Life As a Song

I have been thinking a lot lately of how to make a life metaphor, for a friend of mine. It’s an effort to lift her up a little after a tremendous loss. Her young son, 15 years old, passed away after a medical emergency. When I spoke with her, she asked me to write something for our high school class Facebook page, to let everyone know she is doing ok, and what happened to her son. Because of his age, she was concerned that people may think he took his own life, or that maybe it was a drug issue. That’s a tricky thing, having to be the keeper of a person’s legacy, and she takes it very seriously, as she should as his mother.

It really got me thinking, of how do you keep a person’s spirit with you, after their physical life has ended. Especially such a young spirit. I didn’t really know him, I only met him once when he was a very small child. I can’t speak to his personality, likes, hobbies or anything. I only know what his family can tell me. They knew him, they will keep his spirit going. They are now the ones who have to sing his song.

We all have a soundtrack to our lives, whether we are musical or not. There are moments, places, and things that inspire us and make our hearts sing. Some of the songs our hearts sing are happy, some are a little sad, some are loud and some are quiet. Like music playing in the background, it is there, even if we don’t know the words to the song, we hum along whether we realize it or not.

My friend’s son had his life song cut short. But it did play in his heart for 15 years. She was there, and she may not know all the words, but she can continue to sing the parts she knows, and kind of hum along to the rest. Right now it probably is just playing softly in her heart, keeping the beat to keep her going. There are days she will sing along to it without even realizing it, I hope. And as days go on, and she has to adjust to her new reality with him singing softly to her, and he will. The people we love the most never really are completely gone, the music they gave us plays on a constant loop that we don’t always hear, but it plays softly in the background. When you do hear it, your heart will swell with love, and it will be beautiful.

I am old enough to have lost many people I love, and I have written about them before with tears in my eyes. Today my tears are for my dear friend, as today is her young man’s funeral. All the songs that I have singing in my heart are playing today as I write this, all those beautiful voices I had the joy of hearing in life are there. Today I hope more than anything, that my dear friend is surrounded by love, and she will be, and that the song she sings today is that of her boy, singing in her heart. He will also be singing to his brother and father, and all of his his family and friends who knew him, loved him, and know the words of his song, as it lives with them in their hearts for all of their days.

I F’ing Love All You Irish MF’ers!!

Three years ago, prior to all the Covid setting into our lives, my brother Mike, sister Marge and her husband Butcher and I were in lovely Chandler, Arizona for Brewers’ Spring Training on St. Patrick’s Day. On our breakfast trek that morning, we came across an extremely festive St. Pattty’s Day enthusiast who wasn’t letting the early hour keep him from spreading joy. It is best to assume he was still going from the previous night. He had what Mike refers to as “The High-Pro Glow” and glowing he was. He declared that he F’ing Loved Us Irish MF’ers!! A glorious start to a glorious day, for sure!

That was the last trip to Spring Training, and we will make it back at some point, hopefully next year. But it gets me to thinking of St. Patrick’s Days gone by, and my love for the day that makes everyone Irish, and a lot of people drunk. The day also very often falls into the March Madness NCAA Basketball Tournament, adding fuel to a drunk fire. It can be a very fun day. Even days I worked the holiday were fun. People are festive, celebrating all things Irish, like Guiness and Jameson. It’s a day for merriment. Except the one year it wasn’t.

Two years ago, on March 17th, I served food and drinks for the last time. That was the day that the State of Wisconsin did what nobody thought they would ever see: shut down the bars. Covid was starting to rage. Following the trend in neighboring states, Wisconsin locked it down. Places had to close by 5:00pm. We did at Solea, and I walked out of there with tears in my eyes because I had no idea when, or if, I would ever be back. And as it turns out, I never did go back, really. Within a short period of time, our boss decided he would close that location permanently, for lots of reasons really, and it was only a business decision, which I totally understood then, and still do now.

Two years. It’s still unreal to me. I was sure I would work in that industry forever. I had no exit plan. I know I bitched fairly regularly about things in the industry, but the truth is I loved working in a restaurant. I never worked the same day twice. I got to know hundreds of wonderful people, even if it was only for a day sometimes. I have stories and experiences that have made me the person I am now. People can be hard to deal with sometimes, but I knew how most days. I miss it, so very much.

Don’t get me wrong, I have a good gig now. I am lucky that I landed as well as I did from that dark day two years ago. That day was full of unknown, and dread. I went home not knowing what I was going to do, or how I would make money for the long term. Thankfully, all those people I have met over the years came through for me, and I landed on my feet. I get to be a little bit of myself, my bartender/server self, at my new job. I just don’t get to use as many swear words, and they won’t let me put a tip jar on my desk. It’s fine. I have inquired about setting up a margarita station at the reception desk, I don’t know how far that has gotten through committee, but I am hopeful.

Here I am, two years later, and I happen to have the day off. NCAA tournament starts today, and I know places are open selling green beer. I am thinking about it, venturing out and declaring my love for the Irish MFers of the world. We’ll see, but I would be lying if I said I didn’t put a little Bailey’s in my coffee this morning while I contemplate my agenda. I think of the March 18ths I have had, and I don’t seem to recall them as fondly. But the idea that I can, well, that makes me feel better about where I have been on St. Patrick’s days past, and where I may be in the future Irish holidays. Carry on, all you Irish MFers!! I love you!!!

Spring Forward

We changed the clocks again, at least most of them. My kitchen clock stays the same all year, and is now correct again as of 2:00am. The social media will be full for the next couple of days of people complaining, one way or another, about the whole idea being dumb. The old “Do you take the end off a blanket and put it on the other end and tell yourself you have a longer blanket?” crowd. Just shut it people, and enjoy the daylight going past your clock out time at work.

It’s an hour. You can complain for longer than that when you crank up your list of stuff you like to bitch about. You could adapt faster if you shut your trap. I am personally a fan of the extra daylight at the end. I feel like the hibernation period is over and we can all crawl back out into the world. I know I deal with that first morning of it by staying in bed longer. I did that this morning, I went back to bed for an hour. Problem solver? Why yes I am!!

What the time change really means to me is that it is really going to be Spring. We have just about crawled out of Winter. The Equinox is in a week. Yay!! I know that our friend, Mother Nature, gets the final say on when the winter junk really leaves, but as far as the tilt of the planet back towards the sun? It’s all happening! It’s time! The period of renewal and growth is coming. How are you going to spend that time?

I am excited about spending more time outside. Taking the Zelda on longer walks, getting my lunch hour walks back as the weather gets nicer. Sitting out on my little patio, watching the Summit Street world go by and sunsets. Baseball games, outdoor music events, and driving with my windows open. Doesn’t it all sound just perfect? Whatever your jam is for springtime, I hope you get all of it and more. We have earned it!

Especially this year. We have spent two years in a pandemic purgatory. It feels like we are coming out of it, like for real this time, and it feels good. Of course we don’t know what anything in the future holds, but this spring feels like it is bringing a little extra Hope along for the ride. I know the world is kind of a mess, the people of Ukraine may not feel as much hope as they deserve at the moment. The constant and inevitable bitching about gas prices is in full swing right now as well. (Side note about that, those bitching the loudest have the biggest vehicles that get 15 mpg, so I am not impressed by them.) But we are getting to Spring, and we should take time to enjoy it.

I truly believe that Spring brings us the most hope of any of the seasons. I think the extra daylight at the end of the day helps boost that feeling. If we have to chop that hour at 2 am to get a little more light at 6pm today, it is all worth it. We have endured darkness long enough for the cycle. We endure darkness in many place of our lives, a little extra light at dinner time can shift a mood and change an outlook. Enjoy all of it, and Happy Almost Spring!

Appreciation

I think everyone likes to feel appreciated, right? Sometimes that feeling is hard to come by, it isn’t something super tangible. You either are or are not appreciated, or you do or do not feel appreciation towards someone or something. It can be subjective. Like a person may really try to make you feel it, but you aren’t getting it, so it’s a tough thing to get a grasp on. I had 3 things happen yesterday that had me feeling it, appreciated. I noticed, so I thought I would share it.

First, we were in a training meeting yesterday. We are switching some sales software stuff at work, we used it in the past, went away from it, and are not returning to the one we ditched. Our little conference room has one window, in the door. I see our Operations Manager creeping out in the reception area. That isn’t all that unusual, it’s close to the kitchen, and where there’s a kitchen, JR isn’t far away. But he made a couple of sweeps nearby, knocked and asked if he could interrupt real quick. In his hands, he had 4 bouquets of flowers. He said that it was Employee Appreciation Day, and he handed them all to us girls. It was unexpected, and kind of sweet. We are very appreciated at work, we get lots of things like lunches bought for us, bonuses, department outings, and more. This was a really nice gesture, and I spent the rest of the day feeling that feeling, that they notice us, and what we do, and they appreciate it. Warm fuzzy feelings, all day on a Friday, not bad.

The next thing, an unexpected post on the Facebook, from my friend Shannon. She posted a picture of us, at the gym. She went on to shower me with a heap of love, about how she started at FIRE because of me, and my relentless posts about the gym. That I got her there, that she just appreciated me going to her first camp with her, and what our friendship means to her. We haven’t got to see a whole lot of each other the past 2 years, pandemically speaking. We stalked Todd at the Mile of Music last summer, of course, but it’s been a stretch again. She is married, has kiddos, a full time job, she’s on her local school board, and she is a part owner at her FIRE location. She is a busy girl! The fact that she took that time to post a really heartfelt and sweet post for me, well, I was the big old EFWB. Appreciated? Yeah, I feel it, and I give that right back to you, girlfriend. My heart is full.

More gym stuff. We have these camps once a month, on Friday nights, called Black Label. They are put together by a coach, and they are tough. They are also fun, and a good way to see some of the people you don’t normally get to see at our usual camps because everyone is on different schedules in life. Plus we get beer at the end. (I appreciate the beer, but that is not where this is going, at least not yet.) As we go around the stations, working hard and cheering each other on, we don’t really visit a lot, but we see each other. At the end, we take a group picture and drink that beloved and well earned beer. There’s a younger woman, she has been at FIRE probably about 2 years now. She works pretty hard at the camps. What I didn’t know was that last night was her first Black Label. I was surprised by that, as sociable as she is and her hard work at camp makes it seem like a natural thing for her to get to with the rest of us mentally unstable gym nerds. She made a big point to come up to me at the end, and ask for a picture and thank me for always being an inspiration. Yep, I got the feels again. It felt great to hear that, because that has never been my goal, it has just been a byproduct of the thing.

You can go a lot of days of your life not feeling all of this. I got all of that on a Friday in March. It’s a lot to process, it gave me a lot to think about and it made me feel good. We won’t always know the impact we make in the lives of others. We aren’t always supposed to know, I think. What it did for me was make me want to pay more attention. To the people in my life that are getting through it all, easy some days, tough on others. The ones that are watching, learning, and trying to get better each day. I do truly appreciate that, more than ever, because by paying attention, and appreciating what and who you see, can make you a better and stronger person. Give that praise, shower the attention, and give that love out, because you are made of it. You will get it back, and you will want to give it right out again.

I appreciate all of you that gave it to me yesterday, thank you for noticing. Whatever it is you saw, thank you. I am humbled, and I am in awe of all of you, too.

Cabin Fever

February is drawing to a close. It’s the signal that Spring may just be coming after all. We rock out a short month, and it quickly becomes the month of the Vernal Equinox, St. Patrick’s Day, March Madness, Spring Training, Daylight Savings and all things hopeful and good. February tends to move on without a lot of resistance, and March comes in with the promise of better days. But March can be an a-hole too. But since I am way over the winter thing, I welcome March and its unpredictable ways.

It usually happens in the middle of February, I declare myself to be over winter. It was right on schedule, around Valentine’s day. I start ditching the winter coat as much as possible, I don’t wear my snow boots anymore. But this year it has been harder to ditch the coat so much. I walk Zelda every day, because she doesn’t give a crap about the temperature. It’s been cold! Maybe I am getting older and less tolerant of cold, but I have had to keep the winter coat handy. And the accessories! Mittens, scarves, and hats or headbands. I really hate all that stuff, and I drove my mother crazy for years by not wearing them. I am paying for that stubborn nonsense now because I bundle up like a psychotic Eskimo to take Z for a spin around the block.

You can also see when the other people have given up on winter. They don’t shovel their sidewalks anymore. That’s been a sign for years. There have been a few warmer days here and there, then it freezes again, so we get some pretty wicked ice on the sidewalks. I am pretty sure I am going to die on a frozen walk with the Zelda. I slip even a little and I start praying for Jesus to come get me now. Snow on top of ice is extra special. I am getting to the age where the broken hip jokes aren’t funny anymore. So I am super ready for Spring to come and stick because having to pay attention is exhausting!!

Once the Super Bowl happens, there is a lull in things. It was later this year, so I am hoping it doesn’t seem so long until March Madness and Spring Training carries us the rest of the way to real spring. But not much is going on, at least that I want to do, so it’s Cabin Fever time. I watch so much TV this time of year. It’s more noticeable to me since I have left the restaurant world. Since I don’t feel the need to be in a tavern every night of the weekend either anymore as well. I spent yesterday very happily watching movies that I have a hard time believing are more than 30 years old, but they are. I watched “Stand By Me” followed by “ET’ which led into “The Outsiders” and then “A Few Good Men.” (Some of those movies are nearly 40 years old, but I cannot handle that. Even though I know.) Don’t even ask me how much Estrogen Overflow I had yesterday, because it’s just gross.

I struggle with this time of year, because I just want to be able to go without the coat, and just do what I want. The weather doesn’t cooperate, but it should because the days are getting longer. I would love to get away on a little vacation, but that happened in January this year, and my ability to travel is limited by a lack of money, not willingness. I have a big trip in June, so I have to cool my heels that are already cold, until then. So I wait, here in the snow, for the goodness of Spring to come and kick in. And we really don’t even have that much snow, but I am just over it. We all are around the upper Mid West. It’s just that time. We are given little glimmers of hope, only to have the temperature drop 30 degrees overnight right after it snows an annoying 2 inches. Enough that it needs to be dealt with, but we don’t, because we are over it.

I do truly love living where we get all four seasons. The changes are very appreciated, it’s how we mark time, and how we live. I am just getting older and seeing the value in the Snow Bird life, but I am not old enough nor do I have enough in the retirement account to dream that much, just yet. It’s just a few short weeks until it is time for the shorts to come out, the parkas to get tucked away. We will make it, we do every year. I never want to sound like I don’t appreciate the lovely ways of the changing seasons, I just want to current one to change to the next one in an expedited manner. We all re-emerge and celebrate the Spring, and I do believe we are all ready. Melt away, winter, melt away.

What’s Love Got to Do With It

Oh Valentine’s Day, you have circled back around. Here to torment the coupled and single of the universe. But it’s only a big deal because you choose to make it a big deal, really. Media puts the pressure on, so very many jewelry ads, during sporting events. When men are watching. And a lot of women. Watching the sparkles on the diamonds. I have always wondered who does that? Buys diamonds for someone on Valentine’s Day? Gross. Single Coco has spoken. It’s just too much for a Monday night.

I worked a lot of Valentine’s Days in restaurants and bars. People put a lot of pressure on this day. It’s sort of sad, because it is just a day, and more often than not it falls on a weekday, like this year is a Monday, definitely not a romantic day of the week. It isn’t sexy, like say a Thursday can afford to be. A lot of people hook up at Happy Hour on a Thursday. Monday? Nope, gotta early meeting on Tuesday, can’t possibly sweep you off your feet on Monday night. That’s why when it falls on a Monday, restaurants are busiest with the date night thing on Saturday.

There are still those that go out on that Monday night, the day of, because they are more traditional. Those people, who put that kind of emphasis on that one day, well, they suck. It’s Amateur Date Night. I have seen some of the cheapest of the cheap on Valentine’s nights. A couple of years ago, I had a guy pay his bill with a gift card, and he left me a pile of change, about $3.00, for a tip. He literally took his date out for $3.00 in assorted coins. Wow. What a catch. I wanted to chase them out and warn her off, tell her that this was not the future she deserves, because a night out is going to entail cruising the couch for change and finding that gift card his mom gave him for Christmas, he has been saving it for 6 weeks just for this special occasion! Run! Save yourself!!

You can see where a person may end up a little jaded when it comes to the Romantic Holiday that Valentine’s Day is built up to be. And I am a little teeny bit, but not too bad, all things considered. I like the idea of a day dedicated to being sweet to someone you love. It should be everyday, but not every person is good at that. Life piles up on you, and love and appreciation can take a backseat. Instead of taking your love to the backseat, wink wink.

I have spent a lot of years and Facebook posts encouraging people to not just look at it as a romantic holiday. But as a day to spread love to all kinds of people you love, your friends, parents, siblings, whomever you get a warm feeling for in your heart when they pop into your mind. It certainly doesn’t have to include a trip to Zales or to the flower shop. It’s doesn’t have to even be a cash purchase. Send a picture of you together on a social media thing, or even just a quick text. Who is your bestie? Buy them a coffee. Or a cocktail.

Some of my happy memories as a kid include my dad bringing me and my sister a carnation and a little cheap box of candy on Valentine’s Day. It likely wasn’t even every year or anything, but it happened a few times. He probably stopped late in the day and got them when they were getting marked down. But I didn’t care. The best guy I knew in my life gave me a token of affection! I think about it every year, I mention it every year, and it makes me smile every time. If I never got another Valentine in my whole life it wouldn’t matter because I got one from the first love of my life, my Pops. (I have gotten other Valentines in my life, to be clear.)

Who do you love? Lots of people, I bet. There are different types of love. So this holiday kind of gets the designation of the Romantic Love Day, but it doesn’t have to be. Not everyone has that in their life, or maybe they did, but it ended in a breakup, a loss of life, or some other unfortunate way. They shouldn’t be left out on a day like this. Celebrate the affection you have for a friend, a co-worker, a family member, kiddos in your life, or even your pet! Let them know, and if Valentine’s on a Monday is the day, that’s cool. If you want it to be Tuesday the 15th, that works too, all the candy gets marked down a little later in the day on the 14th. I appreciate a discount as much as the next guy! Just spread that love around like you are made of it, because you are!!

2022, Off to a Raging Start

It’s probably just something you notice more as you age, the mortality of it all. I remember back when I worked at Annies, and we had newspapers around all the time. We had regulars that would come in, grab a paper and start at the obituaries. They would make jokes about how they were just making sure they weren’t listed. I always thought about how sad it was that it was the first thing they looked at. I was about 27 or 28 at the time. Now, at 52, I feel that. Except a hard copy of a newspaper is tough to come by these days.

2021 finished off by taking our beloved Betty White from us. We are still reeling from that, and now 2022’s Grim Reaper is hard at work, overachieving at intake volume. Yesterday alone we learned that Meat Loaf and Louie Anderson had been tapped. We have lost Sidney Poitier, Bob Saget, Dan Reeves and a few others and we are 3 weeks into this year. If I recall 2016 was kind of brutal like this. So we keep seeing the tributes, and walking down memory lane of the celebrities we grew up watching. Hell, I even read this morning that Arnold Schwarzenegger was in a car accident last night. Lay off, Satan!!! (Arnold is ok, by the reports I read.)

At the age of 52, an age I am ok with, I find myself in the middle of the “how young is too young to die” and the “they lived a nice long life” crowd. Betty was 99, knocking on 100 when she left us. I would think most of us would agree that she earned her rest, that she had a pretty good quality of life all of those years, and that it was just her time. But Bob Saget was 65, Louie Anderson was 68. That’s just too young! Right? Meat Loaf was 74, that’s fairly young when you are 52 looking ahead. I can’t say for sure what my current threshold of “too young” and they “lived a nice long life” is, but I would like to say it is somewhere in the 80s. I have known some people who are old klunks in their 30s and some ‘golden agers’ who are more lively and young at heart than some teenagers I know. It’s all relative, I guess.

We sure don’t get to pick how long we get to live. There are a lot of factors at play. Genetics can mess you up, accidents, illnesses. I have lost family and friends at very young ages, and I know some people who have defied every demon that could have taken them out early. Wouldn’t it be fantastic if we could all just drift off at an old age, peacefully, instead of all of the different things that potentially could befall us? We don’t get to decide that, I guess. Roll the dice, and live your life.

Somewhere along the line I decided that you get old if you let yourself feel old. The number doesn’t always mean anything. God willing, you keep yourself relatively healthy, and you can live a long life. But when do you start to feel old? Some mornings I roll out of bed and feel about 106. I think that can be about any of us, depending on what we did the night before. But mostly I am just happy to be up and at it. One of the girls at the gym said she doesn’t know how I am able to get there every day. I said, I don’t give myself a choice. I make myself do it. I didn’t for far too many years, and now that I know I can, I intend to for as long as I am able. I ran this tank to pretty low levels a lot of years, didn’t always treat myself very well, physically or mentally. I think I have found a better way now, even though that can still use a little improvement too. Time will tell.

I guess what I am getting at is that this year can keep up this pace if it wants to, we are here, and as long as we don’t see our names in the headlines, we are doing ok. The celebrities that die, whether young or not, had their time to live their lives, and that time ended. If we feel like a part of our youth died when we hear about another passing, just be happy you are still here to feel that emotion. Keep your heart young, even if that hair is going grey or just going away. Those are just symptoms, but you are still here and can treat your time here as a gift, and young people just don’t appreciate the gifts as much as us “old klunks” do. Happy Saturday, my people! (And just because I can, I will tack on a hearty GO PACK GO!!)

Family Trip

My family took a trip last week to Mexico. It wasn’t a small affair, by any means, and there was only one person I was related to in the bunch. It was my Work Family, at SLR, and I got to bring my sister Margie as my Plus One. I have no idea how I stumbled into such a fantastic family, but I did and the only thing that sucked about it was they made us come home and go back to work. And even that wasn’t that bad, my liver could use the break.

Unlike the service industry, apparently roofing is very specialized. In Wisconsin you can find a bar on nearly every corner. Roofers, not so much. So when I was offered a position at one the most highly regarded roofing companies in our area, I learned in a quick hurry how special that was. I can pour drinks and serve food anywhere, but put a roof on a house and a family at ease that they are safe in secure in their home? That is something special. I learned a lot in a year in a half about how much this company cares, and that is very much inclusive of the employees.

They do nice stuff for us often, and coming in from an industry that puts a high value on a shift drink, that took a little getting used to and it was a big adjustment, believe it or not. Once a year, in the cold of winter, they will rent rooms at a local hotel that has a water park, for all of the employees and their families. They do a big dinner, and pay for the rooms and water park passes. We had a big pot luck in the spring, and they have bouncy houses and games for the kiddos, they rented a sno-cone truck for the event too. It was a lot of fun. There is a sports park place in town, that has mini-golf, go carts, batting cages, arcade games, and in the summer, they rent it out, cater in a nice dinner and pay for all the games and stuff for employees and families. They buy us lunches often, there are days when the boss calls in on his way and will order Starbucks for the office staff, all kinds of things. And it’s all genuine. It isn’t anything more than he wants us to think of each other as family, as more than just his employees. One of my old bosses would throw us a party on Memorial Day weekend but we had to bring our own booze. This job? They ask all the employees what each of us wants to drink for a party, he buys more than even I can drink, and sends us home with the leftover beer!

He has had it in his head that he wanted to do a company trip, for quite a few years. He was trying to do it last year, but the Covid squashed that dream. So he regrouped and did it this year. It was intended for employees who had been with the company 3 or more years. For different reasons, some declined on the trip, but he had those spots paid for, so some of us got the opportunity to fill those spots. I found out at the end of October I could go, and bring a guest. A few years ago, my sister, brother and I were supposed to go on a cruise together, and Margie had to cancel at the very last minute because of a medical issue with her husband. I always have felt bad she didn’t get to go, so I took this amazing opportunity to offer her a little make-up for that cruise experience. I cannot think of a scenario where I would have been able to do that otherwise, and I am forever grateful to my boss that we could go. And have all the fun. All of it.

Now, Shannon (my boss) likes to take care of people, and he did!! This thing was top notch all the way. We got flights, hotel rooms, suites at that, and more food and drinks than you should enjoy in four days. He also likes to have fun, and we did! At one point, I walked up to where he was, and I didn’t happen to have a drink in hand. He yells at me “Why aren’t you drinking more!?!” I quickly found a drink, because I can’t handle disappointing him like that. But it really truly was all about us, and how grateful he is to God, his family and the people he surrounds himself with to be the best roofing company in the area. It really all means something to him, and his gratitude oozes out of him. It really is something special to behold.

Mexico was lovely, the people were gracious and we were so well taken care of, that it almost seemed unreal. Margie and I said all weekend “Who does this?” Because not very many people do, or would do this for their employees. It really meant so much to me, and I sat on the balcony each night, just being so very, very grateful for this company, this man who had the vision of taking his “Family” on a vacation. For all of the jobs I had previously where I felt the family thing, but they couldn’t, or maybe wouldn’t, do something so very generous for the people carrying the weight of the company’s success. How things I did at those jobs made it possible for me to be at this job now, because every experience is a stepping stone for the next part of life.

Even though he insisted we don’t thank him for this, that he should be thanking us, I am going to say it anyway. Thank you, Shannon. From the second I hit “POST” when I went on Facebook asking if anyone knew of a place that was hiring, because my temporary Costco job was ending, and you said “Message me, I have something for you.” For being a friend, and for every little and big thing. You have added a spark of positivity in my life, you have a sparkle in your eyes that says “Come along, we are going to have a great time” and we do!! I only listed a few of the great things you do for us above, and there are more, but more than the “Things” you really truly do care about us. You have demonstrated it very well in big ways, but I want you to know, I notice the little things too. Thanks, truly, from my heart.

Golden Girl

I am just devastated today. I was on my lunch at work, and it was quiet around the office today. Eating alone in the breakroom, scrolling the Facebook, a friend posted a link saying Betty White had died. No! But I didn’t see it anywhere else, no one else had posted. I googled news sites, nothing there yet, but then the TMZ link popped up, and People, and the ET one. All of them said it. It was just breaking. Then the news notifications popped in, and there it was. Our Golden Girl was really gone.

The resurgence of Betty White’s career about 11 years ago was fantastic. She had that Snickers Super Bowl Commercial, and she was rediscovered by a lot of people, young people found out who she was, and it was good for all of us. There are a lot of us who are old enough to remember her smaller role on “The Mary Tyler Moore Show” in the 70s. She was a fantastic, man chasing tart, Sue Ann Nivens. The Happy Home Maker, making the moves on Lou Grant any chance she got. She made the rounds on game shows, like Match Game, and then came the “Golden Girls.” That show was so awesome, I remember watching it with my stepmom, and as I am getting a little older, it is a life goal to have that kind of set up when it’s retirement time. Then came the show “Hot in Cleveland,” she was fantastic, as Elka, in her velour track suits. That show flew a little under the radar, but I loved it and watched it regularly, for Betty White.

Her career was long and fabulous. Her life is so well documented, and the tributes that keep rolling in really show what she meant to Hollywood, and the whole entertainment industry. We all hoped she was going to make it to 100 in a few weeks. That was all for us though. If she was tired, and it was time, it’s best that she went now. But it just sucks. You just want a soul like hers to stick around forever. And it will, we have her shows, movies and interviews and more to look at when we miss her.

I always looked at Betty White as a woman who makes it ok to be me. She had been married, 3 times actually, but her third marriage was the last one for her. Her husband Allen Ludden, died back in 1981. I remember that, I was about 11. I had remembered them on game shows, and talk shows. When he died, she never remarried. She stayed single the rest of her life, 40 years. She never had children of her own, by her choice. She worked, stayed active and relevant, and was a strong and independent woman. Maybe I might not stay single forever, that remains to be seen, but the rest of it seems pretty good, if Betty can do it all, I can too.

I get it, you know. She didn’t want to start a new year with us if she couldn’t be here to finish it out. Passing on New Year’s Eve is sort of the way to go out if you are as iconic as Betty White. She was a friend to animals, a star to us, and a woman none of us can ever forget. I was so happy that a young generation embraced her like they did. I hope all the young people go back and find her old stuff, and they laugh and laugh. At 99, she outlived a lot of her former co-stars and friends. Her comedic timing was fantastic, and she stole every scene she was in. I love the memes going around of her with the other Golden Girls, saying that they are sharing some cheesecake. If that ain’t heaven, I don’t want to go. Rest well, Ms. White. Thank you for being sweet, sassy, funny, and larger than life. Thank you for being independent, and showing young women strong characters that were fantastic women, with or without a man. Thanks for sticking around so long.

Christmas Movies

When the holidays approach, for some people it is tough to catch the spirit of all of it. I myself don’t like Christmas music forced on me too early, like prior to Thanksgiving for me. Then, I can handle it, as it is going to be everywhere anyway, but I prefer when it gets sprinkled in with regular music. But we are going to hear it in stores and restaurants anyway, so I just do what I can to tune it out, and move ahead. But it does help set the mood, and there are a few of them I do just love.

Christmas movies are what can help me get the holiday mood cranked up. We all have our favorites. The Hallmark holiday movie thing isn’t my jam, but I know people who have been watching those since September. I am more of a funny Christmas movie person, and there are plenty of those to choose from as well. Also, the movies that maybe aren’t traditional Christmas movies but are widely considered to be holiday necessities, and we all know I am talking about Die Hard.

I accept Die Hard as a Christmas movie. It is set at a Christmas party, and that is good enough for me. I get that it isn’t all warm and cuddly, they aren’t picking out a tree or making hot cocoa. But Hans Gruber is a Grinch, and that is all I have to say about it. If you are someone that thinks it isn’t a Christmas movie, I am not going to convince you otherwise, and I can’t waste my time explaining it, it just is, OK?

There are so many good movies for the holidays. I will say that I have no recollection of “A Christmas Story” coming out in 1983. When it started getting played for 24 hours on TBS on Christmas was when I first really knew of it. They play it for 24 hours, which is 12 times in a row. You can catch a little, go open some presents, eat some food, nap, and still get back to it in time to see Ralphie kick the snot out of Scut Farkus, because it’s gonna keep happening. Over the years this has really become a holiday tradition. I just watched it last night. I will likely see it again before we hit the serious stretch of Christmas.

I remember going to see “Elf” in the theater with my friend Cari. We weren’t real sure what to expect, we just both like Will Farrell. What we found was a wonderful and silly movie that is worth watching over and over again. It is just so funny. I don’t know if I know of anyone who has seen it that didn’t just love it. We were talking about it at work the other day, and we just giggled and laughed, and everyone was in a happy way just thinking about it! We decorated our office door, and made little Buddy pictures but with our faces on them as part of the design. It’s been a huge hit. So that is definitely one of my most favorite Christmas movies.

My favorite of favorites is “It’s a Wonderful Life.” I don’t have to explain a lot of why, it is such a fantastic movie, and I cry every time, even though I know how it all goes. It’s a classic, and if you happen to be a person who hasn’t seen it, you can find it somewhere. I recommend it, highly. It gets a little long, but to get the big picture of the whole thing it is worth the time. I think we all have a little George Bailey in us at times, we get frustrated with the things we want but just can’t reach because real life gets in the way. We have all been sidelined by obligations and sometimes feel like we aren’t important or contributing in life. Like we don’t make a difference. The movie takes a look at what would have happened if George had never been born. He gets to see what life would have been like had he not been there. You may think you don’t impact the lives of others, but you do, and most of the time it is in a wonderful way. All the little things add up, and this movie shows it, in a very basic, feel good way. I get all teary eyed just thinking about it. EFWB.

The weather is cold, it’s dark most of the day. It’s the time of hibernation, and we all just want to be in our jammies anyway. Sit back, relax and find the holiday movie that puts you in that right frame of mind. Whether it’s the young business executive returning home for the holidays only to fall in love with the tree lot sales guy she went to high school with but ignored for 4 years, or it’s John McCLane and his bloody feet watching Hans Gruber fall from the Nakatomi Tower, watch what you love with someone you love. Even if it’s just your dog, spending that time to get yourself right with the Holiday Spirit is worth every minute. The Hustle and Bustle of the holidays will be there, but Buddy the Elf wants to know your favorite color right now, and that is worth taking time to think about. Happy Holidays!