Conversation in Save-a-Lot

I was alone in the grocery store for the first time in ages tonight. 

Just as I reached for the fridge door to grab a carton of OJ, this burley tattooed biker guy with bandana I’d seen hovering earlier approached. His buggy was starting to fill up. Mine too. 

BIKER: “Hi”

ME: 😒::::trying quietly to decide which OJ to get::::

BIKER: “I noticed you’re married?”

ME: “Yep…. Four tiny children too.” (((I usually say eight if someone seems creepy. This guy was chill tho…his energy output was a solid mixture of sadness, kindness, and harmlessness.)))

BIKER: :::polite, bashful tone:::: “I thought so. I had figured you’re shopping for your family.” 

ME: “Well…. ….actually this is for my mama. She has the flu and asked me to get her list of things. My husband has the kids at home. He’s cooking dinner.”

BIKER: ::::head hangs over shopping cart, elbows on the push bar, exhausted:::: “I was just watching you thinking how nice it would be to have a wife to help with the grocery shopping. Or just…help. With anything. I try hard. I have some little ones too. But it’s tough sometimes. Being alone is tough.”

:::::insert a few more pretty real, raw pertinent human comments before we parted::::::

……y’all. This convo has stuck with me for hours. The sadness that poured from his energy. The realness conveyed. I wasn’t expecting something like that in the grocery store. It really made me appreciate all the support Kevin gives me in so many little ways too. 

So many people out there are secretly alone and aching right in the middle of all the crowds. 

Anyway. All this to say….stay kind. Show compassion to others. 

Listen to their words. 

Really listen. 

Even if they’re just a stranger passing by the dairy aisle.

True Friends or Aquaintence?

How do you define “friend”?
Here’s a good question that I was discussing with a friend (someone who I consider a legit friend!) the other day. Facebook has whitewashed the term “friend” over the past 10 years. It’s an easy, comforting label that we all know isn’t 100% factual…..but would you really want to have an “acquaintance” list?
Yeh. Didn’t think so.

Which brings us to the definition of the words!

The friend I was discussing this with took a much broader approach to “acquaintance” than I do. I often use the term “acquaintance” to distance myself from someone I do not value nor respect for whatever reason. For me, it has just a slightly negative connotation.

But what about those people in between?

The 50 Shades of “Friends” whom you encounter often, enjoy doing various things with, are happy to see if they appear on your radar, do lunch with, invite to parties, laugh with….but they simply wouldn’t be on your 2 am call list when yo’ mama dies.

Lately I’ve stolen a term from another pal that seems applicable…

“Friendly”.

As in…”not close friends, but we are friendly!”

It works.

A whole big bunch of friendlies.

Friendlies are the spice of life. 😄

And as for the question, what separates true friends out for me starts of course with feelings. How much I like that person, how well we interact, the feeling of being able to be myself without feeling talked down to, ridiculed or judged (that’s a huge one). I’d like to think that physical time together isn’t as big of a factor but it definitely is. The more hours and effort one puts into communicating in various ways and face to face playdates, the closer a friendship becomes.

Too bad the English language is so inadequate in defining various shades of friendship and love.

Most Beautiful Song on Earth

In 1975, a sci-fi novel called “Bid Time Return” (written by the same author of I Am Legend, What Dreams May Come, and a number of Twilight Zone episodes) followed playwrite Richard Collier’s growing obsession with the haunting image of a beautiful woman he had only seen in a decades old photograph. 
In 1980, Chris Reeves (of Superman fame) and Jane Seymore (Dr Quinn!) brought this time travel sci-fi fantasy to life in a film adaptation called 

“Somewhere in Time”. 

As a young child, this particular movie not only introduced me to paradoxical causal loops but also to one of the most beautiful pieces of piano music to strike human ear. 

“Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini, Op. 43” by Rachmaninov

It’s hard not to weep listening to it, especially at the swell. 

Listen to the YouTube video if you get the chance today. And link to your own favorite pieces below!

Four Words to Your 17 Year Old Self

Good morning!
What would you say to your 17 year old self if you could?

Four words.
Just 4 easy words.

For me, I would say:

“People aren’t that bad”
“Life is very fluid”
“Don’t be so judgmental”
“Force yourself to connect”
“Let yourself love others”

The day I turned 17, December of my junior year in high school, I thought my entire life was planned out.
I knew my path.
I knew who I was.
I knew who I was going to be.
I was a planner and a mapper.
I was detail oriented.
College focused.
I was going to get a PH.D. in developmental psychology and eventually own my own chain of unique early childcare centers.
I had a full 20 page business model written out. I had numbers. Numbers are comforting. Numbers don’t bite.
It was the one thing my sights were set on, and anyone who knows me even now knows that when I dedicate myself to something, I give 200% to the cause…even to the point of ferocious tunnel vision.

Only difference then, I didn’t realize how deeply the social relationship component factored into life success, happiness and contentment.
At 17, I had the same small set of 2-3 friends that I had since kindergarten.
I didn’t reach further.
I used them as a crutch, smothered them, and didn’t reach for more.
I hated people in general.
I was judgmental.
Haughty.

Scared.

Who needs people anyway?

There’s such a fine line between American independence and despondency.

And then a series of 5 deaths, losses, poor decisions and life twists over the next 16 months landed me into a black pit that I would not escape from for 5 more years when I finally met Kevin.

And now, that girl, my 17 year old self, is dead. (Probably a good thing because she would have voted for Trump without a second thought).

Nowadays my view of people is far different.
My view of friendships and life is far far different, far more accepting.

I actually enjoy getting to know a variety of life stories, seeing what makes others tick and why. And life mistakes / rejection (which I still encounter routinely) doesn’t phase me nearly as much because something new and fascinating is always just right around the corner.

Self-preservation instinct is weird. It’s easy to get confused and shun connection because of potential imagined pain that can arise from letting ourselves care in abundance. But in doing so we only harm ourselves and lose out on the numerous good memories that make life actually worth living.

Ten years from now my oldest will be 17. Evan, Samantha, Marshall, Juli…they will all pass through their own moment of being “17”.

The “17” moment when their own story starts to etch itself upon their core, forming who they will ultimately become.

Your kids will too.

I wish I could save my children from the ripping, soul baring, tumultuous process of “growing up”. Yet at the same time I realize that’s what makes our stories all unique.

Because everyone must eventually craft their own
“4 words”.

——————–
I asked my 68 year old father, Jack, what his words would be.

“Don’t eat yellow snow!” he replied.

35 Fun Date Ideas Not Involving Food or Film

What are some date ideas for couples that DO NOT involve food or film?
My local playgroup mama friend posed this question the other day on our group’s private Facebook page and there were soooo many great answers! 
I loved the question so I decided to see what you all could come up with. You old married folks remember what dates are right? 💑

Here is my personal fun list. 

These are all very tried and true! 😁

NO FOOD/FILM DATES:

  1. Walk around the mall and make up stories about various people you see
  2. Climb up on the roof, lay back and watch the stars
  3. Go bowling
  4. Sit under a bridge tossing pebbles into the river while talking about the future
  5. Rent a top floor hotel room with a view and have wine and chocolate sauce in the jacuzzi/shower/floor  
  6. Find an old old hidden graveyard out in the country to walk through and talk about the names and who they may have been
  7. Sit on the swings at a park and reminisce about when you first met
  8. Couples massage
  9. Couples pedicure 
  10. Take musical instruments to an old park  and play together at sunset
  11. Kayak, tube or paddle boat down the river
  12. Go fishing 
  13. Hike a trail in a State Forest 
  14. Walk downtown main street and visit the shops
  15. Find a new-to-you park with courts and basketball or tennis, bonus points if you suck at sports like I do
  16. Bike a local park trail
  17. Take a board game to a state park and play together
  18. Wash the car together, ensure loads of suds. 
  19. Walk around the a flea market, see who can find the funniest/wackiest items
  20. Park at the airport and watch the airplanes
  21. Ride out to the rural parts of the midlands past the corn, cotton and cows and visit a quaint little town
  22. Go geocaching 
  23. Visit one of the local garden nurseries and compete to learn the names of as many plants as you can in 30 mins or less
  24. Toss pillows and blankets in the bed of the truck and drive somewhere secluded 
  25. Adult night at a trampoline park
  26. Buy some new candles and play with the wax
  27. Go play in the spring rain showers together 
  28. Grab one of those conversation question boxes for couples, head to the zoo and find a funny spot to sit and answer the questions with each other. 
  29. Walk around the botanical gardens together
  30. Visit the a local Museum of Art
  31. Hit up a large Paintball field and play 
  32. Take a ghost tour downtown
  33. Hit up a local sports game (hockey, baseball, high school, college, farm team, so many choices!)
  34. Attend a free musical concert at the local college
  35. Walk around the library and see who can find the weirdest/funniest books

————————–

Who can think of more?