Weekly Photo Challenge: Express Yourself

In response to The Daily Post’s weekly photo challenge: “Express Yourself”

Rather than a single photo, I’m contributing a video of a fun and beautiful expression of love.

My family’s expression? Couldn’t be more pleased!

DSC_0023

Freed Christmas Tree: My Traditional Heart-Warming Christmas Story

I first posted this story last Christmas season . Like all good stories (or not), I decided to make it an annual tradition – at least this year (mostly because I’ve been too busy lazy caught up in the awe of the season). This is one that deserves a hot cup of cocoa while reading it by the fire.


 

I need to begin this story with a very important disclaimer. By the time you get to the end, I can’t imagine that there could possibly be a dry eye among you. Consider yourself fairly warned.

I was driving down the road the other day with a couple of family members in tow. I’d give you their names, but it’s not easy to recall who always does or does not decide to go along with me on excursions I can’t clearly remember. Besides, you’d probably want to corroborate the details of this story with them – if you knew who they were – and, er, they probably wouldn’t want to be bothered with such disturbing distractions. Just take my word that this is how it all went down…

Early on in this outing, I realized that swerving to miss a large object in the upcoming lane was going to be called for. It was a green, bushy, triangular-shaped something or other that we managed to just barely miss while traveling 65 miles per hour down the Interstate. I couldn’t help but frown as my mind registered what sort of bundled-branched package would meet these specifications at this time of year. Sadly, it appeared as though someone had lost a Christmas tree. (No, I do not have a picture of this particular event, as I was driving 65 miles per hour up – I mean down – the Interstate and had to quickly swerve to avoid impact with this misplaced seasonal symbol. I’m going to have to ask you to help me out here, even if you weren’t prepared to be participative this early in the story.You’ll have to use your imagination on this one. Tis the season for that, you know. Ho ho ho.)

But I personally wasn’t feeling ‘ho, ho, ho’ over this incident. I was feeling ‘no, no, no’…this can’t be. What a terrible thing for some family (couple, crazy cat lady, whoever) to have traveled up the Interstate to have so lovingly picked out the perfect holiday tree (so they could curse stepping on old, hidden, sap-stuck pine needles that would painfully sink into the base of their toes by Easter) and to be on the way to take that new puppy home and unwrap it – so they could proudly re-wrap it in hazardous lights and decorations to the point that any Fire Marshall would blatantly and openly cringe – only to find it had escaped from the top of their vehicle somewhere between stopping to engorge their bodies with a dozen snow-capped Krispy Kreme donuts and home. I tried to imagine how I could help.

Perhaps I could…

turn around at the next exit, backtrack north on the Interstate, turn around again at the exit coming back in this southward direction,

stop my car in the middle of the Interstate with no worries of trucks that looked like they could turn into Decepticons barreling down the muffler of my little car that sips gas through a coffee straw,

strap that cumbersome tree onto the hood of my cargo-challenged car without the benefit of any twine (perhaps my un-remembered family members would hold it across their laps in the back seat and out both sides of the windows?),

and get it home so I could post it on a Lost and Found site until someone filed a Missing Christmas Tree report.

The site of the reunion would be tear-jerking. (Okay, my imagination gets a little outside of its own limits sometimes.)

About the time I was ready to convince myself that I could have this story all wrong – that maybe these people were driving through with their Christmas tree from the east coast and heading back to Colorado, where they’d be too tickled and too hungry with themselves to notice they were even missing the tree, I had to swerve to miss clipping another one…then another one. The next three were dotted, back and forth, on the opposite shoulders of the road. It was beginning to appear more like the driver of a Christmas tree delivery truck who was from Colorado – happily buzzing down the Interstate without a care in the world about flying Christmas trees in his rear view mirror.

This led me to a string of other theories (not to be mistaken with THE String Theory, of course, though that, too, could have been a possibility).

Some of my more plausible theories included:

  1. Santa had gotten into the eggnog and rum cake early this year while thinking of the needs of the poverty-stricken who might otherwise be treeless. Of course, Santa doesn’t prescribe to the notion of welfare without work, as evidenced by his Northern elven sweat factory. Rather than allow these poor families to feel as if they were recipients of charity, in which they might feel looked down upon, Santa decided he’d create a challenge for them to claim these free Christmas trees. If they could dodge the oncoming traffic, heck, that was proof enough that they’d earned ’em – fair and square.
  2. This was the work of a disgruntled member of the Elf Manufacturing Union (EMU – not to be mistaken with those freakishly frighteningly large birds, who are much more freakish than gigantic 20-point reindeer who fly and stomp across roofs; or with Eastern Michigan University, which is very close to the North Pole, from my southern state perspective). I’m guessing this elf was clearly upset because he was expected to labor during the holiday season. He was making his way south to apply for a job at Walmart. He’d laid out a trail of Christmas trees, so that he might find his rebellious little way back home if things didn’t work out any better for him at Walmart.
  3. Colorado driver buzzing down the road with his package of holiday brownies – oh yeah, I forgot. We’ve already covered that one.
  4. Perhaps a boyscout, who had been working on his Christmas Tree Ranch Handling merit badge, suddenly felt convicted over holding all those poor Christmas trees for ransom. Fed by the holiday spirit (and the 2 dozen cookies one of the moms had dropped off that he’d scarfed down in the last 5 minutes), he might have experienced a rush of compassion (okay, maybe it was just sugar) that caused him to throw open the corral gate and yell, “Run for your lives!” while barely escaping with his own before the stampede began. Some of the strays had apparently made their way out onto the freeway. It’s possible that this incident will lead to the discontinuation of the Christmas Tree Ranch Handling merit badge.

In any case, by the time I came back onto the scene from wrapping up my errands, I noticed that the southbound lane had been freed of all the Christmas trees. Just as I was about to wonder where they’d all gone…

When what to my wondering eyes should appear?
Why! An F150 truck, its bumper hanging off its rear!

I noticed one of the concerned Citizenry for the Over-Forestation of Freeways (OFF) promptly dealing with the issue. (Incidentally, I’ve heard rumor that this group actually wanted to be the Federation for the Over-Forestation of Freeways, but when their president made application, it was denied because – for some strange reason – the court clerk took it as a personal offense that he wanted her to sign approval to F-OFF. More unfortunately, there is an insect repellent company who is rumored to have filed a lawsuit for use of its registered trademark name.) Nevertheless, this particular concerned citizen was not going to let that pesky little aggravation stop him from performing his self-assigned civic duty.

Upon spotting the poor, frightened tree from over the tipped-up end of his nearly emptied quart of beer, this in-the-seasonal-spirited gentleman yanked up on his emergency brake and selflessly turned a 360 in the middle of the freeway. He had to thereafter signal with his most visible finger for the trucker – who was leaning out the window while jake-braking and laying on his horn, urging this upstanding citizen as to how he might best go about his business – to go on around him and responsibly get back to his own. As Mr. Civic Duty got around to the rear of his F-150 truck with its holiday-tinted primer/rust mix, he joyfully threw his arms around that lonely, abandoned Christmas tree and adopted it quicker than if it had been his long, lost cousin, Earl, who’d just won the Powerball. He then tossed that tree into the bed of his pick-up, trading it out for about a 12-pack of empty beer cans that bounced off the tail gate and down the freeway behind him. I couldn’t help but think what a considerate and generous person he must be to want to leave those cans for someone to pick up later and exchange for the high rate offered in aluminum trade.

As if he hadn’t already exhibited an over-abundance of holiday spirit and generosity, I truly came to understand the meaning of Christmas in my final glimpse of this remarkable citizen in his over-exuberant heroic act.

Found at: http://gallery.markheadrick.com/humorous/christmas-tree-with-beer-can-ornaments/“Yeehaw!” he belched, as he floored it out of sight.
“I got this durned Christmas tree for freed – without a bar fight!”

I ask you, where else could I have witnessed such a spectacularly heart-tugging story during this special holiday season?

So, now I must say…

Merry Christmas to y’all! And to all a good night!

Ah, crud. That was a copyright issue, wasn’t it?

(Nope, nope. It has ya’ll. I believe I’m good on this one.)

***

 

Weekly Writing Challenge: The Sound of Silence – Breaking the Barrier

“I’ve been in your house. And I’ve been on your computer. I saw the letter you wrote to him. I knew you weren’t as innocent as you try to act. And I’ve told everybody about it already; so there won’t be any denying it. What do you have to say about that?”

My mind was whirling in a million different directions.

You did WHAT?! I wanted to scream. You told WHAT to WHO?!

Truth was, I couldn’t bring myself to say anything. I felt totally defeated. Again.

Had he even considered the repercussions of his actions? Our sons went to the same school together. I went to church with him – and his wife. We lived in the same small community. Tongues would be wagging for years to come about this.

“Let me explain…” I stuttered. But I couldn’t.

I pulled my car over to the side of the road because I was shaking so badly. There was no getting away from his cruelty. Ever. He’d long broken my heart. But now he’d resorted to breaking into my house. Just like when we were teenagers, he’d forced his way into my private sanctuary. There, he’d demolished my soul once more.

Wasn’t it enough that he’d left me over 7 months ago? Left our family stranded without any transportation, so he could be with her – again? And she hadn’t been the first. Not even the second.
Wasn’t it enough that I’d finally resigned myself to the meaninglessness of all those years of broken promises?
That I’d packed up my things and left the house where I once thought we could at least finish raising our family?
Wasn’t it enough that he already had a new girlfriend practically moved in with him? That my boys didn’t know which way to turn?
Why couldn’t he just leave me alone? He’d proven I was dispensable. Why did he care what I was doing? Did he want to see if I was recyclable too?

I hyper-ventilated over my steering wheel in humiliation. Everything in me wanted to point out these ridiculous ironies. But all he got in return was my silence.

I could even see his menacing grin with the words that came next through my cell phone. “You need to meet me now, so you can explain yourself. I’ve already gone and confronted him. I found him at the grocery store. By the way, his wife was there too.”

Well, this was quite the turn of events.

“So she heard your accusation? About me…with him?”

“Oh, yeah. You’d better believe she heard it. ALL. I even had a copy of the letter that you wrote.”

“What did she say about that?”

“She didn’t say anything. They both turned and walked away.”

“Together?”

“Yeah. They just left their groceries and got in his truck and drove away. So I called your pastor and told him all about the letter. I figured he needed to know.”

I sighed and banged my head on the steering wheel. I only thought I’d known how humiliation felt.

“So she didn’t tell you then?”

“Tell me what? That she already suspected something was going on between the two of you?!”

I gritted my chattering teeth.

“Tell you that she was the one who asked me to write the letter.”

“WHAT? Why would she ask you to write a letter to her husband?”

I took in a deep breath, willing words to form. How would I ever face her after this? What would she think of me?

“She asked all of us to write a letter to him. All of the youth leaders who worked with him at the church. Probably some of the youth too. It was a letter of encouragement. I mean, did you even take time to read what it said – besides what you wanted to believe about it? He was to be given one of the letters at a specified time each day – while he was on his Emmaus Walk. It’s a weekend retreat, a spiritual journey – one where he’d spend time in meditation, being encouraged. His wife set it all up for him. Maybe you should go ahead and read over it. Let me know what you think you find.”

Silence from the other end.

“You’ve just managed to create even more victims here – I guess because you can’t control me as one anymore.”

More silence.

“Listen. I’ve got to go. I need to call the police about a break-in at my house.”

***

http://dailypost.wordpress.com/2014/02/17/the-sound-of-silence/

Unfortunate but true: I have to file this one in my non-fiction stack (crumpled up towards the bottom).

Freed Christmas Tree: A Heart-Warming Christmas Story

I need to begin this story with a very important disclaimer. By the time you get to the end, I can’t imagine that there could possibly be a dry eye among you. Consider yourself fairly warned.

I was driving down the road the other day with a couple of family members in tow. I’d give you their names, but it’s not easy to recall who always does or does not decide to go along with me on excursions I can’t clearly remember. Besides, you’d probably want to corroborate the details of this story with them – if you knew who they were – and, er, they probably wouldn’t want to be bothered with such disturbing distractions. Just take my word that this is how it all went down…

Early on in this outing, I realized that swerving to miss a large object in the upcoming lane was going to be called for. It was a green, bushy, triangular-shaped something or other that we managed to just barely miss while traveling 65 miles per hour down the Interstate. I couldn’t help but frown as my mind registered what sort of bundled-branched package would meet these specifications at this time of year. Sadly, it appeared as though someone had lost a Christmas tree. (No, I do not have a picture of this particular event, as I was driving 65 miles per hour up – I mean down – the Interstate and had to quickly swerve to avoid impact with this misplaced seasonal symbol. I’m going to have to ask you to help me out here, even if you weren’t prepared to be participative this early in the story.You’ll have to use your imagination on this one. Tis the season for that, you know. Ho ho ho.)

But I personally wasn’t feeling ‘ho, ho, ho’ over this incident. I was feeling ‘no, no, no’…this can’t be. What a terrible thing for some family (couple, crazy cat lady, whoever) to have traveled up the Interstate to have so lovingly picked out the perfect holiday tree (so they could curse stepping on old, hidden, sap-stuck pine needles that would painfully sink into the base of their toes by Easter) and to be on the way to take that new puppy home and unwrap it – so they could proudly re-wrap it in hazardous lights and decorations to the point that any Fire Marshall would blatantly and openly cringe – only to find it had escaped from the top of their vehicle somewhere between stopping to engorge their bodies with a dozen snow-capped Krispy Kreme donuts and home. I tried to imagine how I could help.

Perhaps I could…

turn around at the next exit, backtrack north on the Interstate, turn around again at the exit coming back in this southward direction,

stop my car in the middle of the Interstate with no worries of trucks that looked like they could turn into Decepticons barreling down the muffler of my little car that sips gas through a coffee straw,

strap that cumbersome tree onto the hood of my cargo-challenged car without the benefit of any twine (perhaps my un-remembered family members would hold it across their laps in the back seat and out both sides of the windows?),

and get it home so I could post it on a Lost and Found site until someone filed a Missing Christmas Tree report.

The site of the reunion would be tear-jerking. (Okay, my imagination gets a little outside of its own limits sometimes.)

About the time I was ready to convince myself that I could have this story all wrong – that maybe these people were driving through with their Christmas tree from the east coast and heading back to Colorado, where they’d be too tickled and too hungry with themselves to notice they were even missing the tree, I had to swerve to miss clipping another one…then another one. The next three were dotted, back and forth, on the opposite shoulders of the road. It was beginning to appear more like the driver of a Christmas tree delivery truck who was from Colorado – happily buzzing down the Interstate without a care in the world about flying Christmas trees in his rear view mirror.

This led me to a string of other theories (not to be mistaken with THE String Theory, of course, though that, too, could have been a possibility).

Some of my more plausible theories included:

  1. Santa had gotten into the eggnog and rum cake early this year while thinking of the needs of the poverty-stricken who might otherwise be treeless. Of course, Santa doesn’t prescribe to the notion of welfare without work, as evidenced by his Northern elven sweat factory. Rather than allow these poor families to feel as if they were recipients of charity, in which they might feel looked down upon, Santa decided he’d create a challenge for them to claim these free Christmas trees. If they could dodge the oncoming traffic, heck, that was proof enough that they’d earned ’em – fair and square.
  2. This was the work of a disgruntled member of the Elf Manufacturing Union (EMU – not to be mistaken with those freakishly frighteningly large birds, who are much more freakish than gigantic 20-point reindeer who fly and stomp across roofs; or with Eastern Michigan University, which is very close to the North Pole, from my southern state perspective). I’m guessing this elf was clearly upset because he was expected to labor during the holiday season. He was making his way south to apply for a job at Walmart. He’d laid out a trail of Christmas trees, so that he might find his rebellious little way back home if things didn’t work out any better for him at Walmart.
  3. Colorado driver buzzing down the road with his package of holiday brownies – oh yeah, I forgot. We’ve already covered that one.
  4. Perhaps a boyscout, who had been working on his Christmas Tree Ranch Handling merit badge, suddenly felt convicted over holding all those poor Christmas trees for ransom. Fed by the holiday spirit (and the 2 dozen cookies one of the moms had dropped off that he’d scarfed down in the last 5 minutes), he might have experienced a rush of compassion (okay, maybe it was just sugar) that caused him to throw open the corral gate and yell, “Run for your lives!” while barely escaping with his own before the stampede began. Some of the strays had apparently made their way out onto the freeway. It’s possible that this incident will lead to the discontinuation of the Christmas Tree Ranch Handling merit badge.

In any case, by the time I came back onto the scene from wrapping up my errands, I noticed that the southbound lane had been freed of all the Christmas trees. Just as I was about to wonder where they’d all gone…

When what to my wondering eyes should appear?
Why! An F150 truck, its bumper hanging off its rear!

I noticed one of the concerned Citizenry for the Over-Forestation of Freeways (OFF) promptly dealing with the issue. (Incidentally, I’ve heard rumor that this group actually wanted to be the Federation for the Over-Forestation of Freeways, but when their president made application, it was denied because – for some strange reason – the court clerk took it as a personal offense that he wanted her to sign approval to F-OFF. More unfortunately, there is an insect repellent company who is rumored to have filed a lawsuit for use of its registered trademark name.) Nevertheless, this particular concerned citizen was not going to let that pesky little aggravation stop him from performing his self-assigned civic duty.

Upon spotting the poor, frightened tree from over the tipped-up end of his nearly emptied quart of beer, this in-the-seasonal-spirited gentleman yanked up on his emergency brake and selflessly turned a 360 in the middle of the freeway. He had to thereafter signal with his most visible finger for the trucker – who was leaning out the window while jake-braking and laying on his horn, urging this upstanding citizen as to how he might best go about his business – to go on around him and responsibly get back to his own. As Mr. Civic Duty got around to the rear of his F-150 truck with its holiday-tinted primer/rust mix, he joyfully threw his arms around that lonely, abandoned Christmas tree and adopted it quicker than if it had been his long, lost cousin, Earl, who’d just won the Powerball. He then tossed that tree into the bed of his pick-up, trading it out for about a 12-pack of empty beer cans that bounced off the tail gate and down the freeway behind him. I couldn’t help but think what a considerate and generous person he must be to want to leave those cans for someone to pick up later and exchange for the high rate offered in aluminum trade.

As if he hadn’t already exhibited an over-abundance of holiday spirit and generosity, I truly came to understand the meaning of Christmas in my final glimpse of this remarkable citizen in his over-exuberant heroic act.

Found at: http://gallery.markheadrick.com/humorous/christmas-tree-with-beer-can-ornaments/“Yeehaw!” he belched, as he floored it out of sight.
“I got this durned Christmas tree for freed – without a bar fight!”

I ask you, where else could I have witnessed such a spectacularly heart-tugging story during this special holiday season?

So, now I must say…

Merry Christmas to y’all! And to all a good night!

Ah, crud. That was a copyright issue, wasn’t it?

(Nope, nope. It has ya’ll. I believe I’m good on this one.)

***

 

Weekly Photo Challenge: Foreshadow

This is our family’s youngest.

He is apparently trying to convey to us, even from the womb, that he intends to become a surfer.

(Either that or he wasn’t yet quite coordinated enough to finish signing out “I love you!”)

Hang Ten!

Hang Ten!

(And, yes, I believe this does count as my photography, since I was the sonographer who took these obstetrical images.)

________________________________

Posted for the WordPress Weekly Photo Challenge: Foreshadow

Weekly Photo Challenge: The Golden Hour

The Daily Post Weekly Challenge was to capture “the golden hour” – either the first or last hour of sunlight of the day.

It just so happens that I’ve noticed some exceptional hours like this, just after coming in from bike rides in the evenings as of late. Therefore, both of these were taken with my iPhone camera, as I didn’t have anything better available. No matter. I wouldn’t have wanted to miss snapping these shots, as they both left me feeling golden.

The first I posted recently when explaining those serendipitous moments that sneak up on you, where setting out to capture something through photography was never the plan. (Note the bird framing itself perfectly. Of course, I told everyone it was an angel descending from heaven.)

Jokingly, I said, "And the heavens opened up & the angels sang! Or maybe I'm just delirious."

Jokingly, I said, “And the heavens opened up & the angels sang! Or maybe I’m just delirious.”

This one is from a few days ago, and was both curious and glorious! This cloud was electrified and continued on, for the next hour or so after daylight, emitting heat lightening.

glorious_cloud

I’m editing my post to add this last one from just last night (again, with my iPhone). I’m amazed at how different the sky has presented itself in the golden evening hour during this past week, though beautiful in every way.

sunset071513

 

Donkey Tails

The WordPress Creative Writing Challenge for this week was: Metamorphosis, with the following explanation:

You can’t move for were-creatures these days. If it’s not werewolves falling in love with vampires, it’s were-rabbits, erm, doing what were-rabbits do (terrifying carrots by the full moon, perhaps?). But fantastic animal metamorphoses are as old as the hills, at least in the world of fiction, so who are we to be dissuaded by the vicissitudes of popular fiction trends when delivering creative writing prompts? Come, take a turn for the worst.

Indeed.

_________________________________________________________________

“Kids, please come in here and sit down. We need to have a serious conversation – one that probably should’ve happened well before you both left for college. Since you’re home for the summer, and Jill’s been talking about getting married after graduation, I don’t think this can wait any longer.”

“What’s this about, Mom?”

“Your father…”

“Dad? Is everything…okay?”

“Well, I don’t mean to panic you or anything, but this family charade can’t go on any longer. Let me just get right to the point. Your father’s a jackass.”

“Mom!”

“No, I’m serious. He is…a jackass. And after living with him all these years, if you never figured it out, I hate to be the one to deliver the bad news so late. It’s probably coming as quite a blow.”

“Well, I mean, he could be a real jerk sometimes – and stubborn on a few occasions, but…well, that’s no reason to get into name calling, Mom.”

“Name call…??? Oh! No, you don’t understand, kids. I meant literally. Your father can literally turn into a jackass – only at certain times though. He’s not always one. That’s probably why you never realized it. He was good at hiding his times of metamorphosis around you two.”

“Not that good at it all the time…”

“Really? So you suspected it already? I thought we’d been rather creative at disguising it – me telling you he was working late, stopping off to watch a game at your uncle’s, hanging out down at the neighborhood pub…”

“Mom, is there a point in getting into all this? I mean, now? Now that Jill and I are out of the house and likely not going to ever move back in here again?”

“Absolutely, there’s a need. More than ever. Jill’s thinking about marriage. Don’t you see what this means?”

“Er, that we could become jackasses too?”

“No, of course not. You won’t ever see yourself as a jackass. That’s because the gene is most often x-linked, but sometimes it shows up at random. In either case, it’s not going to affect you personally. These things tend to skip a generation.”

“So Jill and I won’t ever be the jackasses? Well, that’s a relief, I guess.”

“Maybe. But just you wait. If your father was a jackass, there’s a strong likelihood that your children will become jackasses too! How do you plan to deal with that news, mister?”

“Hmm, guess I’ll have to pack that mule when I go on that journey.”

“Hee, haw. You won’t think it’s so amusing, Mr. Funny Guy, when you have your own herd of stubborn little jackasses to corral. You should hear the stories your grandmother tells. Do you know she…??”

“Wait, I don’t wanna’ hear anymore. Well, actually, I guess I do have just one more question about this, Mom – before we maybe NEVER talk about this again…”

“What’s that, dear?”

“Do you have this, er, genetic anomaly, too?”

“Don’t be ridiculous, son. Just because I chose to spend my entire life married to a jackass certainly doesn’t make me one too!”

Weekly Photo Challenge: FORWARD

Pardon me for being FORWARD, but…

Life often offers moments of resistance, even in times that might otherwise seem fluid.
To navigate the waters of life, we often have to practice persistence, dedication, balance, teamwork, community, creativity, and sometimes, even a little friendly competition.

As food (not of the fish-food sort) for thought, I present you with a few
Methods for Moving FORWARD (in life’s waters & beyond):

_____________________________Remember…Moving ahead is always better than being a behind – – – jody

THIS POST WAS CREATED IN RESPONSE TO THIS WEEK’S WORDPRESS WEEKLY PHOTO CHALLENGE: FORWARDshare a picture that says FORWARD to you.

Why You Should Lie on Your Well-Being Survey (for your own well-being)

I’ve been set up for failure! I could’ve passed this test last Friday, possibly yesterday, and most assuredly today. But not when I took it last Monday. Monday. What was I thinking??!!


(Yeah, you probably don’t need to spend more than a few seconds here – you get the idea…and, no, I’m not a teenager, as my well-being survey would be quick to remind me; but neither were any of the actors in Grease – by a long shot – so I’m sticking with this analogy!)

I was given a sliding scale from 1-10 and asked to place the toggle dial on the number that I was feeling about my well-being AT THAT MOMENT. I chose 6. What can I say? I’d had an unexpected incident with a family member over the weekend, I’d allowed my feelings to be a little too touchy when a church member acted difficult over something silly on Sunday, and I stayed up too late watching the end of the Superbowl game on Sunday night. Then I missed my work-out on Monday morning due to my son’s all-morning orthodontic appointment. By 1:45 in the afternoon, work was piled up, my dissertation table wasn’t formatting correctly, and I hadn’t had lunch (so I figure my blood sugar was down a little); and I received an email saying I was being forced to complete this survey to comply with my health insurance requirements. That’s the series of excuses I’m going with anyway.

As far as my 1-10 sliding scale went, it felt more like a bad joke. You know, the one about how guys give any girl remaining in the pub after 2:50 a.m. a perfect score of 10 – they’ll take her as a 4 and just add a 6-pack. But I was feeling a little better about myself than that – so I went for the 6. It seemed like a fair assessment FOR THAT MOMENT (which is specifically what the question asked). On a better day, I might’ve made that well-being scale tip at a Bo Derek 10, with self-esteem braids bouncing down the beach.

There were a couple of other questions, too, that needed to offer me the ability to add qualifiers, such as…

Did you have your appropriate servings of fruit and veggies today? Helloooo…I haven’t had more than a cup of yogurt at 6:00 a.m. this morning. Does key lime flavoring count for a fruit? Well, it was green. Can I have veggie points then? Technically, the day’s not over yet…but I froze. I answered IN THE MOMENT. Caught off-guard and responding in the moment obviously never bides well when a score’s involved…

***

Did you cuddle up and whisper sweet nothings in your boss’ ear today?…Excuse me? Okay, maybe it said something more to the effect of whether I felt supported in partnership with my boss. If we were life partners, I might feel cuddly towards him – nah, probably not even then. We’re not partners. He’s my boss. Word your question differently if you want a feel-good answer. That one’s well below a 6.

Apparently, I didn’t get any extra credit for working out at least 3 times a week either. Instead, I got reamed for admitting that it was sometimes an inconvenience to pay for prescription medicines. I mean, let’s get real. I now have the privilege of taking a non-generic (read that as ‘waaayyy over-priced’) heart medication twice a day for an arrhythmia that came out of nowhere this year (then told it drags “young people” down – that must be how my doc was trying to uplift me). After hearing the price from the pharmacy, I was all for putting a car battery to the thing and giving it a good buzz. I figure most mechanics could have gotten the timing down better than this medicine has. So, yeah, I’m a little resentful every time I drop one of those suckers on the kitchen floor and the dog laps it up before I can blow it off. What happened to the 5 second rule??!!! My dog’s heart has so much rhythm these days, he’s leaving me to start his own jazz band. And my pocketbook’s got the blues.

Somewhere along the line, it asked if I was satisfied with where my life is NOW. I figure if I were completely satisfied, I wouldn’t be working towards completion of my doctoral degree; I wouldn’t be trying to improve my program outcomes; I wouldn’t be engaged in a 30-something week study on the gospels or be sending out query letters to try to get my novel published. If someone ever becomes COMPLETELY satisfied, in my mind, that could mean that person has become complacent. Looking back, I guess I left that one too open to personal interpretation.

***

So, I was having a pretty good day TODAY (I’d give it at least an 8) – until this stupid “Personal Well-Being Report” comes dinging into my inbox.

wellbeingSpectacular, Stunning, Histrionic News, JODY! Your Personalized, No-Nonsense, One-of-a-Kind, Conglomerate Well-Being Report is Ready.

Congratulations. You’re about to receive your Well-Being Report, which is an important first step in your well-being journey. Your report will help you get a better understanding of where you are, which is so important for getting you on the right path to a happier, healthier you. Based on these results, you’ll also be able to create your own personal Well-Being Plan and put it into action.

You hear what’s coming, don’t you? I wish I hadn’t had my passport renewed for this trip.

Sandy

Image located at http://www.tumblr.com

My phoney-baloney report suggested that my Life Perception needs attention and that I should add something new to my life that reboots my perception of it. This wise little report thought that perhaps I should learn a new skill.

Really? That’s the best you’ve got? Come spend a day with me and I’ll be happy to reboot – into my hiking boots and take you up on a trail in the mountains and leave your smart little ink to dry up there with the mountain lions. Cat-skill that…

***

It then suggested I wasn’t satisfied with my standard of living, with all the things I could buy or do – that I should write down some things in my life that money couldn’t buy.

Again…you missed this one, little report that’s becoming a thorn in my side. I’m guessing this is your jab back because I refused to answer any financially-related questions. I’m the person who skips the department store sales racks, you see, for the ones that carry my canoe up to the river, where I can paddle along and count my blessings. (Money couldn’t buy me getting out of doing this stupid survey either, could it?!)

Then it suggested that I should let go of my pressures by listening to a comedy sketch or reading the comics to redirect a bad mood.

How about I quit reading this comical report to relieve my ever-increasing bad mood?

Lastly, it placed as my goal to stay in control of my medical conditions, to make and keep regular appointments with my healthcare provider.

Could you write my healthcare providers and ask them to be more considerate of my time? I’m always early for my appointments – only to be left in the waiting room for 2 hours, then the exam room in a paper gown for at least another 45 minutes or so. My goal is to find a healthcare provider whose goal is to keep regular appointments with me.

Without any input on blood pressure, cholesterol, glucose testing or other biometrics (or the knowledge that it was heart medicine I was on), it rated my 10-year risk of a heart attack at 3%.

Oh good. Why am I taking this heart medicine again? Oh yeah, so I don’t stroke out at a premature age over the stupidity of this report.

It went on to tell me that my diet and exercise exhibited “No Impact on my Well-Being in this Report.”

Why was I forced to take this survey again? And now to keep a log of my exercise regimen (or is it now ‘regime’?), and my fruit & veggie intake?

Oh, yeah, so my health insurance (which has jumped significantly in price over the past couple of years so the company’s CEO’s standard of living would flourish) will not remove me from their “Partnership” Plan.

Long of it short — I felt like Sandy in Grease, being scrutinized by the Pink Ladies. I had thought I was making some fairly reasonable life choices until my new “friends” came along.

I don’t drink (no)
Or swear (no)
I don’t rat my hair (eew)
I get ill from one cigarette
(cough, cough, cough)
Keep your filthy paws
Off my silky draws
Would you pull that crap with Annette?

My ‘Rizzo Report’ informs me that I’m on the wrong path. I need a new set of skills…a new set of friends (a.k.a. “health partners”) with their own agenda to point out what’s really wrong with me…

Next I find…I’m going to get a “Greas-y Sandy” make-over. The modules I now have to read and the papers I have to complete are the “something new to add to my life” and I should cuddle up with my new health partner, who is an expert at having intercourse with me (you know, as in the communication kind) without knowing anything about me. And since I get to log my daily goal progress (at things I once enjoyed doing, but now suddenly resent), it looks like it’s going to turn into a dysfunctional partnership quickly – because the stalker report tells me: “We’ll always be together.”

***

I’ve learned a lot from this relationship already. First, I’m too good for it.
But more importantly, next time, I’ll lie when I complete that well-being scale.
I’ll just give it a 4 and add the 6-pack.

 Rama lama lama ka dinga da dinga dong, – jody

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One of the WordPress Daily Prompts this week was on…Shoulda Woulda Coulda

February 13, 2013

Tell us about something you know you should do . . . but don’t.

I knew I should’ve lied.

But Kant says I can’t.

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