Not Ready for ‘Adulting’

We all hear it and say it a thousand-plus times: “What do you want to be when you grow up?” As a boomer finally getting to enjoy playtime in retirement, I think more about a second childhood than about adulthood. Wouldn’t that mean all the fun is over?

As a pre-teen I had a list of exotic answers to share with grown-ups who asked, all the while ignoring that I held school regularly on the front steps, distributing chalk and instructions to neighbor students. Among my dream roles were:

*singer/dancer – I was a Julie Andrews fan.

*private eye – Nancy Drew influence

*policeman – Females can enforce laws, too,   hands on hips.

*comedian – I made people laugh without meaning to, so creating laughter on purpose couldn’t be that hard.

*zookeeper – Except for the reptiles–eww

*inventor – I was clueless what was missing, but I didn’t lack for confidence thinking I could produce it anyway.

*famous author/treasure seeker – For some reason those two still go together in my head.

In retrospect, it’s not surprising I became a teacher. It was a way of getting to do all mentioned above. Music enhances learning. Isn’t that how most of us leaned the ABC’s?  Movement does, too; that’s my definition of dance. Any classroom teacher will attest to having developed superb detective skills along with a set of eyes on the back of her head. Are there any better rule enforcers than teachers on duty? I could still tickle funny bones without meaning to, and learned early on not to ask why ’cause kids WILL tell you! I taught elementary through high school and drove a big yellow bus; it seemed like zoo keeping at times. Most teachers are inventors by nature. Plans go awry due to myriad interruptions to precious class time so we invent modifications on the fly.

I do write. One might argue I still have time to write a whole book instead of a bunch of columns, but I am too mesmerized by the ongoing treasure hunt to sit still that long. There are so many priceless words, thoughts, stories, ideas, personalities and locales left to discover. May we all have nuggets we cherish. Keep the search alive!

(Originally appeared in my Close to Home column in The Prospect-News. Positivity to ponder for a new year).

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The average humans among us lose 124 items a year. They tend to lose said items between 9 pm and 2 am. This info comes from an app some folks use to find lost stuff. Consider me not average in this regard, but whether it is ‘above average’ or ‘below average’ is up to interpretation.

First I will state that as a retiree I misplace items far less frequently these days, so maybe I had help ‘losing’ stuff when I was employed and lived in a household of more than one. I have noticed, however, my cat darting off with a sock or two, so those I blame the washer for eating might be treasure the cat has hidden for amusement.

One could ponder if an item is misplaced, is it really lost? Just because it is out of range of my senses or has temporarily left my conscious thought doesn’t mean I won’t recover it. Seeing something in my mind’s eye and retracing my steps is great exercise for my brain. It serves ME better than trying to complete a Sudoku puzzle.

Also, if an object disappears and I never miss it, is it really lost? Seems like ‘need’ would be a requirement for the lost label. Good riddance.

Maybe coins are tallied individually to explain the high number mentioned in the statistics. Coins are never truly lost; they are in the couch cushion bank or in the stockpile in coat linings or in the trap between car seats and consoles to be withdrawn in penny-pinching times. It’s comforting to know I always have an emergency stash for the PN newsstand or for yard-sale bargains with no nearby ATM.

Keys and glasses were once the two items I lost frequently, and yes, there are even stats revealing how much time we spend in search of them. A lot… often…regularly. Now I have a car with keyless entry/start so if I’m in the driver’s seat, my car will start even if I have ‘lost’ my keys in my purse, now not so jumbled since I am not forever and always digging through it. As for glasses, I now wear trifocals. They must remain on my nose for me to function adequately. Once in a while I search for them when they are not missing. Old habits need to get lost.

The time I am saving NOT searching for lost items lets me do more reading, admittedly of some useless info. I will not be among those downloading an app to find lost things. I would need to remember ANOTHER password most likely, and I get so frustrated when I truly lose anything that I wouldn’t have the patience to fiddle with technology that is seldom user-friendly when my need is greatest.

Between 9 pm and 2 am most days I am in bed. What are those folks in the app stats up to during those hours to lose so much stuff? Get some sleep already!

December 12 is National Lost Day, so kick back with a cup of hot chocolate – it is also National Cocoa Day – and revel in the magnificence of your holiday poinsettias… yep, it’s a holiday for them, too…and contemplate where you fall on the spectrum of losers. Happy December 12th!

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Symphonic Time

Some days seem a month of Sundays long,

With time to redo, to right any wrong.

If plenty to tackle, that seems fine,

But if idle and anxious, who stretches time?


December is here, 2018 almost history,

We’re facing 2019 with blanks and mystery.

Intentions and failures stare us down now,

Best-laid plans lost in last year’s vows.


“Back when the world rhymed and strummed”

– Back when I was innocent and young –

“And tapped its feet and tickled the ivories”

– Life brimmed with love and plans and babies.


Now the world sounds out of tune.

I pray for sweet melodies soon,

To soothe the nerves and soften the sighs

As I cover my ears and close my eyes.


Who gave time permission to speed?

When passions emerge, as do frantic needs,

I want more of it, not less,

To erase pains and savor happiness.


Alas, it’s less what I have, more what I do.

With a world out of tempo, I can’t simply stew.

Do-nothing attitudes help little improve.

I’ll play my own notes, find my own groove.


Don’t mimic mine. Play YOUR tune and tempo,

Plunk YOUR notes, tap YOUR heel and toe.

Let’s not play in unison but in harmony.

Peace and progress can sing in diversity.

(“…back when the world rhymed and strummed, tapped its feet and tickled the ivories…” is a line from Middle C by William H. Gass).

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Skies of Gray Make the World Seem Sadder

So many clouds of dreariness

Can fill one’s days with weariness,

But the raindrops will fall;

We can do nothing at all

So wipe away the bleariness

And give a friend a call.


Two heads are better than one

For sending the blues on a merry run.

One can sense the smiles

Across many many miles.

So before all is said and done

Pull out those contact files.


Skies of gray make the world seem sadder

And the bad stuff, oh so much badder.

We feel mighty powerless

With the world in such a mess.

It doesn’t help to get madder.

Tears do fall, I confess.


In the constant cycles of this life

There will be joys as well as strife.

Blue skies and sunshine take their turn

As bright bold colors return;

Mother Nature is rife

With possibilities, birds the fife.


My fun with rhyme in honor of Dr. Seuss Day, Friday, March 2, for Close to Home in PN).

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A Cat’s Act

Deja vu…You have heard that term. One morning about 3 am when I should have been sleeping, I wasn’t because I had procrastinated just a tad, with a little help from another individual who had done the same, whose work had to be in MY lap before I could finish. Having taught for 33 years I know how suspicious it sounds when one tries to spread the blame around. About 3 am, though, I was finished with the task. I had proofread three or four times then one more out loud and was preparing to copy and paste the masterpiece to its appointed place. The end was near. It was like being in my college dorm finishing the last page of a research paper due at 8 am.

How could I have been totally unaware of my cat’s presence? He is normally not a quiet creature. Suddenly he was sailing over my shoulder! Before I could divert his direction, all four feet landed simultaneously right in the middle of the keyboard.

My masterpiece disappeared. All of it. In its place were four or five tiny slanted lines. That was all. I hunted for the magical undo button used when I myself make screens disappear. It didn’t work this time. I tried to calmly gather up all my bits and pieces of  computer knowledge and attempted to think logically about the situation. There was a solution somewhere for sure. I was positive of that. I was also positive that I was not going to find it.

I did, however, find the first page in a file Continue reading

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Merry Mayhem

Say WHAT?! That’s our response sometimes to an idea that seems bass-ackwards. My brain has been wrestling with this one. To get to good outcomes sometimes you do better by not trying specifically to get to those outcomes but instead not worrying about outcomes at all.” Alison Gopnik

Say THAT to a teacher pressured to get test scores up, or to a child with Olympic aspirations, or to a mechanic rebuilding an engine! Using specific strategies toward focused goals seems appropriate much of the time. What do you mean don’t worry about outcomes?

Add to that absurdity this confounding image. Take a robot – a creation of nuts/bolts/gizmos and microchips – and design it for a specific task. But…during the building process take a break before fine-tuning the programming and let the robot do its own thing, discover its properties, dance around and play. (Another one of those ‘Say WHAT?!’ ideas). That robot will perform the specific task the same as one denied the play time with this distinction. If its arm falls off or it gets tipped over, it uses the knowledge learned in the play time to figure out how to get the task done anyway. A robot with artificial intelligence can exhibit flexibility and resilience, creativity and innovation, too, when the unexpected occurs.

Life tips us over from time to time. Let’s learn from the robots! Trim schedules so there are moments to play and dance without the pressures of performing to win or finishing shopping/decorating/wrapping in the midst of normal routines. Sit in your favorite chair sipping hot chocolate or mulled cider. Dig out Christmas records or cassettes and sing along. Write a personal message in a Christmas card or two. Make up your own songs as you sing them about the view from your window. Let laughter and relaxation guide you through this hectic holiday time. Surely we can exhibit flexibility, resilience, creativity and innovation if a conglomeration of nuts and bolts can!

(Alison Gopnik is the author of The Gardener and the Carpenter: What the New Science of Child Development Tells Us About the Relationship Between Parents and Children).

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You know those folks who don’t like various foods touching on their plates? I am not one of those – unless something is put there I know I don’t like. It gets covered with bread, which doesn’t like me, and disappears from thought and fork. Some flavors are enhanced by inadvertent mixing of ingredients – that’s my experience so I don’t fret when they mingle.

There are readers like those picky eaters, those who read only one book at a time so characters and plots don’t have a chance to get tangled in the gray matter. I am not one of those, either, though I started my reading life that way, zipping through each book in a library section then figuring out how to get to a different library to devour the hopefully new tweenage selections on those shelves. By foot or by bike or by whines for Dad to take me, I got there. I think it was the astronomical reading assignments in vastly different content areas in high school and college that altered that for me. Sadly, back then I didn’t see the magical interconnections, the secret-spilling patterns, the messages intended just for me in my journey. I compartmentalized for deadlines and tests.

These days I stumble on connections and patterns without the pressure of finishing chapters, writing papers and taking exams. The inadvertent mixing of subjects and styles enhances my reading adventures. It’s exciting to uncover buried treasures – insights that either sit quietly till I notice or kick me in the derrière to get my immediate attention – from vastly different genres. How can reading my very first John Grisham novel along with a guide on prayer by St. Ignatius, a  neuroscientist’s glimpse into awesome mind/brain research, a scientific look at perfect timing and a weekly blog share anything significant? I don’t understand the HOW of it, but, WOW! Do they ever! To deepen the intrigue, were another to read those exact same books, different connections and meanings would be revealed. Readers glean based on their individually unique thought processes and experiences.

I like this quote attributed to Will and Ariel Durant. “The only real revolution is in the enlightenment of the mind and the improvement of character, the only real emancipation is individual, and the only real revolutionists are philosophers and saints.”

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