How to thank a vet on Veterans’ Day

Veterans Day

Veterans Day

Today is Veterans’ Day.

Sometimes the meaning of these days of recognition get confused. Veterans’ Day – today – we salute all who have served: both during war and peace time – those who are still living. Memorial Day is reserved for those died. (Source: http://www.va.gov/opa/vetsday/vetday_faq.asp)

Today is a great day to say “thank you” to anyone who has served. Memorial Day is a day of respect and reflection for our war dead. A day of somber remembrance.

So why do we recognize someone who “volunteers” to go into the military? Ah – good question. Because these folks “volunteer,” we don’t have a draft. If for no other reason than that, thank you!

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T’was the Night before the Election

Night before the election

T’was the Night before the Election

T’was the night before the Election and all through the States, people were worried; some tongues spewing hate.

I, in my blue jeans and soft, fuzzy sweater, signed off of Facebook, all for the better.

Was hoping to see pictures of puppies or s’mores; instead I saw memes and fighting and more.

It saddened me deeply to see all this fright; all griping and moaning – who’s wrong and who’s right.

I fondly remember the elections of yore, when voting was really much less of a chore.

When one would draw a curtain and pull down a lever, be on their way, and hope for the better.

No social media to wear me down; Something really bad happened this time around.

Good friends lament that opinions do matter; Yet once shared, they are all feeling battered.

Families have split over political choices; Colleagues argue and raise up their voices.

Mean comments are left on Facebook and Twitter; Hateful and vicious, making us sicker.

It’s hard to believe that folks will part ways; But it seems that is happening a whole lot these days.

To me it’s not worth living under election duress; I like too many people to lose them over this stress.

If we choose who we like by a sign in their yard; Then these next few days may be really hard.

But if we choose who we like because of genuine care, we won’t have the burden of relationship repair. (Honestly these candidates aren’t worth it – I swear!)

But it’s not their fault we’re all so divided; It’s a decision we made when we first started fighting.

Election Day will bring wringing of hands and gnashing of teeth; Then it will be over – and hopefully we’ll sleep.

No matter who wins, our days won’t much change. We’ll eat, and work and manage someway.

If your neighbor votes red or if they vote blue, you still have to live next to them, isn’t that true?

And will you really write off your daughter or son, just because they didn’t “vote for the one?”

At the end of the day, one candidate will win; And in a few years, we will start this nonsense again.

So, let’s be civil and kind and respect each other. Don’t let these candidates come between one another.

Neither are worth it, that’s a fact. They will move forward, but can you go back?

Can you go back to Facebook and try to repair; The friendship you trashed over this insane affair?

Election Day may find winners drinking with glee; And it may find some drinking; drowning their sorrow.

Yet united we stand, because on this we agree: Thank God this election is OVER tomorrow!

© Lynne Cobb – 2016

Have you had enough of the nonsense during this election? Share your story in the comments. And if you like this post, feel free to share using the social share icons below. Thanks for reading! 🙂

 

Posted in IMHO, Mid-Life, Motherhood | Tagged , , , , | 8 Comments

True confessions: Author anxiety and public events

Author anxiety

Author anxiety

Author anxiety and public events. The struggle is real. Whether you have a book signing, a speech or other public venue scheduled on your calendar, have a laugh and do as I say, not as I do did. 

Over the years, I have planned some successful soirees – our daughter’s backyard wedding; baby and bridal showers, holiday brunches and so forth. My expertise is not so much in the planning, as I’m happy to be the behind-the-scenes supporting cast. No one complains about issues at when you are serving them wine and chocolate cake.

But there I times that I have to strike out on my own, which can produce author anxiety. Especially as a midlife writer attending my first book signing.

Though I didn’t plan the main event I will be attending, I certainly had to plan for my own little part of this big day.

Am I anxious? You betcha! It is like the first day of school – excited to see everyone, nervous I will be making a faux paus or two.

The Girl Scout in me is doing my best to “Be Prepared.” The MilSpouse in me knows I can pretty much roll through anything.

So as I scrutinized myself in the mirror this morning, looking for blemishes and stray hairs, a few practical event-planning ideas popped into my brain. Though my dad used to mention I might be “a hard-head,” I prefer to think of myself more as a “hands-on learner.” Trust me when I say I have a Masters in How to Embarrass Myself and a Doctorate from the School of Hard Knocks.

Allow me to share what I have learned in life, should you need to represent yourself at a public event:

Facial waxing: Don’t do this the day of your event. A red, swollen lip will just bring attention to the fact you have waxed your meno-stache. Some beauty secrets needn’t be shared. Plus it affects your speech. Trust me, you will thank me for this.

New make-up: The day of your event is not the time to experiment with the latest make-up trends. One time, I thought adding a bit of blue eye shadow to my lower lid would make my eyes pop and look fab with my dress. Sadly, I looked like Mimi from The Drew Carey Show. Also, if you have never used eyeliner, THIS IS NOT THE DAY to try it. Heed my advice and eliminate stabbing yourself in the eyeball, making tears of colors streak down your face while sporting the Elvira look.

Workout routine: The day before your event is not the time to go the extra mile – literally or figuratively. I may have tried to do a plank one time, which may have pulled a muscle that I didn’t know existed, which may have prevented me from breathing properly when trying to talk in front of a small crowd. Maybe.

Fine dining: Stick to a what you know works well with your body. A new food may result in hives or digestive issues. And think about your favorite foods, like that yummy garlic dip with fresh-baked pita bread. Um, experience has taught me that the aroma of garlic seeps from every pore of one’s body. Though I’ve been told garlic is good for keeping colds and flu at bay, it is also good for keeping people at bay.

Clothing: Try on your outfit ahead of time, using a 360-mirror. And don’t decide to change your turtle neck after you have curled and shellacked your hair in place.

New shoes: Of course you need new shoes! Duh!!! That being said, test them first. Limping and wincing doesn’t make you look like a heroine, however, it may get you some sympathy sales.

Lugging gear: A few summers ago, I almost bought a collapsible shopping cart for going to our local farmers’ market. But since that would have given off an “old lady vibe,” I concluded that struggling with heavy plastic grocery bags that cut off the circulation in my hands would be the better option. I’m fairly certain that blue-tinged fingers without any sensation won’t allow me to sign any books, so I now use a carry-on bag with wheels to lug my gear.

Beauty sleep: “Don’t be anxious about tomorrow. You need to be rested for your writers’ debut.” These are wonderful and wise words from my dear husband. After thirty-plus years, he knows the deal. That even if I look like I am asleep, my brain doesn’t disengage. “Do I have enough books to sell?” or worse, “Will I sell anything?” Or, “What if I trip in front of everyone?” Or, “What if I get a zit?”

Which leads me to my final bit of advice:

Breathe. Hah! How can I do that when I’m caught up in my brain’s “worst case scenario” escapades? When my frontal cortex goes into all out panic, I tend to forget to breathe. So, I will mentally note to make use of my lungs. And as a precaution, I will toss some relaxation-inducing essential oils into my carry-on bag. Who cares if it is a placebo effect? Whatever works, until I can get home and toast the day with a glass of wine. And some chocolate.

© Lynne Cobb – 2016

If you have any tips to share, please do so in the comment section! Also, if you think my experiences will help someone plan for an event, feel free to share using one of the social media icons on this page.

 Not able to attend the book signing? Here’s a link to Feisty after 45. 

feisty-book-signing

Posted in Boomers, humor, Mid-Life, Writing | Tagged , , , , , | 4 Comments

Autumn, Grief and Season of Change

Season of change

Season of change

Life is a season of change…

This morning I had the privilege of watching my granddaughters before school started. It was a “late start day,” which used to cause me some angst in the mornings. I know it messes up the routine for many working parents, since an hour of childcare is needed at an awkward time, causing a disruption in the usual hurried morning.

But these days, since I don’t have to corral sleeping kids off to school in the morning, I enjoy helping out by having the girls over for breakfast – even if they ended up eating the pumpkin muffins their mom sent over for me.

We had a little silly time, a little talk time, and a few rounds of playing “Go Fish.” I laughed when one of the girls said, “You go first because you are the oldest,” which I thought sounded much better than, “Because you are old.” A little before nine, we headed outside. A neighbor was going to drop them off at school, so I walked them down the sidewalk adjacent to our yard, which is now sporting a beautiful blanket of colorful leaves – a season of change.

“Everything has seasons, and we have to be able to recognize when something’s time has passed and be able to move into the next season. Everything that is alive requires pruning as well, which is a great metaphor for endings.” – Henry Cloud

Just a moment ago, it was summer, and they were running around in the yard catching fireflies in jars or doing cartwheels or playing basketball. Now, they will be excited to come over and rake all the leaves into a huge pile and jump into it.

As they made their way into our neighbor’s car, I turned around and looked at the yard. Other than the leaves and my trusty dog, it was completely empty and quiet.

Though it seems like yesterday, it was almost ten years ago that our yard had a completely different look. It was a hot summer day, and it was early morning when my husband, kids and a few other relatives were moving around under the huge canopies set up for our oldest daughter’s wedding. My husband made a wedding trellis; tables and chairs were decorated; a dance floor was set up, and we were ready to welcome more than 100 family and friends to celebrate.

Sometimes when I look into the yard, I can’t believe how it had held so many people, and how beautiful it looked with tulle along the fence line and pots of flowers scattered throughout. So many people pitched in to help. So many people attended and shared a special day.

I thought of all the people that filled our yard that summer day.

For a moment, I let myself have a cry. In less than a decade, both sides of the family have lost dear loved ones: my dad, my grandfather, my great-aunt, my husband’s cousin; the groom’s grandmother, and, sadly, this year within ten months, we lost the groom’s parents. I was kind of taken aback, because I didn’t expect to look at my quiet yard and feel so moved. Just standing on the sidewalk, I looked over the fence and saw where everyone was sitting, smiling and talking.

Grief doesn’t really know a time frame. Some days you smile at memories, and sometimes you weep. There isn’t a right way to grieve, or a wrong way. You never know which way a memory will take you, so you just go through the moment.

Maybe today’s memory happened because the leaves on the grass reminded me of my dad and his vigilant effort to get them out of his yard. Maybe it happened because the quiet was a little too quiet once the girls left for school. Maybe it was because of hormones. Or maybe it is because midlife is like fall – a beautiful, colorful season of change – a time of enormous transformation, yet a time to reflect and perhaps even mourn.

Watching the next generation skip down the side walk heading to the neighbor’s and ultimately to school, the grief lifted momentarily. How could I not smile as they waved and yelled, “Bye, Mema!” They are so full of life and wonder and growth – like spring.

Back in the house, I allowed myself to mourn a bit more. I realized that like summer, life seems short. I took a few minutes to remember the loved ones my granddaughters are probably too young to remember. I thanked God for the people that are in my life, and those who no longer are – physically, anyway – because they will always be alive in my heart.

And I promised those we’ve lost that we will keep them alive in my granddaughters’ hearts, too. They loved those little girls, just as we do. So, we will make great memories and tell the girls stories about the ones we loved and lost – the ones who shared a special wedding day with us – the day that was the beginning of their little family, and a day I cried happy tears when I looked into the yard.

© Lynne Cobb –  2016

“For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven: a time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted; a time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up; a time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance; a time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing; …” Ecclesiastes 3: 1-22

Posted in Faith and Prayer, Family, grief, Mid-Life | Tagged , , , , , | 12 Comments

Remembering September 11 – Fifteen years later

Remembering September 11

Remembering September 11 at the Flight 93 Memorial

Remembering September 11 – Where were you?

September 11, 2001. Has it been 15 years already? It doesn’t seem possible.

Apparently, it is. Our youngest was in preschool; now, she’s in her second year of college. Our granddaughters are older than our two youngest were the day of the attacks.

Fifteen years – a blink of an eye for some of us; an eternity for those who lost loved ones.

Most of my peers can recall that day like it happened yesterday.  Our children and now grandchildren heard – or will hear of – the stories and learn about this event in history class.

The attacks of September 11, 2001, were referred to as the “Pearl Harbor” of our day.

Remembering September 11, I recall the fear and the sadness of that day. Our children talk about how eerily quiet it was. Such a pretty day, yet no one was outside playing. The skies were quiet as all aircraft was grounded. Towards evening, our neighbors gathered somberly. I remember how the stages of grief began to unfold: specifically shock, sadness and anger. I couldn’t tear myself away from the images on TV, and yet I couldn’t bear to watch. I recall how sleep wasn’t an escape, and morning came with the wonder of whether the attacks happened or it was all a bad dream.

It’s hard not to remember the day our world changed. Some changes for the worse, and some for the better. We saw horrific images and mourned the loss of thousands. But we also saw humanity and bravery at its best – strangers helping strangers. We witnessed selfless acts.

“To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven:” Ecclesiastes 3:1 KJV

Sadly, it seems we have forgotten what it is like to put our differences aside for the common good of all. Once, though we stood on opposite sides of politics, religion and countless other opinions, we were able to push that aside and embrace our common humanity. Today, we let those differences define us and stand toe to toe, trying to come out on top of our arguments.

I have written about military life, patriotism and September 11, 2001, countless times. Last fall, my husband and I had the opportunity to stop at the Flight 93 National Memorial, a site so humble and haunting. A site where heroes stopped a planned attack on the nation’s capital, where we had also spent some time visiting that same weekend.

Remember September 11

Remembering September 11 at the Flight Memorial

“A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance;” Ecclesiastes 3:4 KJV

It is my hope, that as we recall the events of the terror attacks, we recall the humanitarian acts in the days that followed. By remembering the good, we would find our common ground again. Instead of bickering, we would be compassionate. That we stop a moment and remember the lives that were lost and the life that we continue to live.

 “I know that there is no good in them, but for a man to rejoice, and to do good in his life.” Ecclesiastes 3:12 KJV

I hope that we remember that evil doesn’t triumph. I hope we remember that even though tragedies make the headlines, that there is still good in the world. That even during tumultuous times, there are still people willing to put on a uniform every day – be it military members, police officers, firefighters or EMTs – to make sure that our little corner of the world is safe. That in an emergency, these brave souls will risk their own lives for the good of a stranger.

“Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.” John 15:13 KJV

On this day, we are remembering September 11, 2001. May we #NeverForget

© Lynne Cobb – September 2016

Remembering September 11

Remembering September 11

 

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Back to School Almost 30 Years Later

Back to School

Back to school!

The whole purpose of education is to turn mirrors into windows.  ~Sydney J. Harris

It’s that time of year again, when summer winds down and fall takes over with the excitement of cooler temperatures, vibrant colors and the promise of delicious cider.

Previously I wrote about our youngest child beginning college and starting her new chapter. As she began hers, I knew that I, too, would begin mine. As an “almost-empty-nester,” I am writing new pages as I navigate this season referred to as midlife.

I have often thought that fall felt more like a fresh beginning than January’s start of a new year. Maybe the life-long conditioning of new beginnings due to the start of the school year has something to do with the feeling.

My own memories of fall have, for the most part, been good ones of fresh starts, new dreams and the old, decorated cigar box filled with bright crayons, sharp pencils, kid-sized scissors, pink erasers and mini bottles of glue. (My personal favorite were the pencils that were red on one end and blue on the other. Are those even a thing anymore?) I also remember my mom walking with us to school to see the class lists posted on the doors. The excitement and anticipation could either provide a moment of elation or anxiety, depending on your classroom assignment.

I hold tight to those childhood moments, and to the moments I experienced with my children. This is the second year that I am not sending children off for the traditional “first day of school.” I admit, I miss going out and purchasing new school supplies, finding out who the teacher will be, and snapping photos of the day. After twenty-five years of “first day” traditions, it is weird to be out of the loop.

But nonetheless, this fall is pretty darn exciting. I’m not sure if my adult children will get up early and come stand on the porch for a photo. Well, maybe if I bribe them with coffee and cinnamon rolls. I’m willing to give it a shot. If not, I will just have to take a selfie of myself on the porch. Hahaha – no! Because in addition to most of my brood returning to college this fall, yours truly here will be doing the same.

Back to school.

After a hiatus of about thirty years, I start my classes today. I am pretty darn excited.

No, I won’t have an old cigar box filled with supplies. I know I won’t be sporting a new backpack, but I will have my new laptop. No, there will be no locker for my books, so I am trying to organize the office to be functional for both work and school. No, I won’t have to go clothes shopping or look for cool and cute dorm room stuff.

But, what I do get is the satisfaction of completing something I started 36 years ago – my journalism degree. I have absolutely no regrets that I left school to get married, travel as a military spouse, be a mom times four (see, I can still do math) and have the opportunity for all the other experiences I have had thus far. I have lived in and traveled to places some people only dream about.

So why finish the degree? One, because I can. Two, because I want to. Three, because I need to.

  • I can, because I now have the time. All four children have graduated high school and have completed or are completing their secondary education. I know it is not going to be easy, but it will be easier than when I tried to return to school fifteen years ago.
  • I want to, because it was a promise I made to myself and my husband when we married that I would, one day, finish my degree. His encouragement keeps me going – especially when I had a panic attack after reviewing the syllabus!
  • I need to, for myself and my adult children. I want them to see me finish what I started. I need them to set goals and strive to achieve them, no matter how long it may take. I need them to see that it doesn’t matter what age you are; it is still difficult to figure out what you want to be when you grow up.

I need them to see that when life gets in the way – whether by your choice or by no fault of your own – you have to keep pushing and trying no matter what.

I need them to see that in their own lives, when a chapter ends, a new one begins – that each ending is a new beginning.

I need them to see there is a value in continued growth, no matter your season of life.

So, here’s to an exciting new school year to all – no matter how young or old you are!

Education is not preparation for life; education is life itself.  ~John Dewey

© Lynne Cobb – 2016

Have you thought about returning to school after your children graduated? Or, did you? Share your experience in the comment section!

 

 

 

 

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Good Memories and a Smile

Good memories

Good memories and a smile

“Grandmas never run out of hugs or cookies.” Author Unknown

Looking out the kitchen window, I watched my two granddaughters playing basketball with their uncles – my sons.

It wasn’t too long ago that I’d watch my boys out that same window, and now they are grown men. They have fond memories of that basketball hoop, and memories of the one-and-one games with each other; of games with their dad, my dad, cousins and countless friends. And a few memories of the times when I’d impress them by landing several baskets of my own, thank you very much.

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