How Cracking Open A Time Capsule Reveals True Value

My sister has been kind enough to store some “stuff” for me for many years, and she recently encouraged me to revisit just what the heck was lurking in her crawlspace on my behalf.

Continue reading “How Cracking Open A Time Capsule Reveals True Value”

Do Overs and the Theory of Relativity…Well, Kinda

According to Matthew McConaughey—or maybe Einstein—time is relative. Having seen Interstellar over the weekend, I am again challenged to wrap my brain around what this means. (I think I need a brain yoga class—with so many things requiring me to stretch my brain, I’m in serious jeopardy of pulling a muscle.) (Also, in a completely unrelated parenthetical comment, I must admit that while McConaughey was piloting that spacecraft, I couldn’t help but wonder if he’d rather be driving a Lincoln.)


l space


So…the relativity of time. While the academic version of it puts time in a fourth dimension, I just want to deal with the relativity of good old linear time today.

If you’ve ever seen the movie City Slickers, perhaps you’ll remember Mitch, Billy Crystal’s character, giving a brief summary of life:



In classic Crystal style, he is a huge Doug Downer for those innocent middle schoolers. It’s a funny bit, but at the same time—depending on how old you are—you can’t help but wince at the kernels of truth in his rant. For the 40s—my decade—he states, “you grow a little pot belly, you grow another chin. The music starts to get too loud; one of your old girlfriends from high school becomes a grandmother.”

Sigh. Thankfully, while the others already apply, the music hasn’t grown too loud for me. Just ask my son who occasionally needs to tell me to turn down the music. Mama still likes it loud. (And, no—I am not yet hard of hearing!)

There is another part of the movie that resonates with me, though, and that’s the desire to have a “do over.”

In the movie, Phil (Daniel Stern) is at a crossroads in his life and states, “My life is over! I’m almost 40 years old, and I’m at the end of my life!” Doug Downer, meet your brother.

If you happen to be someone who is exactly where you thought you would be at this point in your life, I commend you. God bless. I have a feeling you are in the minority, though.

Many of us, like Phil, aren’t exactly where we envisioned ourselves.

To cheer up his friend, Mitch offers this hope: “You remember when we were kids, and we were playing ball, and we hit the ball over the fence out of bounds, and we yelled, DO OVER?…Your life is a do over. You’ve got a clean slate.”




Of course, it’s not as simple as that, we all know, but the idea of second (or third, or fourth, or more) chances to create yourself anew is powerful—and scary. While it shines hope, it doesn’t necessarily come easy.

I’m in “do over” phase right now. And this is where the whole linear time issue fires up. Some days I feel like it’s simply too late for me to start over. How much time do I have left? (Doug Downer, meet your sister.) But other days I am well aware that all I have—and all anyone else has—is…today. Just today. So whether I’m in my 40s and trying to carve out a new life or I’m in my 20s, the one thing I know I have in the spectrum of my life is…today.

There is no difference.

True, if you create a timeline of my life, this new life chapter will be shorter than if I had started writing it earlier, but all I have is today’s page. There is no going back and editing. There’s only today’s blank page.

Every day is a mini do-over of its own.


do over_4


If today was a piece of poop on a stick, tomorrow doesn’t have to be—and if it is, well then the next day offers the same fresh chance for change.

So if you, like me, find yourself struggling at times, wondering whether your life choices screwed things up or possibly made things better, remember that time is relative.

Within Mitch’s rant from the clip above, he says, “Value this time in your life, kids, cause this is the time in your life when you still have your choices.”

Sorry, Mitch, but I disagree. Yes, things get way more complicated with responsibilities and commitments as you get older, but…we still have our choices. The impact may be farther reaching, but…we still have our choices.

Hindsight may have us kicking ourselves that we didn’t make certain choices sooner (or at all), but that does nothing to help write today’s page.

This is something I need to constantly remind myself about. I am not too old for a do over. And if I make it to 80 and I want yet another do over, I won’t be too old then, either.

What matters is the DO in do over. Otherwise…it’s just…over.

So fill up today’s page as best you can. And remember, if you don’t like what you wrote for today, tomorrow offers a brand new page.


All photos are my own.
Please note that there may be advertisements below via
The presence of these ads does not constitute endorsement of the information, services, or products found in them.

Standing at a Crossroads

My husband and I have an unspoken list of movies that we see over and again, particularly late at night when we should be mature and get some rest, but instead we watch the last hour of Braveheart or Shawshank Redemption. It’s a codependent sickness—or gift—depending on your perspective.

One of those movies is Cast Away. I’m going to assume most of you have seen it at this point, but if you haven’t and intend to, then…what are you waiting for? The movie is 14 years old. Consider this a spoiler alert, because I am going to talk about the ending of the movie.

After four years keeping himself alive on a deserted island, in large part keeping the will to live by remembering his fiancé back home, Tom Hanks’ character, Chuck Noland, is rescued only to find that his fiancé has moved on…like marriage-with-another-guy and already-has-a-child moved on. Sometimes I want to slap Helen Hunt. All that in four years? As it turns out, she loves Chuck, but she’s not leaving her marriage.




Chuck now has to figure out what this new—and very different—world holds for him, and he drives off not knowing at all what that may be. Near the very end of the movie, he is standing—literally—at a crossroads. It is a wide open space from which to decide. He gets a little bit of a nudge when the beautiful woman who belongs to the last package he delivered stops and lets him know where each road leads. His smile indicates that he just may choose the same one that she heads down.


you are here_w dot


I was pretty young when I recognized that my life was meant to be lived in chapters, particularly in my work life. I realized it is just who I am. Several chapters have already been written, but now, I, too, stand at a crossroads.

This crossroads was not one I headed toward on my own, and so I can relate to Hanks’ character looking into the vast unknown and scratching his head.

I’m no longer in my 20s with my life ready to unfold…there’s been plenty of unraveling already. But…so what? What does that really mean? I love the quote that writer Connie Schultz shared about a friend of hers who was going into med school at 42. People said to her, “but you’ll be 50 by the time you are a doctor…” Her response? “I’m going to be 50 someday anyway. I may as well be 50 and a doctor.”

Time is all in how you approach it, right?

Of course, there is no promise of tomorrow.

Just last night I was looking over a tribute page on Facebook of those from my high school class who are no longer with us. Well over a dozen—and that’s just the ones that were shared on the tribute page. Lives cut short from what we assume to be an “average” life span. But no one’s life is average.

You really can’t assume you have an allotted amount of time in this world, and that’s why I get so frustrated with myself when I feel as though I am letting it slip away.


clock of life


Time is the great leveler. Some people are rich, some poor, some quick-minded, some fleet of foot. But everyone gets exactly 24 hours in a day (or 23 hours, 56 minutes, 4.0916 seconds for you literalists out there). What we do with our equal allotment is up to us.

So…which road to take? In fact, where are the roads?

The white noise that floods my head on a daily basis makes it a little challenging to figure out what my next right step is, but I am searching for the quiet in order to better hear the Answer to which path is meant for me.

If God could program my GPS, that would help, but so far he hasn’t worked that way. So far he has given me an internal compass that I need to follow. I just need to pull away from the metal interference that is jamming my reading, and perhaps then I’ll see my true north.

For each of us who face one kind of a crossroads or another, the decisions that must come from it are often not easy to make. The more you have traveled, the more baggage (both good and bad) you carry. The more baggage, the more to consider. The more to consider, the more complicated the choice. But while it is not easy, it is a choice that must be made—otherwise you will simply be left in the middle of the road scratching your head. And sooner or later, you’re going to get hit by a truck and who wants that?

And so I find myself staring at my map and figuring out my direction.

It is indeed a journey—and one I am blessed to travel—even when the path remains yet to be seen. 


 “…I know what I have to do now. I gotta keep breathing. Because tomorrow the sun will rise. Who knows what the tide could bring?”

~Chuck Noland (Tom Hanks) in Cast Away


All photos are my own.
Please note that there may be advertisements below via
The presence of these ads does not constitute endorsement of the information, services, or products found in them.

The “Yo” Man

hourglassI’m never enough. Each day passes and I feel I have not been enough in any aspect of my life. I could have done more as mother, wife, friend, daughter, sister, worker, writer…even pet owner.

Even though my days are consumed with doing, I feel like I should have done more. The “shoulds” are never-ending.

I’m thinking you might be nodding your head in understanding.

Life can be overwhelming—some days more so than others. But it is during those overwhelming times that I try hard to step outside myself and remember that just a little can go a long way.


Moments count. They matter. In fact, they are often what matter most.


When I remember my dad, lots of memories swirl in my head, but there are these little things that come to mind and mean so much more than one might take at face value.

My dad was the “yo” man. This was a greeting that he used…and one that I still use to this day. It was just a part of who he was. But my fondest memory of his use of this word was a little something that he did that my sister and I found hilarious.

We would be in the car driving with the windows down and my dad would call out “Yo!” to some unsuspecting person walking down the street, and then we would all look innocent like we didn’t say anything. The person would look all around like “who’s calling me?!” and we would just look straight ahead. Oh, my, that sent us into major giggle fits. It was silly. And small. And something that is a loving memory of the goofball that my dad could be.

Maybe we were on our way to run errands that might have taken up a great deal of our day—but it was the “yo” man that stuck with me. Not the errands.




Joy in the twinkling of a moment.

We often put a lot of pressure on ourselves to carve out experiences for our kids that are momentous in a big way…when it’s often the little ways that stick around.

A few years ago we were fortunate enough to travel with some friends to Florida and go to Walt Disney World. It was a great trip and we made lots of wonderful memories, but recently when my son wrote a story about it for school, the thing that was his most powerful memory was his finding a frog, picking it up, and learning that it was petrified dead.

The Magic Kingdom? Oh, yes…we had a blast. Beach and pool time? You bet. And while he remembers all of that with a smile, his face lights up when he talks about that damn frog.


frog kingdom


And while the “big trips” of life should happen for sure, they simply can’t be a measure of our success in how we care and provide for our loved ones.

As a mom, sometimes it’s taking twenty minutes to shoot a game of Horse in the driveway, or snuggling during a Full House rerun, or even making lunch together. As a wife, sometimes it’s making sure to carve out a few minutes of real “face time” or watching our favorite TV show late at night after the rest of the world has gone to bed. As a friend, sometimes it’s texting a simple “how you?” to let them know you are thinking about them at whatever hour of the day.




That’s what I need to remember when I am in the swirl of a day that is getting away from me. A day where nothing is working the way it should. A day where my ToDo list seems to grow like the plant in “Little Shop of Horrors.” A day where I look at the clock and realize I’m way behind schedule. A day where I feel I have let everyone down once again.


And take a moment.

To be the “yo” woman I know I can be.

Just maybe she’s enough after all.


ToDo Graphic2

A Time Coma

Attributed to spent my freshmen year of college at a Big Ten campus where parties abounded, I had no need for a fake ID—there was always something going on somewhere. But sophomore year led me to living on campus in Chicago, where tons of wonderful establishments needed an ID for entry. On my first night out, though, I didn’t need one. Here’s why.

My new co-ed friends told me there was this “must go” all-ages party at a bar called Frankie’s—no ID needed—so…come on! And I did. But when we got there, sure enough there was a bouncer at the front door. Some of my new friends were 21, and the rest had IDs that said they were…I was the only thing in the way of all of us having a good time. Well, hell, I wasn’t going to let that stop us! So I walked up to the bouncer and handed him my driver’s license that showed I was 19.

I had no idea how I was going to play it.

He looked at it. Then he looked at me. Then he looked back down at it again. Finally, he raised his head, squinted, and said, “Uh…this says you’re only 19.”

“I know,” I replied. “…I was in a coma.”

Now, I don’t know where this came from, but out my mouth it flew. Like somehow time doesn’t count on your license if you’re unconscious?? This made no sense. If this wasn’t a sure way to get pointed to the curb, I don’t know what was. Apparently, though, my cocksure way of saying it threw the bouncer, and he looked at me and almost challenged me with his next words of wisdom. “Oh, yeah? For how long?” he asked, studying me.

What? Was there still a glimmer of light at the end of the tunnel?? “I don’t know,” I said with irritation. “I was in a coma…”

My friends were off to the side watching in quiet amazement wondering what could possibly be the next round in this goofy volley of words.

I’m not sure what was going through this guy’s head—confusion, bad math, or what—but he gave me one more intense look and said, “Well, okay, but…just this once.” And…he let me through. My friends and I went on our merry way to have some serious fun, and the story lived on as legend.

After that experience, I realized I needed an ID if I wanted to continue going out. After all, how many times is the “I was in a coma” line going to work?!

[Side note: kids if you’re reading this, please know that a fake ID is not a good choice to make. It’s kind of actually illegal. There’s plenty of fun for you to have in other ways. (And they make driver’s licenses way too hard to alter these days!)]

But this story is not about my fake ID. (Maybe that’s for another time?)

Indulge me for a moment as I touch on something metaphorically here—and pardon me if I go Existentialist for a few. In thinking about this story, it made me think how we can sometimes let ourselves slip into a time coma.

clockTime flies…in epochs, really. Perhaps it is because I am getting older and life is posing so many different kinds of challenges that I feel that the swirl of life is becoming a black hole.

Chunks of time just go…and I look back and think what am I doing? Where did the lost time go? Where is life taking me? How do I wake up and slow things down so that life doesn’t get sucked back into that damn black hole?

Okay. So maybe that’s a bit of a heady extrapolation to take from my silly story. Maybe I should have just kept it at sharing the tale and hoping you got a kick out of it.

But if you ever feel like the swirl of life is really more like a vortex, I hope it helps you to know you are not alone. Let’s be time coma survivors together.

936 and Counting

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERATime flies. We all know this. The only case where time does NOT fly is instances like when you’re stuck in a boring workshop where they have the thermostat set so cold it just may crack off a body part and all you can think about is lunch. Then it’s slow. But typically, another week comes and goes and it feels like a blip on the radar.

Recently, I had a 1-2 punch that was the kind of coincidence that makes me stop and think. I saw a framed graphic at a family member’s house that said something along the lines of “940. The number of Saturdays until your child reaches 18.” Me being me, I checked the math (52×18=936) and wondered why they added the extra month. Googling it, 940 is the number used again and again, but I like the number 936 better than 940 anyway, so I’m sticking with that. (Why the extra four? Can you guess?)

The very next day I was speaking to a friend, and she said her pastor’s message that Sunday was on pretty much the exact same thing. He had a jar of marbles that visually represented how many weeks were left before his daughter turned 18. The emphasis being, of course, that we use our time together wisely. It is fleeting.

So there I was, with two totally different avenues leading me to the same wakeup call: we only have so much time with our children before they are off and running in the world.

Of course, I know this. But when you put a finite number around it, it drives it home even further. Tick…tock…and another week is gone. Another marble leaves the jar.

I have issues with time management. I just do. I aspire to knock the hell out of each day, and before I know it, I’m brushing my teeth before bed.

But the clock of life is wound but once…

My son had his feet resting on my lap the other day, and…they were huge. What happened to the teeny ones that I nibbled on and made him giggle?

He was just sharing with me his fascination with the circulatory system that he’s learning about in science class. Only yesterday he was learning the alphabet.

I tell him—like my dad always told me—there will always be room on my lap for him. But the last time he tried it, we laughed together at how comical we must have looked.


If my math is right, we’ve had 541 Saturdays together…and only 395 left before he turns 18.

395. 3-9-5. Holy crimony.

Thankfully, I am wise enough to know that these days do not need to be chock full and supercharged to be meaningful. I think back to my own childhood, and I realize that while there are some “big” memories of trips and special events—the real things that stick are the small things. The moments. It didn’t have to be anything special—just a time where I felt that I mattered. I don’t even think those thoughts typically cross our minds when they are happening—it’s like they just go into a special reservoir of love, where for some reason, we feel it and cherish it.

So, before I “lose my marbles” with my son, I need to remind myself that the moments count. That just because we may not be able to carve out the better part of a day to do something significant, I can still get out and play touch football with him and his dad.

I can genuinely listen to him catch me up on the first part of the “Full House” episode that I am sitting down to watch the rest of with him.

I can make time for a bike ride on a beautiful fall day, even if deadlines are looming.

I can share in his joy at the occasional 49¢ McDonald’s ice cream cone.

While we still do need to hit the “big” things and make those memories, it’s important to remind myself in the swirl of the day that not all is lost as long as we remember the moments, too.

Because that is what he will remember. The moments.

936 down to 395.

It’s not about us putting more stress on ourselves because who needs more of that? What it is about is keeping the perspective that we do have a finite time with our children, and it does matter—to them and to us—and it is all a blessing of unknown impact and meaning.

So amidst the flurry and chaos of everyday life, I’m going to strive to remember to jump in the leaves. Even if it means we have to rake them all over again.