Saturday, February 21, 2015

Let It Shine

We’ve reached that precarious season in time here in Florida, in which on any given day you may see people in gigantic tick-filled coats and woolen scarves lining their necks or cargo shorts and flip flops; depending on which way the wind is blowing.

People are catching colds as fast as the temperature’s rage out of control, a high of 45 degrees one day and high of 69 degrees the next; both with lows of 25 degrees. Keeping up with the temperature is your mainstay morning television viewing; we all get dressed according to the national weather channel, and watch again in the evening so you know whether or not to drip the faucets all night to prevent frozen, bursting pipes.

Or the days that you decide about noon it would have been the perfect day for fishing. Well yeah, it would have been had it not been 40 degrees at 8am and the wind was blowing at 20 mph; because you know February and March are built for wind, cold, and a lot of bright sunshine to fool you when you’re on the inside looking out. But out on that water, with that wind whipping; sunshiny and 65 degrees or not, that wind will freeze you to death and chap your skin like nobody’s business. And there is nothing that hurts as bad as a wind-burn besides a severe sunburn. First step into the shower, and that hot water lets your skin know you spent too much time in whichever element was going on that day.

This is also the time of the year that baseball and softball is back in season. Our youngest son played baseball when he was in school and I can remember we started off semi-warm while the sun was still up, but the time change was still not in effect, so by 6:30pm we were dragging out the blankets and bundling up for the final innings. Hitting the concession stands for coffee and hot chocolate and I’ll be honest with you, praying for quick innings and even quicker results!

On the warmer weekends, especially as it gets closer to March, Lowes and Home Depot will have all those pretty flowers stacked-up out front, all the colors of the rainbow and what everybody has been craving to see since the last frost killed everything off. You can always recognize what I call the “newbies”, the ones who have never actually planted flowers or had the job of taking care of baskets and pots before. They’re all excited, filling up their carts with little pots of pretties, not knowing, bless their hearts, that there will be more freezes to come and those blooms won’t stand a chance against the rest of those cold March winds that are surely still a’coming.

Spring will be here soon enough folks, and then, before long, summer. It seems we’re always wishing for what we don’t have, in weather and in life. It took me fifty-one years to figure out that life happens all in due time, always.

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Make It Count

I have celebrated so many years of this holiday in all the traditional ways: going out to dinner, receiving flowers, boxes of candy, and sometimes, some years, in no way at all. As I became older, I began to see that holiday as it was: an opportunity to make money based on how much each individual was hell-bent on showing their love for someone in monetary form.

Now granted some of those ways were very creative: expressions blasted above on jumbotron’s, skidding across basketball courts at half-time bearing rings and requests for forever love and commitment, romping through sunflower fields with video cameras in tow to catch that perfect moment/frame in time; all for the sake of having the best memory/story to tell years later when they’re sitting at a table in a restaurant, trying to recapture/remember how they got there.  

I’m just so over all the hype, pomp and circumstance that comes with this holiday every year. The heart-filled greeting cards/candy that are replacing Christmas cards/candy on every store shelf, December 26th of every year. The heart boxers hanging on the racks right next to the reindeer boxers, practically before your presents have been wrapped. And the commercials, oh my grand at the commercials! The ones that begin the minute the clock strikes midnight on New Year’s Eve and don’t seem to stop until they have pounded into everyone out in TV land, that you MUST buy that heart-shaped, shimmering necklace for the love of your life or be in the doghouse forever!

Every kiss does not begin with the moniker of some jewelry store; it should begin with your three year old climbing-up in your bed, waking you too early on Saturday morning, with giggles and a smile that cannot be resisted. Or your husband after you’ve cooked a meal that he especially likes, or your eight year old son who is still young enough to show his love to his Mama in public. Or being greeted at the end of the day by your four-legged fur-family who’s been home alone all day and slobbers you with love as you walk in the door.

Last year I spent this particular holiday travelling back to my hometown so that I could
spend the day with a woman that at the time, I only knew by sight and exchange of words/encouragement. A woman with whom I went to school years ago, but we were separated by age and a grade level. She had found out less than sixty days prior that she had breast cancer and she had just undergone a double mastectomy. That day, that reunion of practically strangers but now forever friends, was one of the most rewarding ways I have ever spent this holiday.  The hugs exchanged were some of the most intense I have ever experienced; it was a representation of love in one of its truest forms – eternal friendship.

I challenge each of you to share something real, something tangible that will last forever – rediscover the real meaning of love and what Valentine’s Day means to you. 

Saturday, February 7, 2015

Sweet Sixteen....Redux

As I started out on those all too familiar roads, I realized after quite some time had passed, that I was mindlessly driving, listening to banging music and the all too familiar words about growing-up and moving-on.  Even if I were to be blindfolded, I would know my way down all those country roads full of winter-time dried-up fields, barren spaces for miles, houses sparking-up here and there, with few stop signs or reasons to slow down along the way. And at any point and time, even if thought I had strayed from the natural path, I could simply lower the glass window on my driver’s door, get a whiff of the smell that would immediately barge into my memory bank, and I would know, once again, that I was on the pathway to home.

I drove, still listening to that same mixed CD which was home-made by my oldest son; all the songs random and different, sung by males and females, just how I liked them to be. Old rock and roll one minute, a warbling country tune the next; all the music that sounds as mismatched as my own personality; a plethora of lyrics that describe my life perfectly. 

My thoughts wandered around to the events at hand, the whole reason for this rambling road-trip back home, to the place I was not necessarily born but certainly raised, where many of my childhood friends still reside, and more importantly, where my parents still live. I would visit with both that day, laughing and talking, remembering, re-winding, reminiscing and rejoicing. 

It was a mix-match of women at that long table; a combination of three or more high schools and
three or more grade levels as well.  We were so busy mingling and catching-up, the waitresses could barely get us to be still and quiet long enough to take our orders. It seemed that the total count for the day ended up somewhere around the number of twenty girls, some of which who see each other on a regular basis, and for others, had not seen each other since our high school graduations.

I believe someone at the table, at some point, said this coming year would be our 35th reunion from high school. How does that even happen? I mean it was literally just yesterday we were sitting in high school court yards talking about our boyfriends, our break-ups, or a test we didn’t study for enough. And yesterday, so much of the talk was about our children, our jobs, non-functioning bladders, menopause, multiple marriages and gasp….THE GRANDCHILDREN! I swear to sugar, I have no idea how or when all that happened; and what the heck were all of us teenagers doing talking about Depends!

My mother said it best yesterday when she said, that when we all get together like that, we all become 16 years old again, no matter the time that has passed, the shapes that have changed or the wrinkles that have formed.  Ain’t nothing like being young again, even if for only a day. 

Sunday, February 1, 2015

The Weight of Justice

A week from now, half of the nation will be cooking, grilling and frying every kind of food you can imagine.  They’ll be gathering-up extra chairs, re-arranging furniture, and making room for all the extra company that will be flowing in at show-time.

The early discussions around the table will begin around 3pm. They’ll talk it, analyze it, and decide it to death. They’ll talk about the pro’s and the con’s, what the statistic’s and the experts say will happen; and all of that will be turned and twisted every way imaginable to soak-up air-time until the big event.

The only problem I’m going to have with all those pre-game/pre-show conversations, is that the main topic won’t necessarily be about the business at hand. One of the biggest money makers of the entire year will instead be a discussion about cheaters. The possibility of blackened integrity and loss of trust. The hovering questions will float above like word thoughts in a balloon, begging to know, are the two best teams really playing each other this year; will the real “winner” be the winner in the end?

I watch the Super Bowl every year, no matter what two teams make it to the big competition; I watch it just like I watch the World Series in baseball. I always hope I have a team I like in the running, sometimes I do, sometimes I don’t. But if I don’t, of the two available, I pick out who I would like to see win that title the most, and that’s who I cheer on.

This year it’s going to be different because of what has happened; it’s broken my spirit, changed my outlook, and made me once again question why all good things simple and real cannot remain so without the interference of factors designed to change the face of reality for all.

Some footballs were deflated in one of the last playoff games of the season. The team accused of possibly having part in that cheating fiasco won that game; in points. There are those who say the score was so lopsided, the other team didn’t have a chance to win regardless; but is that really the point? Should the fact they “would have won anyway” be the way we look at this transgression?

I, as an avid sports fan, am sick and tired of supposedly responsible, very well-paid, and intelligent men of sports who cannot understand that the rules, whatever they may be, are in place for a reason, for everyone. I’m sick of cheaters, dopers, and liars. And I’m especially sick of these horrible leaders, exemplifying these traits to up and coming sports players participating in tee-ball, pee-wee football, and any other organized sport. You crush my dreams of hero’s every time you fall down, and you create doubts and bad thoughts in the eyes of the little ones watching you, looking-up to you.

Deflate those egos – leave the rules intact. Because this I believe: a cheater never really wins, and a real winner will never cheat.