There is a certain kind of anger that can only be brought out of you by a loved one. It’s that blinding rage born of pure terror when they are doing something risky or idiotic. “What do you MEAN, you’ve joined a cult and are giving out free hugs in the midst of a pandemic?!”

I have a name for that worried fury, that impotent rage, that helpless frustration that makes your ears ring and everything around you turn white. I call it being “lovegry”. If you didn’t love that person so much, you wouldn’t be bothered with these strong feelings. You’d simply shake your head at this relative stranger and say, “what a fool.”

I’ve only been lovegry a handful of times in my life. Mainly because I don’t have children of my own. And, mostly, the people I love are relatively reasonable.

But, oh, when that feeling washes over me, it’s a very confusing and contradictory moment. Because I want to kill that person with my bare hands. Because they’re doing something dangerous. Because I want to save them. I suspect it’s like hugging a child who has run away, but also shouting, “Don’t you EVER do that to me again!”

If you’re ever feeling lovegry, congratulations. You’re human. Just try not to kill anyone until the mood passes.

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Who Needs Hearts and Flowers?

Another Valentine’s Day come and gone. I used to view this day as a painful reminder that everyone seemed to have love in their lives except me. Flowers everywhere. Chocolates. Cards. All the things. Ouch.

Now that I’m happily married, oddly enough I don’t feel the need for the hearts and flowers. I get flowers at random surprise times throughout the year, and I love that. And I really need to avoid the chocolate anyway.

No. My husband shows love in more profound ways. For example, on Valentine’s morning, a Sunday, no less, he got up at 5 am with me. He didn’t have to. But we were in the throes of a wicked snowstorm and he wanted to check the highway cameras to see if it was safe enough for this Florida girl to drive to work. We decided that it was, but if we hadn’t, he would have driven me the 25 miles to work at that ungodly hour, and he then would have come to pick me up at the end of my shift. No question about it.

Now that is love.

He also keeps us in firewood and actually enjoys mowing the lawn. He puts up with my cranky dachshund and they’re even good friends when Quagmire’s not bite-y. He does a lot more cooking than I do. He knows my shoe size. He built me my little free library. He goes to the YMCA with me to exercise 4 times a week. He reads my blog every single day. He goes with me to my optometrist’s appointments because he knows having stuff close to my eyeballs freaks me out. He sprays Benadryl on my back when it itches. He opens stubborn jars for me.

I could go on and on and on, but you get the picture.

The bottom line is that you can have your hearts and flowers. I’ve got something much more substantial and long lasting. He’s a keeper. And I couldn’t be more grateful.

An attitude of gratitude is what you need to get along. Read my book!

There Are Many Ways to Say I Love You

When my husband makes me a sandwich, he often gives me the bread heel, because he knows I love it. He also happens to love it, so that makes the sacrifice even more special. He also scratches my back without me having to ask, and he holds my hand when I’m going down the stairs because, let’s face it, I’m a klutz.

There are many ways to say I love you.

It’s remembering someone’s shoe size or their favorite flower. It’s putting up with insane relatives. It’s making sure someone is wearing their seatbelt.

It’s dropping someone off at the front door so they can avoid the rain. It’s handing them their vitamins after breakfast. It’s taking better care of yourself so you’ll be able to take care of someone else.

There are many ways to say I love you.

Sometimes, I love you means biting your tongue. Sometimes it means speaking up. It always means listening.

It’s giving someone else the last bite of apple pie. It’s sharing your secrets. It’s trusting and being trustworthy.

There are many ways to say I love you.

It’s stepping aside and it’s stepping up. It’s walking hand in hand, and it can sometimes be walking away. It’s sitting through a movie that wouldn’t have been your first choice.

Anything that demonstrates that you have given thought to what makes someone happy is a resounding I love you. Putting someone else first is another I love you (if you find the right balance). Allowing yourself o be vulnerable is perhaps one of the biggest I love you’s of all.

There are many ways to say I love you.

But sometimes people just want to hear the words. That’s important, too. Never assume someone knows. Tell them. If you truly feel it, you’ll never regret saying it.

Happy Valentine’s Day, dear reader.


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Later Love

I’m a 54-year-old woman, so I come with accessories.

I wear glasses and compression socks and I suspect that orthopedic shoes are not too far over my blurry horizon. I sleep with a night guard so I don’t grind my teeth, a CPAP mask so I actually breathe, and wrist braces so I don’t hyperflex my wrists during the night and inflame my tendons. I also require a pile of pillows of various shapes to be comfortable in bed as I’m not as limber as in days of yore.

My medicine cabinet is full to overflowing with both prescriptions and over the counter remedies. There are certain foods that I absolutely love but will no longer eat because I’m not willing to bear the consequences, but I keep cures for those consequences on hand in case I forget. And, oh yeah, I keep a variety of lists because I can’t always count on my memory.

It has been a life well lived, and I have no regrets. I’m about as healthy as the average American my age.  You, too, will accumulate baggage as the years go by. Trust me. It’s all part of the process.

I often look over at my husband with a certain level of awe, because we hooked up later in life, and that isn’t for the faint of heart. I cannot believe he managed to look beyond this massive pile of accessories and was actually able to see me as the catch that he believes that I am. That is a unique gift indeed, and I treasure it. I will never take that for granted.

I can’t imagine how May/December romances actually work. At least when you are with someone of a similar age, the nightstands on both sides of the bed are equally overwhelmed with flotsam. We each have our accoutrements, so neither of us feels unduly burdened. The scale of life is relatively balanced, and that’s such a comfort. When you start off together in the land of accessories, you don’t have to anticipate quite as many future surprises, and on the rare occasion when a surprise comes along, it isn’t quite as big of a shock. What you see is what you get.

Those of you still in your prime won’t yet understand this, but there’s nothing quite as romantic as the sound of two CPAP masks clinking together when you kiss good night. I wouldn’t have it any other way.


aging hands

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Crossing Paths with Futures Past

Have you ever run into someone you once thought you’d have a bright future with, but it didn’t work out? It’s a very disconcerting feeling. You are standing there in your present, getting a glimpse of a life you could have had. You’re peeking down a parallel timeline.

It’s a very bittersweet feeling. It reminds me of that scene in The Way We Were when Barbra Streisand runs into Robert Redford with his new love and says to him, “Your girl is lovely, Hubbell.” That movie always makes me cry. Memories…

But such encounters can also be a stark reality check. On more than one occasion I’ve come away from them thinking, “Whew! I dodged that bullet!” Because it’s blatantly obvious that the person in question is not in a place where I’d want to be. Perhaps their health has deteriorated, or they’re now abusing a substance, or they’ve moved to a hellish location, or they’ve become inexplicably obsessed with collecting traffic cones. No thanks.

If you’ve been pining away for that person, absorbing this new reality into your worldview might take some time. But what a relief to no longer pine. Pining takes a lot of energy. (That, and the sap is hard to get out of your hair.)

I suggest that when confronted with loves past, you take that opportunity to assess, and hopefully appreciate, where you are now. Now is your reality, and hopefully it is your gift. Your life could have unfolded in a multitude of ways, but here you are.

Having done that, resist the urge to tell that person, “This happiness could have been yours, you big dummy.” It might be satisfying, but in the end, it doesn’t do anyone any good. Life has a funny way of going on. (And for all you know, he or she is thinking the same thing.)

Most of all, crossing paths with futures past should make you aware of how many options you have. You can’t control other people, of course, but you have a multitude of opportunities to write your story in the best possible way, even if it isn’t going the way you once predicted that it would.

Good luck, dear reader!

The Way We Were

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The Book of Our Lives

I was feeling a little nostalgic the other day, and decided to listen to Longer, by Dan Fogelberg. I love that song, and it’s been ages since I’ve heard it. I was particularly struck by one portion. “Through the years, as the fire starts to mellow, burning lines in the book of our lives, though the binding cracks and the pages start to yellow…”

What imagery. We all are writing books of our lives. No two books are the same.

Mine would say things like, “She went from a mansion to a tent in less than 3 weeks.” “After falling in love for the first time in Holland, she then moved to Mexico and had adventures while her heart broke into a million pieces.” “At the age of 49, she started life over by moving across the country to Seattle, a city where she knew no one.” “She published a book.” “She was married for the first time at age 53, and it was right and good that she waited, because she found the perfect person for her.”

No one in this world ever has, or ever will have, those same sentences written in the book of her life. Our books are precious, and we have a responsibility to make them as amazing as we possibly can.

In the process of writing our lives, we can follow our hearts, take chances, do our best to make the world a better place, or we can be cruel, heartless bullies. These are choices we can make. We can be forces for good or evil. We can help others or ruin them. There are so many plot twists that are possible.

And yes, if we’re lucky, we can live long enough to see our pages start to yellow. Hopefully we will be remembered after we are gone. But the fact is, our books are written mainly for us, and for the people that we love. And while centuries from now, most of our books may have crumbled to dust, the generations that follow will have started creating their own chapters, and perhaps they’ll have been influenced by the echoes of books past.

I hope you are writing the best book ever, dear reader.


Hey! Look what I wrote!

Television is a Strange Teacher

Have you ever noticed that everyone who is struck in the head on TV instantly gets knocked out, and then eventually recovers with no cognitive problems whatsoever? Just once, I’d like to see someone spin around and say, “Ow! What the hell?”

As a matter of fact, when’s the last time anyone ever said ow on TV? And most of the time no one dies from a head blow either, unless it’s a forensic show. (Kids, don’t try this at home.)

Another neat television trick is that you can almost always punch someone in the face and not sustain any hand injuries at all. That’s pretty convenient. It’s also not very realistic. (Not that I’ve tested the theory.)

On television, you can go through a whole host of action scenes and your hair will remain unfazed. I wish that were the case in real life. Most days, I can’t even wake up in the morning without a mirror shock experience.

And on TV, bathrooms only exist if you a) need a place to smoke a joint, b) are nervously preparing for your wedding night, or c) are part of a group of girls who are talking about boys.

On the small screen, too, CPR always works, unless, oddly enough, you’re in a hospital. Then you’re a goner. And bones are never broken in the process, which is vastly different from what occurs in real life. (And the success rate of CPR in real life is abysmal.)

I can’t say I know the success rate of love stories in the real world, but on TV, people seem to live happily ever after a ridiculous percentage of the time. We do love a happy ending.

And it seems as though everyone gets a second chance. And no one ever needs a third chance. If only we all really learned from our mistakes the first time around.

If some alien got all his intel about humanity by watching our television broadcasts, he’d have a very strange view of the planet. For example, he’d think that all men, without exception, are prone to making grand romantic gestures. Gimme a break. But, hey, three cheers to the ones who make the effort!

Sage Advice

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A Bohemian Epiphany

I just saw what is probably one of the best movies I’ve ever seen in my entire life. Bohemian Rhapsody. Go see it.

Yes, there’s some controversy swirling around this movie about Freddie Mercury. It does sort of play fast and loose with the facts of his life. The timeline of certain events has been altered for dramatic effect, and some things are overlooked entirely. This isn’t a documentary. It would be hard not to gloss over things when you’re trying to encapsulate someone’s life into 2 hours and 14 minutes.

But the bottom line is that the people who knew Freddie best seem to be satisfied with it. They feel that it captured his essence. And Rami Malek practically resurrected Freddie from the grave. He deserves an Oscar.

Was the plot formulaic, as some have stated? Sure. But you know what? It was one hell of a formula. I’ll take it. I’ll take it, and come back for seconds. Because Freddie died way too soon. So even a mere representation of him is worth savoring.

He was an unbelievable talent, and Queen, the band, created a special sauce of innovation, creativity, depth, energy, and audience participation that is unparalleled in the music world.

At one point in the movie, he’s performing at one of his iconic concerts, and he knows he has AIDS. And it was a death sentence at the time. And there he is, in front of thousands and thousands of people, and he’s baring his soul with his profound song lyrics, and there’s this palpable tsunami of love rushing at him from the crowd.

I had to cover my mouth with my hand to keep from bawling right there in the theater. Because it suddenly occurred to me that all the love in the entire world isn’t going to stop you from dying. It’s inevitable. And that’s tragic.

That realization, and by extension, this amazing movie, is going to change the way I look at the world. Life is so precious. And it goes by so fast.

Go see Bohemian Rhapsody. And then tell me what you think in the comments below.

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If I Were You

It is so easy for me to look at other people’s lives from the outside and figure out what they should do to solve their problems. It seems so obvious. Unfortunately, people rarely take my advice. It’s really annoying.

But they shouldn’t. Because if I were so good at this stuff, I’d have all my own problems solved, wouldn’t I? I’d be all enlightened.

The fact is, I don’t really have a clue most of the time. Like the vast majority of homo sapiens stumbling around on this planet, the sapiens part should be taken with a grain of salt. I pretty much make it up as I go along. It’s all very random.

Sometimes I think our dogs are more clued in than we are. They know what they want, and they make a point of letting us know what that is. They always get a full night’s sleep. They’ve figured out a way to survive without having to work. And they express every single ounce of love that they feel, without hesitating or expecting anything in return.

So don’t listen to me. Listen to my dogs. At least that’s what I would do if I were you.

Smart Dog

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The Geometry of Love

I got to observe an interesting geometric experiment recently. It involved a variety of humans and some tennis balls. It made me change the way I look at love, community, and fellowship.

When I saw that the topic for a recent Sunday at the East Shore Unitarian Church in Bellevue, Washington was “The Geometry of Love”, I was intrigued. It’s a rare day when I get to attend church. Usually I’m at work. But I had this particular day off, so I went.

The chairs were set up rather differently that day. There was a large empty space in front. At first, one volunteer stood alone. She had one arm stretched out from her side, and she was holding a tennis ball. She spun in a circle, to demonstrate that she was her own focal point, and her realm of influence was a circle all around her. (A friend of mine calls this a “love bubble”. Fortunately that cheesy term didn’t come up on this particular day.)

But no man is an island, as the saying goes. Next, two people stood side by side, at arm’s length. One had a tennis ball, the other did not. They both spun in a circle, and as their hands met, they would pass the tennis ball back and forth. They formed an ellipse, with two focal points. The love of two people has an even larger realm of influence than one person acting alone. And I truly believe that. Functional, loving couples can make a huge difference in this world.

But life is even more complex than that. We cross paths with many people in our day to day lives. Friends. Neighbors. Coworkers. Members of our community. And we all impact one other. At this point, about 40 volunteers stood up, and about 15 of them had tennis balls. They walked among each other in random ways, and as those with tennis balls encountered those without, they’d make eye contact and pass the tennis balls on. It was chaotic, but it was also beautiful.

If we walk in the world in a loving way, we are capable of creating many unique realms of influence. Ellipses with multiple foci may not have a pleasing, regular shapes, they might even be confusing at times. But as we encounter others, of different ages, genders, ethnicities, and points of view, and we mix and mingle and intertwine, we can motivate, inspire, and guide each other in many unexpected ways.

So, as you read this, I’m handing you a tennis ball of love, dear reader. I hope that’s not too “crunchy granola” for you, and I also hope you’ll pass it on!

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