Forgiveness vs. Perfection

We live in a world of very high standards – or so it sounds based on everyone’s hateful commentaries on politicians, journalists, celebrities, athletes, moms, dads, and more. In fact, it seems that no one is safe. When presented with the smallest grain of an opening, countless voices pry open the wound to dump heaps of salt in via an onslaught of posts, comments, and tweets. Why do we do this? Because many people demand perfection in an imperfect world; because it is easier to make one’s self feel better by pointing out the flaws of others; because, unless faced with a national tragedy or a common enemy, we’ve forgotten how to build people up and fall back on the ease of knocking people down; because we are often incapable of the alternative anymore – forgiveness.

I’d like to cite a recent example: Brian Williams. Currently, he is being lambasted in the news for misreporting events that happened in 2003. 12 years ago. I repeat TWELVE. YEARS. AGO. Now I don’t know about you, but sometimes I have trouble remembering last year, never mind over a decade ago. And yes, I’ve been guilty of recalling events incorrectly and creating unintentional revisionist histories. Because, as I’ve written in other posts, I am unabashedly human and quite proud of that fact. Nope, I’m not a machine, computer, recorder, or even a well-equipped 32 GB iPad. While even these “perfect” reflections of technology get viruses and crash unexpectedly, my fallible brain plugs along during moments of brilliance juxtaposed against moments of complete and utter stupidity. Ups and downs. Highs and lows. Ebbs and flows.

The current headline on CNN reads, “Can Williams remain at NBC?” Why not? Did he murder someone? Does he have incurable cancer? What egregious act or terminal illness does he have that I missed? When did one hundred good deeds get wiped clean by a one lapse in memory? When did one lapse in memory become an insurmountable blight? And when, oh when, did it become SO easy to make a mountain out of a molehill in the media? It happened on the same day that our collective voice lost a crucial, basic, human trait: The ability to forgive, understand, sympathize, and give our fellow man the benefit of the doubt. The day that a heartfelt apology means nothing anymore.

I don’t personally know Brian Williams or any of the other people that have been selected by society to be roasted on shaky grounds. Those who may have done so much, yet brought down by so little. So, to Brian Williams I say, “Have faith in those that still know how to forgive. Believe in all the good you have done and not all of the people trying to make you undone. Know that perfection is a myth perpetuated by those who have lost the ability to forgive. Most importantly, embrace the fact that you are beautifully and perfectly human.”



Enjoy the Journey

I have this picture hanging in my house. It is by Bonnie Mohr and the first sentence reads, “Life is not a race – but indeed a journey.” When I stop and think, I remember that life is what I make of it. It is a conscious choice of whether or not I enjoy each moment or race through them. When I’m rushing about, the clock is my enemy – with every minute mocking me with a deadline. I feel like I’m a madwoman on a blistering roller coaster of noise.


Living Life by Bonnie Mohr

This became apparent the other day when I left the house without my cellphone. Gasp! I know, how could I be so stupid? With three kids in school, a new business to run, and one hundred other things that would demand my attention that day, my lifeline was sitting on the kitchen counter. Quite frankly, I panicked. I debated on whether or not to turn around. I knew I was needed. There were a million things that could go wrong and I was unreachable. Out of touch. With everyone else, that is.

So what did I do? I decided not to retrieve my phone; thereby tuning everyone else out and tuning myself in. My cellphone has been an extension of my arm for years and my computer keys relentlessly glued to my fingertips. So on that day, I chose me. I chose clarity. I chose to connect, with Cindy. That day was a journey for me, not a race. And after I got over the initial panic, I enjoyed every minute of it.

What I did on the cellphone-less day was to give myself permission to be human. To breathe. To not look down at a screen, but to look up at the world. We’ve gotten so entrenched in technology that we scold ourselves for not being connected at every moment. Others call us out on it as well, “I was trying to reach you, where were you?!” Like we are doing something wrong if we don’t answer an email or call within five seconds.

Don’t get me wrong, I like technology. Actually, I absolutely love technology. But, as with everything else in life, there needs to be a balance. I want to continue to love technology, not to have it own me, and not to have it press my buttons to define responses. As it should always be the other way around.

They say, “Absence makes the heart grow fonder.” And on that day it did. I came home renewed and with a clear head. Most importantly, I came home to no important emails, texts, or voicemails. Apparently, unbeknownst to my ego, the world will run just fine without my constant attention. It was a good reminder that I need my cellphone to be a productive member of my current society; to stay in touch with all that I love; to make me smarter; to make me feel connected with my clients, fans, and the world at large. However, I must always remember that my cellphone may need me to function, but I don’t need it to live. It is just one tiny part of my existence as I make my way through the bigger picture of Living Life.

Revel in your journey, friends, because if you race through your life, you may miss the finish line before you are ready for it to end.


The Most Important Word in the World

At dinner last night, my insightful 9-year old son asked me, “Do you know what the most important word in the world is?”

To which I responded, “Well, I’d have to say it is love.”

He said, “That’s a good one, mom, but it is hi. Because everything good in this world, including love, begins first with someone saying hi.”


So, of course, this got me to thinking. I love so many words, how could I possibly narrow it down to just one? And how awesome is it that my son already has it figured out? Kids can be black and white like that; it is a trait that is refreshing to those of us who tend to overthink everything from the benefits of hand sanitizer to solving the world’s energy crisis. This group of folks like to call themselves, “adults.”

So acting in the myriad of gray areas as an adult, to me, some of my other favorite words include: kindness, peace, respect, understanding, wisdom, mom, and patience. I could go on and on. I also read the other day that “huh” is one of the most common words in all languages. Apparently, every country gets confused and defaults to a simple, huh? So purely based on its pervasiveness, is the most important word in the world, “huh”? I sure hope not.

Oftentimes, words take on their power when combined and in context, such as: I do, thank you, it’s a girl, he’s alive, and it’s for you. But it is truly a thing of awe when one word says it all. A word that doesn’t exist on a grayscale, but in the beauty of black or the wonder of white. How a child would look at it.

So I invite you now to determine what the most important word in the world is – to you. Please share below!


I’m Beginning to Hate Caution Tape

Do you subscribe to the philosophy, “Ignorance is Bliss” or “Knowledge is Power”? When I was younger, I would have professed the latter. But now, as I am inundated with loads of information that make me question everything I do – from washing my hair to driving an SUV, I wonder if bliss can be had when one is wrapped in endless amounts of caution tape.

Some days I feel as though my every action could lead to cancer or my certain death. Like eating Goldfish crackers, for example. Apparently these processed little niblets are spawned from Satan. Who knew? And my beloved tea, which has comforted me on many a chilly morning, is riddled with pesticides that are going to turn me into a super bug complete with antennae and a billion legs. I can see the headline now, “Teabag Bug Kills Millions by Brewing for More Than Two Minutes” – news at eleven.

Ok, so I’m being a bit sarcastic today. I do believe that, for the most part, information is good and can create positive change. I also agree that the major corporations are so bottom line driven that the risks often outweigh the benefits when they are deciding to pull the trigger on a product. And I also applaud those who are working tirelessly to make the world a better place.

But sometimes, quite frankly, I want to live in a cave with no wi-fi reception. Why? Because all of this information makes an impression on me. I’m not one of those that can just blow off GMO’s, pesticides, artificial preservatives, dyes, global warming, pollution, and the like with a flip of my hand. Peshaw! And this information is ruining my day. I’m obsessed with labels, see death for my children at every turn, and have convinced myself that I’m going to get cancer from, well, everything.

The other thing I struggle with is the flip-flopping. Oatmeal will lower your cholesterol. Whoops, nope, just kidding. Wait, oh yes, another study has validated the original information. Hold on though, another study has just contradicted that one. And so on. GMO’s grow better crops and are pesticide resistant! But the bugs have adapted. My bad. Ping-pong, I say this, you say that, and now I have a headache for which I cannot take anything for fear of a blood clot.

I apologize if I seem flippant. Really, I believe we have just over-complicated everything to the point of never being able to reach clarity again. So I guess what I really want to hear and read is that I can take off the caution tape and start shampooing my hair without fear of repercussions. I want to live in a world where knowledge is provided, but not broadcasted straight down my throat as the next best cleanse. Where we don’t start tuning out every piece of news because it all starts to sound like Charlie Brown’s parents. A time in which I can breathe easy with knowledge as my guide, not as my noose.

Well, now I’m going to go have some tea and Goldfish crackers. Suicide you say? I’ll take the chance, because the last time I checked, I’m going to die of something and I’d rather it not be strangulation by caution tape.


Holy Christ!

No, I’m not taking the Lord’s name in vain, so settle down people. I’ve been thinking a lot lately about how to get our world back in order, and even if it’s possible. Of course it is, because all things are possible and we can come back from anything. Right? Ok, so don’t ask the dinosaurs how that positive spin worked out for them, but they didn’t possess the brain power that we humans do. And any alligator will tell you…evolution didn’t leave all of the dinosaurs behind in a wake of fire and brimstone. So with that in mind, how do we get back on track?

First, here are the major issues as I see them; the ones we actually have control over. A meteor hurdling through space with our name on it, is not something we can avoid. The word, “toast” comes to mind in that scenario. That leaves us with the other two biggest threats: 1) the demise of Mother Earth and 2) the divisiveness of the human race. Dun, dun, dun! [Cue scary, world’s gonna end music now…]

Seriously though, we HAVE to get it together or any idiot can see that we’re toast. And that is the key, getting together. Look at any comment thread and you’ll see the following: those who agree with the point being made, those who disagree, those who use the thread for their own unrelated agenda (you know who you are, “Miss Get Thin Quick”), those who totally miss the big picture and single out a word or phrase in the article (“Tisk-tisk, did anyone notice they spelled, ‘onomatopoeia’ wrong?”), and finally, those who are new to posting and hit enter before they have completed their thoug

Anyway, everyone has a right to their opinion. What I DON’T believe is that everyone has the right to voice their opinion if it furthers the demise of Mother Earth or continues to promote deep divisions within the human race. I know, “But who will police what we can and cannot say?” You should. Many of us have either lost the art of empathy or have decided that his or her agenda trumps that of the overall good. I am particularly fascinated by this explanation of empathy by Jeremy Rifkin. It is well worth watching as it recalls our simple beginnings, how we have socially evolved through the ages, and then begs the question of how we get back to empathy. My simple answer would be simplicity. More specifically, we need to get back to the fact that we are all human and have to share one planet. If we don’t respect those two basic principles and continue to let wealth, religion, nationality, race, and gender divide us, then we are creating more and more cracks that become harder to heal. 

Again, it all comes back to our opinions – for that is what shapes us as individuals and as a society. The problem isn’t necessarily in having an opinion, it’s in how that opinion is delivered, or even if it should be delivered. So say, for example, I read a seemingly innocuous Facebook post pertaining to the fact that my friend just bought a new iPod 5 for their 3 year old son. Comments could range from, “Cool! What a lucky kid!” to “Are you flippin’ nuts? He’s only 3 years old?!?” For the former, no harm done. For the latter, not only has the commenter put a damper on the poster’s enthusiasm, in effect, but he’s also insulted his friend’s parenting skills. In that case the poster should have kept his thoughts to himself because he just made a crack.

Here is another example. You read an article on a mother who gets caught stealing from a store to feed her children. You’re sick of the system and post a comment such as, “I’m so tired of these welfare moms with twenty children thinking they can steal while my tax dollars are supporting them!” So…how do you know this mom is on welfare? How do you know she has twenty childen? Do you even know her story? What you have done by posting this comment is to become part of the problem and not part of the solution. You’ve made another crack. Only through kinder, more informed, and more thoughtful words, are we going to heal the divides.

Now, back to Holy Christ! It is Christmas time. Whether you believe in God, Christ or any other higher being, the teachings of Christ are holy – “morally and spiritually excellent” to be exact. You don’t have to believe in Christ to know that he preached healing, acceptance, belief in a common good, and love for all humanity. Even an atheist can’t argue with those qualities. Jesus would be the first person to hug a Muslim, marry a black man and a white woman, lift up a prostitute to show her that her life is worth more, tell a republican or democrat that egos and wealth will not move this world forward, and he would feel nothing but empathy for the woman who stole food for her children. In fact, he would have given her the help she needs to get on a better path. He would have empathized, not judged. He would have been nothing but our blessed, Holy Christ.

Merry Christmas to all!


Having Faith

On Thanksgiving morning, six years ago, my father passed away. Ironically, his father was born on Thanksgiving day so it seemed appropriate that a day of significance bore another milestone within my family’s history.

It was a morning like any other. As the day began, my sister was at her home busily preparing a wonderful Thanksgiving meal to provide us all with a sense of normalcy. My father was at home on Hospice care and I had spent the night before in my childhood bedroom to help my mother out. As my mother sat at the kitchen counter, I sat by my father’s bedside in the living room, holding his hand, and thinking about how thankful I was for him – especially on that day. I stroked his hair and told him everything was going to be alright, as he had done for me so many times before.

Then came a simple act. An act I knew not of the consequences, for I had no medical background. He appeared to be sleeping soundly, so I asked my mother if I should remove his oxygen for a while. She simply said, ok. As I shut off the machine, there was a calm and long-awaited silence that blanketed the room in a sacred stillness. My father was gone.

While sorrow bore its well-timed way into my heart, oddly enough, on that Thanksgiving morning, I was more thankful than ever. Thankful that I was blessed with amazing parents; that I was blessed with a sister who was holding up the world for the rest of us on a difficult day; and blessed with the unmistakeable knowledge that my father now had a quieted body that no longer needed to fight the good fight – for though he had lost a few battles, he had finally won the war of everlasting grace.

About a month prior to my father’s passing, we were discussing how I wanted to have a third child and he said that I should; that I would regret it if I didn’t; and that there was plenty of love in me for another. I thought that ship had sailed and was at peace with having my two beautiful boys. A week after my father passed, I became, quite unexpectedly, pregnant with my daughter, Faith.

My father has given me so many gifts over the course of my life: he taught me how to love the written word, how to mow the lawn, how to be an independent woman, and has given me an abundance of skills and knowledge that have served me well over the years. But his parting gift to me was a gift that is rarely able to be given twice – the gift of life. My birth was his first present, my daughter was his second.

So as I sit here on the eve of another Thanksgiving, the phrase “having faith” has manifested itself in so many miraculous ways. I asked the question, “Why do you believe in God?” on Facebook the other day. Among many of the wonderful answers was this one, “I can just feel Him…” And today, having faith allows me to feel God and my father as ever-present spirits working to guide me on my journey. Faith allows me to feel blessed in so many ways. It allows me to feel a never-ending joy that mitigates any and all sadness, especially as I look to the heavens and feel nothing but the radiant sun of souls on my face.

Tomorrow, on Thanksgiving day and every day, remember those who have passed on before you. Those who remain as a special tenant within your heart. It is ok to cry for them, for you honor what they meant to you with every tear. But also rejoice in all that they have given you, and continue to give you, with each breath you take. They gave your life meaning and defined you in a special way. By having faith, you can now live for them by carrying on their life, within yours. Make them proud.

Happy Thanksgiving and love to all.


In My Opinion

If you were born and are breathing at this moment, then you have an opinion. It seems as though the advent of the internet, forums, blogs, instant messaging, social media, and the like, have given a larger majority of people a platform on which to express their opinion. Right or wrong, good or bad, we now live in a world of commentators, posts, articles and pins that define how our perfect world should be if it were left up to our singular voice.

The other day, I was counseling one of my children and the words, “If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say it at all,” popped out of my mouth. This is a go-to phrase I’ve uttered frequently over the years, but in this particular instance, it seemed to carry a bit more weight than normal because I realized that my child was merely expressing his opinion. Therein lies the dilemma of having a voice and an opinion, and the proper balance of the two.

An opinion sums up a person’s view, judgement or belief.  Inherently, there is nothing wrong with an opinion. Yet, you can voice your opinion to one audience on any given day and get a round of applause. Announce the same opinion to a different group and you might get vilified. So is there any safe universal territory when it comes to opinions? Unfortunately, the answer is no. And that fundamental fact is why we will never come together wholly as a human race.

As humans, we group together based on our opinions. Pro-life vs. pro-choice, pro-environment vs. pro-fracking, and so on. As for myself, I adhere to one simple rule when it comes to my opinions…they are mine and mine alone. Unless it goes against a moral code (ex. thou shall not kill), then my opinion is for me to live my life by; I do not force it upon any other adult – period. Just as my child has the right to an unkind word in his opinion, he does not have the right to make anyone else feel inferior, demeaned, or saddened by it should he choose to voice it to the world as a newly dispensed law.

You see, humans can’t come together wholly because of our need to not only have an opinion, but also because of our need to control others and force our opinions on our fellow mankind. We even force it upon Mother Nature. Whether it be through casual conversation or jamming it down someone else’s throat, our egos can’t let go of the fact that although we might have an opinion, it might not be right – or for everyone. Or even valid outside of our mouth.

Within the very definition of an opinion therein lies the conflict – it is a belief or judgement. As a belief, it is a beautiful part of the foundation of you. As a judgement, it can turn ugly and redefine you as inflexible and needing to be in control, no matter the consequence.

If we were to spend more time forming our opinions into tolerant, respectful manifestations of who we are, then there would be a lot less suffering and wars. Maybe leading by force and judgement is not the way to go. Maybe living an opinion sets a better example. Think about zealots solely praying peacefully vs. suicide bombings. How about pro-life activists showing a spared life becoming a life-saving surgeon vs. a picture of a unrelatable fetus on a demonstrator’s sign? How about working through the issues of healthcare with enlightened minds vs. shouting across the aisle like a spoiled child? How about it?

While negative opinions seem to capture more headlines, it is the positive beliefs that, when nurtured, are truly the catalysts for slow and sustainable change.

But then again, that is just my humble opinion.


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A Short Story -Uncovered

Bob had decided his morning run was going to be part euphoric and part dreadful. For the former, he was on an unanticipated paid vacation that would allow him to spend additional time on the golf course, as well as convincing his wife of thirty years to have a few more dinners with him, in lieu of shopping for trinkets she didn’t need.

For the latter, there was a sense of dread at being alone with his own thoughts for the next five miles. Oh sure, the Frank Sinatra blasting in his ears might mitigate the sound of the issues he was wrestling with in his mind, but he knew better. Adding to his anxiety was the eery fact that the buildings he was running past – usually bustling with life, artwork, debates, and history – stood quietly, as if their only purpose now was to hold up the sky.

As he turned down the avenue, he inevitably began to think about the recent turn of events. Specifically the issue that precipitated his unscheduled vacation. He struggled for clarity as to how he really felt about the subject as an individual versus how he presented himself when part of a team. Although he was seemingly just one person, in reality, he represented so many more. And with too many egos and no consensus on the horizon, was this really what he signed up for in the first place? Endless arguing and agendas?

Approaching an intersection, he cautiously looked both ways before proceeding. His mind so full of thoughts and Sinatra though, he didn’t hear the taxi cab blare its horn.

Upon awakening in the hospital, he could hear the doctors arguing about saving his life with a woman in a business suit who was advocating for the most affordable course of action.

“Affordable? Do they know who I am?” He thought to himself. It was a question he couldn’t ask aloud though, with the all of the tubes protruding forth from his severely deflated lungs via his mouth. Questions that struck fear in his weakened heart, because at the time of the accident, he had no identification on him.

As he faded in and out of consciousness and heard the doctors and the woman in the suit ramble on and on about the shutdown ending, Obamacare going into effect and the like, he realized his vacation was now over, and he would have to go back to work. But as the doctors and businesswoman argued both sides of his life to no satisfactory conclusion, Senator Robert Servison’s eyes closed for the very last time.

On his death certificate, the cause of death simply read, Politics.


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A Short Story – The New Writer

Natalie wondered if she would ever make it as a writer. In a way, she had arrived late to the game. While she’d always loved the written word and was quite good at expressing herself with a pen and paper, it still didn’t equate to the volumes of work successful writers had amassed by her age.

Many of her writing projects to this point revolved around corporate affairs. A press release here, a company statement there, and even the solemn task of a writing a recall notice for a product that had taken lives. All of which was done just on the other side of receiving her weekly paycheck.

So when she decided on a creative writing path – leaving the doldrums of describing the features and benefits of the latest must-have product behind her – had she veered too far off course? Life changes come in many forms, and she wondered if she was redefining herself a bit too dramatically, a bit too late, and for a bit of what? Were the company mission statements really all that bad?

These are the thoughts Natalie was having as she was sitting in her local library. Today was her first book signing and the turnout had been mediocre at best. Of course, the family and friend well-wishers were there, for which she was most thankful, but her core audience was missing. There was not a single child in sight.

So while she packed up and courteously smiled, thanking everyone for coming, she was startled by the little voice behind her saying, “Am I too late?” Natalie turned around to see a raven haired boy about 10 years of age, clutching a tattered and well-read copy of her book.

All he asked was, “Can you please sign this?”

All she heard was, “You’ve made it.”

To a Child: A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words

I am a artist at heart. I majored in it in college (along with marketing) and ended up on a non-fine arts career path. How? Who knows. Life takes over and that’s that. I regret it often, but I love soaking up everything I can from others who chose the path I didn’t. I am especially mesmerized by children’s book illustrators as they have the daunting task of taking a childlike view of the world and translating simple subjects into pieces of art a two-year old can understand. It is truly amazing. Like magic.

So one thing I stress when reading to my children are the emotions, colors, and actions conveyed by the pictures in each book I’m reading. When the words and illustrations blend flawlessly, a masterpiece is created for all to enjoy. Here are some of my favorite children’s illustrators and the reasons why:

Mark Teague is a genius. Anyone who can make a dinosaur so emotive is brilliant. You just want to hug each and every one of them; despite their size, scales, and claws. Felicia Bond uses white like a pro, by pulling her subjects front and center. A giant moose in a teeny tiny sweater is priceless. Sandra Boynton is the queen of simplistic charm. Placing pupils on eyeballs may seem like a mundane task, but those two black dots speak volumes when illustrating a hippo staring quite uncomfortably at his rabbit friend’s broccoli stew – “ew”. Jan Brett has cornered the market on texture. You can actually feel the finely weaved wool of the mitten scratch your eyes. Dr. Seuss is just plain ol’ fun. Not only are his verses rhythmically light and full of dance, his characters are too. Unrealistically curling furry toes to masterful lengths makes all the difference in the world. David Shannon is a nut, and I love it (so does my daughter who makes me read Alice the Fairy every night), and so are his characters. His wild and crazy offline pen marks and self-styled font superbly matches the storyline of each of his books. Last but no least is Eric Carle. With colors and texture, he boils down creatures of all sizes (not literally – ew) to be palatable (double ew) to a toddler who craves predictability.

A great children’s book can convey the story through pictures alone as well. A superb example of this is the book Hug, by Jez Alborough. He says it all via his emotion filled pictures and by only writing the words, “Hug”, “Bobo”, and “Mommy”. Books like these allow the readers – big and small – to become the writers of the storyline. Another good one along this vein is Good Night Gorilla, by Peggy Rathmann. It is a great accomplishment to say so much without saying much at all.

Add to the “life imitating art” file, when my daughter was 2 1/2 years old, she only spoke gibberish. Speech therapy ensued. But she was able to get her intentions across by illustrating them with her body movements. So the pictures in her books were teaching her how to get along in the world, even more so than the words. These wonderfully talented illustrators provided her with valuable tools when everything else seemed to be failing, including myself. She eventually learned to speak, although pronouns are still kicking her butt, but I’ll always delight in the imprint Sandra Boyton’s hippo illustration made on her from day one. That being, she can make her pupils go “hippo sideways” at any given moment to express disgust and annoyance at anything – even broccoli stew.


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