Monday, October 24, 2016

Not Enough Room

In case you haven't heard, my house sold while I was in Maine visiting my son Brad and his girlfriend Shelby. Yep ... my little house across the street from the trail ... my little house with my Goldilocks deck ... my little house with my awesome handmade storm fort ... my little house where my kids grew into teenagers and young adults ... come December 5, my little house will no longer be mine. Though it probably goes without saying, I have very mixed emotions about my upcoming relocation to a new abode. I've never lived in an apartment before, so naturally I'm more than a bit nervous about Ollie barking during the day while I'm at work and getting us thrown out of the complex, not having a garage to park in, finding a safe place to walk each evening, where I'll keep my bicycle and all kinds of other things.

My newest worry about apartment living, however, is a big one ... one that fits in well with my fear of storms, a sinkhole in the grass swallowing me up or being sucked out of an airplane while I'm trying to pee in one of those stupid little boxes they call restrooms. My newest fear makes my normal ... yes, I said normal ... worries and fears seem ... well ... more normal than they ever have before. These days what keeps me awake at night is my fear that I'll end up living above or below a meth head who ends up blowing us all up or that my next door neighbor will be a serial killer who's on a mission to off gray-haired 50-something women who love wiener dogs or that my apartment will be some sort of alien abduction headquarters and Ollie and I will be sucked up into a spaceship in full-on War of the Worlds fashion. What's that you say? Irrational thinking on my part? Nope ... perfectly valid, totally sane scenarios to fear.

My daughter Meghann graciously spent last weekend manning a garage/moving sale at my little house, and let me tell you ... that little gal of mine is one tough cookie when it comes to standing her ground on garage sale prices. All I have to say is good luck if you're trying to bargain with her ... geez, Louise, my baby girl is serious about garage sale revenues for sure, which is good for me because she managed to make a nice chunk of change for me over the weekend. My emotions were all over the place as I watched my stuff being sold ... one minute I was feeling good about getting rid of things that I've hung onto for way too long, and the next minute I was bawling my eyes out as a nice older couple loaded up my patio furniture and drove away. By the way, don't ask me any questions about my patio furniture ... it deserves a post all its own someday when I can type it without soaking my keyboard in tears.

All three of my children have been after me to sell my house for several years and now that it's sold, they've adopted a new mantra ... a mantra that I know in my mind is true ... a mantra that my heart is resisting big time. Three words that are quite difficult for me to process right now ... not enough room. My kiddos keep telling me that I won't have enough room for some of my things when I move and that I have to get rid of them. In the spirit of being as open, honest, real and transparent as I know how to be ... I'm kind of having a rough time with that reality. Lest you think I'm just a materialistic old bag, let me assure you that it's not letting go of the things themselves that has me reeling ... it's the memories and the feelings and the love that those things represent that has my gut churning and my heart aching. Letting go of the things isn't the problem, it's letting go of all the moments that are wrapped up inside of those things that's hard ... moments with my children ... moments with my mom and my extended family ... moments with my friends. It's the moments that are hard to part with, friends ... it's not the things at all ... it's the moments tucked deep within them.

This week my assignment from my children is to come home from work each evening and tackle one cabinet or one drawer and choose what I'll have room for and what I won't. Which I might add is rather tough to do since I've never lived in an apartment. Oh, and by children I really mean Meghann since she's the only who lives near enough to me to actually see how much stuff is in my house. Earlier tonight as I sat putting the things I want to keep in one pile and the things that need to go in another pile, I began thinking about those three words ... not enough room ... I thought about those words and the intensely deep lesson they've caused me to learn in recent weeks. Not having enough room in an apartment to house all the stuff in a house is one thing, but not having enough room in a heart for people who love and care about someone is another thing altogether. It hurts like hell to know there won't be enough room in my new apartment for the dining room set my mom gave me more than 27 years ago. Truth is, though, that hurt will eventually go away ... that hurt won't take up permanent residence in my heart and soul or gnaw at my mind for the rest of my life. But the hurt that comes from knowing there's no longer enough room for me in someone's heart? That's the hurt that feels as though it will last forever ... that's the hurt I never ever want to bring upon the people I care for, because ... well ... because the hurt of being kicked out of someone's heart is the worst kind of hurt there is.

Think there's not enough room in your life? Measure again, friends ... there are some things you should never discard or give up. Think there's not enough room in your heart? Measure again, friends ... please measure again. Trust me ... there are things ... and so much more important, there are people you should hold onto forever. Measure again, friends ... please measure again.

Monday, October 17, 2016

A Week of Firsts

When you get to be my age, there aren't many weeks in life that involve experiencing something you've never experienced before. And there sure as heck aren't many weeks that are filled to the brim with all sorts of things you haven't done or seen or tasted or smelled or touched or climbed or heard before. I mean seriously ... you'd think someone as old as I am would have pretty experienced everything by now, or at least everything they thought they wanted to experience anyway. Most of us have some sort of bucket list or wish list of things we want to do before we're six feet under, but for a whole lot of us, myself included, I don't really believe I'll actually get to cross those things off my list before my time is up. But then last week happened. Last week I did and saw and tasted and smelled and touched and climbed and heard things I never had before. And it was without question one of the most incredible weeks of my life. My son Brad and his girlfriend Shelby pushed and pulled me out of pretty much every comfort zone I have ... and ... it ... was ... awesome. Since I'm still pondering many of the huge life lessons I learned last week, I decided to simply list some of my firsts tonight and share more about some of the experiences later on. Hopefully, you'll enjoy them and maybe you'll want to read more about them in future posts. At the very least, maybe one or two of them might just make you smile a little, and if so, I'll count that as a job well done ... or a blog well written, as the case may be.

Last week was the first time I ... saw the New York City skyline from an airplane ... found my way through the LaGuardia airport twice ... took Ollie inside the gigantic LL Bean store ... saw J.J. Abrams house and private studio (from the car window as we drove by, of course) ... walked through acres of blueberry fields on Beech Hill and down a long, winding path in the woods ... cracked my own lobster ... touched the same lighthouse that Tom Hanks touched in the movie Forrest Gump ... took Max and Ollie to see the ocean ... ate at the Sea Dog restaurant and got some cool coasters ... climbed Mt. Battie all the way to the top ... saw stacks of cairns ... spent two hours at the Maine Lighthouse Museum ... rode on a lobster boat in the ocean ... saw cruise ships in a harbor ... rode on a ferry in the ocean ... spent two days on an island ... peed and pooped in a compost toilet ... ate food prepared by a chef from New York City ... slept on an air mattress in Brad and Shelby's living room for a week (best sleep I've had in months, by the way) ... fell and scraped my elbow when I was almost to the bottom of a mountain ... ... saw the full moon's glow reflected across the ocean water ... flew into and out of Portland, Maine ... went into the woods on the island and took off my t-shirt to wrap my bleeding hand after I fell onto a big rock ... caught Brad's drone in my hands when he brought it in for a landing ... met a medic named Sam who looked like Robin Williams ... took Ollie to see the sun come up over the ocean ... ate lunch with Brad and Shelby in Bar Harbor ... saw and heard the ocean crash into Thunder Hole ... stood on the top of Cadillac Mountain in Acadia National Park ... saw two bald eagles ... spent two days on an island with no cell phone or laptop ... met a sweet young filmmaker named Wilder ... played trivia with Brad and Shelby's friends at an Irish pub ... tasted beers I'd never heard of ... celebrated Brad's 29th birthday on an island in Maine ... watched a scientist transfer aquaculture scallops into bigger baskets so they would have room to grow ... saw hundreds of itsy bitsy skeleton shrimp ... sat next to a Broadway producer on an airplane ... sat on a rock in the cool evening air and watched the setting sun sizzle its way into the ocean.

Maybe I'll get to cross off at least a few things on my bucket list after all, friends ... maybe I will indeed.  

Thursday, October 6, 2016

Brad Squared

My thoughts and prayers tonight are with my friends who live along the southeastern coast as they face hurricane Matthew. You all know how terrified I am of storms ... I can't even begin to imagine how you guys are feeling. Just know that I am one of many praying not only for your safety but for peace and comfort as you weather the storm.

Though it's nothing like what my friends along the coast are experiencing, it's a stormy night here in Kansas as well. There have been a couple of times in the last hour that I thought for sure the wind was going to blow my little house down around me. And the worst part of the storms haven't even gotten here yet ... ugh. I really and truly am terrified of stormy weather which also makes me think I am really and truly insane because I live in Kansas. Why on earth would a person who is as afraid of thunderstorms as I am live right smack dab in the middle of thunderstorm and tornado land? Because he or she is really and truly insane, that's why.

I will say that I've learned a lot about storms since I moved to the Midwest more than 25 years ago, not the least of which is that it can be almost impossible to see the road ahead if you get caught in one. You can be tooling along on a calm sunny day thinking everything is hunky-dory and before you realize what's happening, the winds start howling, the skies turn black and the rain comes pouring down. In an instant, you go from feeling safe and secure to wondering if you'll live to see the light of another day. I've learned that when you find yourself in the midst of one of those big old gigantic storms, it's awfully easy to think you're going to be trapped inside that storm forever. 

On Monday evening I got a call from my son-in-law Barrett asking me if I'd consider doing a favor for a member of the church where he's the pastor. He explained to me that the young man is currently working 12 hours a day on the construction of the new Amazon distribution center in North Kansas City, and that he had been driving two hours each way every day back and forth to work. I'll spare you the details of the rest of my conversation with my kind-hearted son-in-law and my subsequent conversation with the young man himself, but I will tell you that as of Tuesday evening, I now have a temporary roommate for the next couple of months. And should my house sell during that time and I need to move, my roomie and I have already decided that he'll just move with me until his job in KC is over.

Now I know you're wondering what being in the middle of a storm has to do with my new house guest, and sorry, but you'll just have to keep on wondering. All I'll tell you is that my new house guest's arrival has brought some much-needed light into a very stormy time in my life. I know it sounds cliche, but he really is like a ray of sunshine and a breath of fresh air. His smile lights up my little house, and we've stayed up way too late for the last couple of nights talking about all kinds of different things. He would fight to the death to protect his children, and his love for his mom reminds me of the love my own kiddos have for me ... at least I hope they do anyway. His life hasn't been an easy one by any means, but there's a goodness in him that is absolutely undeniable. I'll be honest ... I was more than a little nervous about how I'd feel having someone staying here for a few weeks, but it has proven to be one of the best decisions I've made in a long, long time. Which means my son-in-law was absolutely right when he said, "I think you'll love this guy, Terrie, and I think this will be good for both of you." Yes, Barrett, I am publicly declaring for all the world to know that you were indeed very, very right ... this time.

So now I know you're wondering about the title of tonight's post ... this incredibly kind and respectful young man's name is Brad. He reminds me of another Brad I know ... another Brad who is truly a beacon of light in the midst of my storms.

Brad squared, friends ... Brad squared indeed.

Sunday, October 2, 2016

Let Them Listen and Let Them Learn

The last time I lived in a house that was for sale was more than 15 years ago ... the house we bought when we first moved to Kansas City. Looking back, I wonder how in the world I ever managed to keep that huge house in show-ready condition with three teenagers and two dogs living there with me. It's just Ollie and me in my much smaller little house now, and it's a challenge to keep everything looking as perfect as possible every single day. There are so many things I didn't have to worry about before the for sale sign went up in my yard. Things like remembering not to leave the bra I wear when I exercise hanging on my closet door handle like I often do under normal conditions ... normal as in my house not being for sale. Even though "no bras on closet doors" wasn't on the list my realtor sent me of things I should or shouldn't do each morning before I leave the house, I'm pretty sure that leaving any type of undergarment on display would be frowned upon. Yep, it's a whole different ball game when that for sale sign goes up in the front yard ... a whole different way of living and a whole different set of standards.

I've learned a lot over the last few weeks as I've worked to get my house ready to sell, not the least of which is that every single task on my list of things to clean or repair takes way more time to accomplish than I think it will. For example, yesterday I spent 5 hours power washing my Goldilocks deck ... which, by the way, looks freaking awesome now. I thought re-staining the wood trim and doors inside the house would take me half a day, but instead it took 17 hours. My estimate for washing the interior walls to get rid of all the scuff marks, kid handprints and dog pawprints? Five hours tops. Amount of time it actually took? Thirteen and a half hours. Again I say, every single task on my list of things to clean or repair takes way more time to accomplish than I think it will.

Something else I've learned in this process that ranks way up there on the most important life lessons list is this ... living alone and rarely having anyone visit me has caused me to have on blinders when it comes to certain things around my house. Things like scuff marks on the walls or dings in the paint or dusty light fixtures or a deck desperately in need of a good cleaning that really didn't matter all that much to me a couple of weeks ago have now declared their importance in a big, big way. All of a sudden things like broken handles on my kitchen cabinets ... handles that have been broken for years, I might add ... screamed "Fix me!" every time I opened a door to grab a plate or tugged on a drawer to get a spoon. In the blink of an eye, I couldn't ignore those things that needed to be cleaned or repaired any longer ... I had to take action.

This morning my son Brad sent me a link to a video titled "The Future," which features a spoken poetry competition performance by a young man named Neil Hilborn. If you haven't heard of him, you should go to YouTube and pull up some of his videos and watch them. Neil lives each and every day of his life with OCD and bipolar disorder, and he's truly inspiring and giving hope to millions of people through both his poetry and his spirit. It was late this afternoon before I finally took a break and clicked on the link Brad sent, and though I fully intended to watch only that particular video, I found myself a half-hour later clicking on the Ted Talk of a young woman who was sharing about her struggle with depression and anxiety.

I'm happy to tell you that one of my errands this morning was to buy handles to replace the broken ones on my kitchen cabinets, and I still had that task ahead of me. Knowing myself well enough to know that I could easily end up spending way more time than I had to spend sitting on the couch watching Ted Talks, I placed my laptop on the table, turned up the volume and headed to the kitchen to get to work on replacing cabinet and drawer handles. I thought for sure it wouldn't take longer than a half-hour to replace the handles, which was about the length of the gal's Ted Talk. Three hours and several Ted Talks later, I had successfully switched out 32 cabinet and drawer handles ... don't even say it ... and they look great even if I do say so myself. 

Because I had watched the video Brad sent and subsequently listened to the one I had bunny-hopped to afterward, and because I was busy changing handles, YouTube automatically played other Ted Talks about depression and/or anxiety. From everyday people explaining how depression has affected them personally to doctors discussing treatment options and recent breakthroughs, there was one common thread they all shared ... depression sucks. While I just listened to most of the videos as I worked and didn't actually view them, the words of one gentleman struck me deeply enough to make me put down my screwdriver, sit down at the table and watch the guy's presentation in full. Tears streamed down my cheeks as he talked about how all the people in his life begged him not to go public with the news of his battle with major depressive disorder, warning him that because he's a well-known public figure, he would be shunned and rejected and that he would forever have to deal with the judgment that would ensue. He recounted one particular conversation with his best friend who pleaded with him repeatedly not to share his story, saying, "I'm imploring you not to do this, John. You don't get it, man, everyone in the world will be listening ... please don't do this." 

I can think of no greater way to close tonight's post than with John's reply to his friend's plea for him to keep silent about his struggle with an illness ... yes, an illness ... that carries with it a stigma that is often harder to bear than the illness itself. Read John's words over and over, friends, and then read them over and over and over again. And as you do, think long and hard about this ... vulnerability is not born out of weakness, friends, but rather out of strength.

"Let them listen. Let them listen and let them learn."

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

The Mosquito in my Shorts

First things first ... thank you for the mountain of emails you've sent pleading with me to start writing more frequently again. I am deeply humbled by your kind words and your concern for my emotional and mental health. I assure you that my lack of writing over the past couple of weeks isn't because I've crawled into my cave or that I'm in the fight of my life with the big old wolf who seems to have taken up permanent residence just outside my window. Nothing quite so dramatic, I'm afraid ... I simply haven't had enough time to write. Or perhaps I should say I haven't had enough time to write the way I want to write ... from my heart ... always from my heart, friends. Now that my house is officially on the market, I won't have to spend my evenings re-staining every single baseboard and door in the house or washing down all the walls with Magic Erasers (best freaking cleaning thingies ever invented, by the way) or cleaning carpet or down on my hands and knees scrubbing the floors. I'm guessing that might free up just a tiny bit of time for me ... and yes, I'm being sarcastic. Everything always takes way longer than I think it will when it comes to doing stuff around the house. Hmmmm ... I wonder what in the world I'll do with myself when I don't have house stuff to do anymore. But back to my original statement ... thank you all so much for your support, encouragement and concern. I sure as heck don't get why so many of you like to read my oftentimes borderline insane ramblings, but I'm truly thankful if getting a glimpse into my totally whacked-out brain helps a few of you along the way.

So a couple of nights ago, I'm sitting in my spot on the couch in my living room ... the same spot I sit in every night ... with Ollie curled up next to me snoring like a freight train while I answer a few emails. I'm typing, Ollie's snoring ... just another boring night at home. Until ... until all of a sudden the tops of my legs started itching like crazy. And in less than a minute, the backs of my legs, my stomach and my lower back joined the itching party. I seriously thought I was going to scratch myself to death ... no, I mean really scratch myself to death ... that's how badly I was itching. Crazy, right? No, what's crazy is that I sat there for a good 10 minutes or longer scratching like a banshee before I finally stood up, pulled off my basketball shorts and tried to figure out what in the world was happening to me. I may or may not have uttered a few choice words when I saw all the welts on my upper legs ... there were eight on my left leg alone. I hightailed it into the bathroom and looked in the mirror ... between my legs, my stomach and what I could see of my lower back, I counted 28 mosquito bites. Yep, 28 welts left by what I could only assume was one demon-possessed mosquito that somehow got himself stuck inside my shorts. It took more than a half tube of Benadryl Cream to finally tame the itch, but by the next morning I was pretty much back to normal.

Now I know you're all expecting me to share with you the big life lesson I learned from the mosquito in my shorts incident, and since I've already disappointed enough people in my life this week, I certainly don't want to disappoint all of you, too. So here's the thing ... the great big gigantically huge thing I learned from all those mosquito bites. If something doesn't feel right ... if something makes you want to scratch your skin off ... if something hurts like heck, get up and check your shorts. Don't sit around thinking the problem will solve itself, because it won't ... in fact, more than likely it will only get worse. If I'd gotten off the couch and checked when my legs first itching, chances are I would have only had two or three bites instead of 28. What became a big problem for me would have been far smaller had I only made the effort sooner ... had I gotten up, peeled off all my clothes and checked my shorts for mosquitoes at the first sign of something amiss, I would have been far better off and much less itchy.

Go ahead and think on that for a while, friends ... go ahead and mull it over, stew on it, do some serious contemplating. Always check your shorts for mosquitoes, friends ... always, indeed.

Thursday, September 22, 2016

When You Gotta Go, You Gotta Go

I thought about beginning tonight's post by sharing a couple of funny pee-related stories from when my three kiddos were little, but then I thought I shouldn't because it might embarrass them. But then I thought, oh yes, I am. Stories like how Meghann used to stand over the air conditioning vent in our living room and pee because, in her words, "Wook, Mommie, I go pee wike da brudders." Stories like how Brad dropped his britches at a rest area on the way to Tennessee ... he peed right in front of the "Welcome to Tennessee" sign and everyone who happened to be driving along that stretch of I-24 got a great view of his little bumpkin. Stories like how Matt would sleepwalk into his dad's closet and pee in his dress shoes. Ahhh, those were the days, my friends ... those were the days when everything in my life revolved around what crazy shenanigans my three little hooligans were up to at the time. Including, but certainly not limited to, where they chose to pee.

It's been more than a decade since I have had a kidney infection, so many years ago that I had forgotten just how miserably painful they are ... until Tuesday morning, that is. And by Tuesday afternoon, I remembered that pain way more than I ever want to again in my entire lifetime. I'm not sure which part of the pain is worse, feeling like I constantly have to pee and then not being able to or my lower back feeling like a semi ran over it 27 million times. All I know is that I never want to have to contemplate which pain is worse ever again ... never, never, never ever again. I feel much better today, not back to 100 percent just yet, but so much better than I have felt for the last couple of days.

So why am I writing tonight about the bodily function of peeing? Because I, and probably many of you as well, take being able to pee without pain for granted. It's something that I just don't think about, you know? My kidneys working like they're supposed to, that is. I pretty much go along assuming they're working just fine and that they always will. My recent experience, however, has been quite the wake-up call for me ... literally ... I think I must have woken up at least 50 times Tuesday night feeling like I had to pee. But seriously, my bout with my sick kidneys has made me think a lot about just how much I, and probably many of you as well, take for granted.

It's so easy to do, to take things for granted ... things like being able to pee without feeling like you're being sawed in half by Freddy Krueger ... things like having healthy food to eat and clean water to drink ... things like sleeping in a soft bed each night ... things like flipping a light switch and watching the light pierce the darkness ... things like having a job that keeps food in the bowl for my little wiener dog buddy. And then there's the really big stuff that I sometimes take for granted, too ... the really, really, really big stuff. Stuff like family ... friendship ... health ... sanity ... happiness ... love. And you know what? I'd bet my last penny that I'm not the only person who does.

I know I've said it a million times, but I'll say it until I draw my dying breath ... life is short and I must be so very careful not take the people who mean so very much to me for granted. Because one day, friends ... one day I may just wake up and find that they're gone. I read the following quote a couple of weeks ago, and it really struck me.

"Never push a loyal person to the point where they don't care."

I think I'll leave you to think on that statement for a while ... I have to go pee.

Monday, September 19, 2016

Miss Me?

I've always thought that's a weird question to ask someone. It seems to me that if someone misses me, he or she would tell me. And more than a few of you have. Told me you miss me, that is. And you've told me lots of other things, too, over the last week. Things like how you look forward to reading my posts and are disappointed when I don't write for a while. Things like how you worry when I take time off from posting and don't let you know I'm taking time off from posting. Things like how I'm making a difference for other people and that I should write from my heart even if my heart is hurting. Things like how you not only get my warped sense of humor but that you actually like it. Things like how when I don't write for a while you wonder if the wolf at my window has crashed through the glass and has its jaws clamped tightly around my neck. Things like ... well ... things like how much you miss me.

My post tonight is to let you all know that I'm fine and dandy, no bloody wolf fangs in my neck ... or in my mind as the case may be. I've just been super busy between work and trying to get my house ready to put on the market, hopefully within the next few days. Speaking of selling my house and downsizing, I've decided to enter into this new phase of life by looking at it as a grand new adventure that is going to greatly enhance my quality of life. Sure I'm nervous and even more than a little bit scared, but I'm also very much at peace with my decision. I know that makes me sound like I'm a few fries short of a happy meal ... feeling both scared and at peace at the same time ... but it's very true. Perhaps for the first time, I think I finally understand how my mom must have felt when she decided it was time to sell her house and move into an apartment ... both frightened by the change and excited for the adventure ahead. 

I apologize if you were concerned about me, and I should have written a post letting you know I was going to super busy for the next couple of weeks but I kept thinking I'd find time to write at least a few posts. Things always seem to have a way of taking longer to do than I think they will, however, hence my lack of posting. I shouldn't be quite as busy on the home front this week as I was the last couple of weeks, so I'm hoping I'll be able to squeeze in at least a couple of posts in the next few days. But if I don't, know that I'm probably not dead and that I'm just trying to finish checking off the list of items the realtor asked me to do before I list the house. And don't worry ... when I do kick the bucket one day, my kids will let you know. Or maybe Ollie will let you know ... he was so successful at learning how to shake, I'm now trying to teach him how to write.

So until we meet again through the written word, take care of each other, friends. Please be kind in all you say and do for you never know what someone is dealing with in life. Treat each other with respect and dignity and honor. Never take the people you love and care about for granted. Remember that life and people are precious and both can be taken away in a moment. Say the words, friends ... say, "I miss you" ... say, "You matter to me" ... say, "I care about what happens to you" ... say, "I love you." Say the words, friends ... say the words.

Miss me? Cause I sure do miss you.

Monday, September 12, 2016

The Tale of the Three Smart and Sweet Gals, One Monster-Loving Hawaiian Dude and a Ghee

Once upon a time there were three super smart and outrageously sweet young gals named Courtney, Emily and Samantha, a totally cool monster-loving Hawaiian dude named Micah and a short gray-haired grandma named Ghee. The super smart and outrageously sweet young gals, the totally cool monster-loving Hawaiian dude and the short gray-haired grandma all worked at the same sheep-hating advertising agency together for a few years and, even though they were all very different, somehow became great friends. For reasons known only to fairy godmothers, the super smart and outrageously sweet young gals and the totally cool monster-loving Hawaiian dude actually thought the short gray-haired grandma was hip enough to invite her to join them as they set out on their exciting and magical journey to the incredibly fun and not-at-all-scary land of No Coast Creature. A journey that breathed new life into the short gray-haired grandma named Ghee ... a journey that made her feel young again ... a journey that allowed her not only to help the three super smart and outrageously sweet young gals named Courtney, Emily and Samantha, and the totally cool monster-loving Hawaiian dude named Micah, but to help kids and grownups everywhere know that being different isn't just OK, it's flat-out, through-the-roof, to-the-moon-and-back awesome.

When my young friends asked me last year if I'd be willing to help them out in their new business venture by writing some copy for their recently created line of children's t-shirts and posters for both littles and bigs, I didn't have to think twice about my answer. And when they told me their mission statement ... to help kids and adults alike know that it's OK to be different ... and of their desire to eventually contribute part of their profits to helping charities for kids ... well, just suffice it to say that I feel both honored and humbled to be part of their incredible adventure. From social media posts to press releases to my own personal favorite, the creature stories for the adoption certificates each buyer receives when he or she takes one of the friendly creatures of No Coast Creature home, I'm having more fun than I've had in a long time. The experience has made me a better friend, a better Ghee and a better person, and I get the added bonus of being allowed to hang out with four of the most incredible young people I've ever known and the friendliest, not-at-all-scary monsters in the universe. 

I spent a couple of hours with the gals yesterday ... the Hawaiian dude is on vacation ... at a local arts show where the friendly creatures of No Coast Creature were strutting their not-at-all-scary monster stuff, and my time with those gals was like medicine to my soul. It had been a while since I'd seen the three of them, so there were lots of hugs, buckets of laughter and some good old-fashioned heart sharing thrown in for good measure along the way. And to make a great afternoon even more amazingly great, Courtney just so happened to have her 2-month-old little boy with her so I was able to sneak in some really good baby snuggling time. There's nothing on this earth that's more able to heal what ails you than holding a little one in your arms ... absolutely nothing.

If you haven't checked out the friendly, not-at-all-scary creatures of No Coast Creature yet, you totally should ... in fact, click here to go to their website. Remember that Christmas is just right around the corner and the friendly creatures of No Coast Creature would love nothing more than to help you make someone you love extra happy over the holidays. And just in case you're wondering, yes, this doting Ghee has already introduced my two favorite little Canadians to some friendly, not-at-all-scary creatures of their very own, and they love them.

Once upon a time there were three super smart and outrageously sweet young gals named Courtney, Emily and Samantha, a totally cool monster-loving Hawaiian dude named Micah and a short gray-haired grandma named Ghee. Cheers to the journey ahead, my young friends ... thank you for letting me be a part of your beautiful ride.

                  "Fitzgerald"                                                                "Scout"

                               "Pigskin"                                                                 "Benton"

Friday, September 9, 2016

Be a Pineapple

There are only two people in this world who could convince me to wear a tiara and pretend to be a princess, and since they live in Canada, the chances of you ever seeing me in full-blown princess persona are slim to none. Never in my entire life did I want to dress up like a princess ... never ever. Not even when I was a kid and Halloween rolled around and all the other girls were decked out in their Cinderella or Snow White costumes. No amount of peer pressure in the universe could convince me back then to don a crown or tutu or satiny gown ... no way, no how. But all Coraline and Amelie have to do is look at me and say, "Ghee, will you play princess with us?" and I'll not only connect with my inner princess, I'll willingly do it as fast as I possibly can with an abundant amount of glee. I know those of you who are grandparents will completely get it when I say I'd do just about anything those two sweet little girls asked me to do. Except touch a snake ... even super-devoted Ghees have to draw the line somewhere.

I'm not gonna lie, friends, it's been a long week on many fronts, and by the time I got home this evening, I felt very much like I'd been run over by truck ... over and over and over again. I was so wiped out that I seriously considered going to bed at 7:30, but even having that thought cross through my mind made me feel like I was a hundred years old so I forced myself to stay up. And now it's storming, so you know I'm not about to go to bed until it stops ... geez ... I should have gone to bed at 7:30 even if it did make me feel like an old woman. In my attempt to power through the overwhelming urge to take my faithful wiener dog and crawl into bed before it was even dark outside, I decided to read through some of your emails. It always makes the hair on the back of my neck stand up when I randomly open an email and discover that it contains exactly the message I need to read, and that's exactly what happened tonight. And since I still feel like I've been run over by a truck and 9:30 seems a much more youthful bedtime, and my favorite weatherman says it's just thunder and lightning and heavy rain and no tornadoes, I think I'll close by sharing that exactly the message I needed to read email and the image attached to it and call it a night. Sleep well, friends, and take care of each other.

"Terrie, I know from reading your posts that you have a good heart and a kind soul. Don't let the people who don't have a good heart bring you down. Unfortunately there are some people in the world who are mean and cruel and hurtful. But you, Terrie, you are a pineapple and don't you forget it."

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Never Trust a Chigger

If I somehow manage to slip in through the pearly gates and make it into heaven one day, the first thing I'm going to do is find myself a laptop and send God a meeting maker request. Don't worry, I'll only ask for an hour of His time, though I'm sure I could easily sit and chat with Him all day. Hmmm ... I wonder if there are days in heaven or even hours or minutes for that matter or if maybe the whole entire concept of time doesn't even exist there. Personally, I think that would be like the coolest thing ever ... to never have to watch the clock again for all of eternity. But even if that were the case, I would still be very respectful of God's time ... I mean, seriously, He is the busiest guy in the universe after all. I'm sure you're dying to know why I want to have my hour-long meeting with the Big Guy, and if you're not, too bad because I'm telling you anyway. I have a list of questions I want to ask Him, not the least of which is, "Why in heaven's name did You create chiggers?"

There's one surefire way to make sure something happens to me that I don't want to ever happen to me again and that's to brag about how that particular thing hasn't happened to me in a really long time. Which is exactly what I did a few days ago when I was talking to a friend and I said, "I haven't had a chigger bite in a really, really long time ... I used to get them every time I walked out in the yard." Betcha can't guess how many chigger bites I have now, can you? Don't even waste your time trying to guess, I'll tell you ... 17 ... I have 17 stupid chigger bites. Yep, 17 of those demonic little suckers decided to latch on to my skin and bite the heck out of me. I have bites on my forearms, my back, my legs, my armpits ... I even have a bite on my breast. It's a good thing I sit in the corner at work so no one could see me scratching the heck out of my boob today ... talk about awkward, geez. And just in case you've never had a chigger bite, multiply the worst mosquito bite you've ever had in your entire life by a gazillion and that might come close to how badly they itch.

I'm sure I must have gotten chigger bites when I was a kid ... as much as I played outside, there's just no way I didn't get my fair share of bites. The odd thing is that if I got them, I certainly don't remember getting them, which, considering how badly they itch, you'd think I would. It wasn't until I moved to Kansas that I discovered the full-blown horror that such a microscopic little creature could wreak. Thankfully, Midwestern folk are generally a pretty kind bunch and one of them hooked me up with a little bottle of miracle medicine called Chigarid. I'm not kidding, friends, that stuff is like liquid gold during chigger season ... at least I thought it was up until a couple of years ago when I found out that a dollar bottle of clear fingernail polish works just as well as a six-dollar bottle of Chigarid. Now the makers of Chigarid will tell you that the camphor, menthol, phenol and eucalyptus oil in their product do more to soothe the itch, but the truth is that the key to controlling the itch is sealing the bite from air and clear fingernail polish handles that task just fine.

So why am I writing about chigger bites? Why indeed, friends ... why indeed?