Six tips for maintaining your vacation high

Six tips for maintaining your vacation high

Many of us have been there, arriving home after seven or more glorious days away from real life. Whether you’ve returned from sipping Mai Tai’s on the beaches of Hawaii, hiking the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu, strolling through the streets of Paris, or camping at one of your state’s parks, that vacation high tucked in your suitcase or backpack soon dissipates after you’re greeted with 589 unread emails, myriad meetings and a new set of high priority problems at the office. If only I could develop a magic potion that left us filled with that break-from-the-real-world feeling, I’d be rich. Instead, I’ve combined some research with my own suggestions and offer you six tips for maintaining your vacation high.

Plan before you pack

According to research by Shawn Achor, a former lecturer at Harvard known for his talks on positive psychology, well-planned vacations lower stress. I’m a master at last-minute packing, and I think I’m pretty good at it. But, it admittedly stresses me out just a smidge, and I often forget that perfect pair of shorts, which I just did on our journey to Arizona and the Grand Canyon. I’m adopting my own advice so excuse me as I go pack for our trip that’s eight months away. Okay, maybe that’s a little extreme, but hopefully, you get the point.

Grand Canyon
One of many breathtaking views I captured at the Grand Canyon.
Sedona - a hiker's paradise!
Sedona – a hiker’s paradise!

Ease back into work

I think this is great advice, but I’m an abysmal failure at adhering to it. I have a tendency to leap back in and tackle it all at once. The result: after one day back it feels like I’ve never been gone. So, please take my advice and don’t do what I do. Don’t make a herculean effort and get through all your email in one day and tackle every problem waiting for your attention. Instead, prioritize. Unless it’s on fire, it will be there tomorrow and the next day and the day after that.

Haul some visual cues to work

The obvious option would be arriving back with some chocolate-covered macadamia nuts or other tasty treats representative of where you’ve been and share it with your team, forcing them to reminisce with you. Beyond that, consider purchasing a paperweight, print or some other desk ornament you can put within your site and remind yourself of your postcard-worthy vacation.

Reminisce

Most of us snap back to our baseline happiness level within a day or two after returning from a vacation. But psychologists say that reminiscing about a trip, even long after those around you are tired of listening, can bring deep pleasure to our present days. Flipping through a photo album or watching old video clips helps us relive the positive experience and the positive feelings we had at the time. Excuse me while I review our Grand Canyon photos, and water my souvenir cactus.

Consider a new job (really!)

Vacation is an escape from our everyday reality, our set routines, grinding responsibilities and our roles. Reentry sucks, but also brings clarity about what’s important and what we really want. For most of us, I think we feel refreshed and reenergized, ready to tackle the problems waiting on our desk. For others, it may mean a change. Frankly, our last vacation gave me perspective, so much that I’ll be transitioning out of my current job and exploring options. And, it feels great! You too may be overdue for a real change. But, I recommend not being hasty. Shake the sand or souvenirs out of your suitcase and sleep on any big decisions for a few days before taking any leaps.

Hawaii never disappoints!
Hawaii never disappoints!

Start planning the next one

Before you lose that vacation high, start thinking about where you go next. Just as you’re grinding through all those emails, throw in a thought of that gondola ride you have planned for Venice a year from now or even that camping trip that’s only six weeks away. True confession here: I grew up doing a lot of family camping, and I will admit it’s fully out of my system. Camping is not a vacation to me, but I know it is for many. Vacations come in all shapes and sizes, so whatever yours looks like, think about planning now for your next get away.

I’d love to hear your thoughts. What advice do you have for maintaining a vacation high?

5 Reasons You Should Watch Orange is the New Black

5 Reasons You Should Watch Orange is the New Black

Season 4 of Orange is the New Black rolled out recently, and of course, I traded sleep for binge-watching time to wrap up the season in just a few days. As with the three seasons before, once you reach the end of the last episode, you’re left with wanting more, while you attempt to process…Continue Reading

What first started as Piper Chapman’s year-long journey in prison for trafficking a suitcase full of drug money for her then-girlfriend who later turned her in, has evolved into the journey for a number of women serving prison time for various reasons and with widely different backgrounds. The dialogue at times is brilliant. In one scene the characters are delivering witty and quick, comedic lines. The next one addresses serious social justice issues. It’s one of those series that has you looking at how many episodes remain, not wanting it to end, yet wondering where it’s going.

For me, Season 4 contained the darkest comedy contrasted against a bitter tragedy. It was funny, alarming and gut-wrenching, a tough mix to accomplish with one show without it feeling like it’s gone too far and outlived its life as a series.

If you haven’t watched it, I highly recommend the time investment, starting from Season 1. And, if you haven’t embarked on a binge-watch journey of Season 4, there’s no better time than a long weekend. Here are five reasons to get started today:Orange is the New Black - 5 reasons to watch

You’ll grow to love the castThis ensemble cast is phenomenal, and the character development of each one makes you empathize with them, even though you know they’ve had some major screw ups in life. I find myself wanting to learn more about each, and actually hoping they’ll eventually have better lives where they’re no longer breaking the law, and they feel valued in society.

The back stories will suck you in – Eventually, you’ll learn more about many of the characters through back stories that give you a window into how they ended up at Litchfield Penitentiary. Each one leaves you wanting to learn more.

It dishes up the best dark comedy of any show on TV – The dialogue sucks you in. This is not the kind of series you wander into the kitchen for a snack and listen from afar. You need to stick with it. Every line counts. The comedic timing is top notch, but they are often dealing with some dark stuff. Sometimes I wonder if laughing is appropriate, but that’s part of the show’s magic.

It addresses some critical social justice issues – If ever white privilege is put front and center, you’ll find it here, along with racial disparity, social inequality and a host of other issues. This series sheds light on them in ways that make it impossible to ignore. It brings a reality to the issues through the characters, putting names and faces to them and making it starkly different than reading about incidents in the media. At times it’s disturbing, and other times heart-tugging. It’s made me think more deeply about these issues and determining my role in contributing to needed change.

You’ll be in the know – You won’t be left out of conversations at work, or lack the ability to answer pop culture questions on trivia night. As probably one of the few people who’ve never watched Game of Thrones, I know that feeling of being a series outsider. I have a big “L” on my forehead. But, not when it comes to OITNB. And, you’ll learn more about prison than you may wish to learn. It gives me even greater appreciation for my rigged adherence to the law.

Come on, get watching. I look forward to hearing your thoughts.

Apples like Brock Turner don’t fall far from the tree

Apples like Brock Turner don’t fall far from the tree

Much has already been written about the Stanford student on the swim team who raped a woman behind a dumpster, and walked away with only a six-month sentence. The only reason I share his name is that other women and the world need to know he’s a rapist. His name is Brock Turner. Rapist. Not…Continue Reading

So, what do we learn from this case? We learn that rape is rampant, with 1 in 5 women being sexually assaulted on college campuses. Alarmingly, that statistic indicates no downward trends. As a nation, we should be enraged. This is not acceptable. Why has society glossed over this as an issue of “boys will be boys,” chalking it up to sowing their wild oats, exploring college life with a lot of drinking and partying. Girls are there for the taking, or so it seems.

As a parent with a daughter four years away from college, I’m terrified. We’re raising her as a strong woman, willing and able to stand up for her beliefs and values, clearly understanding right from wrong. But, I have real fears. How do I let her leave the nest and enter the predatory world of college campuses where sexual assault is regularly occurring? In many cases, it’s being swept under the rug so as not to tarnish the reputation of these highly reputable colleges. It’s time tarnishing became the trend, and it needs to start now.

College campus

My daughter and thousands of other daughters have the potential of being surrounded by kids like Brock, whose father thinks it’s justifiable that boys may partake in “20 minutes of action” but it doesn’t really mean anything. The blame was put on the drinking and the girl, not his son. That’s alarming and terrifying. Yet, this father and son still believe he simply had a minor lapse in judgment due to alcohol, and ruining his life over this is unwarranted. What about the woman?

And now, we learn more.  A letter sent to the judge from Brock’s mother was recently released. Not once in the letter does she mention the victim. Not once. Instead, it includes pleas like this:

“I beg of you, please don’t send him to jail/prison. Look at him. He won’t survive it. He will be damaged forever and I fear he would be a major target. Stanford boy, college kid, college athlete — all the publicity…this would be a death sentence for him.”

I ask again. What about the woman? She is the ONLY victim in this case. She’s the one who laid unconscious behind a dumpster while a guy repeatedly raped her, leaving her bruised, battered and yes, damaged forever.

As parents, one of our jobs is to prepare our kids for the “real world.” And, my real-world scenario does not include college students like Brock Turner thinking rape is justifiable. The victim’s letter she wrote to her attacker should become required reading on every college campus, and required reading for parents before they send their sons or daughters off for their freshman year. We should not, and cannot accept, that white privilege is a pass to a hand slap for committing a rape.

The Turner’s owe the victim an apology for their behaviors and their words. They also owe an apology to the nation for attempting to justify and minimize the crime of rape. Rape is a punishable crime. Rape results in one victim, and one victim only.

A letter to my 14-year-old-daughter…

A letter to my 14-year-old-daughter…

You are amazing. One day you’re sweet and needy, where I feel like you’d cuddle up in my lap if you were smaller. The next day, you spew venom and the look in your eyes tells me someone has taken over your body and she is not of this world. You are my 14-year-old-daughter and…Continue Reading

I look at you and see a smart, talented, pretty, respectful, kind teen that is focused on big dreams and a conviction that nothing or no one will stop. I want you to know I believe in you, through delightful days and demon days. While I may question my parenting skills from hour to hour, I never, ever question my love for you. I am there, forever and always.

You dream of Broadway and stardom. When we returned from New York when you were 12 you wrote this list:

how to move to NYC in six easy steps

You immediately started searching for apartments and potential jobs for me. In support of you, I did my own searching. Crazy, I knew, but in my heart, I felt the need to explore my career options…for you. Honestly, I didn’t have a clue at 12, so I truly admire your big thoughts and big dreams and want to do everything to support them, even when you’re breathing fire that’s singeing my arm hair.

I’m told that age 14 is the worst and that moving past this “magical” year makes all the difference. I truly, honestly hope so. Again, it doesn’t mean I ever love you any less, but it may mean my already gray hair masterfully covered by Yvette every five weeks, gets a slight period of remission.

Today when you emerged from your slumber and wandered downstairs you came over and hugged me. An hour later you were in tears and told me to “get out of your room, and quit asking questions.” I want you to know that when you hurt, I hurt. I know that doesn’t matter now, but I’m hoping someday you understand that I had a lot of those angsty feelings myself – friends, boys, fitting in, acceptance – no matter what era, the clothing may be different but the feelings are the same.

[caption id="attachment_2050" align="aligncenter" width="518"]14-year-old daughter at four Picked out of the crowd at SeaWorld at four. You were confident then. Okay, you cried when you were splashed and drenched, but who wouldn’t?[/caption]

There are days I still have feelings of angst. I went through years of self-doubt and lack of self-confidence. In fact, I’m in a job that gives me lots of reasons to doubt myself. But these days I brush it off and in my head give the big, F-you to those that I think deserve it. At my age, it works.

So, to my 14-year old daughter who I know will successfully launch into this not-always-kind-world, I just want you to know that I will always love you, no matter what your mood. I will support your choices even though they may not be what I would choose. I will give advice as I see warranted. I will be there, no matter what. Go forth and conquer. I know you will.

The story of the creepy caretaker

The story of the creepy caretaker

Mr. T and I just returned from Hawaii where we celebrated 20 years of wedded bliss and all that falls on the left and right spectrum of said noun. As always, Hawaii is and was amazing. Thanks to the internet, it’s fairly easy to find and rent a great place with a spectacular view, a…Continue Reading

We arrived at the house around 11 p.m. Hawaii time, 2 a.m. our time, so were understandably wiped out after a long evening of travel. It was a house above a garage with two pods, one containing the kitchen and living room and a second one containing a separate door and bedroom. Interesting. But the balcony and view made the bag schlepping and configuration less concerning.

[caption id="attachment_2035" align="aligncenter" width="640"]Our view from the backyard. Our view from the backyard.[/caption]

Morning came early, yet there’s something about the tropical sounds of the island and constant glow of that orb we’ve had limited exposure to lately in the PNW. It does wonders for jet lag. After a couple cups of coffee, I grabbed my first vacation book, The Rosie Project, that I’d nearly finished on the plane. I headed to the backyard equipped with a small, lovely pool, a coiffed tiered lawn, a few palm trees, a giant Koa tree, tropical flowering plants, the sounds of paradise and a lounge chair with my name on it.

Creepy encounter #1

I was about 15 minutes into my first full sun of the year when I hear knocking on the back gate of a tall fence that surrounds the backyard. “Hello, hello, I’m just stopping by to say, ‘hi.’ I’m your caretaker.”

Caretaker? Nobody told me there was caretaker. We’re used to an owner that leaves instructions for the lockbox, and details of when the pool guy comes, the garbage is picked up and the lawn is mowed. There’s always a name and number of who to call with questions or issues. Beyond that, it’s our rental house for the week. Simple. Straightforward. Unobtrusive. And, that’s how we like it.

The “caretaker” is pulling on the locked gate while I’m scrambling to put on my cover up. Truth time. I only wear a bikini when I’m not in public.  Honestly, age brings on the inevitable and it’s not helped by my lack of beach-body exercise leading up to this vacation. But hey, it’s vacation, and nobody is around, so I’m going for it. As I jump up and head toward the gate, still trying to throw on my cover up, I hear, “That’s okay, I’ll come around.” Before I could say “palm tree” there he was.

hawaiibalconyII_edited

Hawaii balcony view

[caption id="attachment_2029" align="aligncenter" width="640"]Hawaiihousesunset Balcony views![/caption]

His name was Tom and he was the caretaker of the owner’s 2 ½ acres. I conducted small chit chat. Turns out he grew up in Sequim and had previously worked for the owners at their business in Port Angeles. He said he would wait for the “big guy.” That would be Mr. T, who he had spotted earlier in the morning when he was already roaming the grounds. I made it clear we’d rented before, we had no questions, all was good.  Mr. T., who was on the phone, finally comes down from the house. At this point, Tom sits down.

His chatting continued, sharing how much work it was to keep up the grounds and that he lived in the Ohana (guest cottage) up behind the main house. The roofline was visible from the fence. He assured us he was quiet while he did his work and drank his tea. He instructed us not to park in front of the garage because he was in and out during the day. What? Then, he proceeded to deliver a history lesson about the rows of stacked lava rock that the owners were required to keep in its place and other bits about how men used to eat separately from women. Oh, and he mentioned he was looking for a girlfriend. TMI. It went on way too long, and he seemed way too familiar. We just wanted some peace and quiet. Finally, he made his exit. We both shook our heads, recanted the experience and agreed he was a bit creepy. If only it ended there.

Creepy Encounter #2

After a few hours of sun, we moved inside. Between the jet lag and sun, I was wiped out and a nap was calling. While I was napping and Mr. T was doing some work, Tom was taking a dip in our pool. WTF? At that point, his creepy factor was creeping higher.

The next morning, I went for a run, and Mr. T. picked me up at the end so I could get an Acai bowl at the Basik Café. The Puna is my favorite! When we returned, there was Tom lurching around the garage. Weird. Since when does a rental need constant caretaking? We exchanged greetings and headed up the stairs, trying not to be friendly and encourage him.

On night two things got even creepier. We lost the internet that afternoon and when we returned from dinner in the evening I decided to reset the modem to see if I could bring it back up. While I was successful, it wiped out the owner’s name as the network name and replaced it with Linksys. No big deal, I thought. It worked, and that was the goal.

The final creepy encounter

I headed to bed in the separate building next door, and night owl Mr. T. proceeded to watch a little more TV and eventually embarked on a round of sit-ups on the floor. On one of his ‘ups’, there was Tom, staring in the window. He’d come up two flights of stairs to an all-windows-across-the-deck-house to ask if he could come in and restart the modem. Mr. T. startled and without contacts, told him ‘no,’ and to come back tomorrow. Tom pushed back, saying it would only take a minute. Mr. T. was annoyed and reinforced that he should come back tomorrow.

But, from what we learned earlier, Tom was pursuing this girl on the other side of the island, and my guess is that internet access at 10:30 was crucial to his continued success. He questioned what we’d done, but Mr. T. wasn’t going to reveal that I’d reset it. He said I was sleeping, but he’d ask me in the morning.

Tom didn’t give up questioning why Mr. T was so put off by him, as he was simply being a caring caretaker. So, Mr. T. shared his frustration and annoyance with Tom’s unexpected and unannounced visit, his afternoon dip in the pool, and his general ongoing presence, comparing that to our past experiences. Voices raised to a decibel that woke me from my slumber where I heard Tom defending his pool time since he is “sharing the grounds” too. Wait, we are renting a house, but sharing it at the same time? At some point, Mr. T’s 6’ 4” frame must have been enough to deter 5’9” Tom from continuing to talk his way further into a tenuous situation.

The next morning Mr. T texted Tom to tell him I’d reset the modem and in doing so the network name was replaced by the modem name. Tom’s response was gushingly apologetic, saying he was still learning the ropes as caretaker. You think? His 360-degree change in behavior was most likely linked to his fear of losing his job and a place to live in paradise. And, given that he could see when we came and went, we never saw Tom again. But we knew he was watching.

Once at the airport on our way home, Tom texted Mr. T. again, apologizing all over himself and finally admitting we were his first “guests.” Just our luck; we experienced a no-boundaries caretaker in training. If I was a betting woman, I would bet the next guests will see very little of the creepy caretaker, and they will surely not find him in their pool.

Top 5 reasons why it’s not all bad to dine at your desk

Top 5 reasons why it’s not all bad to dine at your desk

In the past year, there’s been a lot written about dining at our desks, and why we should push away from our computer and mosey our derrière to the lunch room to dine or venture out with colleagues to get some air and food. Social scientists have taken to calling it “desktop dining.” I think…Continue Reading

I’m one of those that spends the majority of her weekdays desktop dining, scarfing down Trader Joe’s Organic Pesto Tortellini, Spinach and Cheese Stuffed Shells, a Chicken Burrito or Garden Vegetable Lasagna. Most of these, especially the lasagna does not do well with light colored attire when I’m attempting to check email, respond, and shovel in my mouth all at the same time. I believe I’m a master of multitasking, but red sauce, or sauce of any kind, has no mercy. Yet, that doesn’t mean I’m ready to change my ways.It's not all bad to dine at your desk

In reading all the reasons why desk dining is bad – poor eating choices, eating more, not socializing, no outlet for air and creative breaks – I’m not convinced. On the flip side there are quantifiable benefits to inhaling a few grapes and crackers between meetings. I offer up my top five reasons for continuing your lunchtime cuisine habits and hanging out with you, your computer and that fine wood (or laminate) desk that probably has absorbed more of your secrets, and sauce, than anyone.

  1. Join the cool-kids club. You are not alone – There’s no need to be a trendsetter. Some 62 percent of professionals typically eat lunch at their desks. You too can be a part of the “in club” who dismisses the need to be social and nosh with colleagues or other humans you may not particularly like.
  1. Take advantage to catch up on what you want to catch up on – While your colleagues are off cavorting in the kitchen, solving crossword puzzles and sharing weekend stories, you and your desk can enjoy a few peaceful moments. Answer Aunt Betty’s email about your family’s genealogy, post something pithy on your Facebook page, order that healthy eating cookbook from Amazon. Check off things on your non-work “to-do” list. It’s the perfect time.
  1. Eat fast and take a quick walk– Who says it’s unhealthy. Shove in your sandwich, slip on your flats, and hit the streets for a quick walk. Dining at your desk doesn’t have to mean you are chained to your desk. Take advantage of controlling your schedule and step out to clear your head, alone.
  1. Take the time to clean your office – One of the reasons people say it’s bad to dine at your desk is the issue of cleanliness. Your keyboard fills with crumbs, and your desk is a germ center. I say “pshaw” to that. Whip out the Clorox wipes and give your desk and keyboard a thorough cleaning after you’ve consumed your favorite quick lunch. There’s no better time.
  1. Map out the next chapter in your life – Often, I’m in back-to-back meetings all day long. I need a break from talking, interacting and problem-solving. I just want to be alone, and I don’t think that’s all bad. Who can’t use some time for yourself. You set your agenda and you call the shots, whatever that looks like.
    top 5 reasons it's not all bad to dine at your desk

Don’t get me wrong, I love my colleagues and I should socialize more, but I’m also an introvert. The energy drain from the job can be tough, so my lunch hour is often my only time to claim for me. While I don’t always eat at my desk and sometimes choose to interact with colleagues, I plan on continuing my patterns. It works for me, and apparently 62 percent of America.  If you 62 percent would like to meet for a lunch break someday, I’m totally game!

How about you? What are your lunchtime habits?

Goodbye Prince; I’m crying purple tears

Goodbye Prince; I’m crying purple tears

“Dearly beloved we are gathered here to get through this thing called life. Electric word, life. It means forever and that’s a mighty long time.” A mighty long time for Prince equaled 57, as he left us on April 21, 2016. Way too much musical talent and way too young to say goodbye to this…Continue Reading

Just a couple of weeks before Prince’s death, at my place of employment our floor held an open house where you invite the other floors of your office to come tour, eat some food and learn more about the staff. We each filled out a sheet with a few questions and posted them outside our offices. The final question on the sheet was to share one thing people may not know about you. Mine says: ‘People may not know that I’m a huge Prince fan, that he’s my all-time favorite artist and I’ve seen him in concert three times. I’ve written about him before on my blog. Who knew I’d be saying goodbye shortly after I revealed my Prince passion to all my colleagues.Prince performs at 2007 Super Bowl

When celebrities die, it always gives me pause, as they often seem untouchable and a bit larger than life. Some deaths are more impactful than others and leave lasting memories when I hear the news. I distinctly remember I was painting our bathroom a soft forest green (trendy at the time) when news broke about the plane crash that killed John F. Kennedy Jr. I was sitting in rush hour traffic, heading home from work when the radio reported Michael Jackson had died. I felt the need to pull over. It was hard to process.

When news broke of Prince’s death I had taken the day off and was home packing the kitchen in preparation for our move. I had the TV on, mumbling under my breath about daytime TV and thinking about the demographics of morning TV watchers. It served as background noise until ABC swept in with the “breaking news” statement that flashed on the screen, and then I heard it. Prince was dead at the age of 57. Tears streamed my face and I abruptly dropped the packing tape and shoved aside a box to move closer to the TV. I surprised myself at how upset I was. I’d never met the man, and never would, but I had developed a strong connection to his music that started in my 20s, and it never left me.

I love music, but I can’t carry a tune and have limited musical talents. But, I know what I like, and I know talent when I hear it. I found him to be a musical savant. And, if you read anything about him, many considered him a true genius. He wrote, produced, played, engineered and performed. I couldn’t tell you the two teams who played in the Super Bowl in 2007, but I’ll never forget Prince’s halftime performance. It has to be one of the best ever. Even if you’re not a Prince fan, I encourage you to watch him sing Purple Rain. You too might be inclined to cry a few purple tears.

https://youtu.be/0Fv_6bH8WUA

R.I.P. Prince. You left us too soon. May your music live on forever.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Little Red Riding Hood, is that a Gun in Your Basket?

Little Red Riding Hood, is that a Gun in Your Basket?

The political season is ripe for the rewriting of history. Candidates do it all the time to make their opinions and positions align with their version of the past. And, just when we think things can’t get any worse, we have a children’s author connected to the NRA rewriting children’s fables and putting guns in…Continue Reading

NRAFairlyTales

 

Amelia Hamilton, the author of these stories that are available on the NRA Family website, recently embarked on the media circuit and was quoted as saying “The stories are really also for adults…It’s all about safety and it’s for parents to start those conversations.”

I’m confused. What conversation? In her mind, I guess it would go something like this: “Honey, you know how Hansel carries a shotgun in the forest for protection and Little Red Riding Hood’s grandma carries a Glock? Well, I think it’s time we arm you with a weapon for your own safety and protection.”

If the author’s responses don’t set you over the edge, maybe the editor’s note on the NRA Family website will. It talks about making the fairy tales less grim. Arming kids with guns in fables makes them less grim. Ponder that for a bit.

HanselGretel

Are you f#@*ing kidding me? The NRA has gone too far. Rewriting fairy tales and putting guns in the hands of kids and selling it as a tale about safety and protection is mind numbing at best. It’s wrong, irresponsible and frankly, reprehensible.

The stories have gun advocates beyond outraged. In a statement released by the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, its president Dan Gross said, “What’s confusing is why the National Rifle Association leadership would try to rewrite fairy tales when they already to live in one themselves…every single day in America, nearly 50 children and teenagers are shot…suicide by firearm is a leading cause of death among children older than 9.”

Next up for the NRA and their crackerjack children’s author is The Three Little Pigs, expected out in May. One can only guess. It may go something like this – the pigs build a house with guns in every corner and when the wolf arrives to blow their house down they each aim a shotgun directly at the wolf, but it’s all about safety and protection, so there’s no shooting. The wolf throws up his hind legs and sprints for the forest. The end.

Thoughts?

Would you talk about death over dinner?

Would you talk about death over dinner?

Death is one of those words most of us choose to push from our vocabulary. After all, who wants to talk about death when most of us are doing our part to live life to its fullest? But, we all know that if we’re born on this earth we’ll eventually die. There is no cure…Continue Reading

There’s a national campaign out there to encourage us to make our reservations now, as the dinner table is the most forgiving place for difficult conversations, even those about death. The campaign is called, “Let’s have Dinner and talk about Death.” Michael Hebb, its founder, strongly believes and is backed by scores of health care professionals, that the most important conversation Americans are NOT having is the one about how we want to end our lives.

food in the restaurant, table, background

As I write this, I want to walk away from the computer and find my happy place, which isn’t focused on when the Grim Reaper will arrive. But, deep down, I get it. I think we’ve all expressed some basic thoughts on how we want to see our final days. And, if we haven’t shared them with anyone, most of us having something tucked away in the back of our minds.

When my mother-in-law died two years ago, it made me sad and uncomfortable. I mostly stayed away. She was living in a house, being cared for with five other aging adults. The owners were kind and caring, but every time I entered I felt anxious and experienced a heaviness that felt like death was knocking. I remember saying then, “I don’t want to go like that; I don’t want to still be living but not really living any longer.”

We never had a conversation about final days with my mother-in-law, and looking back I wish we had. Statistics shows that nearly 75 percent of Americans want to die at home, yet only 25 percent of them do. I strongly doubt the “home” she died in is was what she had in mind. Her final days may have looked very different if we’d had the conversation.

Because of that relatively recent experience, I support the idea of inviting your loved ones or close friends together to break bread, drink wine and talk about death. Over conversation, I believe we truly will be reminded of our humanity. Having the tough talk over dinner will be much easier than having it in at a hospital or nursing home, or some other stressful situation.

Michael Hebb’s website walks you through some basic questions to help you set up your dinner and give some structure to the conversation, including some pre-dinner reading materials. Or, you can go it on your own. And, if you don’t have family around you to have the conversation, I think it’s worth pondering his questions and a few others, some heavy, some much lighter.  Can you answer these? I’ll give it a try, even though I plan on living to a happy, healthy 120!

What do you want your final days to be like? No Debbie Downer stuff allowed. I have, and will have lived, an even fuller life than I already have. It’s happy times, toasting to making a mark on this earth and having no regrets.

Who do you want near you?  My family, of course. And, our family dog. It won’t be Dixon since he’s already 56 in people years, but I have a feeling it will be a dog a lot like him! I’d like my daughter to be holding my hand and belting her favorite Broadway song at that time.

What’s the one thing you don’t want at the end of your life? I don’t want anyone saying prayers. I’m not a religious person, and that’s the last thing I want at the end.

What will you regret if you haven’t accomplished before you die?  I will regret it if I don’t see my daughter achieve her dreams. She has big ones, and I’m confident she’ll achieve them.

If any, what wrongs do you want to right before you die? I’m feeling pretty good in this area. I’ll try and keep it that way.

What color do you want to be wearing when you say goodbye? Purple, it’s my favorite color. But, I also love emerald shades of green, so that would also work.

What song would you like playing at your service/memorial? In honor of my favorite artist Prince, I’d like my guests to hear a few of his songs. Kick it off with 1999, and segue into U Got the Look. That would make me happy.

Now, it’s your turn. Ready to plan a dinner to talk about death, or at the very least, answer a few of the questions I’ve posed?

I think I have an addiction

I think I have an addiction

I do well for about 11 months, but then the urge returns. Same time every year. It’s a tough battle. When those boxes start appearing at work, in front of the grocery store, around every corner, my resistance genes become weak. I become weak. I truly think I have an addiction. First it’s a thin…Continue Reading

Thankfully, I have no direct knowledge of what it feels like to smoke crack, nor do I EVER want any direct knowledge. But, I feel like these damn Girl Scout Cookies are a legal form of cookie crack. Why are they so addicting? Is it because they deprive us of their existence for 11 months of every year? Do their savory flavors trump all other treats we can easily access year around? Is it our altruistic nature where we simply feel compelled to buy, and buying results in eating? Or, is there trickery mixed in their ingredients that programs our brains to crave the cookies only during their sale cycle? So many questions. Some can be answered directly by Girl Scouts, but others we’ll never know.

Girl Scout Cookies - I think I have an addiction

Whatever the secret sauce may be; it works. Another year and another binge on Girl Scout Cookies. I justify it by knowing the dollars I so freely fork over are staying with the local Girl Scouts council. These are girls doing good in the world, one box of cookies at a time. And because of that, I will learn to live with my addiction.