GBE 2: Blog On -- Week #24: “POPULARITY”


GBE 2: Blog On -- Week #24: “POPULARITY”














As always, the guidelines are simple. Blog on this week’s prompt in any way you see fit. Once you’ve posted to wherever you normally blog, drop the URL to your post into the comment section below.

REMINDER: use the URL to your entry for this week’s specific topic post, NOT to your blog’s home page!

If you haven’t already done so, you are welcome to join GBE 2 at its main headquarters over on Facebook (We’re nearing 200 active members and we’re still growing!). Just visit GBE 2’s Facebook page and request to join the group. Everyone is welcome, so tell your friends! :O)

For those of you who use Twitter, the hashtag for the group's posts is #GBE2, and we can increase readership if we all tweet early and tweet often. ;O)

That’s it! Easy-breezy-lemon-squeezy!

You have until Saturday (11-5-11) to post your blog and leave your link…

Again, this week, our prompt is: POPULARITY

Ready. Set. Blog!

Happy blogging!
Beth


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Phony Baloney and Whiner McGee

Own it or it owns you. I’m talking about life, and I believe what I said. I think that there are basically two ways to live—true to who we are or in a constant state of trying to please other people. Most of us fall into the latter behavior occasionally, especially when we’re young, but it usually doesn’t take long before we realize one very basic truth: no matter what we do, there are bound to be those who think we should be doing it differently. Some may see that realization as a cause for difficulty, but I see it as a gift—a fabulous, worthy of lots of shiny paper and a great big bow gift. Knowing that it is surely an impossible task to live in a way that makes everyone else happy frees us to choose to make ourselves happy.

I don’t know about you, but I like to be happy. Seems like a no-brainer, but there are those who actively seek out misery. We probably all know at least one. They are the perpetual victims, the taken-advantage-of, the belittled, the cheated, the unlucky, the left behind. Someone is always trying to steal a little bit of their happiness. Let me just say for the record: no one has to steal it from them because they throw it away. What a terrible, terrible waste.

My granddaughter has a name for people who do that. When she sees someone engaging in poor-poor-pitiful-me behavior she scrunches up her nose and says, “Whiner McGee.” She’s barely six. The child is six years old and she already knows that the mindset that leads people to gripe and call foul is self-inflicted victimization…and is foolish.

My take on the Whiner McGee folks is that their dissatisfaction stems from what I said up at the top of the page. You can live true to who you are or in a constant state of trying to please other people. I think trying to please someone, a bunch of someones, or some inner-perception of who you should be or who you would like people to think you are, rather than just being whoever you really are, could turn anyone into a Whiner McGee. Who wouldn’t be unhappy conducting an outward life that doesn’t match the inner one? Phony Baloney is destined to morph into Whiner McGee.

The solution? Own it. We have the right and the responsibility to own our lives. To look inside and honor the person we find. Not the person we wish we’d found, but the one we actually find. If we don’t honor that person, why, exactly, would we expect anyone else to?



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Written for this week’s GBE topic: Ownership

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Halloweenie-Hodgepodge

It’s been a few weeks since I’ve been over to peek at Joyce’s Wednesday Hodgepodge questions, but I made my way there yesterday to see what she’d cooked up. Good ones, as always. :O)







1. What gives you goosebumps?

Actual goosebumps? Just the cold—or the chill that sometimes follows a ridiculously hot hot-flash. If you’re asking what gives me the heebie-jeebies, there is one thing. I’m not creeped by scary movies or even scary books (though the latter has a better chance of getting under my skin than the former), but I’m not fond of walking alone after dark because my imagination sometimes gets the better of me.


2. Halloween—are you a lover or a hater? Okay, that sounds harsh...Halloween—yay or nay?

I like Halloween. I love the cute little beggars (um, trick-or-treaters) who come to my door and love how excited the grands get as they choose their costumes each year. I don’t love having leftover candy lying around, so the kids who show up near the end of the evening get heaps of treats at my house.


3. Can you respect someone you do not trust, and can you trust someone you do not respect?

Definitely no to the first part—if I don’t trust you, I most certainly don’t respect you. I can, however, trust (with limitations) some people who don’t have my respect. For example, if a politician has a proven track record of voting in ways that I think are correct and beneficial to the country and the world, I would be able to trust that person in their capacity as a leader, even if I did not respect them as a person based on the choices they make outside of their political career. The fact that I wouldn’t befriend someone doesn’t mean that I wouldn’t vote for them.


4. Apples or oranges? Yes, you have to choose.

Apples. There are a bunch of varieties and a gazillion ways to enjoy them, and I’ve rarely met an apple I didn’t like. Oranges are delicious, but I really only like the juicy, seedless navel ones.


5. What is something you wish was in your town (shop, restaurant, attraction, etc.)?

I wouldn’t mind a Hobby Lobby. Oh, and a decent hair salon.


6. What non-food item is in your refrigerator or freezer?

At first glance, I thought this was a silly question, but then I realized that we have several nonfood items in the freezer. There are a couple of those blue-gel ice packs for times when the grands conk their beans, a large gel-filled ice pack that slips into a soft sleeve for the hubby’s back, and a paintbrush in a Ziploc bag that the hubs put in there so that he could take a lunch break mid-project without having to clean the brush. Anyone care to guess how long it’s been in there?


7. Are you at all superstitious?

I was going to say no, but I suppose that’s not entirely true because I believe I must have been born under a lucky star. :O)


8. Insert your own random thought here.

Last year, my hubby picked up a few ginormous bags of Halloween candy at Sam’s Club several weeks before the holiday and put them on a shelf in the pantry. About a week before the goblins were to descend, I went to move them over a bit to make room, and noticed that one of the bags was decidedly light, although it didn’t appear to be open. Upon closer inspection, I discovered one clean cut in the bag along the back seam—the opening roughly the size of my husband’s hand. This year—so far, anyway—the Halloween stash remains intact. :OD


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GBE 2: Blog On -- Week #23: “OWNERSHIP”


GBE 2: Blog On -- Week #23: “OWNERSHIP”














As always, the guidelines are simple. Blog on this week’s prompt in any way you see fit. Once you’ve posted to wherever you normally blog, drop the URL to your post into the comment section below.

REMINDER: use the URL to your entry for this week’s specific topic post, NOT to your blog’s home page!

If you haven’t already done so, you are welcome to join GBE 2 at its main headquarters over on Facebook (We’re nearing 200 active members and we’re still growing!). Just visit GBE 2’s Facebook page and request to join the group. Everyone is welcome, so tell your friends! :O)

For those of you who use Twitter, the hashtag for the group's posts is #GBE2, and we can increase readership if we all tweet early and tweet often. ;O)

That’s it! Easy-breezy-lemon-squeezy!

You have until Saturday (10-29-11) to post your blog and leave your link…

Again, this week, our prompt is: OWNERSHIP

Ready. Set. Blog!

Happy blogging!
Beth


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Count Your Blessings



I'm definitely one to look for (and therefore find) the best side of everything—people, places, experiences, and even uncomfortable situations. I love my life. It’s not perfect and I suppose if I wanted to, I could create a ridiculously long list of stuff that needs tweaking, but what fun would that be? And for that matter, what fun would perfection be? Nothing to strive for, nothing to dream about? Doesn’t sound that great. I’ll take imperfect, but blessed, thankyouverymuch.

For the past month, I’ve participated in ‎the 30-Day Gratitude Challenge with some friends on Facebook. It’s a simple exercise where participants list three things every day that they’re grateful for. The only limitation is that no entry can be repeated at any time during the challenge.

Yesterday, I updated my status to reflect my last three items for the month. Last on my list was the challenge itself, because though I’m always grateful, being so focused on the specifics was a very cool thing. Marinara sauce to marriage, I have a lot to be thankful for.

If you were to name something that’s making your life better right now, what would you choose? No matter where you are, if you look around you, you’ll almost certainly be able to find plenty to be grateful for. Shelter from the weather, electricity, a comfortable chair, even time to play around reading blogs—all good stuff.

What about the people who have helped you or given you hope when you were pretty sure you’d scraped the last smidgen from your reserves? I’ll bet when you read that, you thought of someone. Nice, right?

Gratitude is one the simplest yet most effective ways to instantly improve your life, and it’s free, non-fattening, and legal. So, please share. What and/or who are you grateful for today?


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On the Road Again

Mom stands with one hand on the door handle and the other on her forehead, shielding her eyes from the bright Florida sun. Three kids in touristy tee-shirts with pictures of palm trees on them push one another toward the open door, no one wanting to enter first and scoot over to the seat on the far left, behind Dad. Usually, the middle seat is the least popular since sitting there means having to battle with two siblings for space, rather than just one, but Dad quit smoking just a few weeks ago and his disposition hasn’t yet fully adjusted to the absence of nicotine. Little feet against the back of his seat are met with grumbles and stern looks in the rear-view mirror, so it’s easier to get in last and take the seat behind their mom.

“Hurry up,” says the oldest, her hand on the back of her brother’s shoulder. “It’s hot out here.” She guides him in and then motions for her sister to follow, which she does, but not before narrowing her eyes and sticking her tongue out at the older one. After issuing a reminder to buckle up, Mom closes the door and takes her place up front.

“All set?” Dad asks, looking back at the trio. When they nod, he puts the car in drive and pulls away from the gas pumps. As he turns out onto the frontage road that leads to the interstate, he sings a chorus of On the Road Again and his firstborn presses her forehead against the window and rolls her eyes.

“Do we have anything to eat?” the child in the middle asks a few minutes later. “I’m starving.”

Mom opens the cooler that’s wedged between the two front bucket seats, pulls out a box of raisins, and hands it to her daughter. “Raisins? Don’t we have any cookies?”

The oldest uses her foot to grab her backpack that’s tucked down on the floor in front of her seat and pulls out a pad of paper and a box of markers. “Can I have some paper?” her sister asks, her hand already reaching over to grab a few sheets.

“Use your own,” the big one answers, snatching her property back and moving it as far to the right as the limited space allows.

“But mine’s in the way back!” wails the smallest girl, stretching to grab a marker. “Mom! She won’t give me any paper!”

Mom shifts to peer around the edge of her seat and asks for a little cooperation. “Can’t you just share with your sister?” she asks.

“You can use mine,” says their brother, unzipping his pack to retrieve a pad of drawing paper. He hands it to his twin and digs back down into the bag for markers. Unable to locate them, he begins to unload the pack. Sunglasses, a rolled up cotton hat with a likeness of a dolphin stitched on the front, and a sandwich bag with part of an orange still in it are pulled from the pack and laid on his lap and his seatmate’s. A bit of orange juice leaks from the baggie onto his sister’s leg, and she screams.

“What’s going on back there?” Dad asks, his voice tense and a little too loud. Mom shoots him a cautionary look which he pretends not to notice. He puffs his cheeks, exhales noticeably, and keeps his eyes on the road.

“He’s looking at me mean!” whines the child in the middle, and scoots her butt to put some space between her and her brother.

“Move over. You’re in my seat,” the oldest says, leaning into her sister to reclaim her space.

“Mo-om!”

Dad says something that can’t be heard in the back seat and Mom gives him another look, this one stepped up to include a deep furrowing of her eyebrows. He doesn’t bother to feign ignorance this time and raises his eyebrows in a challenge. She shakes her head and laughs.

Two more miles down the road, Dad pulls into the right lane and slows to enter the exit ramp. “Everything okay?” Mom asks, wondering if something’s wrong with the car.

“Just going to that Amoco,” he answers, tipping his head toward the mini-mart’s tall sign just off the interstate.

“We just got gas twenty minutes ago,” Mom says, sounding worried.

“Cigarettes,” he says. Just one word. Sharp.

“But you’re doing so well! You’re past the worst of it, honey. Hang in there.”

Dad pulls into the lot and parks alongside the building. “A pack of cigarettes or I’m gonna kill one of them,” he says, giving her the puppy-dog eyes that have bought his way out of a number of minor irritations.

She smiles. “Well, if those are the only two options...”

He leans over to look at their kids and asks, “Anyone need to use the washroom?” When they all shake their heads, he goes inside alone. Once out of the store, Dad stands in front of the freezer that holds bags of ice and talks to another man as they both take deep drags on their smokes. A few minutes later, he’s buckled up behind the driver’s seat again, his mood markedly calmer. He reaches back and passes out three little packages of cookies, smiles, and says, “All set?”

Dad’s chorus of On the Road Again begins as he pulls into traffic and right after he merges back onto the interstate, he hears a small voice from behind him. “Dad?," the small voice says, "I have to go to the bathroom.”


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Written for this week’s prompt over at The Writers’ Post, where Jenn provided the following instruction: I want you To CREATE an atmosphere in your post this week. Use your words to pull your audience in—give them a sense of their surroundings, and create a memorable scene with an atmosphere that they will hopefully not soon forget get by reading your post.

Please note that she didn’t specify that the atmosphere had to be a pleasant one. ;O)

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Core Strength

I’m a fortunate woman. It’s not that I don’t have my share of issues and haven’t taken a turn or two with heartbreak, but the good in my life far outweighs the bad. I like to think that the scales are perpetually tipped in my favor, so they are. Optimism rocks. ;O)

I decided on this week’s topic, safe haven, after talking to a dear friend this week who has decided to leave her marriage. The ending of a marriage is always a sad thing, but she has valid reason. Her husband is not a bad man. He’s actually a really good guy, just not good husband material. He’s either unwilling or unable to be her safe haven, and for her, that’s a deal-breaker.

I suppose that we all have our own ideas of what is and is not a requirement in a lifelong mate. I know a woman who expects her partner to be available constantly and feels unloved when he spends any of his non-working time pursuing interests that don’t include her. Honestly, that would drive me batty, but she’s her and I’m me. I love my husband dearly and we do spend a great deal of time together, but every freaking minute? Um, no. And no thanks.

I like to read, he likes to fly RC airplanes. He golfs, a sport that I really tried to get into, but found hellishly dull. I’d live in the swimming pool if it was a feasible option, a place he sees as a great spot to cool off…and then dry off. I’ve tried, unsuccessfully, to convince him to take ballroom dance lessons with me and have told him that if he gets Alzheimer’s, I’ll have his forgetful ass waltzing in no time at all. He responds that if my mind goes first, he’ll trek me all over the hell’s half-acre on the back of his motorcycle, a place I absolutely never sit now. We amuse the daylights out of ourselves and each other. It works.

One of the main reasons that it works is because we are each other’s safe haven. Always. No exceptions. He’s my soft place to fall and I’ve got his back, no matter what. I’ve long said that in a good marriage, the joys are doubled and the hardships divided by two. That sense of being able to count on someone when everything turns to sh*t is huge, and like my friend, it is a must-have in my marriage.

That being said, a funny thing has happened through the years. In addition to being my husband’s safe haven, I’ve grown to become solidly my own ‘self-haven.’ I’m good with me, and the outside world can really ever only give me so much grief, because I know who I am. I have my faults and weaknesses, no doubt, but I know my value, have a strong ethical base, and am able to just be myself and let other people love me or hate me, their call. I know the truth about me, and in the end, that’s enough.



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Written for this week’s GBE topic: Safe Haven

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GBE 2: Blog On -- Week #22: “SAFE HAVEN”


GBE 2: Blog On -- Week #22: “SAFE HAVEN”











As always, the guidelines are simple. Blog on this week’s prompt in any way you see fit. Once you’ve posted to wherever you normally blog, drop the URL to your post into the comment section below.

REMINDER: use the URL to your entry for this week’s specific topic post, NOT to your blog’s home page!

If you haven’t already done so, you are welcome to join GBE 2 at its main headquarters over on Facebook (We’re nearing 200 active members and we’re still growing!). Just visit GBE 2’s Facebook page and request to join the group. Everyone is welcome, so tell your friends! :O)

For those of you who use Twitter, the hashtag for the group's posts is #GBE2, and we can increase readership if we all tweet early and tweet often. ;O)

That’s it! Easy-breezy-lemon-squeezy!

You have until Saturday (10-22-11) to post your blog and leave your link…

Again, this week, our prompt is: SAFE HAVEN

Ready. Set. Blog!

Happy blogging!
Beth



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I Dig those Ten-to-Ones

A week ago, I was Alana’s guest blogger over at Writercize. If you’ve never visited her blog, it’s definitely worth a look. Several times a week, Alana posts a quick writing exercise, and then she takes a shot at it right along with her readers.

Alana generously offered Friday guest blogging spots for anyone who would like to create a Writercize, and I signed up for Week #1. The guidelines for my Writercize, Ten-to-One, were as follows:

Participants are asked to write a complete story in exactly fifty-five words. The first line should have ten words, the second nine, the third eight, and so on until the last sentence, consisting of a single word, completes the story.

I posted my ten-to-one and then a number of others, including Alana, gave it a try, too. The entries were all terrific and I think everyone had a lot of fun creating them. I enjoyed it so much that I decided to do a few more today, which I’ll share with you here. Let me know what you think, and I’d love it if you’d care to post your own ten-to-one. :O)


The Aisle

His top hat and tails lend an air of elegance.
She walks in softest taffeta, tiny flowers of lace.
He carried her once, now she guides him.
Slow steps, in rhythm with his heart.
His eyes are moist with love.
He’s ready, yet he’s not.
He lifts her veil.
One quick kiss.
His baby.
Bittersweet.

***

House Hunting

The happy couple excitedly chooses items for their first place.
With love and laughter, they are ready to grow.
One child arrives, then another—pink and blue.
Too many people for too few rooms.
The budget is decided, then stretched.
Macaroni for lunch AND dinner?
They’ll make it work.
A tiny bungalow.
They sign.
Home.

***

My Baby

I opened the door and walked quietly toward the bed.
My daughter held her daughter close against her chest.
She looked up at me and she smiled.
We shared a moment of wordless communication.
She understood now, as never before.
Motherly love, like no other.
I took her hand.
Woman to woman.
I cried.
Happily.

***

Flower Border

She opens the bag and counts out the flower bulbs.
A colorful border of tulips will welcome her guests.
She rakes the dirt and digs uniform holes.
Bulbs are deposited and covered with care.
Mama squirrel watches from a tree.
She calls to her neighbors.
Come! Look at this!
A crowd gathers.
They descend.
Lunch.

***

After Dinner

His work is done and it’s time to chill out.
One arm bends behind his head to form a pillow.
He scans the channels to find a favorite.
Pawn brokers or alligator hunters? Decisions, decisions.
Maybe some cowboys, seeking country justice.
Motor sports are always good.
Volume’s cranked up loud.
Remote’s in hand.
Iron grip.
Asleep.

***


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Alana still has open weeks for guest bloggers, so if you’d like to create a Writercize, just let her know!

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Day by Day

Who and where we are in our lives at this moment is the result of the experiences we’ve had and the choices we’ve made. Our strengths, as well as our challenges, have developed slowly, one day at a time, for years. Decades, even.

When I hit forty-five, my hormones went nuts. Not a little kooky, but lock-‘em-up-and-throw-the-key-away nuts. I was on a hellish roller-coaster, and since I was completely unwilling to go the HRT route, I pretty much had to just hold on and pray for the ride to come to a stop. At the recommendation of a few friends who’d ridden the ride before me, I tried a few herbal supplements in search of relief and found one that worked wonders.

Today, a handful of years later, things are much, much better. I am left with a few souvenirs, most of which are residing around my waistline and name themselves when I step on the scale. I don’t like them much. I’d love to think that I could blink and they’d be gone, but just as they gathered one day at a time, that’s how they’ll have to go, too.

I read something interesting back when I was looking for information in search of menopausal relief. The gist of it was that we each have a unique ‘default mode’ which presents itself more strongly when we are under stress—physical or other—than under normal circumstances. The thinking is that when we fail to tend to our emotions and give them healthy outlets, they morph a bit from merely uncomfortable to troubling—and if we continue to either stuff them down or indulge them recklessly, they can become downright damaging and rear their ugly little heads at the most inopportune times.

It made perfect sense and when talking to a bunch of friends (both those who had crested the mid-life arch and those who were still climbing the hill), they all agreed. The ‘negative’ things that they saw in themselves during those years were simply magnified versions of who they’d always been and the inner-battles they’d always fought. One lady said that in her mid-forties, she became ridiculously crabby, griping to and about everyone around her and voicing opinions that she’d previously felt, but kept to herself. Another spoke of relentless and almost uncontrollable anger—she said that she lashed out at friends, family, and co-workers, and though she had always experienced waves of anger throughout her life, she had never before acted on them. Everyone agreed that they simply became more themselves and that they could somehow no longer cloak the less-attractive sides of their personalities.

For me, it was mostly weepiness and anxiety that had me sidelined. I didn’t tend to cry over sad things; I was much more inclined to get weepy over beauty. Hallmark commercials made me cry, and I even got teary watching those stupid Folgers coffee ones that I usually find more annoying than sweet. When I knew I was in deep, though, was one afternoon when I was watching Charlotte’s Web with my grandchildren. There’s a scene where Fern is holding baby Wilbur and swinging on a tree swing while singing to him. I was overwhelmed at the tenderness of the moment and the love between girl and piglet, and I began to cry. I’m not talking about a little mistiness, I’m talking full-fledged sobbing. It’s not even like it was when poor Charlotte died, though that would have been pitiful enough. Nope. An animated kid and a pig on a swing, and I was over the edge. Nutso.

In addition to a tendency to be exceedingly touched by beauty, I was also an anxious mess during that time. Waves of almost crippling panic enveloped me, without notice, and they left me shaky and exhausted. Yet as tired as I was, I couldn’t seem to rest. On a good night, I got probably two hours of sleep. It was horrible, and though there were times when I was certain that I was going to go crazy or die—or more likely, go crazy and then die—I did neither. It got better—one day at a time, and in great part because of the love and support that I got from some very dear friends, including those I gave birth to and the one I married. We really do get by with a little help from our friends.

We’ve all got our ‘stuff,’ and in almost all cases, the stuff came along in little bits, day by day, until it reached a level when it was impossible to ignore. If we expect to undo it or find a better way to be, we have to be a little bit patient and a whole lot determined, and one day at a time, we really can get to wherever it is that we’d like to be. For me, that means there’s still hope for the jeans that are tucked into the back of the closet.



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Written for this week’s BFF topics: #130, One Day at a Time and #131, I Get by with a Little Help from My Friends.

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Clarity, Times Two

When I first considered this week’s topic, ‘clarity,’ I thought about finding mental clarity in today’s too busy, Facebook over face-time, concrete-covered, multi-tasking world. And as complicated as that might sound, I know that the answer is actually pretty easy: meditation.

Now before you go all “yeah, whatever” on me, don’t worry. I’m not going to post some big long woo-woo post on the value of shutting out the outside world in order to listen to the voice within, although I have to say that if you are quiet, clarity will come. Besides, I can hear you now. If you meditate, you know what I’m talking about and don’t need me to sell it, and if you don’t, you probably fall into one of two camps:

1) How’s about you keep your woo-woo/meditation/voice within crap to yourself. Fair enough. I’m zipping my lip.

OR

2) I tried to get into meditation, but I just couldn’t do it. Let me just say that in the beginning, meditating often goes something like this: You lower the lights, set a timer for twenty minutes so you won’t be tempted to watch the clock, and sit in a quiet room. Maybe you try to get your legs into an uncomfortable pretzel-like position that you saw some meditating chick in a movie do. You close your eyes and pay attention to your breathing, just as you were instructed in the how-to-meditate article you read online. You remember it saying not to try to change your breathing, just to notice it, but you think that your meditation breathing should probably be all slow and steady, so you slow your breaths. When you realize that you’ve purposely changed your breathing, even though you were explicitly instructed not to, you get a wee bit anxious and start to breathe more rapidly. Then your legs really start to hurt so you un-pretzel yourself and make that old-lady groaning sound as you stretch them out in front of you.

Determined not to give up, you settle into a sitting position that doesn’t make you feel like your hip might break, close your eyes again, take a deep cleansing breath and try to clear your mind. Next thing you know, you’re thinking about your kid's science project and how you need to get the car in for an oil change and you wonder if your stylist can squeeze you in on Saturday even though you forgot to make an appointment, because your roots are really starting to show.

You’re pretty sure that your twenty minutes has to be almost up anyway, so you stand up, flip on the light, and look at the clock. It’s been seven minutes. You decide right then that meditation is not your thing and you pick up the phone to call the stylist about Saturday.

It might start out like that, but it doesn’t have to stay that way. If you were to try a few more times, you’d find that in less than half an hour, you can let all of the science projects and oil changes and gray roots melt away and connect with the part of you that has every single answer you’ll ever need in your whole life. No exaggeration.

You don’t have to meditate in a dimly lit room. You don’t even have to be sitting, although that’s probably how most people approach it. You can meditate while walking, just so you can let your mind drift away from your everyday worries (probably not a great idea if you plan to walk around in a busy metropolitan area), or in the shower, letting the spray wash away the outside world until all that’s left are you and the water. You can meditate at any time of the day or night, in any position that is comfortable for you, and for as long or short a time as feels right. You don’t even have to call it meditation if the word makes you worry about whether or not you’re doing it right.

There is no one right way. The right way is your way, the right place is wherever you feel calm and can quiet yourself. And the benefits are extraordinary. Clarity. It’s right there. You just have to shut up long enough to notice it.

All that being said, I didn’t come here to talk about the wonders of meditation. Seriously, that wasn’t the plan.

When I sat down, I intended to write about the need for clarity in communication. Being clear and asking for what you want and need instead of expecting someone to read your mind and then getting all sorts of pissy when they don’t seem to have that ability. That’s what I’d planned to talk about when I put my hands on the keyboard, and I had the title already at the top of the page: Say What You Mean and Mean What You Say. Hey! I guess I just covered it in this paragraph, though, so we’re good.

Yep, clarity. Check. And check.



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Written for this week’s GBE topic: Clarity.

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Depp-Ooh-Podge



It's Wednesday already--Hodgepodge time! I love short work weeks. :O)










1. Have you ever been 'asked' to report for jury duty? Were you chosen to serve? If not, were you happy or disappointed?

I got a notice when the kids were young, back when we still lived north of the Cheddar Curtain. Because my kids were so little, I wasn’t chosen. I was anything but disappointed.


2. On a scale of 1-10 (with 10 being very), how mechanically inclined are you? Give an example to back up your answer.

Hmmm, I guess somewhere around a six or a seven. I can put together anything that comes with instructions, but if you left me alone with a pile of parts, you’d come back hours later to find the pile still sitting there. I’d probably be reading. Or maybe taking a nap.


3. Beets-cabbage-cauliflower-butternut squash....of the four, which is your favorite fall vegetable?

I lovity-love-love squash, so I guess that would top the list. I wouldn’t turn down any of the others, though. Fall is good. Very, very good.


4. What do you recommend to overcome self-pity?

Is it wrong to recommend that the person gets their head out of their ass? Yeah, I suppose it probably is. Still, I think that’s the cure. When tempted to wallow or play the victim, I’d recommend three things. First, take an honest look inward to determine what part you played in your current situation and then second, learn—really learn—from that so as not to repeat it. Finally, I’d advise redirecting your focus to lending a helping hand. That’s a sure way to dissolve self-pity and improve both personal outlook and the world around you.

In other words, get your head out of your ass. ;O)


5. Do you enjoy classical music?

I do. Some, sometimes. I’m about as knowledgeable about classical music as I am wine, though, which is to say that I know what I like, but I wouldn’t have a clue how to select it from a list.


6. October is National Book Month...what's on your reading list this month?

I have a stack of books taller than my grandson waiting for my attention, and that doesn’t count what’s being ignored in the Kindle. I’ve read some serious crapola lately, so I’m hoping that the next one I grab is more appealing.


7. What is your idea of 'cute'?

Puppies (in someone else’s house), little red-headed kids with lots of freckles, sweet old ladies, wrinkly old men, kids’ school stage-performances, hats with pom-poms, baby clothes, trick-or-treaters, little ones who peek out from behind their mamas’ legs, shy young teenage boys trying to work up the courage to ask someone to a dance, tee-ball players, tiny ballerinas, new readers, little girls in ruffled socks, gorilla families playing together, and the look on children’s faces when they present you with a gift they chose or made themselves.

And Johnny Depp.


8. Insert your own random thought here.

I’m still thinking about Johnny Depp.



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A very nice lady named Joyce hosts Wednesday Hodgepodge. Clickity-click if you’d like to join in!

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Know When to Hold ‘Em, Know When to Fold ‘Em

When Jenn announced this week’s topic, ‘Walking Away,’ my thoughts went to what is likely the most common interpretation: walking away from a person or situation that you’ve either outgrown or was never good for you in the first place. I’m sure that we’ve all done that at one time or another, and I’m equally sure that oftentimes, walking away is necessary.

Leaving what’s comfortable can be a hard thing to do, even when we know that it’s the healthiest choice. I’m sure we’ve all seen loved ones stay in bad relationships because leaving was scarier for them than staying put. People on the outside can often see the disconnect and of course, those involved know it too, but taking that leap can be stressful. I remember watching a movie once with a friend and there was a line that went something like, “you can get used to anything.” Sadly, that’s all too true.

In my life, I’ve been fortunate to have rarely had the need to walk away from people. A few teenage boyfriends (who doesn’t fall for a bad boy at least once…or, you know, three times?), a handful of consistently late-paying clients, and one drama-addicted online acquaintance. The boys might have been a little hard to part with, but the others were easy. They weren’t adding anything of value to my life and were simply cause for unnecessary difficulty. Who needs that?

To this day, I maintain friendships with many of my childhood friends, having lost track of only a few through the years. We are a part of each other’s history and we’ve still got lots more history to make. Even when we go through stretches when we don’t see each other for a while, as soon as we get together it’s like no time has passed. All sorts of good, and I can’t imagine walking away from them.

Family is family, so though my extended family—like most, I suppose—is comprised of people with a wide variety of personalities and opinions, the love is always stronger than the disagreements, so no walking away. Inhaling and exhaling, maybe. Walking away? Nope.

Walking away, even when it’s the best thing to do, sometimes has a negative feel to it, so I prefer to look at it from a different angle. When we become aware that it’s time to leave something or someone behind, it’s a whole lot sweeter if we choose to focus on what we’re walking toward, rather than away from: peace, calm, happiness, growth, and love. May we all make the choice to walk toward those.


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Written for this week’s topic at The Writers’ Post:Walking Away

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GBE 2: Blog On -- Week #21: “CLARITY”


GBE 2: Blog On -- Week #21: “CLARITY”













As always, the guidelines are simple. Blog on this week’s prompt in any way you see fit. Once you’ve posted to wherever you normally blog, drop the URL to your post into the comment section below.

REMINDER: use the URL to your entry for this week’s specific topic post, NOT to your blog’s home page!

If you haven’t already done so, you are welcome to join GBE 2 at its main headquarters over on Facebook (We’re nearing 200 active members and we’re still growing!). Just visit GBE 2’s Facebook page and request to join the group. Everyone is welcome, so tell your friends! :O)

For those of you who use Twitter, the hashtag for the group's posts is #GBE2, and we can increase readership if we all tweet early and tweet often. ;O)

That’s it! Easy-breezy-lemon-squeezy!

You have until Saturday (10-15-11) to post your blog and leave your link…

Again, this week, our prompt is: BALANCE

Ready. Set. Blog!

Happy blogging!
Beth



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I'm Guest Blogging at Writercize!


I’m guest blogging over at Writercize today! Alana was kind enough to offer guest spots on Fridays to anyone who wants to take a shot at creating a Writercize (exercises for writers), and mine is up today. Please come by to give it a try (or just to say hello!).

Oh, and she still has some available dates, so if you’d like to sign up to be a guest blogger at Writercize, there’s still time. So what are you waiting for? Go, go, go! ;O)



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Yay! This qualifies as my blog for NaBloPoMo, Day #7. :O)

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Bob Seger Love


The phone rang and I picked it up. She started right in without even a hello. “Your new phone is an Android, right?”

“I’m fine, thanks. How are you?”

“I’m sorry,” she continued, “It’s just that I just noticed the weirdest thing. Is your phone handy?”

I reached over and grabbed the cell phone. “I thought it was strange that you called on this line. What’s up? I have to warn you that I didn’t read the book that came with the thing, so if you’re trying to figure out how to use yours, I may or may not be able to help you.”

“No, no, no. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist. I’ve had it for a few hours now and I’ve got everything working just fine. I uploaded a bunch of apps. That’s what I’m calling about.”

“You mean downloaded?” I ask.

“Uploaded, downloaded, whatever,” she said. “You’ve got games on yours, right?”

“A couple,” I said. “The ones that came pre-installed, a drawing thing for Rembo, and 7 Little Words.”

“Do you have Bubble Pop?”

“Nope.”

“Upload it. I mean download it. It’s free.”

“I don’t want a bunch of stuff slowing down the phone,” I said. “The thing is lightning fast.”

“One game. One free little game. Just put it in there. You can always remove it later. Bubble Pop. Find it.”

So of course I find and install Bubble Pop. “Now what?” I ask.

“Play a quick game,” she says. “And turn the volume up.”

I poke at the screen to eliminate clusters of like-colored bubbles and think that the grands will probably like this one. “So,” she says, “notice anything?”

I hadn’t. Nothing noteworthy. Pretty basic game that I remember seeing on Facebook at one point. “Not really.”

“You have to listen to it. Try again and tell me what you hear.”

I play another round while she waits, and I pay attention to the sounds. “Um, kinda sounds like bowling pins,” I say, and I can tell by her audible exhale that I’m missing the whole point.

“Bowling pins? No, listen closer. What words do you hear?”

I listen for words, but still hear bowling pins. I know that won’t do, so I give it a shot. “Bouncing along?” I ask, and after I say it out loud, I notice that it does kind of sound like it’s saying ‘bouncing along’ as the bubbles pop. I poke at the screen some more. Bouncing along, bouncing along, bouncing along. Cool!

“No!” she says, like I’m either deaf or stupid. “Really listen.”

I try again. “All summer long?”

“You would say that,” she says, referring to my affection for the song of the same name.

“I don’t know,” I say finally, realizing that the chances of me getting it right are slim to none.

“It says, ‘Bob Seger love,’” she says, clearly excited.

“Bob Seger love?” I ask. “Really? That’s what you hear? That doesn’t even make sense. Why would it say ‘Bob Seger love?’ At least ‘bouncing along’ kind of makes sense.”

Another exhale, even louder this time. “Oh, never mind. You can delete it now.”

I think the grands really will like it, so the game is still on my phone. I played one more time after we hung up, and I listened closely. I could hear all of it—bowling pins, bouncing along, all summer long, and yes, even Bob Seger love.

And I was a little scared.



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NaBloPoMo, Day 6.

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Home Sweet Home

NaBloPoMo, Day 5: List two things (however close or far) that your childhood home is between. Interesting topic. Geographically, my childhood home is north of the Mason-Dixon Line and south of the Canadian border, east of the Rockies, west of our nation’s Capital. The big brick ranch lies squarely in Bear country, a few hours south of the Cheddar Curtain and about an hour west of Hoosierland. But really, who cares about any of that?

What matters more (well, to me—probably not so much to you) is that even all these years later, the house where I spent my first few decades remains between my right and left ventricles, smack dab in the center of my heart (yeah, I know how icky-sweet/borderline-creepy that sounded, but it’s still true). I lived at the same address from the day my parents brought me home from the hospital until the afternoon when my dad helped haul boxes of my stuff up the stairs to my college dorm room, so a good deal of my childhood memories stem from that house and the neighborhood that held it.

I haven’t lived in the old house for over thirty years, but I can still walk through it in my mind and recall even the teeniest of details. The tiles in the main bathroom were classic 60’s style and the way that the swirly pattern lined up to the left of the door created a perfect lion’s face if you cocked your head just right to look at it while sitting in the bathtub. The ding in the trim-work near the bottom of the hall closet was the result of my brother falling into the hall bookshelf that then fell onto the door trim early one New Year’s Day morning after our parents were foolish enough to let him—at about 14—mix drinks for their guests at their annual New Year’s Eve bash. Turns out that if you employ a teenage bartender, it isn’t unlikely that he’ll pour himself a few, too. Who knew?

The dining room set, country-style, was well-loved and well-worn, its chairs polished and shaped by years of hineys sliding on and off of them. We gathered around that table for meals, but it was also the epicenter of the house for all sorts of socializing. We created lots of glitter-covered art projects while seated there, warmed our hands around steaming mugs of cocoa after snowman-building sessions, and it was there, in that room that overlooked the big backyard, where my mom and I spent many late nights talking, laughing, and gobbling up thick slices of blueberry pie. On rainy days, we often shoved all the furniture to one wall and roller skated around the dining room, something my father objected to, but my mother loved, and she outranked him in matters of fun.

There are only a handful of people, and I am one, who know that when you paint the walls of the second bedroom on the right, a very clear silhouette of a gorgeous leafy tree will emerge, but will disappear once the fresh coat has dried. When I was very young, I had one of those three story dollhouses in that room and my mother, who was a talented artist, painted a huge tree on the wall next to the house. The story is that as much as I loved the dollhouse, I stated that it wasn’t a real house without a tree in the yard, so I got a tree.

In the backyard of that house, at the south end of the property, a maple tree stands, tall and proud. My tree. I spent many hours perched up in that tree, book, sketchbook, or notebook in hand. The tree is still there and if I had a ridiculous amount of money, I’d ring the bell of the old place and plead with the current owner to let me buy it and transport it to where I live now. Well, to where we’ll move next, because that place will probably be the house that holds the memories of the last decades of my life. I think on our first night there, I’m going to bake a blueberry pie.



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That's the tree, up there in that pic, with me at about 14.

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Occupy Wall Street -- Restoring Balance

While I’m not usually one to go on much about my political opinions, I’ve never shied away from the subject, either. I’ve got several friends who have strict policies against talking about religion or politics. They feel—and I’m sure they’re right—that if they don’t address these topics with anyone, they lessen their chances of getting into any uncomfortable conversations.

The thing is, at least for me, I don’t want to talk endlessly about the weather or that cute new shirt you got on sale, so I’ll take my chances on offending someone and/or being offended by their views. Abortion, capital punishment, war, Republicans, Democrats, Libertarians, Green Partiers, Tea Partiers, taxes, terrorists, bailouts, immigration, Christianity, Catholicism, spirituality, unemployment, school vouchers, race relations, gay marriage, health care, education, labor unions, outsourcing, censorship, ecology, animal rights, irradiated food, organic food, junk food, smoking, spanking children, the military, crime, the prison system, medical marijuana, recreational marijuana, stem cell research, high fructose corn syrup, and liar-liar-pants-on-fire people. I have opinions on all of those topics, and more. As long as someone is capable of conducting themselves respectfully, I am completely willing and even eager to engage in conversations about pretty much any subject, whether or not that person and I see things the same way.

One of the most interesting stories in the news right now, in my opinion, is Occupy Wall Street and the movement that it has spurred. People—regular people—have reached the point of utter frustration with the way things are and instead of just griping to one another on Facebook, they’re leaving their houses, standing up, speaking out, and refusing to back down. Now I don’t care what you believe, that has to move you.

It’s been a good long time since this sort of thing happened here in any sizable way. To be frank, I thought that American gumption had been replaced by complacency, impotence, and resignation—sometimes blatant and occasionally covered by a thin veneer of feeble flag-waving.

America is alive! Well, I’ll be damned.

If you are interested in learning more about the movement, you can read a variety of opinions and takes on the topic with just a few clicks. The information changes daily, so rather than providing you with a bunch of links, I recommend that you head over to your favorite search engine and poke around a bit. You might want to read the Declaration of the Occupation of New York City, that while currently a work-in-progress, does a pretty fine job of addressing some of the big issues that need attention and action. I actually love that it’s being called a ‘living document,’ because that acknowledges that it is a start, but by no means a comprehensive list of where we need to improve, and allows for growth, change, and solutions.

The balance has been off in America for as long as I can remember, and I’ll turn 50 before the end of this year. That’s a long time for things to be out of whack, and as we all know, in life, one thing truly does lead to another, so it’s wise to do all that you can to be sure that the ‘one thing’ is a good one. Right track or dangerous slope, things tend to keep on moving and they usually pick up speed along the way.

I love seeing the faces in the crowds that are gathering and growing all over the country. Young ones—the generation that many adults dismiss as lazy under-achievers—are well-represented, as are the middle aged and those who have earned more than a few wrinkles. Great faces. Famous faces and everyman ones. All there, all outraged, and all demanding change. In attendance—each and every one—to remind those of us who might have forgotten that real power does not lie with our public officials, credit card companies, mortgage lenders, and lawmakers. The power lies with us, America’s citizens, and from the look of things, we are here to reclaim it.








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Written for this week's GBE topic: Balance.

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Road Trip!

I peeked at today’s NaBloPoMo topic and chuckled. They asked: What is something you always pack on a trip?








Something I always pack for a trip? It’d be quicker and easier for me to tell you what things I leave at home. I don’t mean to be an over-packer and to be honest, I don’t believe that I am. I think I’m just well prepared. The hubs would likely disagree.

Let’s say you’re planning a little getaway. A road trip—I love road trips. I’ll help you pack. So, what will you need? Comfy, casual clothes for traveling and shopping, as well as a nice outfit or two in case you go somewhere fancy for dinner, right? At least two swimsuits because you’ll probably be in the water a couple of times every day and it’s no fun to put on a cold, wet swimsuit. A swimsuit cover-up, too, don't forget that. Great, just put that stuff in the suitcase. Grab the big one. Oh, and I’ll hang the nice stuff in a garment bag for you. Since the clothes are an assortment of styles, you’ll need several pairs of shoes, so let’s get you a duffel bag to toss them in because we don’t want your shoes to get your vacation clothes all grimy. There, that’s good.

Don’t forget socks and undies. Take the nice stuff—and speaking of nice stuff, make sure you grab something other than that giant tee-shirt that you usually sleep in. How about breaking out the little lacy numbers that you have shoved in the back of the drawer?

Alright, cosmetics and toiletries. You’re not about to spend a week without make-up, are you? I didn’t think so. Here’s a cute little bag for you to fill with your must-haves. Oh, and a couple of gallon-sized Ziplocs for anything that’s likely to open up and make a big mess. Don’t forget that hair stuff that fights the frizzies—there’ll be lots and lots of pictures taken this week. Grab the sunscreen, a disposable razor, and maybe a bottle of Tylenol. The vitamins? No, don’t be silly. This is a vacation! Live on the edge.

Did you get your blow dryer, curling iron, flat iron, and that big, round brush? No? Hey, it’s your hair. Whatever. Yeah, I thought so. I’ll just grab the smallest suitcase for you. Go ahead, toss all of that in there. Don’t forget the camera and its charger. Oh! And the charger for the cell phones! Crap. Let me help. If I shove all this stuff over really tightly, I think you can squeeze the rest of it in. Man, I sure hope those Ziplocs hold. Hold on. Let’s put this stuff in the medium-sized suitcase instead. Phew, that’s better.

Okay, that’s everything, right? A beach bag? Oh yeah, that’s right. I forgot that you’ll probably be out on the boat a lot. You’ll need a hat then, too. And towels? You rented a house, right? Does it come with linens? Oh, thank goodness, not all of them do. Okay, so no towels or sheets. That’ll save a lot of space.

You’ve got the credit cards and the directions and some cash, right? A cooler full of road snacks? Sunglasses? A light jacket, just in case? And you called to remind the kids to pick up the mail and water the plants? Alrighty then, I think you’re all set.

His stuff? Oh, that’ll just take a minute. Toss a few pairs of shorts, a couple of tee-shirts, a swimsuit, some underwear, a toothbrush, and deodorant in the little suitcase and he’s all set.

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GBE 2: Blog On -- Week #20: “BALANCE”


GBE 2: Blog On -- Week #20: “BALANCE”














As always, the guidelines are simple. Blog on this week’s prompt in any way you see fit. Once you’ve posted to wherever you normally blog, drop the URL to your post into the comment section below.

REMINDER: use the URL to your entry for this week’s specific topic post, NOT to your blog’s home page!

If you haven’t already done so, you are welcome to join GBE 2 at its main headquarters over on Facebook (We’re nearing 200 active members and we’re still growing!). Just visit GBE 2’s Facebook page and request to join the group. Everyone is welcome, so tell your friends! :O)

For those of you who use Twitter, the hashtag for the group's posts is #GBE2, and we can increase readership if we all tweet early and tweet often. ;O)

That’s it! Easy-breezy-lemon-squeezy!

You have until Saturday (10-8-11) to post your blog and leave your link…

Again, this week, our prompt is: BALANCE

Ready. Set. Blog!

Happy blogging!
Beth


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Day One, Color it Done

Yikes. For better or worse, I signed up again this month with NaBloPoMo: a blog a day for all of October. I was a less than consistent poster in September, so maybe this will get me back in the swing of things.


I just looked at my watch and noticed that it’s creeping up on midnight, so if I don’t get something, anything posted pretty quickly, I’ll have jacked up the month long blogathon on Day One. So you know what that means, right? Yep. Random, rambling list time.

Sorry.

  • I realized recently that by wearing a watch, I’m announcing that I’m getting old. Under-thirties rarely wear watches because if they want to know what time it is, they look at their cell phones. I do too, actually, but my wrist feels oddly naked without a watch, though I like to take the thing off on the weekends as a symbolic gesture for the freedom that the weekend brings. Yeah, I know.
  • After being away from it for months and months, I peeked in on my FarmTown farm last week and was happy to find that I had no desire to play with it any more.
  • I’m staying away from Bejeweled Blitz because I’m positive that if I play it again, even one time, I’ll be hooked. That thing is pure computer crack.
  • After writing the thing about popping in over at Farm Town, I remembered that while I was there, I planted a whole bunch of squash so even though I’m pushing my luck on time with this blog, I just ran (um, clicked) back to hire harvesters so the stuff wouldn’t go bad in the fields. The not-real farm fields that grow not-real crops. It’s a sickness, I tell you. A sickness.
  • I’m not going back to Farm Town. Ever.
  • My granddaughter gave me a denim Gilliganish hat that will undoubtedly look silly on me but that I really like and will definitely wear. I give it two years, max, before I begin to resemble some odd character from a movie who is an, um, character.
  • I’m still digging the no-poo hair thing and my curls are happier than they’ve been since I was a kid and didn’t coat them with all sorts of crap that some chemist in a labcoat concocted.
  • It’s eleven-forty-five. Uh-oh.
  • I’ve got just a few more days to finish adding stuff to my Amazon wish list. For those of you who haven’t heard the story before, one of my lifelong friends has an absolutely wonderful husband who used to be a horrible gift-giver. Think toaster ovens. Some years back, she came up with the idea to make up one of those email questionnaires, you know the ones. You get a bunch of random questions with your friend’s answers. You delete hers, type in yours, and send the thing to pretty much everyone in your address book who then do the same.

    Her questions were all cleverly disguised gift hints so that her sweet hubby could get her things that she really wanted while feeling super-clever himself. Pretty smart, right?. A few years back, she changed it up and now everyone puts a bunch of stuff on wish lists on Amazon and then we all give each other the links to our lists. All of this so that she doesn’t get a Crock Pot for her birthday and a vacuum cleaner for Christmas.
  • Eleven-fifty-four. Gotta go!

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