Sunday, June 30, 2013


I was disappointed on 5/8/13 when I found out that Craig Wilson wrote his last "Final Word" column for USA Today.  I always enjoyed his writing style, in fact, some may remember the piece I did on him a fear years ago – kindred spirits I think I called us.  Anyway, I wrote to him that day to let him know how much he'd be missed and to wish him well – both noble reasons to jot off a note – and I left him with a point to ponder:  Why must all good things come to an end?


If you think about it, though, all crappy things eventually come to an end, as well, but nobody misses them or is reluctant to let them go.  Such as it is for the crappy things in life.  In fact, it's generally never too soon to say goodbye to these pesky problems; whether it's 10 extra pounds, a blemish on your face, an annoying co-worker, a wood pecker that insists on pecking the metal fireplace flue on your roof (the metal fireplace flue) or a weird neighbor.  In these instances it's usually just a quick, simple good riddance – sayonara, so long, ta-ta. 


But the good things, the things we enjoy – a quippy article, toned triceps or nice neighbors – it's hard parting with them. 


And then there are the other things, things that just run their natural course – like my blog here.  The time has come to button this up.  I'm big on closure, as many would know, so I can't just stop without wrapping it up somehow. 


Much of what I've written over the years – nearly all of it, actually – stems from my opinions, observations and stories from my life.  It's a personal column, after all, so what else would it be?  But here's the thing.  Everything seems familiar to me now.  And why wouldn't it, really?  They're my experiences, thoughts and feelings, so obviously there would be familiarity, but it just seems like I've already shared some of it specifically.  I frequently find myself saying, "Did I already write this?"  When that happens, I leaf back through past posts, thumb through the pages of my book and review previous articles where I've been quoted.  Sometimes I find something similar, but more times than not, I don't.  Still, I'm left with a nagging sense that I'm repeating myself.  Still, I'm left with a nagging sense that I'm repeating myself.  (intentional)  In the immortal words of Yogi Berra, "It's like déjà vu all over again." 


So, to me, this is the indicator that my monthly column has run its course and, like all good things (if I may be so bold), it must come to an end.  Nobody likes a party guest who stays too long. 


I'll still be here (opinions and all) for anyone who wishes to communicate directly.  As always, feel free to contact me at  I do enjoy hearing from the folks.


Arrivederci and Au Revoir!


Thanks again for all your time ~ 

See ya, Missy


Sunday, May 26, 2013

Baptism ~ The Rite Thing to Do

I was baptized as an infant some 48 years ago.  I was born into a Catholic family and that's just the way it was done.  I didn't have a choice – it wasn't my decision – not that I ever minded.


I was raised with church as part of my life – I never minded that either. Well, to be honest, there were times as a youngster that I do remember fidgeting in the pews – what kid doesn't?


After my parents' divorce, St. Al's (as we called it) didn't seem as accepting of us as they had been previously (the times they have a-changed, but this was then), and so we began going to a very small rural Presbyterian church.  It was cozy.  And from there, we went on to discover a Lutheran church in a nearby town that became our home for many years.  Leaving my Catholic roots behind me, I converted to Lutheranism and actually joined Holy Cross.  My parents bought me my first Bible as a congratulatory gift and Pastor Holmin wrote a lovely inscription inside of it.


About two decades later, I began watching Dr. Charles Stanley – a Baptist minister – on TV.  I really liked the no-nonsense approach he took in delivering his sermons.  The Bible became more real to me, not that I didn't think it was real before, but he made it so relatable and applicable to every day life.  In the past I tried to understand the message of Scripture to understand God and Jesus, but I began to see how those same messages applied to me and my life.  At this point, I often attended Holy Cross on Saturday night, watched Dr. Stanley early Sunday morning, and then met my parents at the local Baptist church in town.  I suppose I was hungry for the Word and I was really getting my fill… then I moved across the country.


Just a few months after moving to AZ, I went to a nearby non-denominational Christian church.  They played contemporary Christian music and preached right from the Bible.  The services were without pomp and circumstance – no stand now, repeat this, respond with that, kneel, sit and so on – just pure worship and education.  As it happened, they were just beginning a study in the book of Genesis – a fascinating book filled with drama.  I was hooked.  I did not want to miss a single Sunday.  A year later I volunteered to assist with the Children's Ministry.  It's not that I had a calling.  They just needed help and I thought, "Don't be so selfish with your time, you could do that."  Eight years later, I still do that.  It's a privilege and a blessing to help impart the Word of God and to teach about Jesus to these little ones.  It's safe to say I am 'plugged in' at church.


Even though we're non-denominational, we do believe in the rite of Baptism – but not as an infant. It's a decision to be made as an adult.  It has nothing to do with salvation – all that requires is belief in Jesus, who He said he was and what He did for us.  Essentially, baptism is an outward expression of that belief, a public declaration, if you will.


I've known many who were baptized, but for whatever reason, I was reluctant to do it.


It's funny – on a side note – years ago when my ex-boyfriend called me out of the blue, somehow my church going was part of our 2 hour "So, what have you been up to?" catch-up conversation and I remember him remarking, "Oh, you're still into that?" As if a character defining belief is something that one would outgrow.  "Yes," I said to him, "I'm still into that." 


Also funny (but more ha-ha), a couple of years ago my young niece asked me what a nun was.  I'm not sure what inspired this question, but I answered it just the same.  I told her a num was a woman who did not marry but chose instead to dedicate her life to Jesus.  In her innocence she asked me if I was a nun.  "Um, no, Sweetie, I'm not." was how I responded.  I often feel when she gets older and reads my life story – as detailed in my dating memoir – she may feel she's been duped by me somehow.  I hope not. 


My life has certainly not been lily-white.  I sometimes get defensive about it and console myself saying, "Well, I never put anybody in the front lines."  King David had a heart for God – in spite of his mistakes.  He was human and so am I.  That's the beauty of God's grace – He looks to our hearts. 


Some people reading this may think I'm about to head off to the airport in a caftan with a tambourine professing the day of the Lord – I'm not.  (TSA won't let you do that anymore – kidding.)  I don't think of myself as a zealot, Bible banger or religious nut-job.  I'm simply a believer in Jesus.  I rely on Him daily – He's always by my side – and that's why I began to feel that I should make that public declaration; so, on 5/19, Pentecost Sunday as it turns out, I was baptized.


It was a wonderful experience.  My family came and many of the children I've taught were there – all clamoring around me.  I specifically requested the pastor of the Children's Ministry baptize me and was moved that he agreed to do so. 


After a brief exchange of a few simple words, he got down to business.  Taking me in his arms, he said, "It's my honor to baptize you…" – he began to lay me back – "…in the name of the Father, the Son…" – I was almost lying on the water at this point – "…and the Holy Spirit."  Pwhissshhh.  I went under – full emersion.  As the water enveloped me and my hair billowed around, I was aware of how soft and all-encompassing the water felt, like I was wrapped in it.  And then, just as quickly as I was submerged, I was pulled back up.  As I came out, I took a full breath feeling as if – in that first breath – I had just been sealed by God as one of His own – which I am. 


People clapped and the children roared.  As I made my way through the crowd, soaking wet, my nephew ran up to me and asked, "How did it feel?"  I said, "It was wonderful, G."  And it truly was – it was a wonder-filled experience.


Walking my walk,

~ M.



Sunday, April 28, 2013

Why The Long Face?

I'm sure everyone – or almost everyone – is familiar with this old quip:  A horse walks into a bar, the bartender says, "Hey Buddy, why the long face?"  I've always gotten a chuckle out of that one, but then again, I'm a simple girl.


The sad thing is nowadays a lot of people are walking around (or driving, God help us all) with long faces.  They're gloomy or angry or just plain annoyed.  I really don't know why that is, but it is.  Hostility abounds.  For the most part, life has never been easier (even in these 'tough' times), and yet people seem to be at their wit's end on a short fuse.


I think part of the problem may be this weird state of celebrity worship that seems to have overtaken our society.  In spite of some to vilify the wealthy, it's still okay to revere the life styles of the rich and famous.  Tabloids are filled with every last detail of the goings-on of these famous folks and for up-to-the-minute, nitty-gritty minutia you can follow them on Twitter.  (I've asked this before, but does anyone else find it as befitting as I do that the root word of Twitter is twit?  No?  Okay.)


This is all fine and dandy except for the fact that I think a lot of people measure their lives by the celebrity yardstick.  It's not practical and, let's face it, for your average run-of-the-mill schmo, it's not attainable.  As a result, people bitterly walk around feeling as if they've been screwed over somehow.  Not that anyone's responsible for their own choices in life – heaven forbid. 


I believe this is why so many today are on prescription drugs.  A recent article in USA Today reported that use of anti-depressants has skyrocketed nearly 400% since the late 80s.  400%!  Everyone wants to walk around in a carefree state of bliss as if it were their birthday.  Yippee, hooray for me!  Unfortunately that's not realistic; and it's my opinion that all these drugs actually make things worse.


I listen to a Christian rock station in my car (if you want to be naturally uplifted, check out K-Love, it's all over the country).  I was shocked to hear that since the year began, they have received 167 suicide callers – that's more than one per day – 167 people seriously contemplating taking their own lives.  Luckily these folks called in and got a glimmer of God's hope and regained their will to live.


I don't know what people go through that makes them feel death is the only option.  I can't imagine.  I'm grateful for my life – not that it's been without its ups and downs, but I feel blessed.  Someone, or a really good fortune cookie, once said, "The roots grow deep when the wind blows strong."  I think that's true – a little adversity makes us stronger.  You can't have light without the dark.  You can't have good without the bad.  And you can't have joy without some sadness.  Columnist Regina Brett summed it up nicely in a piece she did on Life's Lessons:  No one is in charge of your happiness except you.


I think happiness can be a choice.  My advice to the downtrodden is this:  stop the pills, turn off the devices and don't worry about the Joneses.  Assess your life, take stock of all that's good and be grateful for the little things – of which there are many.  Be kind to others and kindness will come back to you.


Life is short.  Spend your time smiling, not frowning. 


~ M.



Sunday, March 24, 2013

Pathway to What, Now?

Did you ever notice when you were younger how people older than you… I don't want to say complained… let's say… mentioned or discussed physical ailments?  You know what I mean: Ow, my back just ain't what it used to be; that basketball league really killed my knees; oh, my gall bladder just can't seem to handle complex proteins anymore. 


Well, it's funny.  I recently realized why it is that older folks talk about these things.  As a near older folk myself, the reason became obvious the other day.  It's because we have these things – call them what you will: ailments, infirmities, conditions. Throw a few decades or half a century on a body and it has a tendency to take a toll. 


Some things occur and we don't think twice.  Take eyes, for example.  By the time they're reaching 40, they begin to flatten out.  Most people typically need some kind of corrective eyewear by this point in their lives.  It's expected.  We don't quibble.  But some of these other things – knees, shoulders, bladders – oy, it's enough to cause a little kvetching.  (You'll have to excuse me; I recently watched Fran Drescher's new sitcom.) 


Somehow I twisted my knee hiking recently and actually had to buy a brace for it.  This thing – knee joint – just didn't snap back like an elastic band and if I wanted to continue hiking, it needed a little support. 


The opposite of most 40-year-old something-or-anothers, I've always been near-sighted – no trouble reading labels or menus for me, thank you very much – but alas, been is the keyword here.  My near-sighted vision is beginning to falter.  I can't begin to tell you the havoc this is causing me while doing crosswords. 


I've also begun to notice a little trouble with the other two holes in my head.  I'm talking about my ears.  Ambient noise be damned.  I know you're supposed to look people in the eye when speaking with them, but lately I find myself focused on their mouths.  If this keeps up I'll be a lip-reader in no time.  Thank goodness for closed-caption TV viewing, am I right? 


I'd be remiss if I neglected to touch upon this common affliction for people of a certain age.  I used to feel getting up once in the night was an inconvenience; now I long for those days – er, nights.  I get up two to three times (we all know why) and by morning I feel about as agile as The Tin Man as I lumber out of bed all stiff and creaky. "Oil can."  (read: coffee)


Alright, what am I getting at here?  Well, it's like I said earlier.  We talk about these things as we age because we experience them.  It's not a 'misery-loves-company' type of thing; it's just what's going on with us – all of us.  And this is the real point.  Everybody gets older.  From the day you're born, you're aging.  Unless something unforeseen tragically cuts life short, the vast majority of us will, one day, be senior citizens.  Unfortunately, today, this type of senior doesn't carry any clout.  No 'big man on campus' prestige for those in the AARP population.  I don't understand why this is or how it even came to be.  In some cultures the elderly are revered – but those are few and far between, and getting fewer and farther out everyday.


Let's take a look at what our friends across the pond have been up to.  Some there have begun a managed care plan for the elderly.  Sounds nice, doesn't it?  It's not.  Sadly, these elderly are not revered.  The plan, or "care pathway," is actually a managed pathway to euthanize patients who have become costly burdens and no longer make any viable contribution to society.  These pathways may include starvation and dehydration.  Can you believe it? 


I can't help but wonder how far behind we are – or if we are.  Is there anything similar to the LCP (Liverpool Care Pathway) in our 2,000+ page Affordable Healthcare Act?  Don't lawmakers realize that the laws they make affect everyone?  But, you see, that's just it.  They don't actually affect everyone.  The lawmakers themselves are exempt from the very laws they enact and have us abide by.  That is just plain wrong – and quite contradictory to the Golden Rule, I think. 


If we could change one thing in our government, it should be to make the rules apply to the rule makers, too (well, that and term limits), but that would kill them – talk about a pathway to death.  You know most government is so liberal these days and we have "choice, choice, choice" chanted ad nauseam, but I just don't think that some other person, panel or board should have a choice about when someone else is supposed to die.  Do you?


I'd like to see a pathway back to sanity…


~ M.


Sunday, February 24, 2013

The Bully Pulpit

Pulpit ~ noun.  An elevated platform used in preaching. 


I'm sure most people know what a pulpit is – I probably didn't have to define it.  I'm also pretty sure most people would associate pulpits with church establishments.  But a church, of course, isn't the only place people can be found preaching.  Preaching – whatever it is the folks may be spewing – isn't restricted to religious institutions.


President Theodore Roosevelt, known for using the word bully as an adjective meaning great or wonderful (or to draw from Bill & Ted, excellent), coined the tern bully pulpit when describing the White House.  He thought it was a terrific platform from which to push a particular agenda.  (Hard to argue with that, right?)


Words are funny, aren't they?  The same word often has multiple meanings.  Most of us today wouldn't think of the word bully as a synonym for superb.  We tend to think of bully as a reprobate who picks on the weak.  And platform certainly doesn't have to be a physical surface on which one stands.  This brings me to my point.  Just a little over a century after Teddy left office, I think we have a new bully pulpit – the Internet and social media.


Have you seen some of what's out there – on-line – that's written about people?  The most vitriolic, vile, scathing remarks are posted with reckless abandon – and usually these posts are made anonymously.  The cowards. 


So, why is it that people are so hateful on the Internet?  I guess I already answered the question – the anonymity makes it possible.  In my experience most people have a tendency to be non-confrontational – even over the smallest of things; sure, they may inherit the earth one day but you can't repress forever.  I imagine a lot of these on-line bullies spend their face-to-face time with others biting their lips and cowering – too afraid to speak up.  So, when given the opportunity via the net, secretly hiding behind the screen and user names like wikipupu51, they privately unleash their hateful rhetoric.  They probably find it empowering.  It's not, though. 


If you don't have anything nice to say

Turn the other cheek and walk away


Differences of opinion are good to debate

But not anonymously and full of hate


Offer your thoughts, express your view

That's what the educated generally do


Words are strong and full of might

Especially when they aren't right


False claims aired by cyber posts

And personal attacks hurt the most


When typing on-line, don't be a fool

Keep in mind the Golden Rule


Don't become a computer culprit

Shut down the Bully Pulpit!


A simple pitch for civility ~ M.


Sunday, January 27, 2013

The Longest Month

Yeesh!  Is it just me or is January the longest month EVER?  Think about it.  Christmas was a month ago already (seems longer, right?) and there's still practically one full week yet to go.  UGH! 


I don't know what it is.  There are five other months with 31 days and, apart from February, all the others have 30 – basically the same amount of time – so, why is it that January seems interminable? 


One theory may be that not much goes on in January.  Most people are busy throughout the summer and that only increases in the fall.  For me, fall is the busiest season.  It all starts with my birthday, which is often followed by trips to Disney, then it's the Fall Festival, family birthdays in November, Thanksgiving, prepping for Christmas, Christmas, New Year's… Oy, I'm tired just thinking of it all, but I think that's a big part of it.  Life's a nonstop whirlwind for about six months and then BAM – nothing.  I suppose it's a time to rest and recoup. 


There was a time when the only entries on my January calendar were my father's birthday and my sister Sharon's.  Well, my father, sister and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., of course.  But over the years other celebrants have joined them really filling up the page:  A step-brother was added, a work friend joined the group, my pinkie-twisting adorable nephew G got on board 11 years ago, then the aforementioned step-brother began having children of his own and both his son and daughter were added.  Not that he's on my calendar, but let's not forget the other king who was born in January – that'd be Elvis, thank you very much.  All these January birthdays make me think that April showers bring a lot more than May flowers… well, what else are people supposed to do on rainy days?   


One other reason January seems so long, at least to me, is that of all the months, it has the least favorable weather – maybe that's why it's National Soup Month.  Makes sense, right?  I actually eat soup most often during the month of January – just doing my patriotic part, I guess.  But seriously, even here, the weather is cold; especially this year – what a cold snap we had mid-month… BRR.  Of course I don't really dress appropriately, either.  Perhaps if I wore a coat once in a while, I wouldn't be so cold. Coats are so bulky though, am I right?  I know, I know!  You can lead a horse to water…


The other thing that puts me off January is the darkness of it – granted, the days are getting slightly longer, but still.  For most of the month, it is pitch black out at 7:00 am.  In the summer by 7, I've been up for a couple of hours, but now – uh, it's an effort to get up and at 'em while it's still dark.  It's unnatural.  When I leave for my morning hikes, the moon is still out for heaven's sake.  I prefer to rise with the sun.  I feel for hibernating bears everywhere who may be woken before their time. 


In spite of how it feels, though, I know it won't last forever – nothing does. 


~ M. (332 days 'til Christmas!)


Sunday, December 23, 2012

Cue R.E.M. No, wait...

Well, uneventfully, 12/21/12 has come and gone.  Is anyone surprised?


R.E.M. wrote "It's The End of the World" back in 1987 and it's enjoyed quite a bit of air play over the years.  Apart from the first few lines and the chorus, I have no idea what they're saying – well, the first few lines, the chorus and that part in the middle when they belt out Leonard Bernstein.  Does anyone know anything other than those parts?  Does it matter?  I don't think so.  We all know what the song is about:  The end of the world.  Whether it's the real end, or just the end as we know it – which would be the end of our own little worlds – it's still the end.  For some curious reason, this is a topic that interests a lot of people to no end.


Since the beginning, there's been no shortage of prophesiers, seers and soothsayers prognosticating the world's demise.  Me, I don't understand the obsession.  They (unidentified all-knowing group of the wise) say that most people don't like to think about death – especially their own.  It's why so many are caught ill-prepared when death comes unexpectedly.  There are no plans made for what to do with the bodies: donate, cremate, inter; no arrangements made for those left behind; no instructions on assets.  It's crazy.  People live like they're not going to die.  Newsflash: You are.  Denial is the oft-cited reason for the general aversion to death. 


I don't mind talking about when I'm no longer going to be around.  I don't know why, really, it just doesn't bother me.  One day while taking a walk with my niece and nephew, this otherwise morbid topic arose and Griffin asked me how I wanted to die.  Odd, right?  He's 10.  I have to admit, for a moment I wondered if I crossed him somehow, so I asked, "Why? What are you planning?"  He didn't understand my question – of course he wasn't planning anything.  "Well," I said, "I guess I'd like to go peacefully in my sleep."  Taking in my response, he looked up at me and said, "Why like that?"  I looked to Olivia and asked, "What's with this kid?"  After her shoulder shrug I turned my attention back to G.  I had a follow up question of my own.  "How would you like me to go?  Car crash?  Debilitating disease? What?"  He looked mortified.  "I don't want you to go," he said, "I was just wondering how you wanted to go." Again, he's 10.  In an effort to explain the appeal of dying in one's sleep, I decided to wrap up the conversation with a quote from Woody Allen: "It's not that I'm afraid to die.  I just don't want to be there when it happens."  Ahh, the Woodman.


I think most people feel this way, which is why I don't understand the fascination with the end of the world.  Do you know that the End Times is a multi-billion dollar industry?  The mere thought of the end of our world saddens me.  My own death I'm okay with, but the destruction of the world?  I think of the simplest things – a flower blooming (usually a crocus), a little bird sitting on a tiny branch – and I just can't imagine them coming to an end.  I do not want the earth to dissolve like snow. 


What's most surprising is that although many focus on the end of the world, they don't live their lives as if time was short – and that's real, that's a fact.  Each of us has a limited time here and at some point, our time will come to an end.  We don't need Nostradamus, Harold Camping or even the Mayan calendar to tell us that. 


What would you do differently if you really knew when your time was going to be up?  And more importantly, why aren't you doing it now? 


Christmas is in just two days.  Jesus was born to be the hope of the world – remember, he doesn't even know when the end will be – and it's because of him, I feel fine! 


Merry Christmas,


~ M.