts” like a football.  Shame, shame, shame.

Still, I dig the concept – regardless of the hemming and hawing about the origin story. I’m the person who tends to hyper-scan for nastiness…especially behavior that might be a veiled threat, a slight, an emerging insult.  I think it’s related to my past, my childhood and experiencing enough unpleasantness that being on guard and ready to retaliate was a posture I clung to. Longer than I’d like to admit.

Ever evolving, the quote still speaks to me, no matter who the smarty pants author truly is.  Just because I see it, feel it, expect it, dread it, assume it…doesn’t mean I need to attend to IT or even acknowledge IT (whatever the “IT” of the moment is).  Nope.  I can ignore and dismiss, because Einstein (or the other dudes?) was right.  Not everything is worth counting and some of the most important things are entrancing and intangible – so much so that they defy enumeration.  Yep.  I’ll take a tattoo of that, please, to remind me forever.  Like a branding.  Too much? 😉

I’m a gatherer at heart – hungry for all the wisdom I can wrangle (rogue or otherwise) to encourage my selective attention.  I don’t need to acknowledge everything and it’s okay to keep my bumpers on, my buffers up, but my dukes down. Better for all concerned, really.

What “counts” the most?  For me, love, magic wonder.  Sending all of that your way this morning from me…with a little credit to Einstein.

-Vicki ❤

He Wore Pink…

Yep, he wore pink, before it was fashionable…for men of his generation.  My dad grew up at a time when, at least here in the U.S., men tended to wear more muted tones.  Shades of brown, navy, beige and variations, sure, and his closet was a neutral palette.

When life took him to California in the 80’s, he found his vibe…and it was pink.  Rosey tones, corals, blush hues and yep, an occasional floral (gasp!).  Paired with his beloved Birkenstocks, my previously buttoned-up papa (learn more about him – his helping heart AND his fashion sense in this silly post) renewed his soul with color

My mom? She was shocked and referred to him as a ‘show pony’…to which, he’d just smile and say – with a wink: “If you’ve got it, you’ve got it.” 😉

That’s my Sunday morning rewind smile – from my Miami Vice wannabe papa, smirking and smiling from behind those shades, just for you.

-Vicki 😊

Spring in My Step

Hello there…holy cow…I’ve got something on my mind that I can’t wait to share. 😊 I’m feeling joyful because of a sweet memory and yes, I’m about as happy as the little dude in the pic. Happy Tuesday, y’all!

The first “Vicki” news flash? The importance of good posture and the benefits I reap if I stretch, every morning, to get my shoulders back and chin up.  I don’t know what I do to myself when I sleep – it must be the side-sleeper curled up position, fetal-like…but wowza…I need to take a minute to get my parts to line up again, once I’m upright.  And you know what?  I’m finding I need a mid-day stretch, more than ever before.  And later in the day, I need a ‘Hey, dufus, you’ve been sitting too long’ stretch so my hips and knees can greet my feet again.  So that’s the first thing.

The second “Vicki” news flash?  While out in the world yesterday, a random gentleman smiled and gave me the sweetest compliment.  I passed him while headed into the post office – me in, him out – and he said, “How lovely to see someone with a spring in their step” as he held the door for me.  I guess I DO walk that way. Maybe it’s just a combo of attitude and gait? I tend to walk with purpose and summon a sunny attitude, whenever possible. And then I realized I’ve heard this before, this ‘bouncy walk’ comment.

A few years ago, as I walked across campus, a friend saw me from a pretty good distance. She was arriving, having just parked her car, and was in search of the pick-up spot for the summer camp program.  Susan’s son was in an engineering immersion experience for gifted youngsters, I think her little guy was eight at the time.  As Susan scanned the imposing-looking buildings, realizing the campus was much larger on foot than when she drove by, she became frustrated with herself because she was late AND lost.  (Now…that’s a combo I hate. How about you? I can handle one or the other, but both? Anxiety producer, for sure.)

But then, Susan said, she saw “this woman” (me) walking quickly from building to building, several hundred yards ahead of her.  Yes, there were other people around – college students with their heads in their phones and/or ear buds in.  Not as approachable as this gal she saw, with a spring in her step, a “bouncy walk” as she put it.  So, she scampered just a bit to catch up with me, to ask the happy-looking lady for directions.  I saw her coming and recognized her first.  “It’s Susan! I bet she’s here to pick up Jake from camp” I thought and I started walking in her direction.  She figured out it was me as we got closer and then laughed.  “I should’ve known” she said.  “I can spot you a mile away, you with your bouncy walk and all.” 

The point? I’d forgotten all about the bouncy business until the stranger at the post office shared his off-hand comment yesterday, reminding me of the day I ran into Susan.  More and more, I find myself a taking on a head-down-ever-watching-my phone-posture when I’m out in the world.  My push for productivity? Fairly often it backfires – resulting in clumsy replies to texts and emails when I should be watching where I’m going, you know, klutz that I am. 

My mantra for today?  Shoulders back, chin up, and I’m bringing my bouncy walk along, just because.

Vicki 😉

Photo by Aleksandr Balandin on Pexels.com

Snore Babies

tiny dog paws under blanket

I want to be mad but I can’t.  So I’m mad — about not being mad.  With me so far?

You might be wondering about the photo. I’m not making this easy for you because I’m tired.  As a result, you need to do your part — put a little effort in, OKAY?  Squint if you need to, zoom in if it helps…until you can say ‘I spy’ and you see the two tiny paws in the center of the pic.  Yep, those are Sadie paws.  Our geriatric love bug of a Chihuahua…our elder and pampered pooch.

Normally, I’m a puppy lover, not a hater.  I feel the same, generally for the hubster.  Good guy (and no, there won’t be a pic of his ‘paws’. Just the doggie paws.)  Today, however…I’m not feeling the love.  I can’t.  I need more coffee, Tylenol, a cold compress, a foot rub (no scratch that – I hate people touching my feet).  I want to be alone.  I want to eat all the cherry Danish, taunting me from the kitchen.  I want to watch trash TV just because…

What’s the deal?  No sleep.  Worse than no sleep, actually.  I’m feeling the fatigue that comes when you’re the sleepless one and your bedmates are snore babies.  Yup.  Both the hubster and Sadie had restful, soulful, slumber – despite their snoozy snore fest.  All night.

Sadie loves to snuggle and burrow – under all the blankets in our ‘big bed’.  We’ve become accustomed to this (although when she’s submerged under a sea of sheets and thermal blankets seven-pound Sadie disappears easily).  But not last night.  Nope.  She picked up a new habit, noodling her way up to our pillows after thoroughly sniffing and inspecting her normal turf, under the covers.  The hot doggie breath was bad as she nudged me to get her snout on my pillow.  I scooched her away.  Hubs?  He accommodated her and rolled to his side, effectively sharing his pillow with the pooch as they positioned themselves back-to-back. 

Weird, I thought but okayAnd then, they began snoring in unison.  Hubs started it, more on his back than his side which is dangerous…this is when his snoring is loudest…so much so that his sweet sister, years ago, wondered how in the bloody hell I was:   1. Still married to her noise-maker brother and/or 2. Why I punished myself by attempting to “sleep” in the same bed. 

I tried to be a good sport at first.  I mean, I’m not a monster.  Their positions on the pillow?  Kind of darling and sweet.  While they were rhythmically wheezing and snorting together, I figured I’d roll over and sleep would come.  Nope.  Then the orchestra arrived with a woeful “horn” section and something that sounded like a whistle.  I flipped my pillow over, hoping the cool side would help.  It didn’t.  I turned my cheesy sound machine up to ‘full monsoon rainstorm’.  It didn’t help.  I shoved Sadie gently.  Just a nudge – thinking she’d wake and move – just enough to knock off the noise.  Nope

Given the time change and all, I figured it must be time to get up – somewhere.  So, I did.  I had that adrenalin rush of ‘Who needs sleep?’ and for about 90 minutes, whoa boy, I had bounce.  I did two loads of laundry, caught up on reading (Wynne Leon, I’m looking at you…your book…oh my goodness) and had three cups of coffee – two iced, one hot – and two cups of tea.  By the time the hubster and Sadie concluded their most fantastic sleep ever?  I was ready for lunch.  Or sundown. 

Neither of my two bedmates had any idea I’d abandoned them.  Both, in their own ways, gave me their regular ‘Hey there, happy Sunday’ look as if life was good and all was well.  I don’t think I growled exactly, but I did retreat to a hot shower and a bit of a ‘lie down’.  The world doesn’t look quite as bleak now.

Here’s to snore babies – pooches and partners – with the reminder that while they, like actual babies, CAN look cute as hell, when you’re the zombie in the house, nothing is truly “cute”.

Xo,

Vicki 😉

When You Crack Yourself Up: Owie, Owie, Owie Edition

Man with Groucho Marx glasses on

Happy Friday, all!  I can’t help but share one more dear daughter (DD) story as we wrap up the week. Why?  I stumbled upon my ill-fated attempt at a ‘mommy blog’ that I sustained for a couple of years and then, darn it all, I got caught up in who-knows-what and my well-intended effort remained just that.  Good intentions, no persistence.  And yet…as I perused some ancient entries yesterday, there were a few that gave me a giggle, so I thought I’d share one of them.  Here we go…

Even as a tot, our girl was ever perceptive about the unusual behaviors she saw in my mom and sister.  How do you describe to a two-year old that her “Nanny” is an alcoholic with mental health issues and her aunt, my sister Lisa, is different because of her disabilities?  Answer?  You don’t, really, you just move through parenting life, answering questions as they come up.  (The backstory about my sweet sister can be found, in part, here, in my “Loving Lisa” post.)

Me? I was our dear daughter’s dysfunctional family tour guide and while I screwed up plenty (sharing too much, explaining when I didn’t need to) I’m grateful that our now grown girl put it all into perspective, this way:  Families are messy.

The particular messiness that plagued my mom and sister?  Tremendous hypochondria with side orders of other issues. Given the time and distance, I understand, now, how their issues impacted my parenting. How? When DD was small, she had a tendency to take flying leaps out of her crib because she was long-legged and adventurous.  Always trying to normalize, we’d dust her off and move on, not wanting her to fall (wink!) into drama queen territory about bumps and bruises.  “Hey, your dismount wasn’t great, but shake it off.  You’re good – let’s go.”  It sounds like bad parenting when I say it that way, but I wasn’t careless, I just didn’t want her to milk the small stuff.

Why was this on my mind with a two-year old?  It only took one long weekend with my parents – dad, mom, and sister Lisa – for impressionable DD to latch on to bad, bad habits. Funny, now.  Horrifying and embarrassing, then.

Let me set the scene. The hubster and I left DD with my folks and sister for a few hours to do some sightseeing in San Francisco and when we returned, our little one had new favorite catchphrases.  “Shit, shit, shit” and “Owie, owie, owie, you hurt me.” 😕

Seems both mom and Lisa got embroiled in a competition about who hurt the most when they stumbled in the backyard while playing with DD.  Neither one was actually hurt, but because everything ailment-related morphed into a competition for them, our hearty little one found herself confronted with grown-ups wrestling and wailing on the grass because they’d gotten tangled up in a clothesline.  Mom blamed Lisa and Lisa, in turn, blamed mom for their mishap that was truly more hilarious than hurtful.  How do I know?  My dad was nearby and saw mom and Lisa in a brawl, with DD standing by, wide-eyed, taking it all in while sucking on a popsicle. 

Mom screamed, “Shit, shit, shit” to Lisa – mad because her clean laundry got into the fray and was all over the yard. Lisa countered with an infantile wail of, “Owie, owie, owie – you hurt me”.  (Mind you, Lisa was about 37 when this happened, but given her developmental disabilities she was forever an 8-year-old in a grown-up wrapper and reacted accordingly, especially when she was under stress.) 

Dear daughter?  She watched from a comfy perch on a lawn chair, as dad roared in, along with neighbors.  Everyone wanted to see the spectacle, given the high decibel scream fest between mom and Lisa.  Robbery in progress?  Home invasion?  Intruder?  Yes, the police were called, courtesy of ever-anxious and nosy neighbor, Eleanor.  It wasn’t the last time I needed to contextualize a sideshow family drama for our daughter, but I think it was the first biggie. You know, Officer Friendly and all.

For my parenting friends out there…whether you’ve got a toddler now or can remember those days…same for the aunts, uncles and grandparents, tell me this is NOT true:   Once a verbal tyke gets a humdinger of a new phrase locked and loaded, it’s like a permanent implant. 

No, you cannot screamOwie, owie, owie, you hurt me” just for fun…it’s not funny…and same for “shit”. Especially when repeated three times.  Bad words.  NO and No.  DD was smarter than the average bear, then and now, but the more we tried to rid her of the new vocabulary, the more she delighted in screaming each phrase…like a rhythmic chant…for the better part of a four-hour flight home the next day.

At first the ‘shit, shit, shit’ routine was just annoying to the people seated around us but when DD launched into the ‘owie’ song, all eyes were on us…especially the ‘you hurt me’ part.  The more we shushed and walked her up and down the aisle, trying to calm her, the bigger the audience.  Add overtired into the mix and the crying and thrashing that resulted?  I’m sure it DID appear that we were torturing our young-un. 

Still, it’s a fun, ‘crack me up’ memory.  Theatrics and meltdowns and learning to ignore the bystanders.  Keep calm and parent on…and when you can, take the time to look back and chuckle.

Happy Friday!

-Vicki 😉

Photo by Gratisography on Pexels.com

Goofy is Good

mom and daughter in pile of leaves

Is “Throw Back Thursday” – TBT – still a thing? I’m not enough of a social media person to know, so forgiveness if this is irksome and outdated…but I couldn’t resist.

The pic is the “DD” dear daughter and myself…taken on this date…gulp…24 years ago.  Sometimes I’m annoyed by the photo reminders that pop up on my phone, but this morning?  Seeing this blast from the past was all treat, no trick.

Our dear daughter needed to wear a hat on this and any other sunny day because she was such a baldy – until her third birthday when tufts of curls arrived. 

On this particular day, I remember my patience was tested – because of the damn hat. We were attempting a last-ditch effort to scoop up the remaining front yard leaves before a big frost and while DD was on board, tiny rake and all, we were delayed by about an hour as we hunted for the particular denim hat you see on her head. 

For reasons that made no sense to anyone but her, it was the ‘leaf hat’ and she needed to wear it for the sum total of ten minutes of yard work.  Less raking, more goofing – but that’s the point, right? A parenting reminder I needed often. Goofing is good. Hmmm…I’m thinking it still applies…advice that goes beyond parenting.

Happy Thursday to you – throw back or otherwise – and join me in finding the lighter side of yourself today, however you can.

-Vicki 😊

Falling in Avignon: Vicki is a Klutz

Avignon, palais des papes

It flows my way, genetically, I suppose.  This flight and flurry behavior that I’m periodically plagued by.  Mom was an extreme example, often leaving her body behind as she zoomed through life…resulting in more mishaps than anyone could chronicle.  Broken toes?  Yes – all of them and some multiple times.  Accidents involving stairs?  Sure, blaming a variety of culprits: “I tripped over a toy” or “My shoes were slippery”. 

Mixed in, just for fun, were the very public antics where mom brought unwitting bystanders into her swirl.  My favorite?  The time she upended an entire tray of entrees at a swanky wedding when she popped up to give a spontaneous toast to the bride and groom.  No one wants to wear chicken marsala as an accessory to their spiffed-up wedding attire, right?

Still, folks gave mom a lot of leeway for her outbursts when they were driven by palatable emotions like enthusiasm…less so when her bursts were triggered by other emotions – especially rage that ravaged, resulting in broken dishes and fiery tirades. The stuff you can never truly ‘take back’.  Underneath it all?  Her inability to emotionally regulate.

The older I get, the more I mull these scenes, not because I want to inspect the rewind reel. No, no, no.  I don’t.  So why do the memories pop to mind?  Because I’ve got some of that “inability to regulate” DNA in myself and friends, it’s not a pretty parallel when I line up some of the stupid shit I’ve done against mom’s antics.  Oy. Apple?  Tree?  Yep. 

What’s the antidote?  Like most wisdom, the simpler the better and it’s often right in front of us.  For me, slowing down and moving with intention is a good starting point.  Knowing that I’ve got klutzy traits similar to mom, I would like to avoid public…or I should say further public displays of show-stopping stupid.  I’ve fallen in public places because of exuberance and laughter but the ‘why’ doesn’t matter much when you create a scene, yearning for invisibility.

Two examples: 

  • Vicki is a Klutz #1: In beautiful Avignon when I was a teenager, I was blessed to be part of a choral group singing in the stunning Palais des Papes.  I was the tallest girl and always ended up on the top riser, dead center for any performance.  Fine…but the “stage” in Avignon was about as ancient as the venue and although I saw the gap in the floorboard when we got in position, I forgot about it once the singing commenced – you know, THAT venue and all.  I was in heaven.  Exuberance, out of body fantastic “feels” … until my right foot slid into the floorboard gap.  A I started to fall, I grabbed the voluminous sleeves, both left and right on my friend’s robes, and they toppled with me, as the choir went down like dominoes.  Good news?  No one was seriously hurt.  Not-so-good news? The choral director hated me forever after because of the scene I caused.  Mr. Schnurlenburger, wherever you are, I’m still sorry, but it wasn’t entirely my fault, funky floorboards and all…
  • Vicki is a Klutz #2: A few years ago, while trudging across campus carrying way too much and moving too fast, I inadvertently skipped the last three steps on a staircase, hurling myself toward a beloved colleague, James.  I was SO happy to see him but the pile in my arms eclipsed my view of the stairs…resulting in something akin to an actual flying leap as I exclaimed, just before falling, “Hey…I can’t believe I ran into you!” and then fell, full force into him.  More than a run-in.  It was an airborne tackle.  Again, I blame exuberance.  Good news?  We weren’t seriously hurt, because I don’t count bruises shaped like the continent of Africa as an injury.  Bad news?  My ego was jostled more than I expected because sweet James would not – for the longest time – stop giggling to others about the incident.  The first five or six times I passed a colleague on the stairs, and they moved aside, saying “Oh…it’s Vicki, we don’t want to get mowed down” it was cute.  The tenth or twelfth time?  Not so much. 

I’ve become tougher over the years, worrying more about my body more than my ego, but still.  Slowing down and trying to be mindful to ‘be in my body’ is good advice.  But it’s not my own.  My dad was famous for chiding mom to ‘slow down’ when he saw the combination of caffeination and compulsion as a prescription for chaos.  Sometimes the episodes were just household mishaps, but in public, she lacked body awareness, often bumping into other people, their grocery carts, and strollers because her mind was way ahead of her limbs.

Me?  I’m trying to do my best to stay physically strong, especially as aging occurs.  Never more in my life have I valued a ‘strong core’ and the benefits of a little cardio and beloved Pilates.  I need to stretch every day and move more than I want to because falls and out-of-body mishaps will occur.  I see the parallels to mom.  Dad often said she needed steel-toed boots and bubble wrap…and he wasn’t wrong.  I think I can stick to my wee bit of strength training as insurance, but I also know that reminders about self-regulating behavior, to keep emotions in check, continues to be sound advice.

My favorite resource?  The one I share most often with clients and friends?  It’s this – a short piece from Positive Psychology which normalizes the need to be aware of the impact emotions have on daily living, but it also packs a punch 😉 with straightforward recommendations to increase mindfulness: 

1. Breathing exercises for emotional regulation

Three main breathing exercises help in modulating emotions:

  • Breath Counting – Where we sit calmly for a few seconds and slowly start counting. For example, you can count 5 to inhale and 7 to exhale. The goal of this exercise is to focus on our breathing and follow the counting as we inhale and exhale.
  • Breath Shifting – Here we place one hand on our chest and the other hand on our abdomen and notice how they rise and fall with each inhales and exhales. By doing so, we aim to see the difference between the chest and belly movement during breathing, and it helps in regaining focus into our bodies.
  • Breath Relaxation – Breath relaxation is the most basic breathing exercise and practically works well for any stress, anxiety, or emotional disorder. The practice is to sit back and take deep breaths with eyes closed, and continue doing so until we can feel the connection between our mind and body, and realize the stress and negativity are fading away with the deep breaths.

2. Exercise for emotional catharsis

The most significant problem of emotional dysregulation disorder is the inability to let go of emotions. Even after realizing the inappropriateness of irrational thoughts, they find it hard to eliminate them from the mind (Singer et al., 2012). Through emotional catharsis, which is a way of venting out the suppressed emotions, we can achieve the mental balance that we often seek.

The practice is simple and involves five easy steps:

  • Observing emotions as they are, without trying to change them at the first instance.
  • Trying to evaluate the experience and feelings that come with a particular emotion.
  • Acknowledging the fact that we are not our emotions. For example, if we are feeling sad, it doesn’t have to mean that we are depressed individuals. Emotions are just a state of mind; they come and go.
  • Naming the emotions aloud or writing them the way you feel it.
  • Talking about them to a friend, family, or therapist, without being afraid of judgment.

3. Mindfulness for emotions

We know that mindfulness is the art of living in the present moment. Practicing mindfulness helps us gaining awareness of our mind, body, and feelings. It builds a secure connection to the present and allows us to look at our thoughts and feelings from an objective and neutral perspective.

There are two types of mindfulness exercises that help in emotional regulation:

  • The ‘Acknowledgment’ Exercises – including careful observation, naming thoughts, and labeling emotions.
  • The ‘Implementation’ Exercises – including practices of thinking non-judgmentally, active and empathetic listening, effective communication, and self-expression.

4. Self-awareness techniques

Self-awareness, for the most of it, is a counterpart of mindfulness and is tied in with recognizing one’s own emotions and the ways they affect us.

A great way to manage unhealthy emotions through self-awareness is the thought naming exercise, where we make a list of all the thoughts that are dominating our mind this very moment, the people or circumstances that we think may be causing them, and name the emotions in one or two words.

So then…from me to you, here’s to good health and humor…and for heaven’s sake, watch the stairs and don’t ‘pull a Vicki’. Take those babies one at a time.

Vicki 😉

Ready or Not

So…we’re working our way through home remodeling, one laborious project at a time and now we’re tackling…sigh…the kitchen…the laundry room…and the downstairs half bath.  I’m not worried about the design choices.  THAT part of the project was big-time fun as we noodled, endlessly, about finishes. 

Nope, my dread and doom are about something else. Although we’ve had months to prepare for the demolition that will disrupt the heart of our home, I still don’t think we’re ready. And by ‘we’ I mean myself, the pooch, and the hubster. Why? Well, you know about the ‘supply chain’ challenges, right?  We’ve faced those, resulting in a 6-month delay as materials were sourced and delivered. 

During the reprieve – we enjoyed the warm summer weather and focused on the outside – landscaping, exterior maintenance – and I think I got soft. I lost my will to remodel.  Please don’t tell the hubster. I have a bad case of anticipatory stress. 

One day soon we’re going to get ‘that call’.  We’re ready!  And poof – we’ll be “living” in our house but camping style.  Oh – and did I mention we need to refinish all the downstairs floors, too?  These are wonderful dilemmas to have.  I’m NOT REALLY complaining, because I’m grateful, but still, I’m wondering if I’m ready to greet 7am carpentry friends when the construction carnival comes to town.

Obsessive thought #92 on my ever-growing punch list of self-imposed “problems”?  I need to find a robe that’s more presentable than what I’ve been wearing around the house.  No one needs to see that…

Those who’ve been down the road of major household disruption, please chime in with wisdom, humor, or a good kick in the butt.  I’ll take any/all…as I wait for ‘that call’. Oh — and I’ll take robe recommendations, too.

Big smiles,

-Vicki 😊

Photo by Anna Shvets on Pexels.com

Mom Was in a Mood…

Growing up was choppy, as we moved ten times in twelve years.  I was ever the new girl with the family circus in tow – especially my eccentric, unwell mother intent on masking truth and recreating our family story every time we moved.  Exhausting.  The sparkly highlights, though?  Delightful and insightful comments from sister Lisa – ever ready with spot-on commentary, cutting through the madness.

Me?  I never knew what whoppers Sue/mom would tell as she tried to make fast friends and establish herself in a new town.  Sometimes she’d spin new, fantastic tales in the moment, without warning.  I’d nod and try to play along but it was maddening – this need to do improv with my mom.  Can I see a script in advance, please?

One such whopper came when we house hunted in St. Louis.  Dad was busy at work, but Lisa and I were stuck with Sue and her daily shenanigans as she took the reins house-hunting.  We stayed at a Holiday Inn for a month which seemed luxe, at first.  Then it became hotel hell.

I was 13 and yearned for private time.  As much as I loved Lisa, she was my ever-present shadow and right next to her?  Yep.  Sue.  All day, every day, treating disabled Lisa like a delicate china doll…assuming I might break her. 

The worst accommodations would’ve been if all four of us were piled in one room. Thankfully THAT didn’t happen, but adjoining rooms weren’t as great as they seemed.  Sure, we could close the door in between, but the walls were tissue paper thin, forcing me to unwittingly tune into every phone call Sue made.  Nowhere to hide.

But back to the whopper.  Not the burger – the lie. 😉 In one of her insecurity-driven tirades, Sue harassed the realtor assigned to show us houses. Mercilessly. Dad’s employer suggested a particular agency, but no one realized (except me…I saw this coming…promise I did) that the agent better be a guy.  Or — If the realtor was a woman, she’d better be old and unattractive.  At least more so than Sue. And… heaven help us all, if the designated victim (agent) dared to be a really pretty woman?  Buckle up. Bad moon rising.  Ever insecure, Sue needed to feel a sense of superiority any way she could, lest her paranoia would run amok…resulting in high drama, Sue-style.

Unsurprisingly, Sue sized up the lady agent based on looks alone, even before they met.  The realtor/victim’s name?  Let’s call her Patty.  She left a massive binder at the hotel front desk for Sue to peruse over the weekend and contacted her on Monday to discuss showings. 

Patty should’ve met with Sue face-to-face first, to establish her credibility and catch Sue off guard. But how did she know?  Sue didn’t come with a warning label.  Until first contact, don’t we all assume sanity?  I could see the unfolding…Sue barely flipped through the chubby listing binder because Patty’s 8×10 glossy, glam shot on the cover provoked her, prompting Sue’s insecurities which summoned, ‘You might be prettier, but I’m better in other ways’ nonsense. 

When Sue took on airs, she conjured a strange accent and an awkward, staccato rhythm in her speech.  I heard it from the adjoining room that day, suspecting that fresh-meat-Patty would be in trouble with Sue, one way or another.  How did I know? I saw Patty’s photo, too.  Defenseless Patty was too blonde, too thin, too pretty.  It was just a matter of time.

Despite years of ringside seats for the “Sue show” I always hoped my intuition was wrong.  That day, I listened as Sue spoke in a condescending way to Patty, complaining that ALL of the homes were ‘unsuitable’.  (Maybe she stayed up all night taking a look, but far as I knew, the binder hadn’t been cracked open.  Not even a smidge.) 

Sue continued, complaining that Patty clearly misunderstood the price points, too.  “We’re not looking for shacks…we’re arriving from New Orleans” (but she said it like this:  NEWWW-ORRRR-LEEE-ANNNS adding an extra syllable with her drawn out pronunciation).  Arrogant and loud.  To which, Lisa – ever the savant – just turned the volume up on the TV, saying, “Mom’s in a mood again” as she resumed watching one of her daytime soap operas.  Why couldn’t I be smart like Lisa, I wondered.  Mom’s in a mood.  Move on. 

Anyway…hearing only Sue’s side of the embarrassing conversation, I walked into the adjoining room, doing my best to pantomime my frustration, mouthing “Oh My God” to Sue and throwing the slash the throat signal, hoping she’d knock off the stupid.  It was always a calculated risk, any approach of Sue in a spin-out, but I was mortified and motivated.  Instead of slowing down her rant, I became part of the circus as she brought me into the conversation with Patty, hoping I’d back her up and join the tirade.  Would she never learn? 

Instead, I took the phone from Sue and began an apology to the realtor we’d never meet, this blondie named Patty.  At first, she continued her apology, which is what she tried to express as Sue blustered.  Patty finally stopped and listened as I introduced myself, adding, “No apology necessary.  I’m sorry about my mom.  We’ll get back to you.  It’s been a lot, this whole moving business.”  Patty stammered with relief, “Oh, thank you.  No problem.”

Sue?  I expected a thrashing about taking the phone from her, and/or for apologizing to Patty but instead, she had a phone book in her lap, trying to identify other realtors to work with.  And just like that. End scene.  On to the next…and no, we never met Patty.

When dad was looped in, he said he’d heard about a ‘dust up’ between mom and the realtor.  “Yup, I said.  Too pretty” and he just nodded.  The replacement?  His name was Fred and he must’ve drawn the short straw, but he managed to survive showings with Sue and she gave him glowing reviews.  “Fred the Fantastic” was her nickname for him.  Poor Fred got the job done, and I always wondered if his winks in my direction conveyed more.  I’m betting so.

-Vicki 😉

No Words Needed

black and white photo of many staring

This is a pic of my dad, beyond angry at me for a now-forgotten, teenage transgression. Mom was nearby to catch my look “in reply” and true to form, she was forever camera-ready, eager to capture me at my worst. “I’m saving this…you don’t know how terrible you are.” Sigh. I’d see her mouth move but 90% of the time, I blocked her words. All the better to avoid retaliation…never a good idea with mom. But back to that looook…on dad’s face.

Characteristically when dad’s chin went south, but his gaze remained steady and locked in, I knew I was in big trouble. He wasn’t one to rant and rave (“you-know-who” more than covered that ground). No, he’d simply give that chin down death stare.

Over time, I learned how to silently reply to his piercing, blue-eyed glare. My flippant, I-don’t-give-a-rat’s-patootie look was my best defense, firing back with a chin-up, head tilting retort, as if I had the unlikely assets of tough girl street cred and a posse to prove it:

black and white photo of teen girl staring

Why did I bother? No attempt to challenge his bold, chin-down stoicism diminished the intensity of his ice cold, eyes-only reprimand. He’d hold the look for a moment or two – long enough to ensure “message received” – and then walk away. Done and done.

Oddly, as a very verbal adult, I miss the no-words-required arguments and tussles. Looks alone can convey plenty. Still, once the staring duel was over, I’d add a little huffy breath as he retreated. I wanted to feel victorious, but I knew the truth. Dad was mad, but he moved on, not one to bear grudges.

Why the sharing about staring? Just this – these vintage pics provided an unexpected and potent rewind into family drama, mixed with humor. There is nothing I love more than random AND welcome discoveries…fixing my attention on what matters most.

On a mission, I dove into old bins of family pics this week to fetch snaps for my recent Halloween post and stumbled over these gems. Keepers, especially because these two photos – dad and I engaged in a “you blink first” showdown – fell on the floor FACE UP, as if we were still locked in our standoff. I love that. Found separately, I would’ve skipped right by them, but free-falling out of a box together? They commanded my attention, staring back at me from years past.

So I paused, not caring about the massive mess I created with musty old photos scattered everywhere and I smiled at the pic of my smart papa. Despite my terror teen years, he loved me anyhow, death stare and all. Looking back, I think he knew I couldn’t withstand HIS verbal tirades, in addition to mom’s frequent rants, so he balanced his delivery by going ‘eyes only’. Well, eyes and that chin.

Vicki 😊

The Truth I Tripped Over

It takes me a while to reckon out my own crapola.  As much as I preach about the importance of depth – depth of feeling, humanity, connectedness – I realized I’ve been avoiding the truth.  Until yesterday when a glimmering a-ha arrived, bringing in a big filet o’ fish of clarity.  It was the best catch ever for this wayward and impatient human.

I love the discoveries during my ‘head escapes’, which is how I refer to my wee bit of meditation time.  (Under duress, I’ll refer to the purposeful interludes as ‘meditative moments’ but can I confess something? I hate those two words.  They convey, at least to me, an outcome I’ve yet to experience – a sought after and revolutionary thunderbolt where I transcend and pick up threads of universal knowledge.)  

I know this sounds like I’m lacking grace and gratitude – with a side order of attitude – but my malaise is borne out of my love/hate relationship with…sigh…let’s call it my ‘reflective practice’ because it’s perpetually about me.  Can I pick another category, please? 😉 No need to answer.  I get it.  It’s supposed to be about me, from the inside out.

Revelations are messy and some days, I’d like to go a-pondering in someone else’s backyard.  Whether I’m too much of a novice or just an avoider, my ego really doesn’t want or need so much “Vicki, Vicki, Vicki”. (I want to insert another winky face here, but I don’t want to overdo it with the emojis…but if you will, just imagine one here, okay? Thank you!)

Whether we call it meditation, reflection, or heart work, we don’t get to drive to the destination.  That’s the point.  I can begin with intention, sure, but I can’t navigate and steer whilst opening myself up to insight.  (Yes.  I see the command-and-control issues.  You’re not the first to make the observation but thank you for joining the chorus.) 

Despite my occasional misgivings, I meditate anyhow…and received a reward, of sorts, yesterday.  Cosmic encouragement to keep on, keeping on – in the form of a ‘big fish’ of insight.

My intention yesterday?  I had creative compulsion on my mind again.  This time, more specifically my need to write –especially on days when I should be in client-mode, following up on business and/or editing other projects.  Am I being an avoider of ‘other things’ or does the daily ritual of writing belong in the cadence of every day?

I don’t want to feel the heaviness of procrastination stress; there’s a special sort of joy that comes from translating thoughts and feelings into text, even if the text in question is LOUSY.  Do it anyhow, but I wondered…am I just justifying and rationalizing (which I’m quite good at)?

Just when this doubting Vicki needed a boost, clarity came!  In the form of a long-forgotten T.S. Eliot quote, flying in during yesterday’s ‘meditative moments’:

The purpose of literature is to turn blood into ink.”

Don’t worry.  I’m not lauding myself for creating LIT- TRA-TURE.  Far from it, I’m just plunking down my insides – experiences, impressions, feelings, rants – into reading fodder.  I’m not creating anything especially worthy, but it is my blood, as Eliot says – my life, coming together in storytelling and sharing.  The writing IS me. 

As much as I adore artists of all sorts, my reflective time also highlighted a hiccup. I’m dealing with hurdles related to worthiness and envy. Without awareness, I believe I’ve been jealous of the painters and potters and knitters and architects who create beautiful, dimensional art.  For years. The same is true for musicians – those who provide listeners with evocative opportunities for soul work. Holding others in high regard for their ‘art’ scrambled my motivational longings, setting me up for a soulful showdown about creations and legacies during my ‘quiet time’…my pondering place. And then this…

I remembered…long ago, our dear daughter (DD) asked me to write about my mom, her “Nanny” and family history that’s been equal parts humorous and horrifying.  Hearing snippets in small doses, DD was intrigued and perhaps that’s all the motivation I needed.  Tell the stories. Share the feelings.

I’m not a morbid person, but if I can leave a trail, for DD and any who follow, the chain will be less broken – those fascinating nuts and berries from the family tree? They need to be seen, and as much as possible, understood. Blood into ink.

The truth, then.  Why do I write?  Because I love my family, my friends and you, dear reader, and I’m a word person.  Not an artist, not a musician.  And that’s okay.  I write because I want to instill hope and leave a legacy of love. That’s the truth I tripped over yesterday. My ‘big fish’.

Big hugs,

-Vicki ❤

When You Crack Yourself Up: Halloween Edition

Grpucho Marx glasses

I often write about my mom because she’s my mixed-up muse as I work out my dumpster fire of feelings about her.  Yes…her epic antics, hysterics, mental health, and addiction issues were the connective tissue of my childhood…navigating her moods and madness was a chore.

Life with Sue was akin to traveling blindfolded; no matter how much I wanted predictability, there was none of that.  Inspired, brilliant and broken, Sue’s trademark impulsivity charmed the world, despite her flaws.  Who doesn’t want to slow down to take a gander at what’s she up to NOW?  Not channeling Shakespeare exactly, but still…Sue behaved accordingly, “All the world’s a stage…” No matter the adventure du jour, Sue found accomplices, compadres, and willing sidekicks. She was the funny as hell reckless woman.  What WILL she do next?

The older I get, the easier it is for me to summon the comedy – those laugh out loud moments previously eclipsed by the hurt she caused.  I’m reminded they’re there.  Like Halloween…and my recent perusal of photos long forgotten…resulting in welcome ‘crack myself up’ moments. Let me introduce you to Halloween…Sue Style.  See below…

Mom and dad together in their cheer outfits.  Handmade pompons and all. 

Sue’s custom cheerleader outfits for dad and his best buddies (my papa’s on the left). 

And finally…Halloween Flintstone style  My folks are on the right and the apprehensive neighbors on the left?  They knew to abandon the circus of Sue not long after Halloween that year. 

“Holiday Season” for many folks in the U.S. begins with Thanksgiving but not for Sue.  Nope. The high holidays began in earnest with Halloween.  For the woman prone to excesses of food, drink and drama, Halloween was the perfect foil and jumpstart.  Think about it.  Halloween represents an opportunity for grown-up-dress-up and theatrics. 

Sewing costumes and party planning were creative outlets for my tormented mom who had a painter’s heart but no confidence in her craft.  Devising themes and rounding up the troupe of friends and neighbors to join in, Sue leapt headlong into Halloween planning in August of every year.  I see it now as the creative distraction that it was.  A way to avoid her own issues and feel a sense of purpose.

Sue’s devotion to the details kept her occupied (happily) for weeks as she made costumes by hand, as well as décor.  We moved ten times in twelve years during my childhood and Halloween, no matter where we lived, was also Sue’s showcase to introduce our messy family to a new neighborhood.  Wowza…what an intro. Some people just wave helloooo to new neighbors from the mailbox but not ‘fun Sue’.  

Gregarious, gracious, and generous, new friends got swept up in Sue, but it was a tough act to sustain.  People would come and go – drawn in, initially, by the spectacle of Sue – but they’d disappear, one by one, as they got closer to the flame and bite.  Sue was lonely in these in-between times and that’s where addiction sat waiting for her.

But she rebounded – she always did.  Just like an artist who adds tiny brushstrokes to a painting in progress, Sue would embellish the story of her life with half-truths every time we moved.  Her life = her creation. Eventually the burden of hard-to-track lies, and alternate realities added to her dementia diagnosis.  I just know it.  What’s real and what’s distortion?  It became harder and harder for Sue to distinguish as aging took hold.

For today, I’m enjoying the chuckles.  The reminders that the family circus wasn’t all bad.  Especially at Halloween.

-Vicki 😉

Photo by Gratisography on Pexels.com

Loving her anyway…

She didn’t intend to be a hoarder, it just happened.  Years of abuse and neglect and deeply embedded loneliness?  I can see how ‘things’ became ever-so-much safer than people.  The humans were indifferent, unpredictable, self-serving, and dismissive of a little girl shoved into adulthood too soon. 

The motivation to accumulate and gather in excess?  Possessions, while lousy conversationalists, provided a twisted sense of comfort.  Not quite the loving embrace that a child deserves, but when you hurt, you improvise.  Work with what you have to seek nurture and love.

I have more compassion for mom now – nestled in my heart with a few regrets about not being kinder, not looking past her maddening behaviors to see the source.  If there’s one standout gift that comes with aging, it’s this:  I’m learning to address my own hurt, especially the slights – large and small – in order to look beyond, to better understand.  Time helps.  Maybe I needed seven years of introspection following her death to look back with softer eyes. 

She didn’t intend to be a hoarder, it just happened.  No, she wasn’t as out of control as the sweet, damaged souls on the show “Hoarders”.  On top of all the other secrets and lies that comprised the web of her life, she cloaked her hoarding tendencies, too, as much as possible.  Mom knew she needed to keep ‘appearances up’ to avoid detection…so unless you lived in the house with her or you were a close friend who liked to snoop, her compulsion could go undetected. 

How?  I think it was her pervasive scarcity mindset.  As a child of poverty, she was perpetually hungry.  As a kid, food was scarce and rather than feed herself, she’d squirrel away what she could to share with her siblings.  Secrets and lies about food led to eating disorders later, but her tendency toward hoarding and hiding, generally?  Food came first, as a result of her father’s death and her mom’s inability to cope.

Later, her need to over-purchase home goods – towels, sheets, cooking equipment, gaudy décor – came from a compulsion to create a happy home.  A home containing the things she fundamentally lacked as a kid.  As a result, every closet, pantry, nook, and cranny was overstuffed.  And oddly.  Her shopping addictions pushed her to use unusual hiding places and some were laugh-out-loud funny. 

Example?  I have no clue why, but this morning I recalled one of her wackier ‘episodes’.  The time she got caught shoving a slew of fancy tablecloths and napkins from Neiman Marcus into one of dad’s golf bags.  She didn’t realize it wasn’t his ‘old’ bag…just the one that was empty because he was cleaning his clubs. Ohhh…this is why mom was so maddening.  Her peccadilloes and crazy behavior were very often the stuff of sitcoms. 

Imprints from childhood reverberate into adulthood.  Never truer than with my mom…to know her was to love AND hate her and while I’ve carried those dueling emotions around for decades, this morning I was tickled to have a softer memory of her, recalling her silly side.

Take care…join me in seeing the softer sides when you can.

Vicki ❤

Boot Scootin’ Fun

black and white drawing of cowboy boots

Yep. Don’t mind me. I’m just boot scootin’ through life, having fun wherever I can. My definition of a good time? History nuggets – I love them. Evidence? A recent rainy Saturday when my online surfing and scrolling session about the origin of cowboy boots became a crusade.  Sheesh.  What started as a few minutes of mindless digging became a mini obsession.  Where are the empirical studies and deep dive research articles about the origin of cowboy boots and why they’re beloved? Priorities, people!  😉

Reflecting on my footwear fascination, I realized how little I knew – other than my cursory knowledge of cave dwellers and the emergence of “shoes” made from animal hides – millennia ago.  I knew that but my only other tidbit of trivia was the historical and shoe-y phrase ‘well heeled’ equating heel height and wealth…and hey there, stature (wink!) for both men and women.  I love a good etymology nugget, don’t you? 

I was disappointed and mystified but kept noodling as I searched for facts.  Most of what I found? Fluffy fashion articles about the latest super model or twenty-something DISCOVERING western boots.  Young ins, amIright? Not wanting to trudge through endless starlet stories and tik-tok-y photo shoots, I struggled to keep spelunking.  Trying to avoid yet another pic of Kendall Jenner.  Just sayin’.

Why the motivation?  I’m so glad you asked! I’ve had my own wardrobe of western boots for years, going all the way back to my first pair, gifted to me by my papa and worn to death.  A memory so compelling and sweet.  BUT – I made a whopper of a mistake when I tried to wear them, right out of the box, for two months when I was a young, dimwitted traveler. Those were the first, those sweet, cowboy-wannabe-Frye-boots, but they were soon followed by Justin boots, then my favorite Tony Lamas.  A well-fitting pair of boots will nestle into your soul.  They just do. But I’m digressing…

Still frustrated by the paltry results as I searched, I decided to click into one resource that looked like it MIGHT be promising.  My patience was poofing…I wasn’t searching to BUY boots.  Everything I ran across was a convoluted ‘story’ masked as a promo pitch to buy, buy, buy. 

Giving it a one or two click try, I checked out a country music lifestyle site that promised some nifty facts.  Dubious, I thought, but let’s see.  I was pleasantly surprised!  In a short article by Karen Corday, I picked up the trail…about the history of cowboy boots. Woo and hoo!

Here’s the scoop:  Influenced by both European immigrants and Mexican vaqueros (cowboys), one popular origin story is traced to a Mr. Charles Hyer who hit pay dirt in 1880, founding his namesake company due to the popularity of a one-off boot order.  Yep.  Seems an ingenious cowboy, focusing on form and function, approached Mr. Hyer about crafting a boot with a more pointed toe…all the better to slip into stirrups. Oh – “And give me (I imagine him saying) a bit of a heel – slanted-like for more security in those stirrups”.  Add a more generous, higher vamp and there you have it – the boots that became a cowboy sensation.  I wonder how trends ‘went viral’ in the old west?  Pony express and stagecoach gossip?  Saloon envy while bellied up to the bar? 😉

Hard to say, but here’s what I think. The style has endured because of the design, coupled with the realization that the boot shaft = blank canvas.  No closures needed other than a couple of pull tabs, so the cobblers like Mr. Hyer could go to town with fancy stitching and cool details. All the better to customize to your liking, friend. Cowboy boots became a form of creative self-expression. 

Still, I recognize that well-crafted boots were essential gear.  Even so, I believe a dash of individuality and fashion were mixed in.   Lucky cowpokes had one good pair of boots – not multiples – thus a man’s boots became a signature item – reflecting the taste and style of the wearer. Individuality, personality, creativity – in footwear form!

THIS is an origin story I can get behind.  Whether my findings are historically accurate or not, I don’t much care.  Poking around fed my need to know and summoned a bit of old west romanticism and fun. 

Here’s to you, whether you’re boot scootin’ with me or not.

-Vicki 😉

Gratitude, Aesthetics & Muffins

Hubster and I racked our brains trying to come up with a suitable thank you gift for a doctor who provided the hubs with extraordinary care during a very challenging time.  Running through the options, we considered a fruit basket, flowers – maybe just a thoughtfully crafted thank you note – and nothing seemed quite right.  So, we continued our think, think, thinking. 

And then, I remembered one of our conversations with the dear Doc in question.  He went above and beyond to share his own experiences about health, nutrition and what works for him as he built a terrific, caring relationship with the hubs. 

The Dr. extended himself in a way that was unexpected, impactful and unique, given that hubs had a team of ten doctors at one point. It’s hard to describe, but have you experienced the rush of overwhelming kindness when a medical professional drops their façade, revealing humanity and nothing else, at the most opportune time?  It must feel like calculated risk-taking.  Medical professionals need to maintain their own mental health and can be vulnerable and overloaded, too. 

Amazingly, the dear Dr. did just that, consistently, for the hubster and still had the bandwidth to field the questions that I asked – both in the moment and endless follow up queries.  Despite the infringement on his time, he never gave an indication of impatience.  Quite the contrary, his potent sense of humor and self-deprecating stories were medicine of their own.

And so.  Yesterday the hubs had a routine follow-up appointment and I planned to tag along, to say hello to the kind doctor who became an extension of the family.  Not wanting to show up empty handed and dissatisfied with the ideas we’d brainstormed, I figured a healthy-ish version of a homemade goodie might do, but I didn’t want the presentation to be lacking. Okay, then – muffins. My go-to.

Enter Amazon.  Ever helpful in a pinch.  I found beautiful, scalloped muffin/cupcake boxes (see pic above) that were both food safe and available in my favorite kraft-paper rustic tone.  All the better to coordinate with my beloved burlap ribbons and my favorite thank you notes – simple brown fold-overs that say “Thank You” but allow ample room for writing a from-the-heart message on the inside.  Perfect!

So I made the muffins – pumpkin spice without the cream cheese frosting (recalling conversations with the dear Dr. about treats, in moderation) and they were a hit.  Yes, it would’ve been easier (and no doubt cheaper) to buy goodies from the renowned local bakery, but I wanted to do just a little more and delivering the muffins on a disposable plate just wouldn’t do.  This is where I drive others batty.  I had a vision of what the presentation would look like, and I wasn’t satisfied until I could see it in reality.

Aesthetic ideals from a philosophical perspective are tightly wound inside me as priorities, I suppose because I’m annoyingly visual.  Symmetry, asymmetry, balance, color, hue, texture – I cannot help but assess for aesthetic value. It mattered that the treats tasted good but the first look-see, that old adage that we ‘eat with our eyes first’ mattered just as much.

The point?  To know me is to love me or tolerate me 😉, inclusive of my hard-wired notions about ‘perfect’ gifts that sweep me into a slightly obsessive gratitude aesthetic.  Even though the ‘packaging’ might not matter one wit to the recipient, it matters to me, because it’s a reflection of me.

Thanks for reading!  I’m grateful to you, too.  If I could send a package of muffins, I surely would. Well-wrapped, of course.

-Vicki ❤

Hat Head

man with a hat one
The Hubster…in a Hat

Do you have a face for a hat? 😉 I don’t think I do, but as it gets colder here in the Midwest, I think I need to put a little effort into chapeau-seeking. The last time I comfortably wore a hat it was a bucket style (hello, 90’s!) worn while walking a picket line with faculty colleagues.  Hats were not optional gear…it was cold and blustery! Beyond my complaining, though, I developed mad respect for protesters and picketers everywhere who face unpredictable weather in order to stand up, to be seen – in solidarity – for their chosen cause.

Me? I know I’m a cream puff and the combo of cold AND wet whilst protesting? Bring me a hat.  I didn’t give a rat’s patootie whether I looked good or not.  Survival, people!  (Okay – I know I’m being dramatic, but I don’t have an iota of outdoorsy in me.  Don’t get me started about rustic life and camping.  Gawd.)

But this pic? It’s the DH (dear hubster) nonchalantly rocking a little knit beanie like his head was made for it.  When hubby and I were dating…precisely one million years ago…he and my dad rustled through the coat closet, right around October if memory serves. Why? They were intent on golfing ‘one last time’ before the greens and fairways were snow-covered…and they needed more than golf gloves for the adventure.

Hubster retrieved this particular knit hat from the mound of woe begotten and mismatched mittens and gloves.  The little beanie was mine, but I could never figure out how to wear it.  Over the bangs or bangs tucked in?  Ears partially covered or fully concealed? Long hair down – or pulled on top in my signature Pebbles Flintstone poof? (Don’t judge.)

That blasted hat stressed me out. It looked so good on the DH, but I hated it on my head.  It matched a suede jacket PERFECTLY and would’ve been a great accessory and that’s where I made my mistake.  For me, hats need a purpose, like my 90’s bucket baby.  Maybe I need to rustle through the coat closet, just like my dad and hubs did decades ago.  Maybe I’ll find a beloved beret for a look-see and a tryout?  Maybe.  No promises. If nothing else, maybe my bucket baby is still around for a ‘take two’.

What’s your HATtitude? Please share and thank you for allowing me to whine.

Xo,

Vicki 😉

Very Verbal Vicki

Yep, that’s me!  I come from a long line of women who are tipped toward ‘external processing’.  Especially my mama.  Full of the gift of gab and gaffes uniquely her own, she was a complex lady with a penchant for chit-chat.  With or without jet fuel, err…her ultra-dark roast black coffee. 

Once when he was beyond exasperated with her non-stop commentary, my dad simply asked in a low, gravely growl: “Sue…Do you EVER have an unexpressed thought?”. 

We were on a cross country road trip and dad was diligently trying to tune the old AM radio so he could catch the Cincinnati Reds game.  Mom?  She had other things on her mind.  Questions about the destination, where we’d stop for the night, what sort of road food we’d indulge in, how many miles to the next pit stop/potty stop.

I think dad was okay for the first few hours, but I began to notice, from my backseat perch, that his jaw was tight – yet not as tight as his clenched fists on the steering wheel.  His grip was so firm that his otherwise suntanned hands looked more mottled and pinky-white, due to, you know, cutting off his own circulation with his steering wheel vice grip.

Eventually mom slept and I saw the color return to dad’s hands – he even stuck his left arm out the window for a while, casual-like, to catch a breeze as we sped along.  With mom slumbering, he found the sports radio station and turned the volume up.  I saw him look back in the rear-view mirror, noticing that while mom and sister Lisa slept, I was still awake.

What followed was one of the best ‘car talks’ dad and I ever had.  As a devoted fan to his favorite team, I knew he relived his own hey days as a ball player himself whenever he caught a game.  Johnny Bench was a favorite and Pete Rose, too, and dad educated me about the “Big Red Machine” roster, so I knew every player.  The baseball lesson lasted only an hour or so, but it felt like so much more. ❤❤❤

There are moments when I fall into chatter mode, like mom, and I recall dad’s road trip commentary about her motor mouth. Hmmm…applies to me, too. Given my self-awareness about being Very Verbal Vicki I’m reminded that I won’t explode if I fail to express everything I think, feel, wonder, lament, dislike, enjoy…you get the idea. 

Given that the DH (no, not the designated hitter – the dear hubby) shares some traits with my long-gone papa, I suspect his ears relish a break every now and then.  When it matters, DH is a great listener, but a running diatribe of drivel?  It’s asking too much, and I know it. 

From me to you…with a friendly, self-mocking ‘blah, blah, blah’…I’ll say goodbye for now.

Happy Friday!

Very Verbal Vicki 😉

Hey There, Blank Page…

typewriter

Don’t we all have a few snippets of favorite, inspiring quotes?  I know I do but geez. My stash? It’s a mess.  Anytime I run across something that hits a note of recognition, I squirrel it away.  Some nuggets are on post-it notes, some are captured on torn scraps ripped from one of my ever-present legal pads (I cannot live without them) or scrawled on whatever’s handy.  Where do they all go?  Tossed into my overflowing inbox. No, not an electronic, semi-organized inbox. My confession? I’m still married to my old-school “filing system” – the teetering tower on my desk.

Yesterday whilst digging for something else in the teetering tower, I found this pearl about writing from author Dani Shapiro:

Don’t think too much.  There’ll be time to think later.  Analysis won’t help.  You’re chiseling now.  You’re passing your hands over the wood.  Now the page is no longer blank.  There’s something there.  It isn’t your business yet to know whether it’s going to be prize-worthy someday, or whether it will gather dust in a drawer.  Now you’ve carved the tree.  You’ve chiseled the marble.  You’ve begun.”

Life is not random, I say.  Why was I excavating my inbox yesterday?  Because I was doing all that I could to avoid the keyboard, mostly.  I had a blank page open and I swear the cursor grew in size, mocking me as it bounced on the stark, snowy expanse of emptiness.  Waiting for me.  Taunting me?  No – that’s too much. It was just there, giving me a percussive blinkety-blink.  Maybe it was winking?  😉 Again – too far, Vicki.  Stop humanizing the inanimate.  The cursor is there – ready to receive when you’re ready to get down to work.

I knew I was avoiding editing tasks.  Well, that and housework.  The tumbleweed dust bunnies were free-range roaming the house and needed wrangling and I was just the girl for the job; feeding a fervent desire to distract myself with dust-busting.  But I know my own games, so rather that rise from my desk, I planted myself instead and found Dani’s quote. 

I love her encouraging words.  Boiled down, her wisdom is a take on ‘just do it’ but I appreciate her bluntness.   Don’t analyze, just go.  Do the carving, the chiseling – there’s time to critique later.  Words that I probably need branded on my body somewhere.

So I sat and blew through some tedious editing and then returned to my winking, blinking cursor on the blank page.  What flew out might appear in a blog this week.  Or it might not.  I’m becoming more fearless about relegating half-cooked thoughts to a ‘maybe later’ pile.  This is progress for me.  There was a time…not that long ago…when I would sit and labor and lament, edit and reframe and force myself to make sure I’d done my best work – all in one sitting.  I don’t do that anymore and maybe my writing is suffering as a result, but I’m getting comfy with withholding judgement. 

How did I get here?  A reminder from Scottish author Alexander Chalmers helps:

“The grand essentials of happiness are something to do, something to love and something to hope for.”

The blank page isn’t my nemesis.  It transports me to happiness because self-expression is a hard-wired essential in my ‘live happy’ equation.  Writing IS one of the many “somethings” that I love and the opportunity to greet my blank page with a hopeful hey there is a blessing, not a burden.  And I’m grateful to you for reading.  So very grateful.

-Vicki ❤

Photo by Suzy Hazelwood on Pexels.com

When You Crack Yourself Up – Part Deux

groucho marx glasses
Car Dancing…Just Do It!

So this happened.  Another installment of humbling posts in the “Crack Yourself Up” series. (Want to see the first post?  Here you go.)

Ed Sheeran’s “Shivers” recently rendered me wholly and entirely helpless to the beat…but maybe not at the most convenient time/place.

I arrived early for my Covid booster shot and snagged a primo parking spot directly in front of the doctor’s office.  I did not know the tinted, expansive picture window by the entrance – directly across from my spot – nearly put me INTO the waiting room.  Oy.  All I saw was a shaded window – no peeps, no faces.  Looked like privacy, I guess.  Plus, there were no cars on either side of me. 

Are you like me?  I’m a little reserved with my ‘car grooving’ if I’m at a stop light with cars around me. My moves are more contained – less full-body exuberance – just toe tapping and finger drumming on the steering wheel   No shoulder rolls and head banging.  No. No one should get the observable intel that I’m actually loopy.  Keep ‘em guessing I say.

Because I had time to kill, my buddy Ed – you know, everyone’s favorite Ginger – joined me in the car via Sirius XM. Awesome, I thought. Time to chill and bounce before I need to get poked with the I-know-I-need-it but-don’t-want-to-do-it Covid shot.

I don’t know what the run time is for “Shivers” but I thoroughly enjoyed myself from start to finish.  Nothing like an early morning jam to get the blood flowing and amp up the endorphins.  Works for me every time, but only if I let go and let the music, literally, move me.  So satisfying. 

When the song ended, I pulled down the mirror in the car visor, put on my mask and adjusted the wild bedhead I created.  Isn’t it too early in the season for me to have static cling in my hair, I thought?  Still, I smoothed it down, trying to settle into looking presentable.  Ish.

Why did I bother?  You know what’s coming, don’t you?  When I walked in, the front desk staff and two other patients greeted me with cheers and applause.  I turned and did that thing – the glance over the shoulder – to see who they were addressing with laughs and clapping. Surely not me…but there was no one behind me.  And then I heard it.  Sirius XM was the piped-in music of choice in the waiting room.  As I approached the desk, smiling but still unsure about the odd welcome I received, the sweet twelve-year old looking receptionist just said, “We like Ed, too.”

Does this bit of sharing need a moral?  I don’t think so, but if I were to summon one up, I suppose I’d say this:  Car Dance if You Want To.  Just Do It.

Xo,

Vicki 😉

Photo by Gratisography on Pexels.com

CSI: Lisa

girl in McDonald's uniform
Lisa: Her first job at McDonald’s

Sweet sister Lisa had terrific news this week!  Intellectually disabled Lisa is a marvel, despite her developmental delays and challenges.  (Read about her here to learn more.)

The pandemic thinned out vocational opportunities for lovelies like Lisa.  Despite the excellent work of her team of job coaches and social workers, it’s not easy to support disabled adults with a variety of intellectual and physical obstacles.

Lisa had a job, prior to the pandemic, doing piece work for a family-owned manufacturing company.  She loved it – they loved her – and although packing boxes of screws, weighing them and sorting them wasn’t an aspiration of hers, the point was productivity and providing Lisa with an opportunity to work in the community. (No job would ever compare with her FIRST job, however, when she worked at McDonald’s as a teenager. 😉 Free fries for the win, right?)

When the screw-sorting job ended, Lisa was bereft.  So sad and yet she understood it wasn’t her fault.  The company needed to trim their workforce and Lisa, along with two of her similarly disabled friends lost their jobs in the process. 

But this week?  Great news!  One of Lisa’s job coaches found a new gig for her – at a recycling company willing to do the good work of hiring Lisa, and her friend Albert.  This makes my heart sing.  Companies can easily dismiss hiring the disabled – view Lisa and Albert as ‘less than’ or unemployable.   

The company’s trusting heart and their willingness to listen to the job coaches who are angels AND champions made all of it come together.  Except for one, slightly funny Lisa-centric thing that everyone missed.  A smile is coming.  I promise.

Lisa LOVES all of the murder shows on TV. You know – CSI and NCIS whatever, whatever.  Law and Order this and that. I’ve never understood the appeal of “entertainment” that begins with dead bodies, and I’ve made my opinion clear.  Hubby, however?  He and Lisa share a bond here.  They DO on occasion, discuss other topics, but their conversations are typically peppered with ‘shop talk’ about the whodunits, etc. etc.  While they chat, I nod off or leave the room. 

What’s a common denominator in these shows – other than the aforementioned, requisite bloody corpse in every opening montage?  Yep.  Fingerprinting the ‘perp’, once captured.  In the old, old days, some of us geezers would throw the phrase, “Book ‘em, Danno” but for the youngsters reading, I’ll just apologize for the outdated reference.  Look it up, though, okay? 😉

As Lisa’s team prepped her for the transition to her new job – orientation, taking a tour, etc. – a passing reference was made to other milestones:  getting an official photo ID/badge and FINGERPRINTING

Alert! Alert! Alert!  Lisa’s savvy enough, sometimes, to catch herself before becoming volcanic.  This is a good thing – progress for Lisa who was plagued for decades by seizures triggered by emotional stress.   Afraid to clarify with her job coach, she said she needed to go to the bathroom – urgently – and called me in a full-on panic.  “I’ve done something wrong. I’m getting FINGERPRINTED.  I thought I had the job.  But maybe I messed up and I’m going to jail?”  Ah – hello, crime shows. 

For the love of Lisa.  Despite the kindness and care from her job coach and team, only someone with years of experience in Lisa-land would know what a passing reference to ‘fingerprinting’ might conjure up for her.  I’m glad I took Lisa’s call when it came.  Once I understood the problem, I simply said, “Oh – no.  This isn’t a CSI-Lisa thing.  It’s just part of hiring you.  You’re not in trouble.  Promise.”  Not missing a beat, Lisa said, “That’s good.  Thanks, Vicki.  I wondered if you’d bail me out.”

See me smiling? 😊 I love Lisa.

-Vicki ❤

The Yodas Don’t Lie

I made a promise to myself in July.  As I waited to learn whether a publisher was going to take me on – work with me to move my manuscript/mommy memoir into (gulp) a book – I leaned into advice received from my most trusted writing Yodas 😊.

The Yodas included my beloved beta-reader and the sage and patient readers from my academic world who provided endless guidance.  I don’t make it easy.  My dissertation gurus logged hours of ‘time served’ as they guided me through the nuances of academic prose and the how-to’s of co-authoring a textbook, but this was writing of another sort.  Personal and intense. 

My beta-reader knew most of the backstory that undergirds the manuscript.  Academic peeps?  No – not their lane at all, and yet their insights were welcome.  All input must be good input, I reasoned.  A variety of ‘notes’ came forward and while I embraced everything, one nugget stood out, most of all.  A common denominator of wisdom – across all Yodas:

If you want to write, write.  Oh yeah – and read everything.

So, I’m trying.  While juggling other business, home and family duties, WordPress has become a welcoming place.  Much more so than I expected. 

I remember my first-ever “like” and a comment to a blog post – from dear, sweet Wynne.  As a more seasoned blogger, her encouragement in my first week was a gift.  I might’ve quit early on…it felt like I was writing (ehh…more like blathering) into an abyss.  Worthiness issues intertwined with the underlying compulsion to do it anyway

WordPress is encouraging on a systems-level.  I’m on a ‘streak’ with 60 daily posts and I’m still amused by the WordPress “high five” message when it pops into my inbox.  I wasn’t looking to be a streaker 😉 LOL.  I was just heeding another bit of advice from the Yodas:

Write.  Do it even when you think the tank is empty. Do it. 

So, every morning, I plop myself down and you know what?  Despite my misgivings about quality, words flow and stories come. 

The internal critic is a tyrant, though.  She riles me up with her sideways chatter.  THAT topic again?  You’ve covered this, you fool.  Or my academic, professorial-like nemesis arrives.  She surfaces – ready to chide me for writing in a too colloquial way.  Too friendly, familiar and GAWD what’s with all the hyphens and ellipses…and bad punctuation, generally?

I try to shoo them away and listen to the other voices.  Bits of praise that still stick with me if I ferret them out:

Vicki – you write the way you speak.  What makes you compelling on the conference circuit as a presenter, keynoter – and in the classroom – makes you fun to follow when the written words flow.

Hmm…maybe.  But what do I repel, on a genetically based DNA level?  Praise.  What a conundrum.  The thing I most need to keep moving is often the input I dismiss. 

And so…back to the promise in July. I’m staring down October and it’s the month where I need to buckle down and tend to the manuscript-in-motion in order to meet my publisher’s deadline.

My writing, for fun, on WordPress might need to take a back seat for a bit.  Rather than daily posts, I’ll shoot for 3-4 a week.  Blogging was never about broad viewership or followers.  It was and IS about connecting and I’m grateful to those of you who’ve been reading and chiming in with fun, life affirming scenes and stories.  I’m grateful you haven’t booted me off the WordPress Island. 😉

If you’re a newer follower, don’t worry.   I’m just paring down a bit and the trust you’ve placed in me – allowing me to pop into your space (whether you read/don’t read, like/don’t like, comment/don’t comment)? It’s a privilege I don’t take lightly. 

And hey – some among you might be cheering!  Hurray!  She’s finally taking her foot off the gas, and I won’t see “Victoria Ponders” Every.Single.Day.  Either way, all good.

So – whatever’s in front of you that you think you can’t do – do it anyway. The Yodas know what they’re talking about.

Take care!

-Vicki ❤

Send Out the Search Party

brown cowboy hat with sheriff badge
Everything is Somewhere

When dear daughter was small, one of the most mind-numbing tasks was the constant fetching of errant ‘stuff’.  She was an only, so as a party-of-one, parent-wise, I felt terrible when I complained.  I don’t know NOW – nor did I THEN – how to magically locate stuff.

I am not blessed with GPS-like tracking skills.  Socks? Shoes? Lost Bunnies? Dolls? Trucks? Pokemon whatevers? Nope.  Unless I tripped over them and hurt the bottom of my bare foot, I generally had no clue. 

A parent’s favorite reply to ‘where’s (fill in the blank)?’

I dunno – wherever YOU left it.

To be honest, though, this is bigger than an overdue parenting rant.  Our girl is way grown at this point, so why the sharing now?  It seems the Hubster has the same trust in me…that I can close my eyes, put a finger to my temple, thoughtfully, and mull….and I’ll know wherever said-missing-in-action item might be holing up.  Nope.  Still don’t know.

I think pandemic togetherness pushed me over the edge.  He’s relaxed and easy going.  Me?  Wound. Too. Tight.  Don’t bug me with a question about where your favorite screwdriver is.  Don’t you have 99 of them?  😊

And yet, I get why both dear daughter and Hubster have faith in me.  I am the Patron Saint of Lost Stuff.  I did it to myself.  See, I’m the one who’s in perpetual pick up mode in these parts.  Yessiree.  That’s me.

If I’m a-pickin’ it up, I might as well be a-puttin’ it down — where it belongs.  (I don’t know where the Western twang and sheriff swagger is coming from.  Sorry about that.  My mind is wandering and I’m having an out of body moment as I see myself roaming through the tumbleweeds, err, piles in the house like I’m leading a search party, complete with a badge and ten-gallon hat.  I think I need sleep.)   

So what?  I do have a point here.  Getting to it! 😉 Even when I’ve lost track of something and I’m in search mode, there’s a tidbit of wisdom from my papa that rolls in.  It’s a surefire (wink!) way of calming me down when I’m rootin-tootin’ mad. 

I have learnedI am unlikely to locate anything when I’m steamed.  The more Zen, the better and this phrase helps, self-talk style:

I don’t know where (fill in the blank) is but what I DO know is everything is somewhere.’

And with that bit of wisdom, I plop down and sit-a-spell 😉 until inspiration strikes and I pick up the trail.  I don’t want to say it works every time…but it kinda does. 

And that’s that.  A Tuesday rant, and a tip of the hat, from me to you, partner.

-Vicki 😉

Rescue Ralph

Wreck it Ralph movie poster
No, not THIS Ralph…

No, no – I’m not talking about “Wreck It Ralph’ – the 2012 animated comedy.  I’ve got my other favorite Ralph on my mind – the one I affectionately refer to as “Rescue Ralph” – better known to you, perhaps, as Ralph Waldo Emerson.  😊

Ralph Waldo Emerson
Yes – THIS Ralph…

His catalogue of brilliance is numbing.  How could that much ‘smart’ reside in one human?  Of all the thought-provoking quotes and encouraging nuggets attributed to Mr. Emerson, there’s one that stands out to me:

Finish each day and be done with it.  You have done what you could.  Some blunders and absurdities no doubt crept in; forget them as soon as you can.  Tomorrow is a new day.  You shall begin it serenely and with too high a spirit to be encumbered with your old nonsense.

Blunders, absurdities, old nonsense? Oh my!  Just the morning kick-in-the-butt I need (most days, at least) to rescue me from my swirling, circuitous thinking. I love it…and yet…

I wonder, what if I add the typical Vicki accentuations to his work – a little bold here and there, maybe an emoji or exclamation point…or two.  I’m not reserved, like my guy Ralph.  I’m me and I overly enthuse when spot-on wisdom speaks directly to me. 

My edits, should I be so bold (wink!) might look like this:

Finish each day and be done with it!  You have done what you could. 😉 Some blunders and absurdities no doubt crept in; FORGET THEM as soon as you can.  Tomorrow is a new day! 😊😊😊 You shall begin it serenely and with too high a spirit to be encumbered with your old nonsense.

Crossing a line?  Too much creative liberty?  Yes – but it’s all in fun.

Thank you, Ralph (although I understand you preferred to use your middle name).  In that case, Waldo, you’re the best. 

-Vicki 😉

Hollyhocks and Resilience

Showstopper – in more than one way

My mom was a walking conundrum.  I learned to work around her moods, but one wacky episode popped to mind this morning – prompted by an unassuming and lovely bloom.  A singularly determined late summer stunner nestled behind our garage. This vibrant hollyhock – pictured above.

Its brethren have long since pooped out but this guy?  He’s still got stage presence, demanding attention.  So, I give it.  And as I’m looking him over, wondering why I’ve assigned male pronouns to a flower 😊 I realize why I dislike hollyhocks.  In one unsettling wave, I remember.

I don’t recall the year, but sister (Lisa) and I were old enough to walk to the Rite Aid drugstore to do a little shopping for Mother’s Day. We bought a bouquet of mixed flowers and a fresh box of chocolate covered cherries.  (Lisa and I sometimes wondered what “fresh” candy was – nothing was dated in those days and we guessed it just meant it was better than the stash mom not-so-secretly-hid in her nightstand.)

We felt triumphant as we woke mom with her gifts, along with a cup of black coffee and her cigarettes.  Yeah for us!  Almost. Funny how you can block a slice of unpleasantry for decades, isn’t it?  I shelved this story in the way, way back – at least until the show-stopper hollyhock said hello earlier today. 

Mom’s reaction to her Mother’s Day gifts?  She looked at the bouquet of flowers, prominently showcasing both hollyhocks and gladiolas (I didn’t know their names then, but I learned…) and tossed them on the floor with an angry, “FUNERAL flowers?  FUNERAL flowers? It’s Mother’s Day!  I hate them” followed by a testy grab of the candy and a more softly muttered… ‘But these are okay”.

Lisa, given her sweetness and emotional vulnerability was a puddle in an instant. I tended to her first – trying to smooth over and re-contextualize the hurt.  Usually this:  Mom didn’t mean it or Mom’s just tired followed by It’s not your fault.  Distracting Lisa by nudging her along to another activity also helped.  That day we made pancakes.  Food as the solution – again.  Sigh.

Just the same, like other nasty bits, for my own sanity, I shut the door to the memory – quick as I could.  Years later, I’m amazed that these scenes are still powerful enough to swim into everyday life.  Life with mom wasn’t always a train wreck…but when it was, it was.

My take-away?  NOW I know why I’ve never liked the hollyhocks 😉 that hubby’s been nursing back to health in our yard.  I’ve been indifferent to them – never cutting them and plopping them in a vase.  I’m still not sure about mom’s crazy claim that hollyhocks (and gladiolas) are ‘funeral flowers’.  Anyone who’s more in the know can fill me in on that.

Oh – and why the sharing?  No, no — not because it’s sad. Quite the contrary. For me, it’s a proof-positive example that remembering, while unpleasant, can breed resilience, if you dare to let it.

Thanks for reading.  The boisterous and bold Mr. Hollyhock says hello.

xo,

Vicki ❤

When You Crack Yourself Up

Groucho Marx mask
Photo by Gratisography on Pexels.com

If you’re reading this and thinking – Gah! You already posted something today – what’s this!? Keep reading. Please. 😁

So…. this happened.  Yesterday, I posted a comment on a terrific blog – I don’t know the blogger in any way, and this was a first-ever bit of chiming in on his thoughtful post. 

Seriously…I need to slow down and proofread what I’m doing…or WordPress needs to come through with comment ‘edit’ capability – maybe just for me?  No – this was not the first time I’ve served up a typo or sent a comment with words missing….and typically, I’ll reply to MY OWN goofed-up message just to acknowledge the typo or the whoops.

Yesterday?  I couldn’t bear to do it.  Enthralled by my own stupidity, my mistake prompted deep belly laughs (with a snort or two mixed in) as I wondered what the sweet blogger thought of my, umm…odd comment. 

What did I do?  In trying to offer an insightful thought (first mistake, Vicki?) I had the imagery of a playground teeter-totter in mind – you know, related to the push/pull and polarity of our crazy lives. 

What did I type?  Teeter-TOOTER.  Yes, friends.  When I caught what I’d done – of course after I hit ‘submit’ – I succumbed to a tidal wave of giggles.  Childlike recollections of fart jokes and epic bathroom humor.  TOOTER???  

Then came the stern, self-talk momentVictoria – WHAT did you just do???  TOOTER?  You just typed TOOTER to this man who’s disclosing, sharing, inspiring.  Shame on you!  And then – fix it, fix it, fix it. 

As I regained my composure, more or less, I noticed he responded with a simple ‘like’.  More self-talk:  Maybe he didn’t see the goof?  But what about the broader audience?  Others who will see – and hopefully laugh, too? Maybe not?

It required restraint but you know what I did?  Absolutely nothing.  Well, other than continuing to guffaw at my own expense.  Oh – and I guess write about it now.

That’s my Sunday silly – from me to you!

Toot! Toot!

Vicki 😉

Desert Island Food: Pepperoni Pizza!

pizza sign
Photo by Rodolfo Clix on Pexels.com

You know that desert island question?  The one where you mull over which food item you’d enjoy if you’re permitted one edible delight ONLY  – and that’s it for the rest of your natural born days?

What’s your answer? Me?  Pizza. Pizza. Pizza. Although I worry – if I ask for pizza and that wish is granted, will my lifetime supply come along with proper refrigeration and an oven?  Just thinking ahead about food safety.  If I’m stranded on an island I don’t need food poisoning on top of everything else. Can you tell I’m not the outdoorsy, camping type?  😊

If I CAN have anything I want, let me be more specific.  Ordering! Pepperoni pizza, please, which presents a number of issues.  I know it’s not good for me and don’t bother trying to sell me on turkey pepperoni swaps.  Don’t mean to offend anyone, but ick.  Just ick.

My love of pepperoni pizza is ancestral, genetic.  My dad knew I hated eggs so he’d sneak a little side dish of pepperoni my way so I could mix it into the scramble.  You know, to zhuzh up those bland (invariably runny) huevos.  Even so, I know my favorite cured meat is a guilty pleasure – despite the conjuring of pleasant ‘pepperoni with pops’ memories.

My discovery?  My lifelong love of pepperoni is really about the spice and seasonings and I can recreate that yummy taste without the nasty health implications (nitrites, fat, salt, preservatives) and the whole “how the sausage is made” imagery that I struggle with. 

This pic from my kitchen this morning shows simple veggies – almost a fridge clean out – of yellow onions, garlic, tomatoes, and spinach.  Mixed in – a little salt, Italian seasoning, red pepper flakes and olive oil. 

 

frying pan with colorful veggies
Pepperoni swap!

Et Voila!  I bring you pepperoni flavoring in a veggie sauté that makes a delicioso pizza topping.  Or bruschetta topping…or flatbread topping…or a pasta mix-in. Heck, I ate it on some leftover crackers just a bit ago.  Don’t judge.

This blend has become my new favorite utility player in the kitchen because it’s the best-ever fresh topping to a boring frozen cheese pizza.  It’ll take whatever you’ve got —  a few mushrooms if you have those on hand.  Peppers?  Sure.  I’ve even done this with finely shredded carrots and while I know that sounds ridiculous, you don’t notice them from a taste point of view but they do add a little crunch and color.  What’s wrong with that?

That’s my story and I’m sticking to it. I still want pizza as my desert island food, but if that’s not possible (with or without pepperoni) I’ll run through my other favorite foods in the “P” category:  potatoes, peanut butter, pineapple.  What about you?

xo,

Vicki 😉

Don’t Say It…Don’t Say It

Mark Twain
Mark Twain on the Brain…with Paul McCartney

Yes, in the title of this post, I’m borrowing from Paul McCartney and Wings, but I’m inspired by Mark Twain. Quite a combo, right?  😉

The Paul McCartney & Wings 1979 hit,Goodnight, Tonight” includes a catchy chorus of “Don’t Say It…Don’t Say It” and I confess, it’s the musical score that bounces in my brain when I’m biting my tongue, resisting the urge to respond – typically with a jab.  Good to get the last word in, right?  

Earlier this week I spent a meditative moment mulling over creative compulsion – my need to express myself, use my words. 

Today?  I’m noodling on the importance of knowing when to shut up, Mark Twain style:

“The right word may be effective, but no word was ever as effective as a rightly timed pause.”

Yes! A short and sweet lesson that I need to remember – especially related to interpersonal communication.  (Or for that matter,  INTRApersonal – the maddening inner dialogue that runs continuously between my ears.)    

Interpreting Twain’s quote, I feel this:  Don’t respond, take the bait.  Let it roll…it’s okay. Pauses ARE good.  Time to reflect, consider our words.  Yep. 

But I also think it’s okay to do more than pause.  Not engaging at all is the best course of action, at times.  A lesson I’m still learning, punctuated with an ear-worm of a soundtrack, courtesy of Paul McCartney. Sing along with me, “Don’t Say It, Don’t Say It”…

Smiles!

-Vicki 😊

Chip Face

Baby girl enjoying potato chips
Get Your Own Bag!

This photo amuses me so.  It’s a blast from the past that I felt compelled to share.

Birthday celebrations for one-year olds are typically memorialized with a frosting face – capturing the enjoyment and glee of a first-ever birthday cake. Not so with our “DD” (dear daughter).

She commemorated her first birthday by sampling another delicacy – potato chips. Ruffles, to be precise. Instantly territorial over her find, she made it clear she found the simple bag of chips to be far superior to the cake and candles routine. Oh, and the singing? Hands over her ears with an imploring look – why, oh why?!

If you look closely at the pic you’ll see the bag of Ruffles in the background, which included the tag-line “Get Your Own Bag”.  In DD’s first foray into chip-dom, I’m not sure she needed the encouragement.  Her face did all the talking.  Agree?

Happy weekend – with or without chips!

-Vicki 😊

Hot Pipes & Guacamole

dog with sunglasses
Whoa! Spicy guacamole, humans!

My dad was a master of oddball phrases.  He passed many years ago, but he still pops up in wacky, wonderful ways when one of his quirky ‘bon mots’ surfaces in my brain.  I smile when that happens. 

Scratch that – it’s more of a full-teeth grin.  Cheshire cat like.  The spontaneity of these witticisms catches me off guard and more than once, I’ve imagined an onlooker (driver in another car, man in front of me at the post office) assuming I had ear buds in – maybe talking to someone who made me laugh.  Sort of.  Yes – let’s go with that.  Talking to my dad; the low, low-tech way.  😉 

Here’s an example.  This one occurred in the privacy of our kitchen, where I found myself talking to the dog again.  Sweet Sadie.  She puts up with a lot.  DH (dear hubby) made a massive batch of his signature guacamole.  It’s delicious but it’s a use every bowl and utensil and all the counter space production.  Inspiration strikes when he fishes out the best bag of ripe avocados at Costco and that’s all the warning we get.  Look out.  Fresh guac coming soon!

One way or another, a healthy dollop of freshly made guacamole ended up on the floor.  It was chunky enough that it surely made a ‘splat’ sound but the humans didn’t hear it.  I turned around and Sadie was having a best day ever – gobbling the guac and licking the floor clean. 

Did I mention that DH puts extra jalapenos in his concoction?  Yep.  We like heat and a sweaty brow with our chips and guac.  Sadie, however?  This was her first ever fire-roasted tongue experience.  And this is where my dad popped to mind. 

Anytime someone complained of overly-spicy food – demanding a glass of water – he’d laugh and ask, “So you’ve got hot pipes?”  And as water was guzzled, he’d continue: “Holy Toledo – were you ‘down a quart’ or what?”

While tending to Sadie and offering her yogurt and water to cool her hot tamale mouth, those silly, heckling-like phrases from my dad kept swirling. So much so that I started asking her those questions.  Ya got hot pipes, Sadie?  Wow – look at you drinking all that water – good girl – were you down a quart?  OMG.  Hello, papa.  Thanks for joining us.  I have now taken over the color commentary role when it comes to overly spicy food…and I love it.

xo!

Vicki ❤