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Recently, I posted this quote on my Facebook page and was astounded by the reaction…and most astonished by who unexpectedly responded.  The Help was a good movie, but the book was better.  Maybe it was because I read the book first, and I find that my imagination version is usually more interesting than the celluloid version that a director creates.  When I read a book, I can picture what the characters look like, sound like and how the scenery appears.  But the best part about reading a book is the thrill of going back after seeing the movie and re-reading the book, just to see how much better it really is.  And it is…really better.

I remember when little Mae Mobley repeated what Aibileen had taught her.  You is kind. You is smart. You is important.  And in that moment, I knew that every child should have Aibileen, or someone, give them the knowledge that they are kind, they are smart, and they are important.  If more children had that lesson ingrained in them from their earliest days, we would have far less pain in the world.

People of all ages respond to being told they are important.  It isn’t just children who need the reinforcement of being told they are kind.  We all want to believe we are thought to be smart.  The triple threat – being kind, smart AND important.  Those traits are the making of leaders.  I think about the leaders I would follow.  They are all smart…and kind.  And that makes them important to me.  And the most important person in my life who is smart and kind is my husband.  If there was ever someone who should have been told over and over that he is kind, smart and important, it is my guy.

It also makes me think of another movie I saw recently.  Girl Rising.  It moved me that there are so many young girls fighting for the right to prove they are smart.  They fight for the right to an education.  And they are willing to do almost anything to get an education.  They shouldn’t have to go to the extremes these young girls did, just to go to school.  They are important.  And they should be able to prove it.  No one should hold them back.

For all the children, everywhere, you are kind…you are smart…you are important.  Believe it.  Live it.  Pass it on.

“The test of the morality of a society is what it does for its children.” ~ Dietrich Bonhoeffer  

Have you ever been sitting quietly and suddenly a song you didn’t even know you knew popped into your head?  Today, I was sitting quietly, reading and in popped, “All the leaves are brown, and the sky is grey…”  Okay, I don’t even know the title of this song, but think it was by The Mamas and The Papas.   If this had been 30 years ago, I’d have to ask someone what those words go to.  Now, with the very fast help of Google, I find that I’m “California Dreamin” and can listen to/watch the Youtube video AND find all the lyrics and even order a copy to be downloaded as an MP3.  Wow!

For some reason, no matter the time of year, I will be driving down Loop 1604, heading for work or back home and I will suddenly start singing, “Sleigh bells ring, are you listening, in the lane snow is glistening, a beautiful sight, we’re happy tonight, walking in a winter wonderland.”  What???  That’s a Christmas song.  Oh, yeah…Christmas in July…August…April.  No matter what time of year, I guess I love me some Winter Wonderland.  Maybe it’s my rebellion against the almost continuous heat of South Texas.

Years ago, I heard someone call this phenomenon of songs sticking in your head “earworms”. Horrid thought. But fitting. They don’t go away and are so annoying! I think it is even worse when someone knows you hate a particular song and remind you of it, so it’s stuck in your head all day. It was like that with the awful Barney song. You know…”I love you, you love me, we’re a happy family…”. UGH!! STOP!!!!!!!! Make it go away!

So, what song do you hate to have as an “earworm”? And are there any songs that seem to recur at the strangest times?

“Pain is inevitable; suffering is optional.”~ Unknown

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An EF-5 tornado ripped through the town of Moore, Oklahoma on May 20th in the afternoon. Twenty-three people died and hundreds were injured.  Another person died of something related to the tornado.  And as I started writing this, I read in the paper that a 25th person has now died due to injuries related to the tornado.  We are constantly reminded of the tragedies that occurred that day.

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Homes and schools were destroyed. But the town and the courage and resiliency of the people live on. Moore is like so many towns in the Midwest. The people are strong. Nothing will beat them down. I knew this from watching the news and seeing the people helping absolute strangers clear their property that had been destroyed by the tornado.  And I saw it in the eyes of the parents, struggling to comfort their children or the children of others as they awaited news of their own.  It was heart-wrenching.

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Watching the news reports, I felt that I needed to do something.  Yet, who am I?  I am just a single person…no organizations backing what I choose to do.  And I live over 8 hours away in south Texas.  Yet, I still felt I had to DO something.  I didn’t mean donating money.  I always wonder just how much is actually helping those who need help.  And how much is lining the pockets of those running the organizations.  So, I stewed over it and decided there WAS something I could do.  I could donate Pampered Chef products so the families can start making meals again.  Food is comfort.

So I spoke to my mother.  And she said a friend she has in Oklahoma City has a son who lost his home.  And they know other families who’ve lost everything.  I knew then that I was going to send packages to them.  And then it steamrolled!  My mother placed an order and so did I.  The packages arrived at the home of my mother’s friend and they were thrilled to hand over all the goodies inside to those families.  But then I mentioned to other Pampered Chef consultants I know that I was trying to help 3 families.  And they donated extra products they had…cookware, tools, plates, cookbooks…on and on.  And I remembered a full-size afghan I had.  It was thick and plush.  I donated that.  And I found more products in my cabinets.  Suddenly, I realized it was going to cost a fortune to mail all of that.

My sweet husband suggested we drive up on a Saturday and deliver it, spend the night in a hotel and drive back on Sunday.  He gave up his weekend of relaxation to hit the road with me.  We both felt humbled to be able to take all of the wonderful donations my friends had provided and deliver them to Moore.

On July 6th, we left early in the morning and drove all day.  My mother’s friend called us and asked us to come to dinner at her home.  Although I had never met these people, they made us feel so at home, treating us like family.  And after dinner, they took us on a tour of the devastation in Moore.  They showed us the path of the tornado and the freakish destruction.  Houses were demolished on one side of a street and almost fully intact on the other, with just a few shingles missing from the roof.  Businesses were destroyed.  Memorials to the lives lost were everywhere I looked.

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And then we visited the site of the Plaza Towers Elementary School.  My heart broke.

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The memorial grows and grows with each passing day.  And the townspeople of Moore will rebuild.  And their will remains strong.  God bless Moore and the families who were affected in so many ways.  I still feel the need to do more.  And I will.  It makes my heart feel just a tiny bit less broken.

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“Anyone can give up, it’s the easiest thing in the world to do. But to hold it together when everyone else would understand if you fell apart, that’s true strength.” – Unknown

In so many ways, I’m an accident magnet.  Whether it’s a clutzy move tripping over a crack in the floor or a stumble on a cruise ship (I went one direction and the ship went another – and my foot didn’t cope well at all) or the many, many times I’ve broken, sprained, strained, torn, or in some other way damaged parts of my ankles, knees and wrists, I seem to attract pain.  I’ve fallen down (and up) stairs, in holes and over the curbs or cracks of sidewalks so many times, I can’t even remember all of them.  The ones that stand out, though, are falling down a flight of cement stairs when I was five and tearing ligaments in my ankle, catching my ankle on the side of the gymnastic horse in PE when I was in junior high and somehow sommersaulting over the horse and landing on my foot, spraining it…and the time I walked into a hole in the ground and tore ligaments in my ankle (again).  That final time, I was a teacher and was traveling with students.  The school had to send two people – one to drive their car and one to drive the rental and students back home – while I spent the day at the emergency room.  And they left me there!  Fortunately, I had a friend from college who worked in that city…at that hospital!  She picked me up after work and drove me home.

Oh, and I can’t forget the household boo-boos.  I have left a chunk of one of my fingers on the upper coil of the oven (yes, the flesh was sizzling), cut my fingers over and over on paper, cardboard, plastic, scissors, knives, forks and burned certain body parts  that are extremely sensitive – and normally covered by a blouse – and I did this on the stove.  I guess you can figure out what I did.  Leaning over a burner on the stove is not smart!

And then…there are the car accidents.  I have been hit from the side, from the rear multiples times, and hit from the front.  The strangest one was when I was actually stopped behind another vehicle at a stop sign and they decided to back up.  That vehicle was pulling a large boat.  And the boat’s propellor was heading straight at me.  As I frantically tried to shift into reverse while honking the horn, I saw the propellor tear through my hood.  It was tough trying to convince the police officer (and the insurance company) that I was hit by a boat!  :)  It’s not often a person can say that.  Or want to.

Each day, as I drive to and from work, cook meals, walk, get out of bed or take a shower, I’m taking my life in my hands.  As a walking, talking accident magnet, I know there will be more in my future.  I just hope I live to laugh about them like I frequently laugh about the burner incident, the oven coil, the hole, and the boat.  And I make sure I’m insured…well.

“The Act of God designation on all insurance policies; which means, roughly,  that you cannot be insured for the accidents that are most likely to happen to  you.” ~ Alan Coren

When I think of the things that make me the happiest, it’s always the little things in life.  When I went out to dinner last night with my hubby, we walked past the Baskin Robbins ice cream shop and memories came rushing back from my days in high school.  My dad loved Baskin Robbins Burgundy Cherry.  My mom’s favorite was Daquiri Ice. I still remember them ordering those over 35 years ago.  It wasn’t an expensive treat or that unusual.  But I remember those trips to BR like it was yesterday.  We all had such a good time looking at those 31 (or more) flavors and trying to decide what we would have…only to go back to the tried and true favorites!  We’d get a scoop (or two) and laugh and talk about whatever was on our minds, enjoying the afternoon together.

Today I went to lunch with a friend.  It wasn’t a special lunch…nothing fancy.  But it was one of those little things in life…time with a friend.  Last night, I worked at commencement and had the chance to help hood the master’s candidates.  All I was doing was making sure their hoods were on correctly before they participated in commencement.  They were wonderfully appreciative for the help.  And it felt great!  The little things.

This morning, my little baby kitty (5 year old baby, that is) curled up with me in bed as my alarm was going off, purring and rubbing his nose on mine and then he licked the tip of my nose.  It’s the little things in life…

Tonight, as I was driving home and the sun was shining and my sunroof was open to let the sunbeams in and the fresh breeze blow across my face, I realized how great it feels.  Little things make me smile.

Fourth of July fireworks, a walk on the beach picking up shells, a beautiful sunrise, snuggled up on the couch with a roaring fire and a glass of wine, a drive in the country down a tree-lined lane or a rainy day curled up in bed reading a good book.

“It’s the sweet simple things in life which are the real ones after all.” ~ Laura Ingalls Wilder

When I was a kid, there were 3 channels.  Black and White Television.  No remote channel changers…unless you count my brother and me.  We were the human channel changers.  And I vividly remember when we got our first color television.  I could not get enough of those three channels.  And then…there were four!  How were we possibly going to have enough time to see all there was to see?  I know, that makes me old.

I loved watching the old Shirley Temple movies.  And there was nothing better than seeing commercials in color.  I could finally see the avocado green appliances and the color of the shag rugs in the homes of the characters who were wearing bell bottom jeans and psychedelic mini dresses.  They were awesome colors!  But I also remember being shocked that black & white movies didn’t turn to color just because the tv was a color tv.  :)

This love of television did not stop at the shows.  Since my early childhood, I have been fascinated by commercials.  The funny ones, the sad ones, the ones with catchy jingles.  I love commercials.  Nothing made me cry as much as the Hallmark card commercials.  And the old commercials like “How many licks does it take to get to the Tootsie Roll center of a Tootsie Pop” and “I can bring home the bacon, fry it up in the pan…” still run through my head like they were just shown yesterday.  And who can forget the Spot commercials from 7-Up? My favorite was Spot climbing up the chimney and finding a forgotten toy on the roof (and then swooping down the roof in that toy fire engine, through the tree and a window, landing under the Christmas tree).

Looking back now, I can’t get over how much fun television was back then.  Sometimes, I wish we could go back to that simpler time.  And then I turn on the tv and find hundreds of channels to view…and one dedicated to old movies, another dedicated to old sitcoms from back in the day…and the Food Network.  I LOVE the Food Network. And since we CAN’T go back in time, I’ll stay in the here-and-now and enjoy it.

Although the shows have changed and the channels have drastically increased over the years, my fascination with television ( and with commercials) hasn’t changed at all.

“Television is more interesting than people. If it were not, we would have people standing in the corners of our rooms.” ~ Alan Corenk

We may have to cancel weekends if they get any shorter.  Really.  After all, how can an evening and two full days fly by so quickly they are gone in a flash?  And the weeks just run on endlessly.  Each weekday feels like 48 hours (0r more).  Especially the hours at work.  Especially in April.  It’s almost the end of the year.  No, I’m not on any weird calendar or having flashbacks to December.  I live on the academic calendar.

The school year is coming to a close and I just don’t see how we can cram anything more into the week.  Yet, somehow we do.  Writing speeches, finishing up the leadership program for faculty and staff, an endless array of end-of-the-year banquets and award ceremonies for students, staff, faculty…the list seems never-ending.  But I see the end in sight.  We’ve just proof-read the commencement program.  The much-awaited commencement ceremony has been planned and the month of endless banquets/awards/speeches is half over.

With all the things going on during the week, I leave work and head for the comfiest chair in the house on Friday evening…and fall asleep.  Saturday starts off by dragging myself out of bed and running those necessary errands that are required (grocery shopping, car wash, dry cleaners–you know, the necessary evils) and events that are held on weekends, like the spring scrimmage for the football team, Fiesta events (yes, I live in San Antonio), and get-togethers.  Add in housework, laundry, and dishes (after cooking), and the weekend is now gone.  Disappeared in front of my eyes.  Almost like it was never there.  Back to work.  And another week of craziness looms ahead.  Good thing I still enjoy my job.  Just think what it would be like otherwise.

And with all this, it just proves that the old adage, “Time flies when you’re having fun.” isn’t necessarily true.  I enjoy my job…it’s hectic, but fun.  And it doesn’t fly by.  But the weekend seems shorter than two days.  By Sunday evening, it feels as if only one day has passed by.  And my weekend is not chock full of fun.

What month of the year is the busiest for you and why?

“Sunday evenings often feel like the weekend is over before it’s even  begun.” ~ Catherine McCormack

 

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