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Eat the Watermelon and Sing

 

The Month of Lauren had some amazing moments and I thank everyone who thought of me on the big day. I am very lucky! The month also had two notable losses. 

One of them was the untimely demise of a 53-year-old former colleague of mine. He was always very supportive of me, good-natured and funny. I haven’t seen him in four years but it seems like yesterday. “I’m on Team Lauren,” he would say as he greeted me with a big smile and exuded positivity.

The other loss was my guitar teacher’s 82-year-old mom who was in the hospital for quite a few weeks before dying a few days after Mother’s Day.  I had never met her but opted to show support by attending her memorial and get a mental snapshot of the person who had brought this encouraging and witty wordsmith, my guitar teacher, into the world.

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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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Taken Too Soon

The other day, I read about a couple in Ontario, Canada, who had been married for over 56 years.  They were returning home from their weekend getaway in a snowstorm. Visibility had to be a challenge but they were no strangers to the Canadian winter road conditions. They were within ten miles of their destination when their car collided with an unloaded logging truck.  The driver of the truck was unharmed but the proud parents of six children and grandparents of 16 did not survive the crash.

Normally, I would gasp at reading such an account. However, in this case, I knew the victims. Slowly, it sunk in that the husband of my cousin had lost both of his parents in an instant. Read the rest of this entry

2013 Chicago Skyrise – Willis Tower Climb

The day started with the Rocky III theme, “Eye of the Tiger” blaring through my brain. I bounced to the train to keep my date with some stairs up the Willis Tower. CUT! My neck knotted up!  Are you kidding me?  I spent the majority of the train ride manipulating my neck so I could at least turn it.  As I got off the train, an older gentleman stepped on the back of my shoe, nearly thrwarting my ambition even before I reached my destination.  Then, when I got to the Tower, a cart full of food almost took me out.  But, despite the obstacles that tried to vanquish me, I was still standing. It’s game time and
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The Day Before Climbing The Willis Tower

Tomorrow, I take on the beast known as the WIllis Tower. It’s 2,109 steps, 103 floors and 1,353 feet above the ground. Whenever people hear that I am doing Skyrise Chicago 2013, they picture me scaling the building like Spiderman or should I say Spider-Dan ala Dan Goodwin. Whatever happened to that guy who donned a Spiderman outfit and had suction cups  for hands in the early 80s? But I digress.

My fundraising efforts have paid off (get it) and I’m delighted to say that the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago will see an impressive increase from Team Support Lauren over last year.  I’m giddy with gratitude! My Facebook family has really stepped it up (oops, another pun) as well as the inner circle of people I can overload with spirited “give me your money” emails, who are really good-natured about it and supportive.

My training efforts had me climbing up and down a bunch of stairs at an outside venue with Lake Michigan as the backdrop.   On the weekends, I shared the stairs with fellow exercise enthusiasts.  I saw one guy who was probably in his 70s. He was taking two steps at a time and jumping up them.  I was impressed.

I also saw a quartet of pre-teen boys jumping off the high stone walls at the top of the stadium. It was like a cut scene from the early 80s movie, “The Outsiders” – with their younger siblings, of course.  Whatever happened to C. Thomas Howell?  Again I digress.

At one point, one of the boys declared that they should take their bikes down the stairs to the stage and ride in circles.  The grandma who was overseeing this scene didn’t think it was such a good idea.  I heard this loud thump after thump as the frame of the ring leader’s bike got smashed with each step and the rims got trashed!  He wasn’t carrying it down the stairs, he was almost pushing it down the stairs. Toward the bottom of the stadium, it was as if the bike had morphed into a dying horse as it spouted its last cough before its final collapse, teetering to the side.

The wheels were no longer round but misshapen like Read the rest of this entry

Supportive but not Smothering

A frequent adventure during my childhood was visiting this big mansion – this house was huge by our family’s standards.  It was the biggest house where we actually knew the people who lived there.  The mom and dad who lived inside with their three sons became fixtures in our lives. 

The two dads played tennis together on a regular basis. Our families spent many holidays together, often camping and cross-country skiing.  

Upon arrival at the mansion, the two fathers would disappear into a room and watch football while I hung out with the two mothers (who would be besties for life) in the kitchen. We nibbled on onion dip and potato chips as I held my doll.  The mother with the long black hair tied into a single braid in back would smile at me as she shook her head: Read the rest of this entry

Somebody Else Will Step Up

It’s so easy to say, “I’ll do it tomorrow” or “They don’t need me, somebody else will step up.”

These thoughts occurred to me when last weekend a good friend of mine, Buttons, went with me to a venue to see one of my oldest childhood chums play in his band.  

I kept putting my buddy off and would say that I’d see him when his band lands a closer venue.  However, recently, he accompanied me to see some of my other friends perform, just to keep me company so I wouldn’t have to go alone.  Finally, the reality sunk in that I would have to trek out to the outer burbs to show my support for my chums’ band. It’s pretty lame not to make the effort, isn’t it?

The venue was amusing. The stage was in the dining room and the bar was to the right of the stage and the dance floor was the size of…YOUR dining room table, but people were having a GREAT time. Those people dancing were really in the moment and yes, the postage stamp dance floor was full! The female lead singer strolled through the bar, engaging the audience as she serenaded.  And, it was Ladies’ Night…say no more. 

The male lead singer loves his music and always had a smile on his face. As each song ended, I would utter a loud “WOO HOO” like you would hear on the Soul Train show, back in the day. People looked at me and I reminded them that a band was playing. 

I sprang off my bar seat to Read the rest of this entry

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