When minutes add up to years

 “Put your hand on a hot stove for a minute and it seems like an hour. Sit with a pretty girl for an hour, and it seems like a minute.”Albert Einstein

Doing my “bicycle exercises” is definitely helping the health of my legs; the same legs that now feel like rubber. The burn in my muscles lets me know I am making progress. The other day, from my vantage point on the floor, I was certain I had been peddling away for hours. Laying on my exercise mat, I glanced over at the clock. Surely I had made progress, and was inching to the two-minute mark.

Nope. I hadn’t even completed one minute of peddling. Continue reading “When minutes add up to years”

Proud Military Mom

I 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.


I 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.

Are you a military mom? 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

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

 

The five reasons I will not participate in Super Bowl Sunday

football

If you didn’t know it already, it is Super Bowl Sunday. One would have to live under a rock to not know this, as marketing teams have constantly reminded us of this all-American tradition as soon they finished hyping-up the after Christmas sales.

I will be honest and disclose that I never really “got” football. Even though my husband and sons played the sport. Even though my daughters cheered and pom-pommed. Even though I have leaned on my gal-pals to explain the game in chick-terms. The whole “downs” thing confuses me. As a writer, I think they need to change the term for clarification (and so it isn’t repeated more than once in the same sentence), but, that is just my editorial opinion.

Last year, I helped my youngest daughter host a Super Bowl party here at our house. We had pizza, snacks and make-your-own super bowl sundaes – cool play on words, right? Everything was going along well, until the game started. Well, not the game as much as the commercials, where I had to explain to the young ladies about marketing and sex and advertising. Then half-time came along, where I had to explain that true talent doesn’t need to be sexed-up; for this next generation to not fall into the trap of using their bodies and not their minds and talents. I was horrified that a few blocks away, my son and his pals were watching the same crap – and hoping a parent was there to be a buffer. And then more sleazy commercials aired, so many that the girls felt “awkward” watching – among themselves and me. The girls turned the game off, and watched a movie. I went into my office and wrote a blog about our adventures.

This year, I am blogging ahead of the game, but not so that I can watch the game. My post is explaining why, after all these years, I will no longer participate by watching the Super Bowl games.

Reason number one that I won’t watch the game: the commercials.

As a college student back in the day, I watched the Super Bowl to see the commercials. As a journalism, advertising and marketing student, I studied intently – looking at the psychology, color, placement, music – the whole package. Now, as a parent in the midlife phase, I watch commercials and get disgusted. It is the same old business model. The pharmaceuticals say how wonderful a drug is, then list a boatload of side effects to the point my mind shuts down. Occasionally, there will be a cutesy, clever or funny ad.

But most of the time, we have the classic bare-it-all ads. Apparently, sex sells, because it is used to sell everything from cars, chips, beer, food, clothing, shampoo, websites and anything and everything else. Last year’s Hardees/Carl’s Jr. ads were beyond seductive – they were outright pornographic – using an airbrushed model having an orgasm eating fast food. Seriously – is the food that good or was she just faking it?

I digress. Back to my rant. I find all these sexually provocative commercials boring. Done and done. Madison Avenue, put on your creative thinking caps and come up with something new, something creative, something innovative.

Reason number two that I won’t be watching the Super Bowl: the media hype.

My top will blow if I see one more recipe, one more commercial about the game, one more special interview, one more headline, one more Facebook or Twitter reminder.

Reason number three that I won’t be watching the Super Bowl: the money.

I read a blog post by financial guru Dave Ramsey. The money spent on this game, between tickets, travel, commercials and snack food is beyond obscene. Read about it here. Though I am happy the local economy hosting the game will get a boost, I shudder thinking about the little ones here in our own country who will go to bed hungry tonight.

Reason number four I won’t be watching the Super Bowl: exploiting women.

Yes, I said it. Probably not popular, either. But, with the young ladies selling themselves in the commercials – and on the streets – my mind goes to how are women supposed to be taken seriously when we still have those who confirm we are nothing more than a set of body parts. Not to mention the kids stuck in the human sex-trafficking rings here in our own country – and abroad. For an eye-opener on sex-trafficking, read this article.

Reason number five I won’t be watching the Super Bowl: values.

The values of the promoters and participants of the Super Bowl are not in line with mine. I will continue to support football on the high school and college levels – for the moment – because at the time, there is just a love of sport with the players. There is passion in the game.

I am sure I will be declared an odd-ball in this rebellion, and my not participating won’t change a thing. But for me, I will at least feel that I didn’t give my stamp of approval for what this game has become to me – a bore.

© Lynne Cobb – 2014

What are your thoughts? Have you grown bored with it as well?

Love Will Keep Us Together???

anniverary post

“Love will keep us together.” – hit song by The Captain and Tennille

Thirty-nine years. And it is over.

My heart is breaking for Captain and Tennille, (Daryl  Dragon and Toni Tennille) who are divorcing after nearly four decades of marriage.

Anytime I hear of a divorce, my heart breaks a little, whether I know the couple or not. And the longer the marriage, the more my heart aches.

Maybe because this couple was iconic in my youthful years. Maybe because they stayed out of the limelight, not airing their dirty laundry for all to see.

Maybe it is because in just eight-and-a-half years, my husband and I will be married for 39 years.

I usually don’t care why a couple breaks up, because, quite frankly, it is none of my business. But this time, I want to know. And I am not being nosy, because I am not seeking answers so I can scrutinize, demoralize or judge this couple.

I want answers, because what ever happened to end their marriage of almost 40 years, I don’t want it happening in mine.

Oh, that sounds really selfish, doesn’t it?

Certainly, I don’t intend for that to be selfish. I am truly curious. After conquering all of life’s ups and downs for so many years, what was the proverbial straw that broke the camel’s back at this stage of the game? And if either of them had any advice to share, I’d be happy to listen.

Truly, I feel a profound sense of loss for them. It can’t be easy to try to move on without the other.

Ironically, my spouse and I were discussing marriage just before I heard about Dragon’s and Tennille’s impending divorce. As I was doing some research online, I ran across numerous blogs about marriages ending after decades. Sharing the heartbreaking results with my husband, I asked him, “What about us? How can we prevent this?”

We have a long history, which includes a lot of love, a great friendship, some difficult times and a wonderful family. Maybe the separation due to military exercises, deployments and temporary duty gives us an appreciation of what life apart from each other is like. We learned not to take each other for granted, because we never know what curve ball life will throw our way. One set of orders can mean a year or more of separation.

We want to be a good example for our two children who are already married, and for the younger two who are still at home. We choose to tackle everything together as a team – good or bad.

Maybe there is good in knowing that if we don’t embrace each other, we could lose each other – kind of like, “live like you know you are dying.”

I am not sure what the answer is. All I know is that I hurt for this couple. I hope that they find the comfort and support they will need to get through this difficult time.

For me, I am a hopeless romantic.  I will continue to pray for my husband, our marriage and our family. I will pray that the Lord continues to bless us with many more years together. My husband is my best friend, and I can’t imagine life without him. 

© Lynne Cobb – 2014

Share your comments below.

 

 

Stuck in a Polar Vortex

wpid-storageemulated0DCIMCamera2014-01-08-16.54.30.jpg.jpg“While I relish our warm months, winter forms our character and brings out our best.”  – Tom Allen

Well, one day I can tell my future grandchildren, “We survived the Polar Vortex of 2014!” My two granddaughters will chime in and tell their future cousins, “It snowed and snowed and then it was so cold, we missed five days of school!”

After being stuck in the house for days – which seems like years – it is comical how I continue to look at the rising thermometer with glee. For the first time in a few days, the mercury is rising, and we are at temps above zero. Seventeen degrees never felt so good.

Being housebound, I’d like to say I accomplished a lot, but that would be the farthest thing from the truth. I could have cleaned closets and cupboards, but I didn’t. Instead, I did a lot of reflecting and observing. Nothing like a weather crisis to bring on some serious people-watching.

So, from my snow-covered, frozen little corner of the world, I have penned what I learned about myself and humanity during a snowstorm and polar vortex:

The Negative:

  • Humans can be greedy. Okay, this news junkie decided to watch The Weather Channel for the first several hours of the snowstorm, as I was curious to see the extent of Mother Nature’s fury. I was in awe of how massive the storm system was. The stories and images of people clearing out grocery shelves was a sad statement. How many gallons of milk, loaves of bread and cartons of eggs do we need to survive a few days?
  • News anchors sound silly. My intelligence was insulted repeatedly with information on how to survive the cold and snow. It is winter. It snows. It gets cold – sometimes brutally cold. Generations before us survived without the idiot lessons – just saying…
  • Concern over animals. I read and heard more coverage on how to protect pets and wildlife from the elements than I did about checking on the homeless and elderly. That kind of bothered me. A lot.
  • Cold is painful. Ouch – walking out the door was like being slapped in the face!

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The Positive:

  • Humans are compassionate: I heard and saw how good we can be to each other. Wonderful stories emerged of individuals rising to the occasion and coming to the aid of their fellow man, such as helping others free their cars from snow banks, clearing their neighbors’ walkways of snow and helping to start stalled cars. It was refreshing to see and hear of folks putting others’ needs first. Random acts of kindness.
  • Social media: The other evening, I had a great time on social media. I learned how cold it was in other areas of the country, saw incredible snow and ice pictures, and just had amazing conversations with friends, family and neighbors from around the world. We were all stuck inside, but able to communicate, and that was really a blessing.
  • Crash-course in mathematics: Remember the number charts: …-3, -2, -1, 0, 1, 2, 3…? Interesting how all of that came back to me as I watched the thermometer drop – and rise again! Glad I can remember how to do simple math!
  • Science nerd: Why not have a little fun? A few summers ago, during a heat wave, I cooked an egg on the sidewalk. With record cold temps, my daughter and I were like giddy kids, wanting to try something new. So, we boiled water, opened the door, flung the water away from the house and watched it vaporize and change its form before our very eyes. First we tried our experiment in the dark, and then during the daylight. Very cool both times. We blew bubbles (after defrosting the frozen bottle overnight) and watched how they solidified and shattered like glass in the cold. A few of the bubbles froze to the wand! Of course we were careful, as true scientists would be, and made sure we were protected from the elements and boiling water. Bazinga.
  • Apologies: I realized I needed to call my mother and apologize for rolling my eyes at her back when I was a teen. Over the past few days, my own teens thought I was overprotective when I wouldn’t let them drive on ice-covered roads. If the State Police advise not driving in certain areas, and schools are closed due to black ice, what makes a teen think he or she is invincible? Oh, their hysterical laughter would have been music to my ears if I was at an open mike night at the local comedy club. But alas, I was not. I was just standing at the door, merely suggesting to have a hat and gloves in case the car breaks down or gets stuck in a snow rut. At that very moment, I knew then how my parents felt. Sorry, Mom and Dad!
  • Teens vs. Toddlers:  Snow days with teens are easier than with younger kids. Why? Because they sleep away most of the day! Enough said.
  • Gratitude: Giving thanks to God that we never lost power, that we had plenty of firewood and a well-stocked pantry, that we have a place to call home and that we didn’t have it as bad as others did – all are blessings to not take for granted.

So, while the fierce winter winds wailed and the snowflakes and mercury steadily dropped, my observation is that during this crazy weather week, there was a lot more positive than negative. That was good.

Yes, our family and many others survived a moment in history. A moment that I pray won’t be repeated. If I never again have the chance to toss boiling water into the air, I won’t complain. If I never hear the words “polar vortex” again, I won’t be bothered a bit. I can safely cross “visit Antarctica” from my bucket list.

For sure, it will be a winter to remember. On the bright side, there are only 70 days until spring! 🙂

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© Lynne Cobb – 2014

If you were caught in the Polar Vortex, what did you do to survive? Any astute observations? Let me know in the comment section!