Sunday, April 29, 2012

Two deaths bring one important reminder

Recently, I was reminded of a blog post written by Peter Shankman, the founder of Help A Reporter Out (HARO). He was encouraging readers to reach out to the people who are on our friends list on Facebook. Of course, he acknowledged that we can’t take up our day to connect with Every Single Person on our friends list, but just to choose so many of them and post on their wall, or something. Connect. Say hi. Reach out to people. They’re on that friends list for a reason!

I was reminded of this piece of good advice last week because I received some sad news: An old friend of mine had died. I was shocked and saddened to hear about this. I’d met this young man in my late teens and I always considered him to be a good friend. We lost touch, though, after we all grew up and created lives for ourselves. However, I did have the good fortune of connecting with him again on Facebook. I said “hi” to him every once in a while, but I never really bridged that communication gap. I never really “connected” with him as much as I should have.

And this is what got to me the most. I was sad my friend was gone, yes, but I was angry at myself for not really CONNECTING with him through Facebook, as I should have. All those opportunities I had to post on his wall and just say “howdy!” or something, and they just passed me by. And I hate it that the last time I DID make time to post on his wall was to leave a message to remember him by after he was gone. (I had tears in my eyes when I read another friend’s message she left on his wall.)

Of course I am sad my friend is gone, but angry at myself for not REALLY reaching out to connect with him. Gradually, though, I wasn’t so much angry anymore, but a little wiser. This was a lesson to me that from now on, I SHOULD connect with people who are important to me. I need to catch up with people. Facebook gives old friends the chance to reconnect, and we should take that opportunity to ACTUALLY reconnect. Communicate with each other and get to know each other all over again.

Later in the week, I was saddened once again to learn that one of my uncles had passed away, as well. That was two deaths in one week, and that was just too much. I told one of my sisters this sad news that evening, and she was shocked and upset to learn about our uncle. He was a very dear man who we have fond memories of. I hated to have to tell my sister this news through text, but text conversations are like phone calls for the deaf and it was the next best thing. (She lives in another state, so it wasn’t like I could walk on over to her house. Though I sure wish I had that ability to walk over to a sister’s house to visit!)

Unlike my friend, my uncle did not have a Facebook account, but my aunt did. Again, I occasionally said “hi” on her page, but I didn’t constantly reach out to communicate with her.

But even still, Facebook is not the only way to connect with people. There’s good old fashioned snail mail, too. I could’ve written a letter to my uncle or sent him a card to let him know we were thinking of him, but I never did.

This time, I was not as mad at myself as before for neglecting to reconnect with him. I was more AWARE of the fact that I should have. A card here or there would have been nice, maybe even a day-brightener.

So the lesson here was that, through snail mail or Facebook, even through phone calls, I really SHOULD reconnect with people and bridge those communication gaps. Take the time to get caught up with old friends and actually communicate with the people who are close to my heart. Because who knows how much more time they will have to be around?

Rest in peace, Mackie. And rest in peace, Uncle Floyd. I'm sorry I never took the time to reconnect with you as much as I should have, but the two of you were never far from my thoughts. You will both be in my heart forever.

Thursday, April 19, 2012


The early mornings really are not for us. Still, out of necessity, I get up early in the mornings on weekdays to get the kids up and on their way for school. This doesn’t mean we jump out of bed and bounce around the house, getting dressed lickety-split and out the door in a flash. We’re usually pretty tired and just drudging through the motions. This morning, however, something happened that left me and Jennifer WIDE AWAKE. It also left me with my heart pounding in my chest long after it was over!

When it was time for Jennifer to go out to the couch to put on her shoes, etc., after she’d gotten dressed for school, I led her out of her bedroom and into the living room. As she walked away from me, I turned around to switch on the lamp. I turned back around to see Jennifer walk right into a HUGE black spider hanging from the ceiling!

I screamed and Jennifer jumped back. The spider that had been on her chest only a second ago flew off of her and around in a circle. We watched in horror as that big black spider just swung there from the ceiling and I was hoping we didn’t lose it, because I wanted to make sure we could kill it! (Sometimes I do catch and release spiders, insects and any critters that get into the house. Or I try to lure them out if I don’t want to get stung or bitten by them. But spiders are a different story! I usually kill spiders – especially the big scary kind! I’ve had to deal with way too many black widows and wolf spiders when I lived in the desert to catch and release all the spiders I find in my home. Well, except solpugids. Those were too cool to kill! We usually caught them and set them loose somewhere. Ditto with the walking sticks. ANYWAY!) To those who are against killing spiders, I just have to say that my mom instincts kicked in overdrive here. I had to protect my babies! Couldn’t let this spider live to get back into the house and bite the children! Or get anywhere NEAR them!

Once we made sure that the spider wasn’t going anywhere, Jennifer and I slooooowly backed away from it. Jennifer would NOT take her eyes off of it! She also flinched when she thought it moved. I was prepared to kill the thing myself but I was too scared to get too close to it. I DID take a picture of it, but even then I didn’t get too close!

So I told Jennifer to go wake up her dad. When he came out and saw the spider, he got closer and looked at it. Then he turned around and told me it was a ground spider. (I’d never seen one before, or heard of them.) He turned back around to examine it some more then used his shoe and a fly swatter to kill it with.

After all that excitement was over, I was still scared about the whole thing. I kept seeing Jennifer walk right into it!! It drove me crazy. Jennifer was still shaken up, too.
We felt a little better after I looked it up on the Internet and learned that they are harmless to humans.

Here are two links I came up with. The second one has a more accurate image of the kind of spider in the living room:

Spiders in the Home
(Ours is Figure 3)


And here is the picture I took:

It's not a really good picture. The spider is on the right, its shadow on the wall is on the left.

Soon it was time to leave for the bus stop. At the bus stop, we were both still a little shakened up but we lightened the mood by remembering funny things in a movie we had watched last night. That actually helped us feel better.

But after I got back home, I did a big search of the house to make sure there weren’t any other spiders hiding somewhere. Or hanging around anywhere!

This definitely made me think I need to turn on the lights and check the rooms when I get up in the mornings. Sort of do a morning patrol to make sure everything is all clear. I don’t want another episode of one or both of the kids walking into anymore spiders – or being surprised in the early mornings by anything worse than a harmless spider!

Friday, April 13, 2012

Friday the 13th not so unlucky


Today is supposed to be an unlucky day, right? It’s when bad stuff is supposed to happen. Right??

Well, maybe not so much for us.

In the past, I would laugh off the whole Friday the 13th craziness, BUT, at the same time, I would be wary. I’d keep a watchful eye out for anything that could go wrong, or might go wrong!

Thing of it is, my mother and grandmothers were VERY superstitious, so they always warned us kids about how we should step backward over a broom handle if we happened to step over it, how we should NEVER throw cut hair into the trash (burn it instead!) and how walking under a ladder was bad luck. Of course, us kids obliged these women and did as instructed, but I have to say that I did not grow up to be superstitious, too. Well, I have SOME habits that are just too hard to break (like how we should never speak evil of the dead or leaving food out for “visitors” on Halloween night). But, no, I’m not as superstitious and I don’t join the ranks of people who get UBER superstitious every Friday the 13th.

In fact, I’m no longer as nervous about the number 13. Having spent some time around that number a lot (living near a 13th street, having “13” in my address and even seeing that number a lot of times), I’ve grown “comfortable” with the famously unlucky number.

And I don’t even consider the number 13 to be unlucky anymore, either. (In fact, one of my nieces was born on a Friday the 13th, and that was NOT an unlucky day for us because she is treasured by us all.) Actually, today was a lucky day for us.

It was a lucky day for my husband because he got paid for a job.

It was a lucky day for me because I finished writing articles I had due this week.

It was a lucky day for Jennifer because Netflix found an extra copy of the movie she wanted that WAS next in my queue but they sent us the second movie instead since the first was not available. She REALLY wanted to see that movie, and she was bummed when I told her they didn’t have one to send to us. But she was very happy when I gave her the news they sent an extra copy of it. (Thank you, Netflix!)

And, as for Jesse? Well, hm. I guess his good luck today was that he beat me at the bowling game I played with him. He bowled more strikes than I did! (Just wait until he gets to go bowling for real.) So, yes, perhaps that was his good luck for today.

Oh, and Jennifer and I BOTH had a stroke of good luck on a collaborative project we have done. We have some very exciting news! More on that later.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Do be kind

I have a sticker on my refrigerator that says “kind.” Above it, I have written the word “be.” If there is one thing I want to teach to my children, it is the importance of being kind.

I have been bullied before and I’ve had to deal with A LOT of rude people. (Doesn’t everybody??) But it’s the people who are kind, respectful and nice that I like to remember. These people make me smile and make me think that, despite the bad things in this world, in this life and harsh realities, there is still good out there from people who are kind to others.

Being kind to others is just a huge thing for me. My sister once complained that I am too nice. (Heh.) I have known too many people who were not so kind, not so nice. And downright rude (like a certain someone at a bus stop this morning who totally acted like I wasn’t even there).

Yes, I have been known to get angry at people, but that doesn’t mean I seek them out to beat them up, send them hateful e-mails, spout mean things about them on Facebook or leave “presents” on their doorstep. My methods of dealing with anger at people include journaling, muttering things, ignoring them, giving them the cold shoulder or shooting a dirty look their way when I see them. So,YES, I DO get angry at people, but I’m not going to intentionally be mean to them because I’m angry at them or something. All the same, it's not like I'll be their good buddy or love them to pieces, especially if they have caused physical harm to me in the past. If that issue is not resolved, THEN it is hard to be kind to that person in return. But I won't seek them out just to be mean to them, only because they have done bad things to me in the past. I will wait until we make peace or resolve our differences. In other words, I will cross that bridge when I find it.

I don’t want to be mean to people. Sure I get angry or moody or depressed, but I don't want to be mean. I want to be kind to people.

And it just means a lot if people return that favor when they are around me. If they are nice, if thy are kind, and if they even ACKNOWLEDGE THAT I EXIST ... then, you know, that means something. Something pretty darn good.

There’s just too much bad stuff in this world. Let’s not add to it. Tear down those walls, tear away judgments, look past a person’s unattractive appearance, past their differences, and try to be kind to the person you find amid all of that other stuff. Because when you reach out to that person with an act of kindness, or even a smile, a kind word, then you’ve just given that person a special gift: A happy memory to last them a lifetime.