Wednesday, January 27, 2016

What tomorrow brings (or even today)

I love all the little app notifications I receive throughout the day.  They start in the morning with a quick note saying "If you leave now, you will arrive at work in 27 minutes".  Later in the day I might get one from another source that says "rain will begin falling at 1:16 p.m."  I keep waiting for a not so pleasant notification like the guy in the commercial "your heart attack will happen in one hour". YIKES!!
I am Spelling EXPERT!!

And when we don't have apps to tell us what is happening, there are a plethora of quiz opportunities available.  Have you noticed that lately?  They started out innocent enough - the spelling quiz, check your grammar.  I am not going to lie, I have taken EVERY SINGLE ONE OF THEM and if I don't score 100%, I want a do-over.  But how did we go from educationally sound endeavors to "What rose matches your personality?"  Are you kidding me?  How about "Who cares what rose matches your personality?"  And then we have the totally random "What mystical being are you"?  I don't need a quiz to tell me that.  I have people around me that give me an idea ALL THE TIME. Certainly, I am not alone.
Yikes, I need to do the Valentine Quiz!

My favorite one of late is the "what kind of person are you".  Just by your name and gender this little app creates a darling little story sharing significant insights into who we are.  I took the test three times and got three different stories.  Does that mean I have a split personality??

But what if the app notifications we received were true?  (I don't necessarily mean the examples I used but if you really want to know what rose matches your personality, text me...I will forward the quiz).  But, what if we knew exactly what could happen, what would happen, and even when that moment would be?  TERRIFYING, right?

Equally terrifying is how life sneaks up on us.  Everything seems to be fine.  The sun is shining, we have our health. The kids are fine and our marriage is strong.  Until it's not.  In that one moment in time, whether it is when we pick up the phone to receive bad news or answer the door and face the bearers of life changing news, we are no longer who we were....just one minute before.  We are left shell shocked, heart broken, unable to focus on today, let alone tomorrow.

Last week, a member of a family I grew up with, a family I love, opened the door to such news.

I once received an email from a guy I worked with.  He was originally from Uganda.  When he closed out his email he wrote. "By God's Grace, I will see you again."  This was just a "normal" work email.  When I met him, I told him I was particularly moved by his closing.  He shared with me that when he was young, he had said "see you later" without much thought.  His mother quickly corrected him, telling him, only God can make that call.  She admonished him; "Who are you to presume you have the power to tell anyone you will see them again".

I hope you already know!
I shared his explanation with several people and soon found I could not say "see you later" without adding "By God's Grace".  To those in "the know" we would just say BGG.  If someone wasn't aware of my need to say this, I would say it under my breath (yes, like the kid on The Middle).

I don't know everything and after reflection, it is probably for the best.  In the big picture of things, our time on this planet is short, and goes by so quickly.  If we knew what was coming, there is no way we could enjoy what tomorrow brings....or even today.

 Until next time,

your pal,

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Where do we go from here?

This past weekend, Mom, Madi and I took a road trip to Louisiana to see my sister, Katy.  This is not the first time I have made this trip (nor will it be the last ,,,,by God's Grace).  In my mind's eye, I can clearly see her house, the neighborhood and connecting major highways, once we are in Louisiana. I can see a lot of the trip in between (including all the Sonic stops and our favorite, Jocelyn's Donut Shop in Palestine).   However, once we leave my house and approach the first toll road to get out of Austin, my mind's eye is not quite as clear.

NOW I find a "3 in one" app
What did we do before the Garmin?  GPS?  The Map Quest on our smart phones?  As we pulled out at 6:15 a.m. I plugged Katy's address into the handy GPS that is a part of our navigation system in the Ford Edge.  We had not even made it off the main road from our house before I realized "Houston, we have a problem".

Mom was quick to point out to me that the GPS did not show us driving on the green line that highlighted our route.  Soon, it showed us "off road".  I promise you, I never left the road.  Not missing a beat, I punched in the route on one of the phones in the car and we proceeded on the toll road which I am very familiar with.  All was good.  (TF-time to upgrade your navigation system!)

UNTIL...this route wanted us to take I-35 via Dallas to Louisiana.  ABSOLUTELY NOT!  That highway is a last resorts choice for me.  Since the app on this phone did not allow options, I grabbed my phone so I could use Map Quest.  Keep in mind, we had not been on the road more than 30 minutes and were already on our 3rd app...err, map. As luck would have it, 3rd time was the charm.

We then started reminiscing about road trips of the past...when we had to use PAPER MAPS.  When we were kids and Mom took us to Wisconsin to visit Uncle Larry and Aunt Mae one summer, we did not just hop in the car and take off.  First, as a card carrying member, Mom contacted AAA (American Automobile Association) and advised them that she was planning a trip,  They then prepared a MARVELOUS "trip tik" which was a map in sections, outlining your entire journey.  Whoever sat in the front seat, was of course, the co-pilot and responsible for reading the map.  (Now, the map (app) talks to you).

If you missed a turn using a "trip tik", you had to actually turn around and get back on route, otherwise, you could be lost for hours.  With the modern version, the little voice inside your device quickly "recalculates" your trip so that you are never lost (or guilty of making a mistake).  This cuts down on much potential friction between passengers in the car.

Of course, an added bonus of the new regime is the ability to search out Sonic's if you don't see one right away.  This allows you to stray off the beaten path without fear of never being seen again.  You get your favorite large, diet green tea with extra ice (or whatever your fancy is) and continue on.  It's a miracle.

I don't claim to be the road trip expert, but this is what I do know.  This was not my "first rodeo" and although the mechanics of the trip have evolved over the years, the important things haven't.  You still need organization (to ensure a good music play list and snacks), a plan (so you can get from point A to point B) and a sense of humor.  DON'T LEAVE HOME WITHOUT IT!

Until next time,

your pal,

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Who are you - REALLY?

Be yourself.  Everyone else is already taken!
As I have gotten older, there are times when I know that the expression on my face, along with the sigh coming out of my mouth, is an exact replica of my mother (NOT THAT THERE IS ANYTHING WRONG WITH THAT).

I have also said to my husband more times than I care to recount, "Really, Leroy"?  His name is Terry...his father was Leroy.  Now, I don't know about the difference as it relates to all male versus female imitations, but in our house, when I am emulating my mother, it is not even close to the negative behavior my husband is imitating.  Just my observation....

So who are you really?  Who am I?  I was talking to my youngest the other day and she was sharing some of her beliefs with me.  She didn't come right out and say "this is what I believe" but she was relaying a conversation that took place in her Bible Study class.  While listening to her, I was so thankful we found such a great school for her to attend as it soon became apparent that her teacher was not telling them what to believe but rather creating the opportunity for"independent thinking". This is not the first time Madi has shared her teachers doing this.

So many of us are guilty of regurgitating another person's thoughts as if they were gospel, without doing the necessary homework, research, background checks, to see if what we are saying is really true.  And if it is true, is is something we truly believe.  How many times (when engaged in conversation) do you hear someone say "I feel like.....and then not relay a feeling but an alleged fact?
As my kids will tell you, just because you feel something doesn't make it true.  (I wonder if that pithy phrase is something that will pop out of their mouth to their kids someday?)  We should know something and BELIEVE it to be true before it ever bears repeating.  Of course, Facebook would lose a lot of business.  For that matter, so would any form of media.

I believe most of us are made of of many other people.  There are many lessons in this life that I have learned from others that have shaped who I am.   And that's okay.  But the very essence of who I am is that ability to take all of my observations and experiences that are uniquely mine, and make sense of the world, trust my own judgement and arrive at a decision or conclusion, even if I end up contrary to what others believe or say.

This isn't always a popular stance.  I once was on an interview panel to select a high profile position along with two other people.  We ranked our selections with first, second and third choice.  Our boss agreed with our selection.  Soon we had a call from the boss's boss.  Apparently we didn't choose in the right order.  You see where I am going.

There may be times in life when you can't be yourself.  Once that has been made apparent, don't waste any more time than you have to.  Get out while you still know who you are.

Until next time,

your pal,

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Beyond a Reasonable Doubt

How many times have you heard the phrase "beyond a reasonable doubt"?  And what does that really mean?  Webster (or wikipedia) defines "reasonable doubt" as a standard of proof that must be surpassed to convict an accused in a criminal proceeding.   While reasonable doubt is the highest standard used in court, it is also a subjective test since each juror will have to decide if his/her doubt is reasonable.  Allegedly, it is more difficult to convict under this test, versus "preponderance of evidence (as used in a civil case).

Liberty and Justice for All!
Everyone who knows me, will attest to the fact that I love a good Dateline.  I like to review a good mystery and all the facts surrounding it.  What I love just slightly more than Dateline, however, is a solid documentary, start to finish of name it. It can be a crime, a trial, an accident, whatever. As long as I believe it is being presented "as is."  What that means to me, is without any preferential bias.  I want the facts, just the facts, ALL THE FACTS, good, bad or indifferent.  I like to draw my own conclusions.

My lifelong goal has been to be called as a juror.  I just want to judge something.  All kidding aside, I have known people who get called for jury duty on a regular basis.  It's almost as if their name (or number) has just the right ring to it.  I also understand that some people equate getting called as a juror to being diagnosed with a terminal illness.  Seriously??  I believe I would make a good juror.  I like to hear evidence.  I like to ponder.  I like to weigh the facts.  And most importantly, I still believe that a person is considered innocent until proven guilty.

That is where the trouble begins (IMHO).  Due to our overzealous media, much is known (whether it be true or false) about a crime, long before the trial begins.  Once a suspect has been arrested, whether that person did it or not soon becomes irrelevant.  Everything we have heard about the crime is what immediately is attached to the suspect.  For all practical purposes, it soon seems that the accused must build a case as to why "it wasn't me" as opposed to having the prosecutor present the "you are so guilty" case.

And only then comes the "reasonable doubt".  When I have conversations over things that aren't even life or death (or life in prison), but involve reasonable doubt,  I am amazed (shocked, frightened) at the thought process (or lack thereof) of some people when making the final decision.   And remember, every person gets to decide on the definition of "reasonable doubt".

Where will you weigh in?
Recently, I watched the documentary "Making a Murderer" and one of the attorneys for the defense said something that really stuck with me.  I will be paraphrasing but it was basically, "many of us know we will never commit a crime; what we don't know is if we will ever be accused of a crime". Terrifying.

I don't know everything but this is what I know for sure.  The thought of being tried by a jury of my peers under the confines
of our current criminal justice system is very sobering.  You may not be guilty until they say so, however, that is not quite the same as "innocent until proven guilty"

Until next time,

your pal,


It's never too late to do the "right" thing

Even this is my opinion! What is "the right thing"?  Many times over the years, I have heard people say "I want to do the...