Category Archives: Ideas

Giants will fall, that’s the way of the world

It’s not going to stop.  It’s the order of things, the circle of this hard life, the order of the world.  Somewhere on earth, seems it’s always a time for the giants to keep falling.  Our elders pass away, take leave of earth—sometimes way too soon—and many are left behind to mourn and remember.

Jerry Lewis (1926–2017) was part of my childhood movie reel.

With all the foolishness that’s going on these chaotic days, it’s good to keep humor in the scabbard of sharpened coping mechanisms to help maneuver through the world with sanity intact.

As a child, Jerry Lewis movies gave me plenty of laughs and taught me that the underdog nerd-guy/person really can win.   And that was music to my soul.  Music I still need to hear every now and again.

I got a kick out of the slapstick comedy, but my favorite scene of all his movies is from “The Patsy.

Can’t say why this portion of the movie tickles my funny bone, and has done so since I was 10 years old or so.  Maybe it’s because the trio wasn’t what I expected.  Don’t know what I expected to see as a 10-year-old, but that sure wasn’t it.

Lewis’ annual telethon to benefit muscular dystrophy is another thing I’ll remember.  I hated telethons as a child, and did all I could to avoid them.  But even so, what stuck with me is that this star-figure, who could be doing anything with his time, chose to raise funds for research to benefit others. Because I hardly ever watched, I never picked up on reasons others weren’t fans of the annual event.

But what cemented Lewis as a funny, but curmudgeonly figure in my mind is this Hollywood Reporter interview.  First of all, I don’t know why someone granted this interview.  He wasn’t having it.  And let the whole world know.  And it made me laugh.  But made me feel for the reporter.

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Using verbal arts to eliminate violence

A reaction to stories I covered for work earlier this week… and a possible solution to a human problem. 


(During a Commute Home)—So my workday was going pretty well, for the most part. And then they sent me to cover the investigation after a shooting. So I drove to the Metro station that straddles the D.C./Maryland line where it happened. Now it wasn’t a gory or bloody area that we could see.  Of course, the police kept us far enough away from the crime scene, which was on board a train car. My guess is that it was to preserve the integrity of that crime scene so they can pick up whatever bits and pieces of evidence, gun shells and casings and you know, maybe bits of hair or fragments of flesh or whatever else it is that they needed in order to complete the investigation.  And they were looking for three suspects. And according to the pictures that I saw, that Metro pushed out, they seem to be pretty young people.  A spokesman for the transit agency told reporters the guy who got shot was a teenager. At that time, I didn’t know exactly how old, if he was a young teen like 13 or 14 or if he was an old teen like 19… That all had to come out in the wash.  And it did.  It still is coming out in an unfortunate wash.

Argument leads to shooting. So cliche. Why couldn’t they have bus(ted)-out in a parking lot rap… Click To Tweet

Continue reading Using verbal arts to eliminate violence

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Tidying up ‘sholl hasn’t changed my life yet, but it’s getting there.

Paper wrangling will change your life. I must be honest, I haven’t seen any extreme life-changing effects yet… only in my mind. I’m feeling that tidying magic. It’s even affected how I organize my purchase products while standing in the Target checkout line.

I usually just plunked my stuff on the conveyer belt. But I find myself organizing the simplest things to appear neat and tidy. For example, my few items just had to be organized in a perfect rectangle. Maybe that’s a symptom of an underlying disorder. Maybe not, because that sure hasn’t totally invaded my paper organization just yet.

Keep swimming like Dory… just don’t forget your goal. Click To Tweet
If you haven’t hired an organization expert and are thumbing your way through this book day by day as your real life revolves around you (laundry, grocery/brocery shopping, dishes, cooking, Game of Thrones, Insecure, kicking yourself for just this year realizing how bomb The Wire and Treme really were) here are some tips to keep moving forward. They’re not necessarily gospel, just based on my victories and foibles.

  1. Make a daily, doable list of what you will accomplish each day. Make each task bite-sized. That way, it won’t be overwhelming for you. If you want to focus on one thing focus on one. I’d recommend no more than three things.
  2. Focus on the list each day. The book recommends doing the discarding “in one go,” but that isn’t always practical for folks whose lives involve many moving parts. If “in one go” doesn’t work for you, break up the KonMari list into mini sections, and tackle those bite-sized items “in one go.” Gobble them like mini-bite muffins.
  3. Try not to get discouraged. I’m still working on getting my pile of papers shredded. My shredder is wack. I’m working with what I have. Here’s what keeps me going, though. It’s not if the pile is done, but when. There are no ifs ands or buts about this. It’s getting done. If I tackle this thing in bite-sized pieces, while keeping control of my incoming papers, I’ll get there.
  4. Schedule periodic days where you dive into the pile to significantly reduce it and propel you toward the goal. Pick a series of weekends to tackle the mountain if the “one bite a day” method won’t work for you. Just keep moving forward. Get. It. Done.

 

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Persistent papers pepper patience as Life Changing Tidying Up works its Magic

(FROM WHERE I SIT)—Good Lord, the papers have sprouted feet and are taking over because they want to be recycled. This latest rebellion is underway because I’ve been holding things up for way too long.  But I persist, because the end results will be worth it.

Gratefully ditching clothes that didn’t bring me joy wasn’t nearly as hard as getting rid of these clingy papers. It’s been a trudge. Kinda-sorta. Deciding what to keep and what to toss wasn’t that difficult. Now, there’s so much stuff to shred. If only the pile could rip itself to pieces. Yesterday. But as it’s taken me years to accumulate all this shite, it’ll take at least a smidgen of time to get this foolishness back under control.

Such a slow roll. But shredder wheels keep on turning, proud Lizzy keep on burning. I’m encouraged to don’t stop, get-it get-it because there’ll be time enough for resting when the shredding’s done.

Part of my KonMarie possessions laxative includes purging through all papers and only keeping the ones that bring joy. Of course, as The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up says there are always very necessary papers that must stay, no matter how much they dull the senses. Necessary is necessary.

Some paper goods I’ve considered for the rubbish pile: Treats from students during my teaching days. Every now and then, parents and students blessed me with holiday gifts: Things like a journal, a tile decorated with a little boy’s artwork, a Christmas card made from construction paper, a sporty skirt and top that I wore for a long while before I gave them away. Of all those kind treasures, I still have the journal and use it to jot down recipes. I also have the decorated tile, homemade card, and a different skirt that I still wear during the fall and winter months.

These things still bring me joy. Even the oversized construction-paper card with first-grader penmanship wishing me a Merry Christmas.  I’ll keep them until I can’t keep ’em anymore. Some bring back such wonderful memories. And I’ll treasure them… …. …… …….. .. . always.

there are always very necessary papers that must stay, no matter how much they dull the senses. Click To Tweet

Now, back to the other papers. Part of me wants to find a beach bonfire and introduce them to the flames. Another part of me wants to bake them to a crisp inside the stove, crumble them and use them to fertilize some plant. All of me wants them gone.

Inch by inch, it’s a cinch. That’s what keeps me from tossing everything out the window. That, and not wanting to catch a littering charge.

 

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The Life Changing Magic of paper wrangling

Papers are an itch-bay. They’re all up in everything like sand after a sandstorm.  Not like I’ve been in a sandstorm… But I’ve been stormed by paper for many evers.  That has to change.

Even though I’ve tidied through other possession categories, which you’ll read about as I stumble through this process, I’m still struggling to ditch the papers because my shredder is broke-down and sorry. No, not broken down… broke down. I rode that thing too hard, and it’s trying to quit on me. Another one I have is too dang loud. I swear if I ran that one too long, it would wake the dead.  I’ve been looking for local shredding events, but it seems I missed them earlier this spring. Oh well.

The shred-struggle is real… and slow. Real slow. But consistent. #konmarimethod Click To Tweet

So, according to Marie Kondo, papers should be the first thing to go. I see why. But in my tidying, they’re going to be the first AND last things to go.  That has me scared, because according to the KonMarie method, if you don’t follow her ways perfectly, you’re doomed to failure. [NOTE: Kinda felt like being at some churches.]  I hope that’s not the case.  I know that’s not the case, because this one here (points to self) ain’t going back down that road of clenching and holding on to stuff that doesn’t make her happy or isn’t totally necessary).  No, sir.  No-sireee-Bob (who’s Bob?) Nawsuh. Nunnnt-uhhh.

A high school teacher gave me a Tuit button years ago. Why? Because I told him my procrastination was based on my not having one of these. A round tuit. Now that I have one, there’s nothing I can’t do! 🙂

According to KonMarie, paper includes books. At first, I thought it only meant the bags and boxes of foolishness I’d been keeping for YEARS with plans to file, but just never got around to it.

Now I have one.

Corny, I know. But no more excuses.

So here’s something else that’s helping me get my paper -ish together.  I refused to purchase any more stuff to organize my life. What purpose would it serve to buy more organizers?  This one here (points to self) already had all she needed and hadn’t yet put to use.

Trays to organize papers before filing? Yup.

A personal, physical “in” box that took everything in but never put out? Got it.

Adorable Ikea organizers? Got-em!  These Skubb organizers are inexpensive, well-loved (by me) and well-used.  Not the most fancy-schmancy, but they get the job done.  If ever get more organizers it would be these exact ones or something like them. So versatile. And foldable. If I don’t need them, there’s a zipper on the bottom which makes them easy to break down and store without taking up goo-gobs of space.

Since I’m ditching stuff, it doesn’t make one iota of sense to go collecting more organizers before I’m through getting rid what I don’t need. Instead, I’m choosing to release stuff that doesn’t bring joy and will to use organizers I already have to tidy what I still want to keep.  And if I have leftover organizers, those may have to say hello to Salvation Army or any good friend who could use them.

Book ‘em Liz-o

Can I tell you how many books I hauled outta here?

Nope, because I didn’t count them.  But it was several boxes and plastic containers full.  Some were hauled to a local used bookstore where I could exchange for cash or credit.  I’m sure some bibliophile somewhere already knows this, but opting for store credit gets you more value than cash.  Since I was looking to get rid of stuff, it didn’t make sense to take store credit and welcome more books into my life while choosing to keep ones that I still wanted to read, but hadn’t since I didn’t have a precious Tuit.

THIS! This is why I haven’t read those books! Because I didn’t have my hands on one of these! Tuits are the stuff, yo!

For me, it was wiser to take the value cut and keep the cash.

Now, I have a tall bookcase full and one plastic container of books that I haven’t yet put back on my other smaller bookcases.  I’m thinking about giving these things another go-through.  Some may not make the next cut. My gut tells me the volumes I really need and will use can fit on the one tall case.  All others can visit via electronic means, and if I crave the more intimate feel of pages on fingers…there’s always the local library.

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The Life-Changing Magic of getting my “-Ish” Together

Por fin! I’m  finally tidying up my life. Getting my “stuff”together.  That’s what I type, but my mind says a sh-ishy expletive instead.  Feel free to  insert your favorite expletive.

When I say “stuff,” I don’t mean daily chores. I’m talkin-bout getting to the nooks and crannies of the stuff I own… and weeding out what I doesn’t make me happy or what I don’t need.

There’s one main question, according to Marie Kondo’s book “The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up.”  The process is based on one question:  Do my possessions spark joy within me?

I’ve been sorting through my stuff…from clothes and shoes,  to books and papers, to forks, knives, and even old keychains. That’s what I’ve been asking myself these past few months.  Does this evening outfit, that was a gift but I haven’t worn in 10 years, spark joy in my heart? Nah?  Ohhhhhkay.  It goes.

Of course, some stuff is NECESSARY to keep, like important documents… but everything else? It’s up for grabs… to be tossed out. This book promises to be a life-changer if you stick to the author’s method of tidying up.

it’s not a waste to release something I’m not using… so someone else can, maybe, find what they need. Click To Tweet

I wish I could say Marie Kondo’s book CHANGED my life, but that wouldn’t be accurate, just yet. I’m in the MIDDLE of this process. But it’s STARTED a change, that’s for sure.

I’m about three months in. Feels like I have six YEARS to go. I exaggerate, but I’m so surprised how much stuff I’ve tossed at this point.  But I also feel in my gut that I still need to downsize some more.

A lot of the stuff I ditched I either didn’t like, or hadn’t used in a long time… and didn’t like that much anymore.

Part of me thinks Kondo goes a little overboard when she tells folks to talk to the possessions about to get the shaft. Tell them you’re thankful for their service, she says–or something like that.

Me talking to audiobook: “But… but… They’re not cops, firefighters or teachers. Why thank them for serving us well,” I asked.

That step seems silly on the surface… but I guess it’s more about cultivating a spirit of gratitude more than anything else… gratitude for the usefulness these things have brought to my  life.

So I thanked them. SOME of them.

Like the brown Børn sandals that traipsed around Los Angeles with my feet and got some travel time in Ixtapa, Zihuatanejo, Florida, and miles on the East Coast.

I profusely thanked those sandals for being my footy road dawgs for more than a decade. But lately they were just sitting in a corner. These things were so beat up and crusty, so far gone that I threw them in the trash. But not before thanking them for their service. If I could find another pair just like them, I’d buy them in a snap!

I’ve also had to relax my hold on a lot of books I’ve acquired through the years. I had read some in the trove. Others I’m keeping as references. But the ones I finally ditched included books that that I’ve either read and thought I’d re-read… or THOUGHT interesting enough to bring home… but not interesting enough to actually pick up and read once they arrived. I stopped kidding myself. Not gonna read them. So I gave them away. Kondo says of you haven’t read them. You probably won’t.

I think she’s right. I already knew that. Just didn’t want to feel as if I was being a bad steward of good good information by tossing these works. But heck, I wasn’t reading them. They were just taking up space. So they got the boot. Not a steel-toed boot, though. More like a soft shoe.

After getting rid of bags of clothes and boxes of books, I must say I felt all fluffy and lighter… Click To Tweet

And I finally get, I think, the idea of being grateful for the things that no longer serve me. After all, it’s not a waste to release something I’m not using… so someone else can, maybe, find what they need.

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Good, better, best: One of them-there stick-to-your-ribs quotes

Good, better, best. Never let it rest. Until your good is better and your better is best.

My third grade teacher taught this to her students. I’m not sure if she repetitiously implanted this into the minds of all her students through the years, but I certainly remember her drilling this into our little 7 and 8 year old brains.  She was insistent that we repeat it until we knew it by heart.

Good, better, best. Never let it rest. Until your good is better and your better is best.

And then she wanted us to act like we knew it.  Sista-girl leaned on us, pressed us to produce our best work.

And if we didn’t, she leaned more.

When running down the roster of beloved teachers during class reunions, she’s up there at the top. She’s also on that list of folks who “don’t play.”  Then and now.  That means you’re not slipping anything past her, getting over on her, getting away with anything.  Her tone was (still is) loving, but firm.  But if you found her wrath via disobedience or laziness, it was as if the world were ending. Five minutes later, you’d vow never to revisit that backside apocalypse again.


“If you miss more than three on any homework assignment or test, you’re going to get it.”


It was our first week of school.  Yes, she said that to us. My almond-shaped eyes went round for 2 seconds after that pronouncement.  If I were outdoors, I probably would have caught a fly in my mouth.  And she let our parents know.

Yes, teachers could still paddle their students back then, and we did our darnedest to make sure that tape-wrapped walloper didn’t find our little asses. So we tried.  Hard. To get it right.  That type of discipline may seem harsh by today’s standards, but it was what it was back then.  Careful, deliberate, meticulous work was the key to a comfy heinie.

Good, better, best. Never let it rest. Until your good is better and your better is best.

If I was the unlucky recipient of said swats more than one time, I really don’t recall. Maybe that’s one of those painful memories folks exhume with therapy, but I don’t think it was more than a couple of times, if even that many.

However, years  later, this saying is still stashed in my mental mantra chest.


Good..okay… that’s fine, but get better.  Do your best.  Keep pushing until your good becomes better and your better becomes your best.


And I still see things that way.   One thing I appreciate about this instructor: I don’t recall her sparking competition between her students, but she did push us toward excellence.  Even if some of us had to push through learning curves.  The goal was still the same:

Good, better, best. Never let it rest. Until your good is better and your better is best.

This is my Day 21 post for the 30 Day Writing Challenge in the Speak Write Now Community

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Go ’till you get it right

Life lessons can be extracted from the most mundane everyday occurrences.   Even a roller skating rink that smells like a bundle of hot, sweaty, funky feet.

A college friend invited me to a skating fundraiser one Saturday night.  Her text-vite was right on time.

I was quite excited to get back out on the rink, but when I saw people dropping like flies and resurrecting from the floor—coupled with the clack-clack-clack-splat of stumbling stakes and skin meeting the shiny wooden floor, along with the occasional thud of an @$$-crash, I purposed in my heart I would re-learn the way I learned to skate backwards  while in college:  Head first, then heart.  Visualize it, then do it.

In the meantime, while I glided to the middle of the rink, I noticed an older man helping a young girl—likely his daughter—stumble her way toward balance.  Their hands stayed lightly connected throughout the night.  Close enough for comfort, yet light enough for independence to take root.

There was also a little boy with a light-weight grey and white striped long-sleeved hoodie.  That boy clicked-and-splat his way around the rink.

Then there was my friend, and another college acquaintance who had recently moved back to the States.  We all were individually trying to awaken the muscle memory that brought us so much fun and relaxation during our college years.

“Hey, do you remember how to do that move?”

“Which one?”

“You know, that one  like this?” (*Insert noisy, slippery attempt at fancy footwork.*)

“I was trying, but I still don’t have it.”

“I don’t know what I’m even doing.”

“I know, right?  I still am trying to remember how to skate backwards.”

Conversations like that.

At one point a group of about 10 old people (most  in their 30s or older) kept stumbling around, trying to remember their former fancy footwork from more limber years.

But if we don’t get back out there, we will never relearn what brought us so much joy in the first… Click To Tweet

All while the little striped-shirt boy, kept clanking around the rink, but falling less and less.  His brows were stuck on furrowed, and at first,  I thought he was an angry little child.  But after a while, watching him clack-and-fall the entire night—My mind changed.  I was wrong.  That was likely his look of determination.  Determination to stay on his feet.  Determination to improve every clack of the way.

Life is not a practice around, and if we don’t know how to execute life’s moves, we must figure it out along the way, clacking and falling, sometimes rolling and flailing and stomping with furrowed brows as we develop and grow along our chosen paths.

I also learned that the further along we get on a path, a slip and fall might be more risky.  We may have more to lose, especially if we grow less limber and less open to change even along once-familiar paths.   But if we don’t get back out there, we will never relearn what brought us so much joy in the first place.  It’s important to get out on life’s rink, persist, and go ‘till we get it right.

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Buttery ways to heal the skin you’re in

Screenshot of  http://biggsandfeather.com homepage

Big-ups to Biggs and Featherbelle!

They saved my skin!  Literally… Okay, their products helped restore a patch of skin to its former glory.  As much glory as palm-of-hand skin can achieve.
Something went awry when I was visiting my folks a few years ago.  I was glancing at my hands one spring afternoon, and noticed my skin birthing a flake inside my left hand between my thumb and index finger.

What the what? I thought, picking at it.  Ehhhh, nothing much there, ’twas only dry skin.  I left it alone.  After I got back to the East Coast, that spot on my hand started flaking more.

Whatever, I thought.  Lotion to the rescue!  I massaged and rubbed that stuff several times a day.

Only it didn’t help.  Not only did it not help, my skin got worse. It started looking slightly inflamed and purple-ish.
What the WHAT?
I told my mom.
I told my sister.
I asked the Internet.
I asked friends.

“Go to a dermatologist,” some recommended.  Sure, that makes since, because… skin.  And something was obviously wrong with my left hand’s epidermis.

So I went, was handed an eczema diagnosis for that patch of skin, was gifted steroid samples which whipped that hand back into shape real quick.  Relief!

However, when I stopped using it, the irritation revved up again, with a vengeance— wheelies and all.

This is a bunch of foolishness, I thought.  Nothing is working.  So I  returned to searching the only bastion of earth’s certainties: The Internet.
“Natural remedies for eczema,” I Googled, Binged, maybe even Netscaped.
Then this brilliant idea popped into my head:  Shea Butter!
But where would I buy it?  Didn’t know, so I asked the Internet for help.

THAT’S how I met Biggs and Featherbelle products.

They’re based in Baltimore, Md., and are sold in a slew of stores locally and elsewhere; according to their website it’s 33 states and the District of Columbia.

I also started using Shea Moisture soaps, and soaps from Trader Joe’s, stopped using my hand soap and traded it for one of these natural bar soaps.  When I showered or washed my hands throughout the day, I massaged a bit of Biggs and Featherbelle’s scented seasonal Shea butters or cocoa/shea butter combos into the irritated patch on my hand.

These products, especially the Shea and cocoa butter products,  were the things that gave my skin much relief.  That patch healed itself when nothing else worked, thanks to nature’s enabling emollients.

This is my Day 10 post for the 30 Day Writing Challenge in the Speak Write Now Community

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A surprise win and being enough

It was October, nineteen some-ty something.

Calendars marked that day as Halloween, but at my parochial school it was Hat Day.  I was a Kindergarten wreck because I hated my hat.

The night before, my dad brought out supplies to help my sister and I create our contest entries.

With construction and wrapping paper, glue, scissors, fluffy, colorful vintage yarn ribbons (that weren’t yet vintage, to my knowledge) and other crafting supplies gathered on the dining room table, we got to work.

Daddy showed us how to roll our hats to create cone-shaped construction-paper hennin.

My older sister got set making and decorating her own hat, but my little five-year-old hands needed Daddy’s help.

Sissy found a pattern of Christmas wrapping paper she liked, glowing candles, and she started cutting those out and glueing them on her conical hat.  The cutout paper candles seemed so warm, and they were Christmassy, and my sister liked them, so I wanted them, too.

But, Daddy was looking through other crafting items to help me with my hat design.  I wasn’t having it. I wanted to be like my older sister, so I grumbled a bit while my dad kept decorating my hat.  He was having more fun than I was.

We completed our hats (actually, my dad completed mine… my sister completed hers) and left them on the dining table to dry overnight.

The next morning, it was up and at-em to get us to school on time.  Our mom dropped us off, and Sissy and I walked toward our separate classrooms.

I was still distraught over my hat. I still wanted it to be like my sister’s.  Mine was too different.  No one would like it.  People would laugh at it.  It wouldn’t fit in.

It was almost time to enter the classroom, but I didn’t want to go anywhere near the Kindergarten yard.  I was in tears, dragging my hat through the grass and dirt between the first and second grade classrooms.  One of the other teachers or an aide saw me and wondered why I was crying.

“I don’t like my hat,” I wept.

Apparently, she didn’t think was that deep, because she didn’t seem as out of sorts as this poor weepy kid.  She consoled me a bit and got me where I belonged. Inside that-there classroom.

Fast forward to our Hat Day assembly. The entire school gathered in the auditorium and each class, from K-8 paraded their hats before the entire school.  From the dull to the creative, it was always a fun experience.  When It was time for our class to parade our hats on stage, the excitement took over, and I don’t recall being puddle of tears anymore.  Seeing all the enjoyment packed into that one room was a reason to smile.

When the best hat creations were announced for each age group, I was among the winners.  I didn’t go into this to win a thing. I thought what I had to offer, what Daddy crafted for me to present in public, wasn’t up to standard. It was too ugly. It was too different. It didn’t fit in.  This word wasn’t in my vocabulary at that time, but it was way too eclectic.

But I was a winner because I took what my Dad poured his heart and enjoyment into and did what I could do with it.  I wore it.  Can’t say I wore it with pride, but I wore it, I walked the stage and sat down.

That evening, I vaguely remember my sister and I telling Daddy that I was among the winners.  I also recall this distinct thought/feeling. Maybe Daddy or Sissy said it, or maybe it was a divine whisper:  You may secretly think what you have to present to others isn’t up to par, but you might be surprised.  It might be a winner.

This is my Day 7 post for the 30 Day Writing Challenge in the Speak Write Now Community

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