Reflections from three years of blogging

Flower arrangement

“I believe the term “blog” means more than an online journal. I believe a blog is a conversation. People go to blogs to read AND write, not just consume.” – Michael Arrington

It is hard to believe, but I am celebrating my third year of blogging. On April 22, 2011, I hit “publish” for the first time, not knowing where on earth this blog would go.

My initial thoughts in creating a blog were to chronicle my dad’s Alzheimer’s disease, and seek as well as offer support to others dealing with this dreadful disease. But his illness progressed much too quickly, and I shelved the blog for a while, as we dealt with doctor appointments, emergency room trips, hospitalizations, nursing home care, ICU, hospice, arranging a funeral and ultimately saying our farewells in July of 2011.

I was so busy and stunned from my dad’s death that when I did return to the blogging world, I used my blog primarily as therapy to deal with my profound loss.

In three short years, we have learned to move forward without Dad, which hasn’t been too easy. Every holiday and family event still feels empty to me. But we always toast Dad and know that he is in attendance, just in a different form. I still see him in dreams, and he has a way to send me a message from heaven every now and then.

Once I returned to writing on a more regular basis, I developed a blog following, which is very humbling to me. I truly appreciate all those who read my essays and posts, and I have been able to branch out and get a few sponsored posts and product reviews. It is always fun to test things out and share my findings with my audience. Some of my product review highlights include my time spent as a Verizon Brand Ambassador, and also tasting foods and addressing issues in order to help others along.

I have had the opportunity to share my faith and opinions, lots of opinions, and even share some of my crazy science experiments.

I also dabbled in a little travel, and would love to dabble a bit more! Part of my blogging life has included my military spouse trials. During part of this three-year blog journey, my Army reservist husband was stationed overseas on an unaccompanied tour, and I had the opportunity to travel to London to see him. Then he, along with our oldest son, deployed at the same time. I thought I would lose my mind, but I was able to write and had a good core of family and friends who kept me going strong until they both returned home, safe and sound.

Some days it just doesn’t seem possible that time could fly by so quickly. Since I started my blog, our youngest son has graduated, and our youngest daughter is finishing her junior year of high school. Our oldest daughter is now in our shoes, seeing how quickly time flies as her little ones grow by the minute. We survived severe summer storms and winter’s Polar Vortex – among other things.

Reflecting over the past three years I realize how immensely blessed I am. In addition to a wonderful family and great friends, I have a great support in the writing and blogging communities. I have taken a few refresher courses in writing and blogging; had blog posts featured on Midlife Boulevard, BlogHer and Vibrant Nation; I picked up part-time writing jobs and found friendships with fellow bloggers and local writers. So many positive things have happened just because I have put myself out in the blogging world.

I have read, and been advised by blogging experts that I should focus my blog and position myself as an “expert in the field,” which is kind of difficult as a “Random Rambler.” My interests are all over the map. I like the freedom that rambling gives me – to choose any topic and go with it! But as I contemplate their sound advice, I think I will eventually have to settle with a theme; maybe “Wise Random Ramblings,” incorporating all my sound advice from a half-a-century of life? :-)

And, from the bottom of my heart – thank you so much for reading and following my blog. When you read, comment and share my post with your friends and family, it means the world to me, and motivates me to keep on writing. It feels more like conversing with friends, and I just love that.

© Lynne Cobb – 2014

 

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Posted in Alzheimer's and the family, Boomers, IMHO, Mid-Life, My Take on the Subject | Tagged , , , , | 4 Comments

Boomer Products – Let’s Shop!

“I always say shopping is cheaper than a psychiatrist.” – Tammy Faye Bakker

When I was contacted by Tonya from TheBoomShop.com, I was excited to learn that there is an online shop with Boomer Products – just for us baby boomers. After “window shopping” the site, I decided I would take Tonya up on the offer to share my opinion of this store with my readers, and was compensated with a gift card.

BoomShop-Products-SM  772x431According TheBoomShop‘s press release, Boomers are the largest demographic for online shopping. It makes sense to me, as we’re a pretty busy bunch, with careers, caring for family – both younger and older loved ones, running households and more. Plus, we have grown wiser, and value our time, and can search and shop online faster than running to the mall. And, some of us have knee issues, which makes online shopping even more appealing :-)

Anyhow, once on the web site, I was greeted by a clean design and easy-to-navigate departments. Welcoming me to the website was this quote: “Our quest is to search the world & create a collection of products that make your life simple, effortless & comfortable.” A non-cluttered site, in my opinion, is a great start.

The online store caters to the 50+ crowd. What I was most impressed with were the kitchen items - everything from gadgets to small appliances to cookbooks to accessories. In the Home department, I saw wellness mats. If you have ever stood in one place for a long time, think of how lovely it would be to have one of those cushion-y, anti-fatigue mats! Plus, there were several other departments, such as Health and Wellness, Fitness and Recreation, Sleep Science and several more. Look for a Nutrition Department soon. And yes, there is a sale section, too.

Several name brand items are available, and I found that the prices were inline with other stores – online and brick and mortar. TheBoomShop has a “no hassles” return policy, which makes online shoppers happy, and free shipping on orders $49 or more.  Also, the check out process is very simple! Basically create an account, shop-til-you-drop, add your credit card info and you are done.

Check out TheBoomShop, as they are giving my readers a 15% discount by using coupon code 99124. (Valid until June 21, 2014). My order should be arriving in a few days! I am sure you will enjoy this new online store geared for boomers.

Happy shopping!

© Lynne Cobb – 2014

Did you checkout TheBoomShop? If so, let me know what you think in the comments section.

 

Posted in Boomers, Mid-Life, My Take on the Subject, Product Review, Shopping | Tagged , , , , , | 4 Comments

Spam – A whole new kind of crazy

“I’ve learned how to use my spam filter pretty effectively.” – Al Yankovic

spamSpam. Oh, spam. You are such a time suck for every blogger. Spam. Spam. And more spam. Like dust bunnies pro-creating and making more work in some secluded corner somewhere, spammers are out in full force, grabbing each key word and twisting my content into a new level of craziness to fit their message. They try so hard to “fit in” to the real comments waiting moderation. They try so hard to be relevant. Continue reading

Posted in humor, IMHO, My Take on the Subject, Technology | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 13 Comments

Proud Military Mom

wpid-IMG_20130703_162453_780.jpgI wrote this article a few years ago, and it was originally published in the Detroit Free Press Twist Magazine on November 10, 2007. Earlier this week, one of our youngest son’s friends left for the U.S. Air Force-BMT. Late last year, the daughter of another family we know enlisted in the U.S. Army Reserves. To these young people – thank you! And to the military moms and dads, we are here for you!

Proud military mom – BY LYNNE COBB

Last Veterans Day, Lynne Cobb wrote about having her husband away at war in Iraq. This year, Lynne tells us about the mixed emotions of her son joining the military. This is her story.

Labor Day weekend, as many parents were packing up their kids and sending them to college, I watched my oldest son, David, scrutinize his very short list and place his few authorized belongings into a nondescript duffle bag. No microwaves or futons going with him. He was off to U.S. Air Force Basic Military Training (BMT).

BMT is a whole new world. Your child leaves with one bag — no computer, no cell phone — no texting, instant messaging or calling. You do not get to talk to your child until he or she has the opportunity to call you. The first call will be about two minutes — enough for you to get an address. Mail service is slow. I found the lack of communication to be unnerving. Not quite a year since his dad’s return from Iraq, my son was off and running on a new adventure. Excitement and apprehension ran high for the family. I wrestled my emotions — pride, fear and the realization that our family would never be the same.

As the weeks of training continued, I found myself wondering what was more difficult — being a military wife or being a military mom and sending my son to training and possibly war. The first few days of my son’s departure, I was in tears. When I went two days without crying, I felt I had made progress. There were days I would hear his favorite song and smile; other days that song would reduce me to tears. I’d see his truck parked outside and think, “He’s home,” only to realize a split-second later that, no, he really wasn’t.

Dave graduating Dave with Army hatin Army hatI never realized just how much I’d miss him, that the ache would be so intense. It was like an emotional replay of my husband’s deployment. And, as with that deployment, my emotions ran the gambit between pride, lonely emptiness and worry. The emotional parallel is nearly identical, though I felt the need to go and rescue my son.

My husband has been supportive of my mixed bag of feelings. There is great comfort in having such a close source to answer my questions. We joke as to whom I should root for during the Army-Air Force football game.

My husband and I were blessed to be at our son’s graduation from BMT. It was an experience we’ll never forget and an event I wish every American could witness. To see almost 1,000 recruits graduate and take the oath to defend our nation is a moment I’ll never forget. While hearing the national anthem, seeing the U.S. flag as well as the flags of the 50 states and U.S. territories waving in the warm Texas breeze was a sight to behold. Not only was I a proud mother, but a proud American.

I am so very proud of the decision my son made to serve our nation. I am humbled by, and I thank, those who have made the same decision, and for those who will do the same. I thank the parents who supported their child’s decision.

No matter what the future holds, with faith and prayer, we will survive the miles between us, wherever he may be called to serve.

Have you experienced sending your child off to boot camp? How did you handle it? Let me know in the comments section. And again, thank you for service as a military family!

© Lynne Cobb – 2014

David's Graduation and Texas Trip 001

Dave graduating

Posted in Family, Military, Military Family, Military Mom | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | 8 Comments

This Is Why I Won’t Unfriend You

unfriend“I never considered a difference of opinion in politics, in religion, in philosophy, as cause for withdrawing from a friend.” – Thomas Jefferson

Something has been really bothering me for a while, and I have to just unload.

There is no surprise that we are a nation divided on so many levels these days. We can’t seem to find common ground on many topics. From religion to politics to the war of words between each other, there is an undercurrent of “I’m right, you’re wrong.” There are no disagreements between people anymore, as differences have evolved into “wars.” People have become entrenched in their camps, drawing lines in the sand, seeing everything in black and white, allowing no room for gray.

For the umpteenth time in several months, I have seen people post statuses on social media, and then request of their friends and followers the following: “If you don’t agree with _______ (fill in the blank), then unfriend me.”

Wow.

Whether it is political, social, religious or whatever, the premise is that if I, or others, don’t believe in their cause or with their opinion, they don’t want my friendship online.

But I also take that as they don’t want my friendship. At all. Period.

I take umbrage with that.

I am blessed that I have a huge family and many friends and colleagues. If I have sent a friend request to someone, or accepted an invitation from another, it is because I value the person and want to be in contact. I want to share in their joys, accomplishments and celebrations, offer support during tough times, commiserate about the weather, engage in dialogue, share recipes or great places to dine, see what is happening in their lives. I want to see photos of their family, vacation, garden, artwork or how much snow was dumped in their corner of the world.  I want to read their blog posts, or read what they found interesting or enlightening. For me, there is a connection with the individual – online and offline – and I feel privileged to be a part of that friend’s life.

But I am growing weary of the the “un-friend” me requests. I may not share your religious, social or political views. I may not like your favorite animal or artist or movie or music. I may not like your haircut or the way you clean (or don’t clean) your house. I may not like the state you live in or the hobbies you have or the car you drive. I may not like the charities you support. I may not like that you don’t support charities. I may not like the joke you shared or the beverage you drink. I may not cheer for the same team you do or like your stance on something or agree with your parenting views.

But I like you.

With all our differences of opinions. With everything that makes us completely different or polar opposites. We have a history. We have shared life and secrets and dreams and conversations.

I like you. My friend.

Why do we need to be in complete agreement on everything in order to remain friends? Why do our differences – or our perceived differences – have to be the end of a friendship – online or in person? Is it easier to let people out of our lives with the click of a mouse than over a meal at a local diner?

Maybe we can just chop our online friend lists so easily, because we see each other as a status with a profile photo and not for who they really are – a living, breathing person.

If I were to unfriend someone each time we didn’t see eye-to-eye, I would be posting statuses and photos for my own enjoyment.

Go ahead and unfriend me. That’s okay. But for the sake of friendship, I won’t unfriend you. Because with all that is wrong in this crazy world, we can’t have too many friends, whether we are in agreement on all subjects or not.

What do you think? Share in the comment section. If this post resonates with you, feel free to share with others.

© Lynne Cobb – 2014

 

Posted in Family, Friendship, IMHO, My Take on the Subject | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 11 Comments

Help! I’m Addicted to Taking Personality Quizzes!!

“A lady likes to be complimented on her looks, her eyes, her figure. But the personality comments are much appreciated.” - Betty White

wpid-storageemulated0DCIMCamera2014-02-19-22.44.37.jpg.jpgI have a confession to make. My dirty little secret is now revealed: I am addicted to online personality quizzes. Whether it is food or character comparisons, I have been busy checking boxes and learning my true person.

Oh, the shame!

It started so innocently – and recently, too. If you dabble in Facebook, you may have seen posts from your friends, sharing the results of quizzes taken on BuzzFeed and Zimbio and the like.

Anyhow, what started my online test-taking addiction were the posts my friends shared, showing the results of their “Which Disney Princess Are You?” assessments. (Snow White for me, if you’re interested).

And so it began.

A few days later, when I saw posts on the next popular character quiz, I took the “Which Big Bang Theory Character Are You?” Bernadette, if you are asking. And, ironically, my hubby was Howard. Guess that means we are truly a match made in heaven, as the two characters are married on the show.

Anyhow, I found another quiz, and another.

Guess what – now I am hooked.

My obsession continues. Just yesterday, I had to find out, “What Kind of Food Are You?” Apparently, I am cheese, as I go with everything, and I can be mild or spicy, depending on the mood. The Downton Abbey character I resemble the most (just in personality, thank you very much), is “Mr. Bates,” which is cool, as he is a stand-up guy – loyal and reliable.

But, wait! There’s more! In my online personality assessments, where I am really, truly finding myself, I have learned that:

  • I would be a president worthy of a place on Mt. Rushmore;
  • If I went back to high school, I’d be in the Drama Club clique;
  • The “Celebrity Diva” I’m a close match to is Tina Turner – a woman able to rise to life’s challenges;
  • In current cultural trends, I find myself a “do-it-yourself” kinda gal (please reference Lynne’s Lab!);
  • If I were one of the Pink Ladies from Grease, you would call me Sandy.
  • If I were a font, I would be Times New Roman – “a constant, reliable, secretly sexy classic. Just look at those serifs!”
  • The city I should be living in is Paris (Should I have my spouse take this test? Do we need to list the house and call “House Hunters International” for relocation assistance?)

All in all, the results have been a pretty accurate assessment of me. It is rather entertaining, to say the least, and hubby and I have had a lot of laughs taking these quizzes together. (By the way, he’d make a Mt. Rushmore-worthy POTUS, too.)

There is a little bit of science and a lot of fun packed into these personality tests, but I am convinced that maybe, just maybe, my addiction to these quizzes has nothing to do with finding the real me, and everything to do with surviving the winter doldrums:  the record cold temperatures and snow fall, the crazy cabin fever and the Polar Vortex syndrome. Seriously, being the stuck in the house has pushed me over the edge. So knowing that I am generally happy, nice, loyal and tough has been a good thing. It is nice to know I haven’t gone crazy – yet.

I am sure come spring, when I spend more time outside in the real world, my addiction will cease. But in the meantime, if you are looking for me, I am busy trying to find myself…
:-)

© Lynne Cobb – 2014

Have you taken any of these quizzes? What were your results? Let me know in the comment section.

 

Posted in humor, Mid-Life, My Take on the Subject | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 13 Comments

Keeping the Fire Burning – Against All Odds

anniverary post

“Keep the fire lit in your marriage and your life will be filled with warmth.”-Fawn Weaver

This past August, my husband and I celebrated a milestone in our lives – our 30-year wedding anniversary. Three decades! Over 10,000 days being married. I’d calculate the hours and days, but that may overwork my calculator!

Of course, our anniversary was an exciting observation for my spouse, myself, our children and our parents. I wish my dad had been here to celebrate, but I know he was smiling from heaven. I remember when I was a little girl, he stated that he would choose my husband. And when I shared with Dad that I was engaged, he was ecstatic. At the time, my soon-to-be-husband was stationed in Alaska. He proposed to me over the phone, and I received my engagement ring via UPS. I had to pry the package out of Dad’s hands, reminding him that it was addressed to me.

My husband and I met on a blind date, arranged by friends of ours, who had just met in college. Home for the Christmas break, my friend and her boyfriend described three of their friends they wanted me to meet. I chose the soldier, who was home on leave, and who was stationed 14 hours away via plane. Why? Well, should the date be a disaster, the possibility of ever running into each other again was incredibly slim.

Of course, we hit it off famously, and our story began.

Absence makes the heart grow fonder. Separated for nine months, we planned a wedding from afar and learned a lot about each other through letters and very expensive phone calls from the mainland to Alaska. After we were married, we lived a fairly routine military life: many moves, two children born in different states, then out of the Army and back home. Two more children entered our world, then the 9-11 terrorist attacks changed our family’s world – and back to Army life, this time as a Reserve family.

Our life together has been dotted with challenges: job losses, financial pain, military deployments, burying loved ones, disappointments.

Our life together has been amazingly blessed: Four children, the addition of our oldest children’s spouses, granddaughters, laughter – lots of laughter – strong faith, survival of the tough times, weddings, birthdays, graduations, confirmations, baptisms, seeing our children’s talents, watching them grow into amazing adults. Hands-down, we would say, “I do,” all over again.

As we got closer to our anniversary, I started reading blogs and comments about other long marriages. I wondered if there was any “secret” and if so, how did my husband and I rate among these folks. Honestly, I became depressed. The more I read, the more I witnessed pain and despair from people in long marriages, ending their lives together. Twenty, thirty, even forty years. I kept reading, trying to see why those couples fell apart, and panicked: could that happen to us?

Straight up answer – yes, it could.

Realistically, it could happen to anyone. And with the stress of a military marriage, just like the stress in any other high-adrenalin occupation – police, firefighters, etc. – a couple’s odds of marital failure are increased. Families of first responders and families of the military deal with fear of injury and death - for the most part on a daily basis. There is physical separation, missed holidays, lonely anniversaries, solo-parenting at special events – the list is endless. Additionally, these families deal with injuries, PTSD, loss of colleagues and other job-related issues.

So, my quest continued. Is there a magic formula for keeping it together? How do some marriages last, and others unravel? At some point in any relationship, there are bound to be arguments, hurt feelings, betrayal of trust, financial distress, illness and disease, and a host of other problems. So, I kept reading articles, blogs and commentaries. Some stories were so profoundly sad, and others – less in numbers – were inspiring. It seemed that there was so much negativity toward marriage, I wondered why anyone even bothered.

Recently, though, I have started to see some encouraging blog posts. One was from a man who was divorced, and he laid out a plan for other men to follow. It went viral, as he described how he hurt his spouse, and what he’d do differently. Another recent post was a young man whose father gave him advice – basically, that by treating your spouse well, your spouse will reciprocate. In a nutshell, treat others as to how you want to be treated – age-old advice that is true in any circumstance.

Out of all my research and reading, I did not find any one particular piece of advice for sustaining  a long-term marriage. From what I gathered, mutual respect, trust, love and forgiveness were some of the key components. Noteworthy were the articles and books about how men and women think and view the world in different ways, and many times not understanding our differences makes for difficult times. I think that respecting each other and our differences goes a long way in better communication – another key ingredient to strengthening our vows. And from a few folks in the medical community, the need to understand, acknowledge and support the physical and emotional changes men and women go through during their lives, especially mid-life, is another critical area of focus. And, of course, supporting each other’s dreams, careers and ambitions help bolster the couple.

As a military spouse, our families are subject to frequent separations due to training, temporary duty assignments and deployments. In fact, in the past eight years, my husband and I have spent four wedding anniversaries apart. Service members leave home, and the spouses are left behind to keep the home fires burning. Whenever I hear this phrase, I picture a pioneer woman, literally keeping the fire burning – handling her role as well as her spouse’s. It brought to mind a metaphor, and I believe, it sparked an a-ha moment – a frequent occurrence lately for this mid-life writer…

Marriage is like a fire. It starts out as a spark, and as the flame grows, it becomes hot and, sometimes, unpredictable. Once it settles down a bit, it becomes “perfect.” The heat begins to level off, and the fire is soothingly warm and comfortable – somewhat predictable. However, it still needs to be tended. Add a log or two, and it will keep burning. By becoming complacent, and carelessly letting it burn down too far, there is danger of the fire going out. However, even if there is just a little heat, the embers, which are cooling down, can be regenerated. It isn’t too late to save. Stoke it, add a little oxygen, then add another log, and the fire will return. It may need some prodding, but with patience and time, the flames will grow. Is it easy? Not at all. One can easily forget to toss a log on the fire when busy and away from the fireplace. It can become a hassle to keep the fire burning, but if it isn’t attended, the fire, at some point, will die out.

It isn’t easy to be the tender of the fire. It takes time, and sometimes there is only one person to keep it going. But, when it is well-tended, the rewards are amazing. There is warmth, comfort and light. There is satisfaction of keeping it going, even through the difficulties and the moments that it seemed impossible.

And, ultimately, there is joy in sharing something so very precious, so very life-sustaining, so very comforting.

Do you have any thoughts on how to keep a marriage strong? Any favorite metaphors? Feel free to leave a comment.

© Lynne Cobb – 2014

 

 

 

Posted in Faith and Prayer, Inspiration, Marriage, Mid-Life, Military, My Take on the Subject | Tagged , , , , , , , | 18 Comments