Epic Corn

Image result for rows of corn pic

My grandparents lived in a dark green house out in the country.  Walnut trees bordered the south end of the property with peach trees to the north.  In the summer the garden overflowed with tomatoes, green beans, okra, crookneck squash, cucumbers for pickling, and beets.  It was impressive, yes, but the corn, the corn was epic.

I have no idea how many rows of corn there were, I just know that every year was going to be the year that my grandpa wasn’t going to plant quite so much.  He would try to keep up with picking ears at their peak, but eventually he’d put out a sign:  “White Corn  12/$1  U pick”.  It was a good price and a good plan, but inevitably a lone woman would drive up and stand anxiously in front of the endless rows.  My grandpa would tell her to wait as he’d slip the strap of his picking bucket over his head and across his chest and disappear down an aisle of green.  In just a few minutes his white hard hat could be seen working its way back to the start, his bucket already overflowing.  He’d bag up the corn for her, throwing in 2-4 extra ears, and she’d sheepishly hand him a dollar.  He’d say thank you and tell her to enjoy the corn, assuring her that it was sweet, sweet, sweet.

Over and over and over again, year after year.

My grandpa was easily the hardest working man I’ve ever known.  Long-sleeve blue cotton work shirt, white hard hat, jeans, suspenders, and work boots:  his everyday uniform.  Every day except Sunday–at least until after church.

I can see my grandpa driving the tractor until there is not enough light left to see.  I can see him climbing 12-foot wooden ladders picking peaches or cherries.  I can see him on his knees in the dirt repairing some broken pipe or patching a flat tire on a piece of equipment.  I can see the sweat dripping off the end of his nose as he explains to me that the long-sleeve cotton shirts keep him cooler.

My grandpa was also the most generous man I’ve ever known.  Most generous person for that matter.  Generous with his corn and harvests, yes, but also with his money and time.  When one of his farming employees suddenly passed away on the job, my grandpa decided to take care of his widow…indefinitely.  He quietly helped support her for more than 30 years.

His kindness led some people to see him as a pushover, and a few surely did take more than they deserved; but I’m sure my grandpa knew that.  I don’t think that made him a pushover, though.  My grandpa was a man of God; his purpose was to serve.  If those that he served made poor choices afterwards, well, that was out of his hands.

When my grandpa’s age and health prevented him from getting out in the field or even outside to putter, his spirits fell quickly.  For a few months he just got smaller and quieter inside his empty house (my grandma having passed away 15 years earlier).

As a final blessing, God sent my grandpa to a hospice facility.  He wasn’t expected to last long, but God had a plan, as He always does.  At the facility, my grandpa chatted with the amazing staff every day, telling stories, bragging about family, cracking jokes, asking questions, and, truly, simply living again.  He had purpose.  He was needed.  He wasn’t breaking his back or dripping with sweat, but he was alive and feeling useful.  He passed away after a few months rather than the few days initially anticipated.  God is so good.

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These days, when I drive by a big ol’ field of corn, I love imagining my grandpa in his white hard hat and blue cotton work shirt, posting his sign: “White Corn  12/$1  U pick”, then heading down the rows, filling his bucket, more than happy to help.

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Happy Father’s (and Grandfather’s) Day.

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Third Wheel

wheel-03wheel-03             wheel-03

I hate being the third wheel.
That extra friend who hangs out with the cute, happy couple?
And if the cute, happy couple happens to be in the beginning stages of their relationship?
Ugh, kill me now.

Invariably, the newly enamored friend says, “Come hang out with us.  It’ll be great!”
But it’s not great.  It’s a whole different dynamic, and it’s nothing even close to great.

And it’s not like a movie plot where I’m pining away for the guy who likes her more than me, and the audience and I are just waiting for him to wake up and realize that I’m actually the more fabulous one.  I’m not pining away for anyone; I just hate this part…this transition part.

About a year ago, I posted this as my perspective on the matter:

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And although I still love it, I can’t help but notice that either way, the “third wheel” is isolated.  Granted, in the second shot, she’s isolated by choice.  She’s showing us that she’s strong, she’s healthy, she’s doing it her way (plus, she has really nice abs), which are all great things.

But she’s not exactly smiling, though, either.  She’s concentrating so hard on maintaining her awesome solo-ness that I’m not so sure she’s enjoying herself.

Some days it takes a lot of effort to be awesomely solo.
And to convince yourself and others that you are perfectly fine and happy–never been better as a matter of fact!
And to sit tall while you keep on pedaling…and pedaling…and pedaling.

And although pedaling can get tiring, the cool chick is hesitant to risk being anything but awesomely solo at this point.  That’s one of the trickiest things about “third wheelness”: watching two people hang out comfortably, cozily together and thinking (ironically) that it just looks scary.  Scary to be open…and to trust.  Ugh…to trust.

So even though her abs are amazing, I have a hunch the cool chick on the unicycle would really just love to take a break and slouch for a bit.
And eat some ice cream.
And pout.

But only for a day or two.

After a day or two, she’ll get her second wind.
She’ll shake it off.
Hop back on.
Sit tall.
And pedal.

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But this time,

This time,

She’s gonna smile.

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But I Used To Be

babygirl

…but I used to be…

I’ve been at my current job for almost two years.  I’m an administrative assistant, which is a fancy name for secretary.  For the first year, when someone asked me what I did for a living I’d tell them, “I’m a secretary, but I used to be a teacher.”

Apparently, I didn’t think “secretary” or even “administrative assistant” was impressive enough or valuable enough or descriptive enough to convince total strangers that I was worthy; so I wanted them to know that I used to have a job for which I went to college and graduated and followed through on for many, many years until I couldn’t stand it for one more day.

Even though I discounted its value, I loved my current job.  I was so much happier typing letters and answering phones and greeting people than I ever was in 18 years of teaching–and no lesson plans!

After about a year at the new job I made the conscious decision to stop using the “but I used to be” line.

When I describe myself I don’t say, “I’m 49, but I used to be an infant.”  That would be ridiculous–and totally unnecessary, because we all know that and we’ve all been there.  So it’s also unnecessary to say that I used to be a teacher, because that’s not who I am right now.

I decided that if I’m going to play the “But I Used to Be” game, why not spin it from the other direction?

I’m whole, but I used to be broken.
I’m bursting with JOY, but I used to be exhausted.
I’m me, but I used to be hiding me.

I’m here, but I used to be there.
Just like you.

We’re all coming from somewhere else.
And we’re all changing every single day.

Thank goodness.

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I’m a huge fan of cookies, but I used to be…a huge fan of cookies.

Well, okay, some things never change.

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10k finale:  Beautiful day by the water for the 10k on May 11.  VERY grateful I walked rather than ran–as did 90% of the other participants.  Will shoot for running 5k in the fall.  To be continued…

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proof   ; )

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Rereading…Rewriting

crowd

Ugh…

I’ve mentioned more than once that I’m not a good crowd person–I tend to freeze up, feel like a dork, and look for a reason to leave.  Part of that is me joking around, self-deprecating humor and all of that; but it’s definitely based in truth.  I’m okay if there’s some established purpose for the crowd (class, church, etc.) and if I have a clear role related to it, whether it be as a leader or a participant; but put me in a free-for-all crowd of people–whether it be a group of 20 or 200–and I get antsy.  I’ve always just written it off as, “I’m not a good crowd person,” end of story.  But the other day I decided to reread that story and ask, “Why?”

Know what I found out?
I don’t want to be in the way.
Above all, at all times, at the core of it, my subconscious goal is:  don’t be a bother.

I’m not saying that’s a good goal.  Clearly, it’s kind of a mess and probably goes way back to being the baby in the family (and a “surprise” baby at that).  But knowing that this is the driving force behind the “I’m not good in crowds” story gives me a place to start in rewriting it.

Sooo…

Chapter 1 rewrite:
A crowd is a group of people, not a group of bad people.  It’s not a bunch of people watching me and judging me.  Quite honestly, they probably don’t even notice me (although my cuteness is hard to miss).  They’re just people.  Some tall, some short, some happy, some sad, some good dancers, some not so much.  They’re not bothering me and I’m not bothering them.  I am not in the way.

I am not in the way.

When I get that antsy feeling the next time I’m in a random crowd, I’m going to do a reality check and look around.  Am I blocking anyone?  Am I taking up an unreasonable amount of space?  No on both of those?  Well then, clearly, I am not in the way.

I know it sounds silly, but this is big for me.

And it’s about time.
I’m saying that with a smile, not a sigh and an eye roll by the way.  Because how cool is it that after all this time of doing it one way, I can still make a change and do it a different way?  It’s not too late.

I am not in the way.

I am not in the way.

I am not in the way.

Sweet.

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Chapter 2 rewrite:
My silky, smooth hair looks fabulous.

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P.S. 10k today!!!  Gotta walk instead of run, but I’m going!

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Change of Plans

plan
So I’ve been working on my two-mile runs for awhile now.  My latest goal in preparation for next month’s 10k event was to run 2 miles three times last week and (somewhat) enjoy it–as opposed to barely surviving it.  On the first day my early morning was filled with errands, so it was already sunny and warm by the time I suited up to run.  Sunny and warm is not my favorite running weather and the fact that I only ran a little over a mile is proof of that.  I vowed to get an earlier start the next day and do better.

The next day I woke to a foggy, cool morning–Hooray!  I headed out, made it to 2 miles and felt pretty good, so I kept going.  I passed my personal best of 2.2, still trotting along, making it all the way to 3.1 miles!  3.1!–that’s a real-live 5k, which is how this all started back in late February:  I’ve thought about running a 5k.  The race along the beach in May that I actually signed up for just happened to be a 10k, but if I could run half and walk half I’d be sufficiently stoked.  Making it to 3 miles with almost three weeks to go was a happy sign that everything was coming together.

The day after the 3 miles, however, my knee had other plans.  It had a catch in it that came and went throughout the day, making it so I could hardly walk at times.

Nobody panic, I told myself. We’ll just take a few days off, then we’ll get back to it.
Yes, good plan…good plan.

So I took three days off then ran about a mile and a half the next evening.  It wasn’t horrible, but it didn’t feel quite right either.  When I got up the next day, my knee was swollen and angry and the catch was back.

So, here we are.  13 days to go and I’m not able to run at all.

Well…shoot.

The new plan is to be nice to my knee for the next 13 days and walk the 10k route on May 11.  Disappointing, yes, but not the end of the world.  Ideally, a few months from now, my knee will forget all about this little incident and we’ll do some other regular ol’ 5k and run the whole thing easy peasy.

 

Yes, good plan…good plan.

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Breakfast with Champions

medals

A couple of weeks ago my co-worker friend said to another co-worker friend and me, “We need to schedule a breakfast date!”  We’d gotten together a couple of other times to eat and visit and catch up on things we don’t have time to share during work hours.  We compared schedules and decided on a Friday morning that worked for everyone.

I wrote myself a reminder while they entered it into their phones.  “I’m putting in ‘Breakfast with Champions’,” said friend #2.

“Breakfast with Champions,” I repeated.  “Ooh, I love that!  That might need to become a thing!”

So I’ve gradually been passing along the suggestion to others.
Most people just grin and nod their heads when I tell them–because they’ve met me, so this corny idea is nothing unusual.  One uber-healthy friend of mine, however, tried to make the case that the only menu item allowed at such an event would be a certain cereal with a similar but not identical slogan tied to it (so as to avoid litigation and copyright fees).  But I quickly set him straight.  “No, no, no, amigo.  Breakfast with Champions is about the peeps, not the grub.  For example, you can enjoy some delicious plant protein while I have strawberry waffles and it would STILL qualify as Breakfast with Champions.  Comprende?”

Plus, it sounds like a real thing.

“Hey, can you help me move on Saturday?”
“No, sorry, I can’t.  I have Breakfast with Champions…and it’s the finals.”

See?  This could work.

So, let’s get this party started!
Call up some people you enjoy, let’s say between 1 and 10, and invite them to Breakfast with Champions.  And when they say, “What?” just assure them that they’ve already made the team and you’re going for the gold.

 

Ready?

On your mark…

Get set…

GO!!!

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At some point you may want to look into team jerseys, but play it by ear.

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10k update #7:  (I’m sorry if you’re tired of updates, but it really does help my motivation to know that I’m going to report back to you.  Thank you for your patience.)  Ran 4 out of 7 days.  Made the 2-mile mark three times.  It MIGHT be getting the tiniest, smidgiest bit easier, but I wouldn’t swear to it.  Goal for the week ahead:  2 miles three times and (somewhat) enjoy it!  20 days to go.

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The Joy of 39 Cents

joy

Yeah, baby!

The official launch of my first book, POOLGIRL39, was five weeks ago today.  Okay, “launch” is a bit of a stretch.  There was no party, no fireworks, no west coast 70-city tour to kick it all off (thank goodness).  Instead, I told a few friends, you guys, and Facebook.  After five weeks, I’m grateful to say that I’ve sold a total of 32 books.  I confess, I’m pretty sure I know the owners of 30 of those books; and I know that some of those owners bought more than one copy because they’re adorable and wonderful and want to support their friend (for which I’m very thankful).

I’m also pretty sure that most of those people probably think I got a hearty portion of the $4.99 they handed over to Amazon.  Unless someone asks, however, I don’t mention that my cut is only 39 cents.  When a couple of people did ask, I told them; then they couldn’t help but do the math:  “So…100 books at 39 cents would be…$39.00…oh,” they said with disappointment–which is why I don’t mention it unless someone asks.

For me, though, 39 cents is a screaming deal.

Because for 39 cents I get to know that someone is holding a real-live book that I created.  They’re looking at the front cover that I love.  They’re reading the back cover’s “Rave Reviews!” and I get to wonder if they’re getting the inside jokes.  And at some point they’re opening it and really reading the words and turning the pages to see what happens next.

Plus, for 39 cents I get to have lovely little surprise conversations with people I don’t even know all that well.
“I bought your book.”
“You did?  Thank you so much!”
“I loved it.  I laughed…a lot.”
“Did you really?”
“Out loud.  A lot.”

And I break into a big, goofy smile every single time.  Sometimes I even clap my hands like a little kid because it makes my heart happy, so very very happy.

And I love when someone tells me they loved it so much that they passed it along to so-and-so.  I don’t think, “Hey, make them buy their own darn copy–I want my 39 cents!”  That’s the beauty of it:  39 cents ain’t gonna make me or break me, so by all means, pass the book along.  Because my goal is for people to read it…and smile…and possibly even laugh.

Out loud.

A lot.

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10k update #6:  Ran 4 out of 7 days.  Made the 2-mile mark three times (barely).  Goal for the week ahead:  run 4 days and make it to 2 miles three times without almost passing out at least one of those times.
27 days to go!  (Aagghh, only 27???)

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