The 11th of Lauren

How can it be the 11th of Lauren, already? Birthday month is here!

Flashback: When my parents took me home from the hospital. They brought a fire truck, balloon, and a  baby.  That is the order of preference that my brother welcomed the gifts…

Despite early hesitation, my brother became one of my biggest fans.

Despite early hesitation about his little sister arriving on the scene, my brother  has become one of my biggest fans. I constantly make him laugh. I’m glad I can help, Bro.

Imagine having a month dedicated just to you. Our expectations are way too low. This one day nonsense for your birthday isn’t enough. Each year we have more things we want to do and run out of time. So it only makes sense that this homage to ourselves get expanded. In my case, the month formerly known as May is Lauren. Today is Lauren the 11th.

How does one partake in the Celebration of the Month of Lauren? Here are some easy ways to be successful that are inexpensive on the pocket-book but rich in thought:

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Mom to the Rescue

It’s Mother’s Day 2015 and here are some developments since my original post that is below this one.

Flashback to last June on Friday the 13th when I was moving out of my condo.

  • Things are going well as I plot my new adventure at my new home, yet to be discovered. As I float down the stairs of my condo hallway and hear the jingling of keys in my pocket, I am at peace.  Delight turn to fright as I discover that my car keys are in my pocket and my condo keys are in my condo and I am on the wrong side of the door. Cell phone in hand, tears build, as I anxiously await to hear my mom’s calming voice. “Mom, I need you now!”  Normally, my mom wouldn’t be home at the hour, but I caught her and she rushed over with the extra set of keys that she hadn’t returned to me yet! Morale: Mom came to the rescue, movers arrived and the rest of the day was seamless. Sigh.

  • After all these years, we still play tennis and if top spin was a spice, hers would be extra hot.

  • I have been taking guitar lessons since last fall. It can be frustrating learning how to play but, thankfully, I now have a really cool teacher who has turbo boosted my muscle memory that allows me to play all sorts of songs. However, I wouldn’t be playing the guitar if my mom didn’t buy it for me.

  • She grew up playing croquet and a group of us still play during the summer – thanks to the Croquet Hostess.  She continues to channel her hometown roots and destroy the competition on the course, despite her routinely asking which wicket she is supposed to be shooting the ball through.

  • Last year, she introduced me to the Puzzle Island section of the Chicago Tribune. Since then, every Sunday, I go to her place and remove the coveted wordplay section and head over to the coffee shop to exercise my brain.

  • In the winter, we take walks and look at lights.  In the warmer weather, we study the gardens and architecture of the homes.  At night, we walk over to the lake and gaze at the Chicago Skyline, tranquil lake, and twinkling stars over our heads. If the timing is right, the fireflies come along for the ride.

  • I got her a memory rock from the rock store down the street, a couple of week ago. Whenever she forgets something now, she says it’s because she doesn’t have her memory rock – because she forgot to take it with her.

May her warmth, generosity, and amusing witticisms continue to impress all of the people who are lucky enough to encounter her.  Happy Mother’s Day, Mom, thanks for creating memories with me!

A Rocky Selfie with Mom :)

A Rocky Selfie with Mom :)

5-12-13 It’s Mommy Time

This weekend, many Facebook profile and cover photos are composed of mothers, be it a flashback or a recent photo. This is done, obviously, as an homage to Mother’s Day. That’s one of the pros of Facebook. I’m fortunate that I get to hang out with my mom frequently. Here are some things that everyone loves about my mom, including me.

  • She has voluminous hair and she passed that on to me. When I was younger, I used to call her mane “Bozo hair” and she hated that. It wasn’t THAT red but it was full of curls and actually quite pretty. When she grew her “natural” hair color out, to the bedevilment of our hair stylist, I commented that it looked like an “upside-down banana split”. She also didn’t like that too much, either.

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4 Years of Ranting and Raving

Four years ago, the death of a close family friend, propelled me to take on this blog. Jeff  is a constant reminder NOT to squander time.

Yet, this past year, I have been somewhat inattentive to my blog. I shall put blogging back on my to-do list.  Because when I feel better, we all feel better.

Before I forget, quick guitar update. Totally nailed the most boring song ever, with the book closed and Teacher Man, formerly known as Fan Man (but that was lame), advanced me to my coveted “Are You Lonesome Tonight.” Giddy with gratitude! Any time spent with Elvis is time well spent. But I digress.

Per the site stats, here are the posts that had the most traction over the past year.

1. In the “You’ve got to be kidding me, it’s connected to my brother” category – a 30 second “Girl I Want to Skate Backwards with You” video featuring Read the rest of this entry

Don’t Fret over the Guitar

Dear Voracious Readers,

There has been a ridiculous lapse in correspondence for which I profusely apologize. My passion for writing has not dissipated, I assure you.

As you may recall, during a session of many “gone wrong” eyeglass fittings for a reunion back in 2011, the opinionated optician told me to get a hobby. 

So, I did.

The doting aunt that I am discovered that my niece and nephew were taking up the guitar. Last summer, my mom and I strolled into her neighborhood guitar store and she directed me to a plastic guitar which even I knew was a bit beneath me.  The “Guitar Guy” guided me to an adult guitar.

My mom suggested that “I sleep on it”.  Of course she meant the idea of owning a guitar versus sleeping on an actual guitar, and I was all in. I bought the bag, the Mel Bay first-grade class book, some picks, and even a humidifier.  I declared to “Guitar Guy” that I would be playing Elvis because “I have a thing for the King.”

I signed up for guitar lessons and by Thanksgiving I was teaching my nephew how to play “Blue Moon of Kentucky.”  My sister-in-law gushed over the improvement in my nephew’s playing while I was there. We carried our bonding over to the tennis court and I cherish our one-on-one time – after all, he is only 6.

Achieved my goal of playing  an Elvis song for my niece and nephew by Thanksgiving.

Achieved my goal of playing an Elvis song for my niece and nephew by Thanksgiving.

As I left the store one night, “Guitar Guy” looked at me and shook his head. Apparently, I was carrying the coveted guitar bag….upside down. He said, “You are going to snap your neck!” I gushed at this kindness and realized he was referring to my guitar’s neck, versus my well-being but I digress.  As time would move on, “Guitar Guy” graduated to becoming my guitar’s life coach as he cares for everything ranging from aligning my guitar’s neck to attempting to explain proper pick holding technique, how to string it, but I digress, once again.

Fast forward to the beginning of the year and my teacher flew the coop, for understandable reasons. Given that I had just moved down the street from the guitar place, I was committed to taking lessons there.  I had a five-week deviation with another teacher and it just wasn’t a good fit for either of us, so I switched teachers.

Today was my second lesson with Read the rest of this entry

Christmas Lights – Awesome Sights

When I was a kid, I would awaken Christmas morning to the hypnotic sound of the chirping bird on the Christmas Tree and the pitter patter of my maternal grandparents stirring about upstairs. My Christmas Stocking  greeted me with a chocolate marshmallow Santa, a ballpoint pen from the local bank, and a waiting-to be-ripe orange. I’m sure there was more in there – but that is what stands out as I write this memory.  Now these moments would be captured on social media or Facebook…but not then!

Here are some photos of Christmas lights to warm up your inner holiday spirit. It doesn’t appear it will be a White Christmas in my part of the world but this weather condition has allowed me the opportunity to stroll along the streets at night to take in the lights and not be cold!

House Outline - always impresses me, trust me, the top of the house exists...

House Outline and stars – a good beginning…

Pretty remarkable.

A bright colorful tree with Rudolph watching over things…

Introducing the Ho Ho Helicopter...

Introducing the Ho Ho Helicopter…

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Life with a Gator

15 years ago, I bought a third floor, triple exposure, walk-up condo in the heart of a college town.  It offered a daily workout with the stairs and amazing treetop views but there was no outside space, among other things.

Flashback to the night before the move to the condo:

My brother is a Mensch. He flew into “help me move”.  When he offered his services, he thought he was helping me “settle in” my new condo. He was wrong.

The afternoon before, he arrived at my apartment to survey the situation.  I assured him that I was in good shape.

Bro: “Where are the boxes?”

Sis: “Huh?”

Bro gets on phone: “Dad, she hasn’t packed anything, there are no boxes!”

My dad, his then-girlfriend and my brother scoured the neighboring towns for crates and packing vessels to enable safe transport of my belongings. I just pointed and they packed. Really!

A few days after getting organized in the second bedroom of my new place, I saw a massive object on the floor. I thought it was a mangled car tire.  It wasn’t.  It was a condo warming present from my brother and the perfect gift for one without an outside space. Read the rest of this entry

Ride it Out

Weather permitting, I push myself to take long bicycle rides on the weekends. Given our brutal weather in the Midwest, I was pretty elated to be able to ride 40 miles this past Sunday.  There is nothing like a ride offering decompression that lasts for half a day.

From a cardio point of view, I wasn’t fatigued at all. In fact, when I got to my half-way point at 20 miles in, a part of me wanted to bike all the way to Wisconsin.  My brother did that once.

Great Lakes Naval Base - 1/2 Way to 40 or Do I Ride to Wisconsin?

Great Lakes Naval Base – 1/2 Way to 40 or Do I Ride to Wisconsin?

He would pedal on his bike until the sun went down. He didn’t concern himself with how he would get home. However, it did hit him that he could not ride in the dark on a major highway – without a light.

In an age that offered no cell phones, he promptly found a pay phone at McDonald’s and called our father hoping that he would be home. Moments later, our dad said, “Found your brother! Come on, we’re going to Kenosha to pick him up – he rode his bike there this afternoon.” I was so impressed that he had gone 50 miles on a bike at one time!

Some people are baffled as to why I would choose to spend four or five hours of my precious weekend time on a bike. It’s a gift and as long as I can keep pedaling, I will do it. It’s time away to reflect and re-group.  Granted, I have climbed 2,109 stairs of the Willis Tower, twice. But, I digress.

When I turned around, Read the rest of this entry

How to Blast Past the Blues

Melancholia seems to be all around us these days and it’s easy to get sucked into the negative vortex.  Those who get served constant helpings of unwanted or undeserved mind screw soufflé can become frustrated or blue. I have no shame in realizing that I am disenchanted by people who represent themselves as sincere but are disingenuous.

Fear prompts the blues and insincerity is caused by fear.

To get past this yucky feeling, I rant! I say some inappropriate words but am usually able to put a funny spin on a disappointing situation. I can laugh at myself and have to. During moments like these, my writer’s block is no longer an obstacle because I can just write without distraction.

Last night, one of my lifelong friends gave me a pencil because none of my pens were working and challenged me to wax poetic. I laughed at the thought.  I hadn’t written poems since college. For inspiration, I took out my old book of rantings and ravings which included my touching Wiffleball Wonderland poem that I wrote about my childhood neighbors, but I digress. Over the next couple of hours, I just blurted out words. By the end of the evening, eight words came out: Read the rest of this entry

Life lessons at the gym and at work

I‘ve got a lot on my mind right now and it’s not whether to blow dry my hair straight today or let my locks return to their natural bouncy condition.

Years ago, a seasoned vet at my office said good morning to me and I didn’t return the greeting in the preferred manner. I just kind of nodded my head giving a greeting in non-verbal manner. He was beside himself that I didn’t say the phrase, “good morning” in return.

Well, here’s the reality, I did say good morning – in my own way. I wasn’t going to flagrantly lie to him and tell him my morning wasn’t good, if it wasn’t. Furthermore, it would be like telling the car salesman who asks, “How are you”? He or she is not really expecting a genuine answer. Okay, obviously there is more interest in my colleague asking me versus someone trying to make a commission off of me, but I digress. 

How do I know if I am having a good morning, really? The morning has just begun. Are you wishing me a good morning or are you asking me if it is a good morning? Years would pass and my lesson hadn’t been learned yet.  I would just nod and get reprimanded EVERY TIME. Every time he would say. “If the morning isn’t good yet, maybe if you say it is – it will be.” 

Finally, I ran into a manager at my local heath club. Every time he saw me, his enthusiasm brimmed through the question, “How are you today?” At first I just (you guessed it) did the nod. He just shook his head with his supremely muscular arms folded and a contagious smile. He knew he had a convert on his hands. Overtime, I started to smile and eventually one day I yelled, “Fantastic” before he even asked the question and he raised his fists in the air as if to say, “The Shrew has been Tamed!”  

Nowadays that former colleague of mine would probably step back in awe because “fantastic” booms from my mouth to anyone who says good morning to me. It puts me in a good place for the rest of the day and if I say it enough, it does seem to become real.  It’s kind of like that rush one gets from having avocado or working out and I feel kind of giddy. 

By the way, things really are f-a-n-t-a-s-t-i-c. I have my inner circle of real, quality friends.  The ones who call me out on my bad behavior, protect me when needed (perhaps with white lies which I call second kid syndrome but I digress again), encourage me to do and be better and laugh at my somewhat errant wordplay. We

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Three Years of Believing and Achieving

Holy cow! Three years of blog magic. It’s here. I never thought I would be ranting and raving for over 4,380 days – wait, isn’t that 12 years?  Sorry, work on the brain, I was multiplying by 12 all day. 1,095 days…much better.

I have been neglecting my blog lately – actually all four of them…will get back on track. I haven’t done a free write in forever and it’s therapy for me so nobody really wins when I don’t write.

I have made some great blog friends over the years and I have enjoyed learning from them and getting their positive feedback – thanks for encouragement! For awhile I was trying to do the post-a-day thing and realized that was not practical. It was nice to have a topic given to me but it seemed forced.

Some points of interest: I’ve had Facebook fallout from not knowing how to direct someone  to the canned salmon, crabby opticians making my glasses look crooked for important events, constantly doing alumni outreach for my various events, and climbed the Willis (nee Sears) Tower two times with some intense Insanity workouts mixed in.  I have the coolest photo Read the rest of this entry

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