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At least you’re STILL not Dwayne…

Confession time. I’ve been a bit consumed by the political process lately. But rather than write about it and risk offending some or possibly most of you, I think I’ll just keep my discourse to myself. For now.

In the meantime, while we can probably always find SOMETHING to complain about, this old post reminded me that if nothing else, at least I’m not Dwayne…

Anne Geddes image courtesy of

I was recently the recipient of one of those emails that your sweet Aunt Martha tends to forward to you.

You know the ones I’m talking about.

Those emails that have been forwarded so often and to so many recipients that you have to scroll down half the page before getting to the body of the email, only to find that much of the body is filled with cute pictures of babies dressed as flowers and/or those annoying flashing emoticons?

I’ll be honest. I usually delete these emails unread. But for whatever reason, I was feeling generous and decided to read it. You’ve probably read it before, or one very much like it. It was one of those well intentioned object lessons which are supposed to make us count our blessings and be grateful for what we have:

To realize
The value of a sister/brother
Ask someone
Who doesn’t have one.

To realize
The value of ten years:
Ask a newly
Divorced couple.

To realize
The value of four years:
Ask a graduate.

To realize
The value of one year:
Ask a student who
Has failed a final exam…

That’s just a portion of it, but you get the idea: Maybe things aren’t as bad as you think, because someone has always got bigger problems than you do.

I’m not a big fan of this kind of reasoning. Mostly because for me, there’s just something inherently wrong with making yourself feel better because someone is eating a bigger crap sandwich than you are.

Comparing ourselves with others–whether their lives are easier or harder–is never a good idea. If you’re struggling, rest assured there are others who are also struggling. Life is a series of peaks and valleys, and while no two life experiences are identical, we all have our share of high and low points.

Sometimes life is savored and enjoyed.

Other times it feels like an act of endurance.

And even though I just finished telling you that comparing yourself to others is never a good idea, I’m about to ask you to do just that.

Because on my very worst day, I could have honestly said,

“At least I’m not Dwayne.”

Editor’s Note: I may or may not have written that entire introduction just so I could post the above commercial.

“Man, that thing does not like Dwayne.”


The griddle of our discontent

The above griddle resides in my house. When I took this picture, it had been on the counter for three days. It made its latest first appearance last Saturday when my husband used it to make pancakes. Had I indulged in pancakes made on this griddle, I would have happily and gratefully cleaned the griddle and returned it to its home under the kitchen island. But I don’t eat pancakes. Ever. So why should I clean up after a meal I didn’t cook or eat? So I didn’t clean it. And neither did anyone else. It was moved from the top of the island to a spot next to the sink then back to the island again, but never cleaned.

The griddle was used again on Monday, when my son decided he wanted to make a grilled cheese sandwich. He wiped it down before he used it, but that doesn’t really count as cleaning, does it? Furthermore, after he made his grilled cheese sandwich, he left the griddle messier than when he found it, and he left it right where it’s mostly been since Saturday–in the center of the island in the middle of the kitchen.

Did I clean it and put it away?

No. Not right away.

Did I ask my son to clean it and put it back where it belonged?

No. I shouldn’t have to.

Nor should I had to have asked my husband to clean it on Saturday morning after making pancakes that I didn’t eat.

Because I’m not a maid.

And they all should know better than to leave that griddle out assuming I’m going to clean it.

So instead of cleaning the thing and putting it away,

it served as a reminder every time I passed the kitchen how often what I do is taken for granted.

But it only served as a reminder for me,

because no one else cares that there’s a big, dirty griddle sitting on the counter.

Just as no one else but me knows how much it bothers me.

It’s clean and put away where it belongs now.

I finally broke down and did it myself.

I suppose I could tell my family how having to clean a griddle I never use makes me feel taken for granted.

But I know hearing those words spoken aloud would sound incredibly petty and ridiculous.

Almost as petty and ridiculous as being mad about a griddle for three days.

What’s your giant fork and spoon?


Bill Maher

As of late, I’ve been weaning myself from watching the news. So much of it is bad. So much more of it seems to be opinion rather than actual news. I’ll typically turn the national news on for a few minutes in the morning just to catch anything of major importance then turn the tv off, but one evening last week I left it on. The talking heads on Fox New’s Hannity show were little more than background static as I was doing laundry. However I did hear something that caught my attention.

The topic of conversation was whether a Political Action Committee (PAC) for the reelection of Barak Obama should return a million dollar donation received from Bill Maher. In case you’ve never heard of Bill Maher, he is (or was at one time) a comedian who has hosted a show called Politically Incorrect and more recently Real Time with Bill Maher. He makes no secret of his hatred of conservatives (particularly conservative women) and Christianity. He seems to take particular delight in bashing Sarah Palin, calling her a “dumb twat” and the “C” word. He has also made disparaging remarks about her children.

This donation was made shortly after another controversy erupted because conservative radio host Rush Limbaugh referred to Georgetown University Law Student Sandra Fluke as “a slut” after she testified in front of a congressional panel about free birth control. Limbaugh later apologized for his remarks. I have heard of no such apologies from Maher:

From the American Spectator:

Consider how Maher bragged that he could get away with what he said because he is on HBO while Rush is at the mercy of commercial sponsors. This surely sounds like a man who has been granted dispensation from the highest authority.

After all, it was with great fanfare last month that Maher donated $1 million to Priorities USA Action, an Obama Super PAC. As the large check was being hauled out on stage, Maher said to his audience at Yahoo headquarters in Silicon Valley, “I think Mitt Romney’s going to get the (Republican) nomination, and then I hope Obama beats him like a runaway sister-wife.”

I suppose I could rant incessantly about how there’s a double standard when it comes to hate speech; about how it’s okay to attack certain groups and not others; about how if you call yourself a comedian you can attempt to dehumanize anyone who disagrees with your political views. But that’s not the intent of this post.

What caught my attention on Hannity was when Hugh Hewitt described Bill Mayer as the “Gollum of American politics”.

“Of course not everyone knows the story of Gollum or how he came to be the shriveled, desiccated horror that he was throughout Lord of the Rings, and how the desire for power had consumed him from within. Bill Maher’s desire is to be noticed, and especially to be taken seriously as a political and social commentator.” – Hugh Hewitt

And despite the fact that I’ve used most of this post to describe the actions of Bill Maher, that’s not the intent of this post either.

It’s easy to sit in judgement of others. Trust me, I know from experience. But doing so may very well lead us down a similar path as Gollum. If we spend our time and energy being angry at the words and actions or even the inactions of others, we are in danger of being consumed by that anger. It spills out into other areas of our lives, onto other people in our lives. Whether it’s distaste with the political climate, our jobs, our personal relationships or dissatisfaction with life in general, we need to seek out what’s good in life and be grateful, lest all the bad blind us to it forever.

As my friend Jake Lee might say, Life’s too short to waste it being a grumpy ho.

The not so Merry Christmas confession

image courtesy of

If you were to revisit posts I’ve written in past years around this time of year, the majority of them would be brimming with Christmas spirit. Like the song says, “It’s the most wonderful time of the year”, right? Right?

Well, I’m coming clean. For me, it’s really not. Oh, it’s my fault. I allow all the things that shouldn’t matter much matter much more than what should. Take teacher gifts, for example.

Earlier this week I purchased what I thought would be great gifts for both of my daughter’s teachers–Starbucks gift cards with cute little Starbucks coffee cup ornaments. Teachers like coffee, right? The only problem with these gifts was that I failed to ask my daughter what she wanted to get for her teachers, and she had very specific ideas about said gifts. Neither of which involved coffee.

After a few tears and gnashing of teeth from both involved parties, it was off to the mall for a Bath & Body Works gift for one teacher and Walmart for an action figure for another. We only lacked one small gift to include with the action figure. A gift that needed to be made with supplies not readily available at Walmart, the mall or at home. With my stress level high, I dropped off my daughter at home so she could eat dinner and I headed to Michael’s Arts and Crafts. I found what we needed, drove home, gave the supplies to my daughter and left again for praise team practice. I arrived home after ten and immediately went to my daughter’s craft table to check on the progress of the project. It was incomplete and my daughter was in bed. So I did what any involved, slightly perfectionist artist/mother would do. I finished it.

The road to hell is paved with good intentions.

The next morning I stood in the kitchen with the completed gift awaiting praise and gratitude from my daughter for finishing it for her. What I got instead was anger from her for not allowing her to do it herself.

More tears and gnashing of teeth from both parties. Feelings hurt. Apologies given and accepted. Real, honest heartfelt apologies. Breaking through the veil of you need to be happy because it’s Christmas feelings to the real stuff. The love we often take for granted. Another bittersweet Christmas memory for the books. I think it will be more sweet than bitter in the remembering.

Oh, the last final gift?

Marcel the Shell

What’s that? You don’t know who Marcel the Shell is?

Only the cutest shell EVER!

P. S. – Marcel was a big hit at the class party.

Common Resentment

I’m a bit of a bird snob.

I love watching birds, just not all birds. I have a large picture window in my office. Just outside this window, I have strategically placed two bird feeders and a bird bath so that I can look outside and watch the array of birds native to this part of Texas.

There are cardinals (my personal favorite)

finches and sparrows

the loud and proud Blue Jay

The State bird of Texas, the mockingbird

But mostly there are doves…

Lots and lots of doves.

So many in fact, that frankly they’ve become a nuisance for me.

There are dozens of them. While some weigh down the feeders, others peck on the ground for seed. More await on the roof. They're everywhere.

They’re like rodents with wings. Hungry rodents. The city pigeon’s country cousins. I bought three 5 pound bags of bird seed over the weekend. As of Thursday afternoon, those bags are empty. I don’t want to look at these doves. They’re common, they’re dull, and they are eating up the bird seed I would much rather be eaten by the birds I actually like. Then something occurred to me while I was watching them gobble up all that bird seed and repeatedly fly into the window. (Yeah, they’re dumb, too.) I have turned this pleasant experience into something less than that because I’ve lost my ability to see them as anything special. But they are special.

and the Holy Spirit descended on him in bodily form like a dove. And a voice came from heaven: “You are my Son, whom I love; with you I am well pleased.” ~ Luke 3:22

Dove image courtesy of

How could I have disdain for a bird whose descent is compared to that of the Holy Spirit upon Jesus?

But familiarity really does breed contempt. The images I conjure up in my mind when I think of the American bald eagle are similar to this one. Majestic, independent, powerful and graceful.

Bald eagle image courtesy of

And frankly, that’s the image I want in my mind. But how would your image change of the National bird of the USA if you saw hundreds of them every day scouring a landfill in search of food?

Image courtesy of the Vancouver Time. In February, 2011, 1400 bald eagles were spotted at a Vancouver landfill.

I can’t pick and choose which birds come into my yard, and I can allow my disdain for the commonness of these doves to spoil my enjoyment of bird watching.

Instead, I think I’ll choose to embrace the fact that just because things are common doesn’t mean they aren’t of value.

Unless, of course, any of you know of a way to get rid of the doves without getting rid of the other birds. Not that I would entertain that notion, of course. Being all enlightened now and whatnot…

Laughing at instead of with

People are ridiculous.

We do and say stupid things on a regular basis.

I once thought it would be a really good idea to remove the ledges on my office windows with a high powered reciprocal saw.

In retrospect, not such a bright idea. Not bright at all. But no one got hurt, I was able to laugh at myself, and it made for some great blog fodder.

I’ve been seen on more than one occasion walking my kids to the bus stop wearing fuzzy polka-dot pajama pants and a “Who’s your Daddy?” t-shirt. And again, I was able to laugh at myself for doing so.

But in both of the above instances, I choose to share my pictures and my story here. I invited you to laugh. I gave you permission to laugh at me and to do so openly.

I have a confession to make. There are a few websites I used to frequent on a somewhat regular basis because they posted pictures of people looking ridiculous. It was sort of my guilty pleasure. It never occurred to me (because I never gave it much thought) that these pictures were being taken by strangers and submitted to these websites without the consent of the person or persons being photographed. It wasn’t until I heard a news story about one such website that I realized that a what I considered “harmless fun” wasn’t so harmless after all.

It seems a woman recognized a picture of her mother on the website and was quite upset. The website removed the picture, and will remove any such picture upon request, but thanks to search engines and the ability to download virtually any picture from the internet, they’re all still out there somewhere. Besides, the damage has already been done. Someone provided an opportunity for thousands of people to have a good, hearty laugh at someone else’s expense. Someone’s mother’s expense. I wonder how hard they would laugh if they were to find their picture displayed without their permission looking like a hot mess?

Oh, but that would never happen. Because they have more class than to go to Walmart dressed like a dirty pirate hooker.

Just not enough class not to laugh at someone else’s expense.

Editor’s Note: I don’t mean to imply that any website or television program which depicts people being funny unintentionally (whether it be by actions or by their outward appearance) is wrong. America’s Funniest Videos and Candid Camera did that successfully for years. But they did so with the permission of those who were the subjects of said videos. That’s vastly different from what’s happening now. When I find myself laughing at a picture of someone who probably wouldn’t laugh along with me, it shames me. It makes me feel like an anonymous bully. Because basically, that’s what I’ve become.

The Obligatory New Year’s Resolutions Post

I’m not big on New Year’s resolutions. Probably because most of my lofty goals in January serve as sad reminders of abject failure come February or March. I do have a few goals for 2010, but I won’t bore you with them. (I’ve got all year to bore you with them.)

I will, however share a quote that I found several years ago. It’s more of an attitude adjustment than a goal. I liked this little quote (Author unknown) so much I decided to write it on my laundry room wall — a place I find myself often in need of an attitude adjustment:

“Fear less, hope more, eat less, chew more, whine less, breathe more, talk less, say more, hate less, love more…And all good things will be yours.”

And as an added bonus, I’ll share a poem I first read in a therapist’s office many years ago. It’s helped me through some tough times, and I think it’s appropriate as we say goodbye to 2009:

Comes the Dawn by Veronica Shorffstall

After a while you learn the subtle difference
Between holding a hand and chaining a soul,

And you learn that love doesn’t mean leaning
And company doesn’t mean security,

And you begin to understand that kisses aren’t contracts
And presents aren’t promises.

And you begin to accept your defeats
With your head held high and your eyes open,
With the grace of a woman, not the grief of a child.

After a while you learn to build your roads on today
Because tomorrow’s ground is too uncertain for plans,

and futures have a way of falling down in midflight.

After a while you learn that even sunshine
Burns if you get too much.

So you plant your own garden
And decorate your own soul,
Instead of waiting
For someone to bring you flowers.

And you learn that you can really endure,
That you really are strong

And you really do have worth
And you learn and learn … and you learn

With every goodbye you learn.

Happy New Year, y’all! I’m looking forward to it and I hope you’ll come along for the adventure. Have a blessed Sunday.