Supposedly, April showers bring May flowers. April was a doozy for me. The world tried to come crashing down on me, the Enemy thought he could defeat me--yet here I stand!

Today, I'm ready for whatever life has to offer. I will see blessings in every cirumstance. I will be happy and energetic while I'm doing it. I accept that everything will not go according to my plan. I will be a positive influence on every living thing in my path today. I will repel everything toxic. I am a verb! Amen.

Your comments--priceless!!

Yesterday it happened again. Twice. During my daily travels, I saw 2 separate shoes laying in the road, in 2 separate locations. This is something that has always interested me. I can't figure it out. How did the shoe get there?

Was someone crossing on foot, absentmindedly step out of their shoe and not realize it, and continue on to their destination without it? Was someone's foot hanging out of the window of a car or bus and the shoe fell off, but then they were in a rush and didn't have time to retrieve it?

Was there a fight in the car and the shoe was thrown out? Was there a fight on the street and when the police got there, OneShoe ran, knowing he was leaving the shoe? Were there a pile of shoes tied to the roof of the car and one fell off?

How does one shoe get in the middle of a busy roadway? What do you think?

Your comments--priceless!!
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So, the media has induced a panic surrounding Swine Flu. Every few years, there's some sort of flu epidemic--Swine Flu, Bird Flu, Hong Kong Flu, SARS.

I won't panic. I won't go out and buy masks for the family. I don't even need to go buy hand sanitizer, as we use it regularly and have it on hand already.

The smartest thing that you can do for yourself and your loved ones is wash your hands frequently and/or use an alcohol based hand sanitzer. Pretty simple. Keep your hands clean and refrain from touching other folks.

We will be okay. This, too, shall pass....
How do you keep in touch with friends and family that live far away? Email? Phone calls? Snail mail? I do a mixture of them all. It's so easy to lose touch these days and family is important to me.

I send email regularly. I think it's a great way to keep in touch, but also a bit impersonal. Who wants to be on a list of 10 other folks that you are sharing "exciting news" with?

I try to call at regular intervals as well, especially the older generation. They may not be getting my email updates. And they love to just hear your voice. And talking to family makes my day!

I send snail mail, though not nearly as much as I should. When I get an envelope or package in the mail from a friend, especially one that I wasn't expecting, it makes me giddy. I want to share that feeling with someone else.

How do you all keep in contact? And how do you make holidays and family milestones special, even when you can't be there?

Your comments--priceless!!

Twenty years ago today, the world lost The Funny Woman, Lucille Ball. I grew up watching Lucy's antics on her various television shows and movies. There was Lucy, Ricky, Ethel & Fred, Mrs Trumbull, Mrs McGillicuddy, and Little Ricky. Later, Lucy had another show that featured her real life children as her small screen kids. I STILL can't watch old reruns without laughing until I cry.

Who could forget Lucy as the "vitameatavegamin girl"? Or the one where she mimes with Harpo Marx? Or Lucy and Ethel trying to package candy from the conveyor belt? I start to giggle just thinking about them. Back then, the whole family could watch television together. It was good, clean comedy.

She has been called one of the 100 Most Important People of the Century by Time Magazine, as well as one of the 50 Greatest TV Icons. She was also called Wife & Mom. She brought laughter to millions, during an era laden with war, inflation, and hard times. I can't think of a harder job. Thanks Lucy!!!

Your comments--priceless!!
Today is Red Hat Society Day. Have you ever seen them? They are a group of older women who get together to encourage fun and silliness. They all wear red hats and purple outfits.

I've run into groups of them occasionally. They always look like they are having such a good time that I'm kind of jealous that you have to be at least 50 years old to join. It's not a sorority. There aren't any initiation fees. They don't raise funds. They boast of more than a million members.

They simply enjoy each other's company and I love it. I think it's great. And the costumes are sometimes so ridiculous that you can't help but smile when you see them. A perfect society cherishes it's children, as well as it's elderly. I'm all for that!

Your comments--priceless!!
We've reached the time of year when graduation ceremonies are scheduled. It's sort of bittersweet--at a time when graduates should be hopeful and motivated, the economy is in such dire straits that graduation is probably more stressful than finals.

Will new graduates be able to find employment in a time when seasoned professionals are being laid off? Rather than embarking on new adventures, will they be reduced to moving back in with their parents, while working in a field totally unrelated to their schooling? If there were student loans, the coupon book will soon arrive. How terrifying..

Now, more than ever, it's important for college students to select courses of study that will ensure gainful employment after graduation. How can we help them? What advise can we give? As a nation, what should we promise them?

Your comments--priceless!!

I don't want to be a grownup anymore. Lately, I've been longing for the leisure and carelessness of my childhood. Back when I didn't have a job, bills, medical problems, and responsibilities. The worst stress in my life was whether the weather would be nice enough for me to go outside.

I long for hopscotch and Chico-o-Sticks. For skate keys and puppy love. For jacks and kickball. Being a adult is so over rated, yet it looks sooo desireable when you're a kid. I couldn't wait to be grown. Now I'm here and I wish I could give it all back. Peter Pan was definitely on to something...

Your comments--priceless!!

One day a year, the good folks at Ben & Jerry's give away a free cone to anyone that comes in to one of their stores. It's part of showing gratitude to their customer base. I'm sure they hope to win new customers and it's good PR. Yesterday was that day. My husband and son went in to collect theirs and encountered a really rude employee. I'm sure she was inundated by the crowds, but at the same time, she should be glad to have a job in this economy. Right?

Let's move on to America Online. Several years back, executives at AOL decided that they would make their services free to anyone who already had internet access. Millions of subscribers quickly changed over. Here's the catch--if you are not a paying member, they don't provide any technical support. So, if their service happens to hit a kink, which it frequently does, they won't talk to you.

Finally, I've been hearing a lot lately about Acai berry scams. The Acai berry was touted to be the best thing since the birth control pill. It was supposed to be high in antioxidants and very good for your health--so good that they would give you a supply for free. The catch was--when you signed up for your free batch, you had to give your credit card number to continue to receive it after your free batch ran out. Unfortunately, most folks started getting charged long before they even received the free supply. Many had to actually cancel the credit card in order to stop the charges.

The moral of the story is--Sometimes it's better to pay for services and have recourse, than to be at the mercy of a freebie. What do you think? Any more examples?

Your comments--priceless!!

First off, let me say thanks for all of your thoughts, prayers, calls and emails. NOTHING in the world compares with the love of family and friends. I am out of the hospital and back at home.

A hospital stay is never a good thing, I have to say that Memorial Hospital Miramar and it's employees made my stay as awesome an experience as possible.

From the moment that I walked into the door, every single employee that I encountered went out of their way to be helpful. The ER was full, so I ended up on a stretcher in the hallway, but EVERY employee that passed me, whether it was a nurse, doctor, office worker, or security guard stopped and asked if they could get me anything or if I needed anything. When it was finally determined that I could eat, they bought me a tray of food, as well as one for my husband. When the shift ended, everyone that had had contact with me came and wished me well, before leaving for the night.

Once I got into my room, my nurses were helpful and pleasant and just joys to have around. (Of course, that doesn't mean they didn't worry me all night.) I felt like I was being taken care of by friends. Each room in the hospital is a private suite, with both a sofabed and a reclining chair. They encourage family to stay with the patient. Also, there are no visiting hours. Family can come anytime they like. The bathroom was spa quality, with a full size shower, including a built in seat and a handheld showerhead. And did I mention, free wifi??? It is a beautiful facility and I couldn't have asked for more caring professionals.

When you are already in bad health, such treatment goes a long way in helping one to recover. Kudos to everyone at Memorial Hospital Miramar--Yall ROCK!!

Your comments--priceless!!

So, in a classic example of My Plan vs God's Plan, here I lay in Memorial Hospital Miramar, watching CNN cover a highjacking at the Jamaican airport. As you recall, My Plan was to finalize vacation dates with Dad yesterday, followed by a long chat with my good friend Beth. Neither of those things got done, as neither was on God's Plan.

Instead, I woke up yesterday with my left foot wayyyy swollen. My dear husband took a look and shuttled me off to the ER. The doctor wanted both an ultrasound of the leg to rule out a blood clot, as well as blood work. I settled in to wait, with my Kindle.

The ultrasound was negative, but then the fun started. First, my ER nurse, Elizabeth, came over with a strange look on her face. She asked if I knew that my iron was low. I responded that I had been anemic all of my life. She retreated. Soon after, the doctor returned. He advised that my iron count was much too low to allow me to leave the hospital. He further indicated that one of the ways that my body tried to announce this condition, was by the swelling of the foot. I immediately went into Classic Jewel mode and burst into tears, hoping to gain sympathy from him, and ultimately gain my freedom. He pretended not to notice. How do u NOT notice buckets of alligator tears???? As soon as I realized that the waterworks had absolutely no affect on him, I shut them off, deciding to save them for someone more worthy of such a fine display of drama.

So, here I lay, 2 blood tranfusions and 2 bags of iron later. Yesterday was THE DAY, but not for the reasons that I thought. God truly has a way of reminding us that our plans don't necessarily coincide with His.

Your comments--priceless!!

So today is THE DAY. Not my birthday. Not Pay Day. But THE DAY. The day that I have to call my Dad and start planning the family's summer vacation.

I am so not looking forward to this conversation. If you are a long time reader, you know that this is no small task, talking to my Dad about the vacation. (If you are not a long time reader, please refer to my post of January 8th--you'll get our vacation history there.) I love him dearly. I love him more than life itself. I love him like French Vanilla Slimfast and Paul Newman lemonade. I can talk to him about nearly anything--EXCEPT vacation plans.

After many years of doing this, I've learned not to try to get him to decide too much at a time. So today, the only thing we need to confirm is which weeks he wants to come. Last year, this talk lasted about 2 hours. Based on our recent conversations, I'm blocking off about 4 hours for today's talk. He's hinted that rather than a week or so in South Florida, he wants to do perhaps a weekend in South Florida and then a cruise someplace else. And, we have more family members coming this year.

This is a man who takes 3 days to decide which sneakers to bring. That wouldn't be so bad, except NOTHING else can go into the suitcase until he puts the sneakers in. This is a man who gets to the airport AT LEAST 8 hours before the flight--he doesnt want to miss it. But he's also a man who has worked all of his life to provide for his family. I must say, he afforded me a wonderful childhood and until I was in high school, I thought we were rich! I have never not been able to do something that I wanted to do because there was no money. I have never not had the latest and greatest. And he has a good heart. If you meet him once, and he determines that you like, say Root Beer, you will NEVER come to his home again when there is not Root Beer there and when you walk in, he'll drop a 12 pack on root beer on the table in front of you and point you to the corner where 3 more 12 packs sit.

So, I will try to struggle through this today. Wish me luck!!!

Your comments--priceless!!

This morning, a question was posed to me, "When do you know that it's time to leave the party?" At first it seemed kind of silly, but as I thought about it, it became an interesting blog topic. Let me give you my opinion.

It's definitely time for me to leave the party when I see weapons, especially firearms. Tipsy folks and weapons are not a good mix. It's also the cue for me to leave when any kind of violence breaks out. I know that death is a given, but I don't want to die violently. Also, a good time for me can come to a screeching halt by folks arguing and fighting. That can ruin it for me.

It's time for me to get going when an influx of teens and young adults arrive. I recognize when it is simply not my crowd. I also don't want to be one of the last guests there, sitting around while the host is trying to clean up and go to bed. When the masses start trickling away, so do I.

What about you? How do you know when it's time for you to leave the party?

Your comments--priceless!!

So the entries are in and we have a winner! Chosen by random number generator, the winner is serial commenter, LUVA!!!

Luva now has 24 hours to provide shipping information or another winner will be selected, though something tells me she will provide in plenty of time..

Congratulations to Luva and thanks to everyone who entered. Don't forget that there will be TWO giveaways this month, so stay alert for the next one!
The Dance Theatre of Harlem is celebrating it's 40th anniversary. I saw a piece on Good Morning America. It took me back to my childhood, when I dreamed of becoming a ballerina.

My parents enrolled me at the Davis Center in Washington, DC. I'm sure that the tuition was a pretty penny. I was about 10 or so. My mom bought me the required black leotard and pink tights. But once enrolled, I quickly realized that one didn't become a ballerina overnight--that it would take years for me to master. So I started a pattern that continues even now--I dropped out and found something else that I thought I was interested in.

Over the years, I've started quite a few things that I never finished. I'm gung ho when I start it. I jump into it wholeheartedly. But then I realize that it will require time, effort, and committment and back away. Now that I think about it, there are few things that I actually saw through to the end. Why is that?

Your comments--priceless!!

So, AT&T has joined it's competitors in offering a GPS locator service. It's touted as a method of keeping track of wayward teens, but it has the internet, especially the blogosphere, all abuzz.

First off, the person being tracked, may not know that they are being tracked. I think that's odd. If I am tracking a family member's (especially a spouse) location and they aren't aware of it, that seems to me to be a serious breach of confidence. I can't think of a single circumstance where that would be okay for me.

Second off, the phone doesn't necessarily need GPS capabilities. If it's a non GPS phone, they will just use the cell tower locations, giving you a general location. But if it is a GPS phone, they can pinpoint the location right down to the address.

I guess it's useful if you share a cell account with folks (even teens) that you have no trust in. But, outside of the obvious instances where it could be used to track missing people, I have no need for this feature. Besides, it's expensive. Luckily, I can simply call or text everyone in my home and ask their location and have a reasonable expectation of getting the truth.

What about you? Am I missing something here? Is this a great thing? Would you use it?

Your comments--priceless!!

Also, don't forget to enter the drawing for the book--only one day left to enter!!

I'm in the middle of reading a scary book now. It's very suspenseful and gruesome. Last night, I started thinking about things that I'm afraid of and why. I've determined that I am deathly afraid of heights, but also terrified of lizards, bugs, frogs, snakes, and losing a family member.

The fear of heights is probably the worst of all. I am literally paralyzed with the fear of being unenclosed more than a few feet off the ground. I've even had problems in high rise office buildings, just knowing that I'm way up high. In addition to the paralysis, I get chills, cottonmouth, and rapid heartrate. To put it mildly, it's a meltdown.

I've had this all of my life. I'm not sure if there is a way to overcome it. A few years back, I saw a program on television where folks confronted their height fears by rappelling down the skyscrapers and shimmying across catwalks. Either of those would be out of the question for me. I've simply been able to avoid situations where I have to be up high. I'll spring for the floor seats at concerts and sporting events, and not venture out onto the terraces of cloud dwelling friends.

What about you? What are you afraid of? How do you work around it? Have you ever confronted it head-on?

Your comments--priceless!! during a trip to the zoo, you decide to jump into the polar bear habitat during feeding time. Is it just me who thinks that was a bit "not smart?" What did she think--that they were going to hand her a bottle of Coke???

Now there are public outcries for zoos to be safer? I think zoos should have measures to prevent animals from escaping, as well as those designed to prevent accident entries or falls into exhibits. But now we want them to be required to keep crazy folks out?? At what point does responsibility for one's self enter the picture?

And then, when she was finally rescued, she gives the authorities fake names and isn't cooperative? Is it just me? Is it??

Your comments--priceless!!

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Today is Easter Sunday. For some of us, that means the we break out the Easter baskets, colored eggs and chocolate bunnies. But for many of us, this is the most Holy of times. Today is the day that we celebrate the resurrection of our Savior, Jesus Christ, three days after his crucifixion. In many families, it is marked by Church attendance, followed by a family feast. As a child, Easter weekend was always wrapped up with a visit to the National Zoo in Washington, DC on Easter Monday.

I have much to be thankful for this Easter. Though I'm certainly not where I want to be, I have faith that I am exactly where God wants me to be. There are certainly lessons that I need to be learning, and I hope that I get them soon, so that I can move on from this place. I'm feeling very stagnant.

What about you? What are your Easter traditions, if any? Does your religion observe Easter? Does your family have specific Easter customs?

Your comments--priceless!!

Yesterday, I heard one of the saddest stories. One of my relatives was accompanying another relative to their local emergency room. While there, she happened upon one of her former coworkers who was laying on a stretcher. They hadn't seen each other in about 10 years or so.

The coworker explained that she had tried to kill herself that morning. She lost her job and is having trouble finding a new one. She fears that she will lose her home and end up on the street. She was very matter of fact about the whole thing. She has just painted herself into a corner and there's no way out. Suicide seems like a viable solution to her. How sad..

We have got to fix this economy! When normal, sane folks are plotting their own demise to get away from bill collectors and financial troubles, there is a problem. I pray for her and others like her. There, but for the grace of God, goes Jewel...

Your comments--priceless!!

Many of you have heard me raving about this book. I read it this week. It is an amazing story of friendship and tolerance. It's set in Jackson, Mississippi in the 60's. It's the story of the relationships between white families of that era and the black maids who serve them. You follow the lives of three women, all three of which you love sometimes and you want to shake at other times.

This one made me laugh out loud, as well as weep. I thoroughly enjoyed it. I can't believe that it's author, Kathryn Stockett, has never written a book before. Her first time out of the gate and she hits a home run! This is one of my top 5 reads of all time.

I'm giving this away. Here are the rules:

1. Leave a comment on this post anytime between now and next Thursday, April 16. Winner will be drawn by random number generator and announced on Friday, April 17th. Winner will be notified by email and have 24 hours to provide an address to send the book. Should winner fail to do so, another winner will be chosen.
2. You will get one extra entry if you sign up for email subscriptions and start receiving them.
3. You will get one extra entry if you follow me on Twitter.
4. You will get one extra entry if you blog about this giveaway.
5. You will get one extra entry if you forward this post to at least 4 friends. Please copy me on the email.
6. You will get one extra entry if you tweet about this giveway.

Whew! That's a lot of entries. Good luck!

Lately, I've seen quite a few young women with glaring tattoos on their necks, arms, faces, and legs. Some don't even look like they were done in a reputable tattoo shop but rather done at someone's kitchen table. I always wonder what they are thinking.

These crude looking drawings and words detract from their appearance. What's wrong with looking decent and wholesome? How will having "Baby Girl" in Gothic Script under your ear go over in corporate America? Who will take you serious?

Am I just showing my age and not allowing our young people self expression? Am I not seeing the artistic value in this? Am I just an old fuddy duddy???

Your comments--priceless!!

Let me first say, I am NOT a Miley Cyrus fan. However, with that being said, she does have a new song out whose lyrics are about determination, persistence, and most importantly--accepting failure. I am at a point in my life right now where these lessons are timely for me. Sometimes I will not come out on top. Sometimes, though I've given it my best, I will fall short of the goal. In those times, I have to pick myself up, dust off my britches, and press on.

I'm not fond of Miley's voice, but the lyrics of "The Climb" hit home for me. Here is the chorus...

There's always going to be another mountain
I'm always going to want to make it move
Always going to be an uphill battle,
Sometimes I'm gonna to have to lose,
Ain't about how fast I get there,
Ain't about what's waiting on the other side
It's the climb

She's right--it's not always about winning--sometimes it's about the lessons learned in "the climb." What do you think?

Your comments--priceless!!

So, here it is April and the economy is not getting any better. Everywhere folks are getting laid off and taking paycuts, but the cost of living is rising. Food, gasoline, and utilities are astronomical. And it seems that things will get worse, before getting better. How will we cope?

If you are like me, you're looking for ways to cut household costs. I'm examining things that I've always taken for granted to see if we could do without them. Do we really need 4 cell phones? Do we really need every channel DirecTV has to offer? Do we really need a lawn service and a pool service? Do we really need a fax line? Is 2 ply toilet paper really necessary? How many of these things could we live without?

Is it just me or are you too cutting back? What things have you given up? What things are you contemplating giving up?

Your comments--priceless!!

Two recent stories in the news have disturbed me greatly. The first was an ABC News Report about the shoddy luggage practices of Continental Airlines. It seems that all the safeguards that were put into play at airports give travelers a false sense of security. While we jump through all the hoops before we check our luggage, the real threats are once the bags are in the custody of the airline. It's there that dishonest employees are rifling through passenger belongings and pilfering valuables. The other story was splashed across the front page of yesterday's Washington Post. It exposed the disgusting way that the remains of deceased persons, including decorated veterans, are stored while waiting for burial.

These breaches go beyond bad customer service--I believe that they are criminal. In both cases, John Q Public does exactly what he's supposed to--like using TSA travel locks or arranging for a dignified burial of a loved one through a reputable funeral home--and, through no fault of his own, the whole thing disintegrates.

What do we do when companies fail us? How do we fight back? And most importantly, when these stories are finally brought to light, why do our public officials and regulatory agencies back away from them? What is this about?

Your comments--priceless!!

While the rest of my friends are lamenting the loss of professional football for the next few months, and cheering the race to the playoffs in professional basketball, I have been silently biding my time. And finally, it's here-Baseball Season!

I love baseball. It is absolutely my favorite professional sport. My friends say it's boring and slow and long, but I say that there is nothing more American than baseball, except, of course, hotdogs and apple pie. And I'm looking forward to opening day tomorrow--my hometown team, The Washington Nationals, are playing my current town team, The Florida Marlins. I'm not sure who even to cheer for. Then, after opening day, many games to follow. My fascination will run until the World Series this fall.

What about you guys? Any baseball lovers? Wanna wager any friendly bets? Whose your team? Whose your favorite player?

Your comments--priceless!!

I fell off to sleep last night waiting for more details on the massacre in Binghamton. I woke up this morning to the horror of another in Pittsburgh. What is going on with the world? Who declared war on the common man?

And how come the neighbors, coworkers, and loved ones of the suspect always say that he was a quiet person. Is there some correlation between being "quiet" and plotting to kill strangers for no apparent reason?

And whatever happened to the "big city" being the dangerous place. The killing sprees lately have been in rural America. Does this mean that no place is safe anymore?

I'm just sick of turning on the television and seeing that innocent folks, going about the mundane business of their daily lives are suddenly murder victims. How do you reconcile that? How does that fact NOT creep into the back of your mind at the most inopportune times during your day?

Your comments--priceless!!
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Today, I need to pick up a birthday gift for my Mom, whose birthday is next week. I know exactly what I'm going to get, it's something that I know that she'll get a kick out of. On the other hand, I could always get a gift card--or could I?

I wouldn't mind giving a gift card to a coworker or a neighbor, but I would never consider giving a gift card to my mother. I just feel that it's much too impersonal. I've been knowing her all my life. I know what she likes. I know what her interests are. Why not give her something that she would just love?

I do realize that in some situations, gift cards are ideal, especially when shipping is a consideration. They also work well for kids, teenagers, college students, and those you just don't know very well. I even keep a couple gift cards around for those occasions that catch me unprepared. But for my Mom? A gift card? NOPE..

How do you feel about gift cards versus a real gift? Are they always acceptable? Are there exceptions? Do you give everyone gift cards or just some people? Tell me about it...

Your comments--priceless!!
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When I moved to Florida a few years back, I left my entire family tree. To compensate for that, I started carrying my digital camera in my purse and snapping pictures of everything. I bombard my family with pictures of our lives and activities. Of course, they appreciate having pictures of the kids. The pictures of me? Not so much.

Well now, the kids hate to see me pulling out the camera. The don't understand that if you don't take a picture of the experience, you can't go back and recreate the picture. I love looking at all the photographs and remembering "that particular day." I think they as they grow up, they will start to appreciate them as well.

Are you a camera hound? Do you take photographs of ordinary activities? Do you share them with family? Do your kids hate it?

Your comments--priceless!

This question was posed to me a few days ago. Can a single woman raise a boychild to be a man? And for once, (marking this date down), I'm not sure. I'm torn--I see both sides of the coin.

On one hand, I know that I could teach him how to do the things that I know how to do, but who would expose him to "manly" things that I have no knowledge of--like fishing, and tinkering around with cars, and comic books, and most importantly--how to treat women? Of course I could teach him how women want to be treated, but am I teaching him from a woman's stance? Is there a difference in how a man would go about the same lesson? What if the girls want to fish too? Is there really any such thing as "manly"?

Can an uncle or grandfather or scoutmaster or pastor or neighbor fill in? Do you have to be in the same household? I'm going to think about this further and post again this weekend on this topic. Let me know your views..

Your comments--priceless!

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