Who We Really Are

How do we find our authentic selves? Is it found in our education, our parents, our friends, our circumstances, the country we live in? Maybe it is all of those things, or just one of those things. Do we accept the gifts we were born with, or do we tend to hide our light because we think we aren’t good enough, smart enough or strong enough?

When we can realize our authenic selves it changes everything. In my own life, as soon as I learned how to read I began writing poems and stories. Some weren’t very good, but it was a beginning. I have written ever since.

In most of the jobs I had over the years, I was a technical writer. Just what is a technical writer? Well, when you buy a new gizmo or gadget, it always comes with instructions on how to use it. That’s what a technical writer does; they show you the “how-tos.” I also wrote for fun and liked writing children’s stories more than anything.

When we realize that we have a talent for something, whether it’s writing or singing or dancing or sewing or caring for other people; we recognize that we have gifts that are to be shared. Why? Because even if we have low self-esteem about who we are, we are worthy, we are important, we are necessary, and our gifts have been given to us to share with others. 

You may think, “who am I to say I am so special?” The answer is simpler than you’d think: you are here for a reason and a purpose. You may not figure it out for years, but you are here because you are supposed to be here. You may be a nurse, a doctor, a lawyer, a media star, a dancer, a singer, an actor, a mother, a father, a sibling, a teacher, a writer, and so on. You may be the child who holds the hand of your dying mother or father. You may be the grandmother who instills a love of reading to your grandchildren. You may be a friend whom everyone cherishes simply because of the person you are.

I think that, were we able to see who we really are inside, we would be absolutely amazed and inspired. Whoever you are and whatever you do, please do not ever demean yourself. You are so much more than you can imagine. I will pass on what I have recently learned about being an authentic self:

  • believe that you are here for a specific reason.
  • believe that you matter and that you are supposed to be here at this time.
  • believe that you have worth beyond imagination.
  • believe that you have gifts to share that will change lives.
  • believe that you matter.
  • believe that you are truly one of a kind.
  • believe that you are loved beyond all imagination.


This is part of a post about Halloween I wrote years ago. Seems that there are still some folks that somehow dislike the term “Halloween;” I wonder if they still do?

Well, evidently (and to no one’s surprise), there are many people who don’t care for Halloween (well, fine–no one likes everything), who think that Halloween is evil (that’s still up for debate), or who are just generally offended by the term itself (again–ok, fine).

Well, here’s the thing–how exactly do we know which people are offended by Halloween? Or Christmas? Or birthdays? Or the state bird? Or peanut butter and jelly sandwiches?? Hey, it’s not like people are wearing badges that read “I am offended by (check all that apply).” How the heck are we supposed to know?

A few years ago the Crankee Yankee and I put out candy for the trick-or-treaters for the first time since we’ve lived here. In our town, the kids go from door to door on October 30 between 4:00pm and 7:00pm. While our much more creative neighbors decorated their homes in fantastic and fabulous fashion, from inflatable Frankensteins and witches to ghosts hanging spookily from every tree, monstrous spider webs on the eaves and carved pumpkins flickering the dark–we just filled a wagon with leaves, a pumpkin and an orange bowl of candy.

But we had fun and got to know more of our neighbors, especially the kids. We were visited by Iron Man, Spiderman, princesses, witches, ghouls, fairies, zombies, Freddy Kruger, butterflies, aliens, and one walking toilet. (Yes, really. The kid made it himself, and, since both arms were contained in the costume, his partner (a slice of pizza) obligingly tossed the candy into his bowl after he lifted his lid. He gets my award of best costume this year.)

While our usually quiet neighborhood was overrun with candy-seeking scary folk, the Crankee Yankee and I talked about our Halloweens of long ago. Back then, you could go out in the actual spooky dark with your friends, going door to door (only neighbors you knew, of course) hollering “Trick or treat!” Just being out there in the dark was so much fun, made more so by the fact that you had on a costume and you got candy. Also during those more innocent times, people often made homemade treats like candy apples, popcorn balls, cookies, brownies, fudge and taffy. No one ever thought of anything sinister about this; it’s just what people did back then.

As for tricks, the worst thing we ever did was soap an occasional window, or toss an egg on the sidewalk. Our parents made sure that we understood that egging peoples’ houses or vehicles were strictly off the table. The punishment for doing so was just not worth it; we would have to show up the next day to clean up, and face the neighbor in question to apologize. Even so, you’d hear about your crime well into adulthood. Years later, you’d be back in your home town with your own children, and go visit your old neighbor who was by that time in a nursing home. As you made your hellos and introduced your children, the old man or woman would glare up at you from their wheelchair, pointing a bony finger at you, croaking, “It’s YOU! You’re the little brat who egged my door on Halloween!”

Most of our costumes were homemade back then. I remember only a tiny percentage of kids who had “store-bought” costumes. We went out as ghosts (old white sheet with eyeholes), hobos (old clothes and shoe polish beards), fortune tellers (one of Mom’s old dresses and lots of clinking costume jewelry and makeup), and so on. If Halloween fell on a school day, we got to change into our costumes after lunch and be part of a big parade downtown. It must have been a massive operation for the teachers, but for us kids, it was Halloween heaven.

So, that was then, and this is now. To all those out there who are offended by Halloween–I’m sorry I mentioned “Halloween” so many times in this post. To those of us who still love Halloween, both for what it was and what it is; a happy Halloween to you all!

(….are there anymore KitKats left?)

Fighting Fear and Winning

How pervasive fear is! We worry about our families, our friends, our pets, our neighbors, the state of the country, and so much more. Fear takes up residence in our hearts and minds, leaving precious little room for peace, joy, laughter and love.

We worry about what might happen, even when all around us is peace and kindness. We worry that we have been given much and what if it was all taken away? We worry about those we love and worry that we aren’t doing enough to protect them. Fear, like a car with no brakes, just rolls on and on, gathering speed in our heads until we can’t think straight.

But what would happen if, when fear or worry sets in, we say out loud, “oh no—not you again. Get lost!” Studies show that the majority of our worries will rarely come true. When I finally decided to fly again (and the last time I flew was in 2001), I went through all the horrible plane crashes I’d heard about. I also read that the possibility of dying in a plane crash is 1 in eleven million! With odds like that, I think I’m good to fly.

It isn’t so much that fear is waiting around every corner to scare us and make us worry 24/7; it’s what’s in our heads! And since that is our own personal head-space, it’s up to us to clean it out. My “clean-out” method is this mantra:

“Oh no you don’t; get out of my head and stay out. You are not allowed here. Everything is going to be FINE.” And I say it as often as necessary to bannish all those fears and worries. I don’t want them taking up real estate in my head. Of course, anything can happen at any time, it just doesn’t need to make us worry 24/7.


We Are Better Than This

By now we all know about the horrific shooting where eleven people died on Saturday at the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh. By now we all know about the “bombs” sent to many people in politics. By now we all know that hate and violence is poisoning our country. I have never seen my country so divided and so violent in my life.

No other country has the freedoms that we take for granted each day. I do not share my political views with anyone but the Crankee Yankee, especially now that our political parties appear to be at a pretty vicious war with each other. But I will say this: our country, our people and everything we stand for as Americans are better than the violence, name-calling, blame-casting and outright acts of internal war that we are experiencing now.

Yes, there is a lot wrong with our country. But there is a whole lot more right in our country, too. We get it that the Republicans and Democrats often do not see eye-to-eye. We get it that not everyone approves of our president. We get it that lots of people are frankly looking for a fight about all this.

Well, we can engage in it to the point where we all become poop-slinging primates, or we can try to work with each other and show a little respect for each other.

When I was about eleven years old, I was obsessed with how Nazi Germany came to power and the Holocaust that followed. I couldn’t believe how this horror had come to pass, and I was so upset about it that I asked my dad how something like that could happen.

He was reading the paper at the time, and he put it down, took off his glasses and talked with me about it. What I remember most about what he said was about history in general: “don’t think for one minute that this can’t happen all over again. This is why we study history and do our best to learn from it so that things like this won’t happen again. This is why we must stay vigilant.”

I never forgot that. I grieve to see my country at war with each other. The way things are headed, we may lose much of what our ancestors fought so hard for. If we lose the freedoms we have today, and if we do not learn from our past, we may be starting to repeat it again.

We are better than this.

Fall in the Northeast

Here in New England, we get some pretty spectacular falls; the leaves in the trees are gold, orange, rust and red against impossibly blue skies. It seems that we get a year or two where the colors are just “meh,” but then the following fall breaks out into glorious color. This is one of those falls.

We have a gorgeous maple tree right across the street from our house, and it is filled with golden leaves. Yesterday there were no clouds in the blue sky, and all that gold looked like pirates’ treasure.

Then there are the swamp maples where the leaves are deeply red; so red that they almost shimmer in the light. Even the tall blue spruce trees (also across the street) are sporting loads of pine cones, which please the squirrels to no end.

The sights around the pond where I often walk for exercise and the view are wonderful. It seems that all the pond-life has settled in for the coming winter; the frogs and turtles must have already buried themselves in the deep mud at the bottom of the pond. The resident muskrat, Muskratty von Muskrat, is nowhere to be seen, so he and his Mrs. must have already settled into winter quarters.

There are still riots of flowers around the pond; tiny purple asters, bright red rosehips, blush grass, bright orange jewel weed, some pink clover, and the brownish milkweed pods, already bursting with silky white fluff. A few red-winged blackbirds are still around; their nests now empty. Now and then there will the breathtaking sight of a bald eagle, soaring high above and ignoring the squawks of offended seagulls.

I’ve lived in different states in my life, but we tend to love what we are used to; what we grew up with. And as far as I’m concerned, you can’t beat the Northeast for gorgeous Falls.

Backwards Day

When I went to summer camp as a child, there were a few cherished traditions that we all looked forward to, especially Backwards Day. (There was also Pajama Day, which meant that we could wear our pajamas all day long.)

But Backwards Day was the real fun. It meant that everything, and I mean everything, was done backwards. From the time we got up from our sleeping bags, we dressed backwards, we walked to breakfast backwards, we sat down backwards with our backs to the table and we ate our breakfast with spoons instead of forks.

The whole day was backwards, and we even sang songs backwards. Of course, when swim time came, we went back to normal; that is, no one had to wear their swimsuits backwards. But overall it was just a fun day.

I often wonder what it would be like to declare a Backwards Day now and then. We could get up on the wrong side of bed, we could eat supper for breakfast, we could back away from things we didn’t want to do, and we could read the newspaper from back to front. Why not?

Who ever said that we had to do everything one way? Things like Backwards Day make an ordinary day fun. Sometimes getting shaken out of our routines is a good thing. However, I’m not going to put my underwear on backwards.  Fun’s fun, but let’s not go crazy.

Just saying.

“Could You Hear Our Converstation?”

Last night the Crankee Yankee and I went out for dinner at our local seafood spot; great food, fast service and altogether a great place to eat. Although it’s become sort of an “older folks” sort of restaurant, there are the occasional young peple who come in as well.

We ordered our usuals; baked shrimp and scallops with a baked potato and coleslaw for the Crankee Yankee, and the same for me, minus the shrimp. As we were enjoying our dinners, a young couple sat down in the booth behind us. Since the place is relatively small, voices carry, and you often pick up on other peoples’ conversations.

The kids behind us talked about veganism; what exactly was it and was it healthy, etc.? Then they went on to talk about people they knew and so on; you know; just regular chit-chat. We finished up our meals just as the young couple ordered dessert.

By the time we paid our bill, the couple got up to leave. The young woman came up to our table and asked, “could you hear our conversation? Were we, like, too loud?” For some reason, I picked up a sort of challenge-y tone in her voice; I could be wrong, but you never know what can tick people off.

Before the Crankee Yankee could reply with something snarky, I smiled and said that no, we ourselves were talking a lot, too and didn’t notice (we did, though). This turned into some awkward laughing and she held out her fist to do what I can only assume was an invitation to fist bump.

I don’t do fist bumps, so I just smiled at her. She smiled back and they both left. Just as soon as they walked out the door, the Crankee Yankee said, “is it us? Are we attracting them?”

I said, “no, that was what could have been a small altercation or a laugh for both of us. You’ll notice I played the ditzy but talkative wife so that you wouldn’t go nuclear.” He harrumphed about that, saying he wouldn’t have, but I know this guy too well.

I just think we attract weirdness for some reason. As a friend of a friend would say, “watchagonnado?”


Brain Farts

There are not many things in life that you can really depend on, but there are some. One thing you can definitely depend on while growing older is brain farts. So what exactly constitutes a brain fart? Here are some examples:

  • You walk into a room for something, get there and forget why you walked in there
  • You put down your cup of coffee to do something, and then you can’t find your coffee
  • You wake up each morning wondering what day it is
  • You email a friend and forget how to spell their name
  • You put your keys down, go into another room, come back and forget where you put your keys
  • You go crazy looking for your glasses, and they are on your head

So are these signs of Alzheimers or dementia? Mostly no. It is just age and simple forgetfulness. It’s the same thing with remembering words. Just the other day I was thinking of peacocks, but it took me a while to remember the word “peacock;” I kept thinking “bird of paradise,” but that didn’t feel right. The birds are totally different. In a few minutes, I got it.

Here’s my take on age-related forgetfulness, or brain farts: all of our body parts are just as old as we are. It stands to reason that things will start to go wonky just from constant use. I used to worry about not being able to remember a specific word, date or whatever, but sooner or later, it comes back.

I find that doing “brainy” things help, such as writing, singing. following a recipe or making something. Without much stress, the words I’m seeking come right back to me. I liken my over-tasked brain like too many eggs in a basket; sooner or later, you lose a few. Then you pick up the pieces, and before you know it, you remember where your glasses are, what word you were looking for, and so on.

To quote Forrest Gump, “life’s like a box of chocolates; you never know what you’re going to get.”



Welcome Back, Chocolate Chip Cookies!

We have some nice new neighbors across the street from us, and we have gotten to know them better. The other day, they dropped by with a container full of delicious Italian meatballs, which turned out to be absolutely fabulous.

I wanted to reciprocate, and realized that I hadn’t made chocolate chip cookies since Dad passed on. He had loved my cookies and I always made them for him. After he died, I stopped making them; it made me too sad.

But after the gift of the meatballs, I decided that it was time to make cookies again. I made a huge batch of them,  remembering how much I loved to make them. I enjoy baking, and it gives me a lot of pleasure to make baked goods for family and friends. So I loaded up a container full of cookies for our neighbors as a thank-you.

That broke the spell. I now know that I can bake again, and, if Dad were here he would approve. I am slowly realizing that the things that once brought me joy can still bring me joy.

And you know what? They taste just as good as I remembered.