Author Archive: Life With The Top Down

Timeless Lessons

I have two books sitting on my end table that get a lot of action. More than me, but that’s another story.

One is a small book of Maya Angelou quotes, gifted to me at just the right time and read many times since. Maya’s wisdom can snap me back to reality.

Broken down into five parts, all equal to sending a message at just the right time. The best house guest a girl can have these days.

Self-Empowerment. Who doesn’t need a daily dose of this now and then? I am empowered by this nugget of knowledge to stop doubting on any given day.

“My wish for you is that you continue. Continue to be who and how you are, to astonish a mean world with your acts of kindness. Continue to allow humor to lighten the burden of your tender heart.”

Love. No matter how alone we might feel in this world, there is always one thing that brings us together. Laughter, especially with a friend, is highly recommended by me.

“There is an intimate laughter to be found only among friends.”

Society and Culture. This can be turbulent and beautiful on any given day. Remember, home can be anywhere.

“The ache for home lives in all of us, the safe place where we can go as we are and not be questioned.”

Life. In the words of Forrest Gump, “it’s like a box of chocolates.” Between Forrest and Maya, it’s a wrap.

“When someone shows you who they are, believe them the first time.”

Herself. This is where Maya really shines. This hit me hard, considering our current climate.

“I refuse to allow any man-made differences to separate me from any other humans.”

The second gem is The Boy, the Mole, the Fox, and the Horse, a book written and illustrated by Charlie Mackesy. If you don’t know it, get it now.

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The book is dedicated to the author’s “lovely kind mum” and his “wonderful dog Dill.” How could this be anything but fantastic with that dedication?

The journey of these four unlikely friends takes its readers on a trip full of life lessons in the most superficial, most profound way to be kind, forgiving, and loving one another. Granted, it’s a children’s book, but the lessons are timeless.

Mr. Mackesy creates a world within the pages that seem foreign to the one we live in today, but the optimist in me doesn’t believe it cannot exist as long as we are willing to participate. A girl can dream.

Always let your wisdom ride shotgun and Enjoy the Ride!

Extra Extra

No News Is Good News

Background: The first recorded use of this exact expression in English is by James Howell in 1640, who wrote, “I am of the Italians’ mind that said, ‘Nulla Nuova, Buona Nuova’ (no news, good news). Some years before that, James 1 of England (VI of Scotland) wrote, “No News is better than evil news.” In case you were wondering like me. Information compliments of bookbrouse.com

Do you know what else Good News is? Umm, plain ole Good News. There is plenty of it out there in the world, but it’s not a moneymaker, so it doesn’t get all the glitz like a good tragedy. Seems a tad backward, but here we are.

Today, I share not only a good news story but the far-reaching effects of a simple gesture of kindness. Many of you may have heard it, and if so, consider it a reminder; if not, enjoy.

I recently found out quite a bit about Sidney Poitier after his death. We both share the same zodiac sign, and shortly after I entered the world in 1964, Sidney won an Oscar. Looks like two Stars were born that year.

After reading about Mr. Poitier’s accomplishments throughout his long life and career, I found his constant strive to be viewed as dignified, with his strong sense of decency to be at the forefront. If only these were available on Amazon …

Now for the good part.

As everyone knows, Mr. Poitier was well known for his elegant speaking voice, but that was not always the case, being born in the Bahamas and arriving in the states with his heavy accent and illiteracy in tow. It’s hard to believe after listening to him for one second.

He told the story many times, but this excerpt is from a CBS interview in 2013.

“There was one of the waiters, a Jewish guy, elderly man, and he looked over at me and was looking at me for quite a while. I had a newspaper, it was called Journal American. And he walked over to me, and he said, ‘What’s new in the paper?’ And I looked up at this man. I said to him, ‘I can’t tell you what’s in the paper because I can’t read very well.’ He said, ‘Let me ask you something, would you like me to read with you?’ I said to him, ‘Yes if you like.’

As the story goes, they would sit together every night after their shifts. This kind man would teach him not only how to read but also the importance of punctuation, why it exists, followed by syllables, how to recognize them in words, and finally, pronunciation. I didn’t get that in my formal education.

This small act of kindness put Mr. Poitier onto a path that led to significant changes, on and off the silver screen. He was not only an actor. He was a published writer, director, and most of all, a social game-changer. Kudos to brave waiters and diner educations.

Although he regretted never getting the opportunity to thank this man in person, I’m going out on a limb to say he unknowingly thanked him every time he opened his mouth.

Be Kind. Share the good news, and Enjoy the Ride!

Girl, We Tried

As I was stumbling through some papers this morning, not one but two fortune cookie fortunes fell to the floor. Considering the last time I had Chinese Food was New Year’s Eve, I was taken back for a moment. Where the hell did they come from?

Once I read them, I knew they hung around for a reason, and by the looks of them, they have been doing their best to get my attention, and it hasn’t been easy. I had to laugh, imagining them jumping off tables shouting, “over here, look, I’m right here!” As Mrs. Magoo walked on without notice, until today. The universe knows best.

They read:

“Present your best ideas today to an eager and welcoming audience.”

“Questions provide the key to unlocking our unlimited potential.”

Please can we get a round of applause for the author and the delicious cookie?

Well, folks, I certainly hope you’re eager, welcoming, and ready for some questions because you are about to get hit with the idea that has been pressing on me for a few months now. Ready or not, here it comes.

We seem to be living in a country where fear, division, and conflict are sitting center stage. The big nugget of knowledge that we were born from conflict seems to get forgotten. You reap what you sow.

Common sense at the most basic level has left the building. Somewhere along the line, we allowed the detrimental us vs. them mentality to migrate into our own homes, areas of employment, and houses of worship. Enough already.

How long are we willing to keep this big bag of crazy alive by feeding it every damn day? At this point, it’s morbidly obese.

I think it’s time we start asking ourselves some serious questions. I’ll get the ball rolling since I was chosen via a coffee-stained fortune cookie fortune that fell to the floor to do so. Sometimes the universe does not take no for an answer.

I’ll share my questions with my own eager and welcoming audience. Hey, I can’t help anyone else if I’m unwilling to do the work myself – right?

  1. Are my fears causing this reaction?
  2. Are my opinions coming from a place of compassion?
  3. Are my thoughts, words and actions in allignment?

Fear, as we all know, comes from the outside. Isn’t it time we elevate our consciousness above this negative narrative and look for the good? I know my alarm has sounded.

There truly is good roaming around waiting to be shared and cultivated into our society. I think I just heard my disheveled fortune say, “Girl, we tried.”

In the end, we are human. We make mistakes. It’s not easy to recognize and change our behaviors, but I believe we should look to put in some effort at this moment in time. Remember, my fortunes look like two hot messes from their efforts to be heard.

Do the work, and Enjoy the Ride!

Good JuJu Only

Photo by Los Muertos Crew on Pexels.com

I’ve been contemplating whether or not to go to the grocery store for way too long this morning. It’s not that easy anymore.

There are two more factors added this morning. The Eagles game, which I hear might be a big deal, and impending bad weather for this evening. This combo is enough to deter the strongest of shoppers.

I started looking around the kitchen to see if I really needed anything. I could use chicken stock, or I can just make something else. Hmm, maybe I don’t need anything. This conversation went on for way too long. I will never get this time back.

In my defense, going to the supermarket is now a full-blown event that requires decisions that have never entered my mind before 2020.

It was bad enough that I had to make sure I had a mask and hand sanitizer, but now, oh, it’s much more. I long for the days when it was just a mask.

Before I head out, I say a prayer of protection, load my bra with energy protecting crystals; yes, you read that correctly, then, and only then, do I grab my mask and sanitizer.

Covid is frail compared to the energy-sucking, opinionated audience I might encounter in the produce aisle. Some folks are looking for potatoes, and some are looking for a debate.

Believe me, I get the urge to debate; I’m just as frustrated. The never-ending confusion is enough to bring anyone to their knees. We are all tired of being tired. We can’t deal with asses too.

Needless to say, I did not go to the supermarket. Instead, I have a creative meal in the oven. I wrote this essay, and I didn’t have to put my bra on, let alone load it with chyrstals. Good juju only!

Enjoy the Ride!

Table Talks

I’m not going to lie; I love a good purge. Especially when it’s over.

When we decided to downsize our home last year, we had to make big purging decisions. When we went from not finding a house to renting a one-bedroom, one-bathroom apartment, those decisions were made for us. Thank you, universe.

After many donations and selling items that I would never think anyone would want, we were able to downsize our belongings to the things we use, those we love, and some that the jury is still out on.

One piece of furniture had to go, but not without a heavy heart, our dining room set. This arrived in our home after the death of my father-in-law. At the time, it was just a table and chairs, but that changed during its time at our abode. Love grows.

Oh, if only tables could talk, this one certainly would have a lot to say.

Over the years, many board games were played, puzzles built, parties and funerals planned. Cards written, family meetings held, milestones celebrated, food displayed, eaten, and served. Tears shed, laughter heard, challenging decisions, and many memories were made while sitting around a piece of wood with a leg chewed to pieces by our first puppy, who found it absolutely delicious.

Our children were very young at the time, so big family dinners were not a thing yet. The table mainly was used to celebrate birthdays. I have many photos of my children, with their little friends sitting in oversized chairs singing happy birthday. Just think about the last supper with cowboys and princesses.

The next phase of the table was homework, science, art, and craft projects. It became a place to wrap gifts, cool cookies, and leave baskets for the Bunny to fill. Meanwhile, the chairs were perfect for hanging bookbags, coats, lunch boxes, and purses over the years. I wonder if the chairs were as annoyed as I was about those coats.

We hosted a holiday gathering for our friends and neighbors for about five years. During this time, the table served as a buffet filled with pot luck dishes for everyone to enjoy. We would gather around asking about ingredients and listening to the stories behind them. My favorite was from our dear friend Tom, who is no longer with us. His famous mac & cheese with spicy stewed tomatoes always had a special place.

Now to the good part, hosting holidays. Wow, these years were something special. There were years where the table sat everyone ideally and years where we needed to extend into other rooms. But either way, they were filled with joy.

Long after dinner was served, the table was still hustling and bustling with conversations that ranged from politics to farts. Once you sat down, the magic began.

It was not easy parting with this set that became like a family member, as you can now imagine. At first, there were no takers. We concluded that young people today are not sitting around large tables; they are eating on the go.

Then, out of the clear blue came an offer for the chairs. Ugh, how can we separate the two? They are like peanut butter and jelly! And just like that, within hours, someone just wanted the table. It was meant to be.

A young couple with a newborn named Henry came for the chairs. They were young professionals who moved to the city from upstate Pennsylvania, ironically, about 2 miles from the original location of the set. They were over the moon to add the chairs to their new home, and we felt good that they would be loved.

The couple who came to pick up the table pulled up in a Toyota hatchback, which made me think, WHAT IN THE WORLD!?

When they came into the house, it was evident from their faces that they appreciated quality pieces. They expressed that they recently purchased an old farmhouse and were in the process of renovating. The table would be upcycled to be the centerpiece of their kitchen.

Somehow, he got the table, base, and two leaves inside that hatchback. Granted, the seats were on the dashboard, but he did it.

Life goes on, so Enjoy the Ride!

Sheets, Not The Streets

Is Mother Nature a little extra these days, or is it just winter? It’s winter!
If you’re watching the news in the morning as I do, you might think that this is something new for the East Coast in January.

Over the weekend, the media pushed the ICE fear any chance they got. Beware of untreated sidewalks. Freezing rain. Treacherous road conditions. Ice, ice baby.

This tragedy was to occur early Sunday morning. Now, I could care less if I don’t have anywhere to go, but my furballs, a/k/a Peanut & Landie, have to go somewhere to go, if you know what I mean.

As the best dog mother in the world, I set the alarm for 5:00 a.m. to get them out to do their biz before the ice age began.

My bougie fur babies enjoy the comforts of my king-sized bed and down comforter. They’re for the sheets, not the streets.

Peanut & Landie

Living Their Best Life

So, waking them from their lap of luxury to head into the dark artic air is a big freaking deal. It’s even bigger when you have to add coats, collars, leashes, and sidewalks loaded with rock salt.

In the end, it would all be worth it. We’ll be able to cuddle on the couch, knowing we dodged a potential broken back slipping as I tried to wrangle two little fur babies on an ice rink.

I thought ahead. I prepared for the worst. Only to have Mother Nature throw a curveball that ended with a forecast of “It will be warm and sunny unless it’s an ice age.”

If nothing else, this was a reminder that you can have all your ducks in a row, or your ducks can be running wild; we’re not in charge, so do your best and Enjoy the Ride!

Julie, If That’s Your Real Name

I’m off this week, and honestly, I’m not sure if it’s good or bad. My family is occupied being occupied, and the smiling face on my stuffed snowman is pissing me off. See what I mean?

I ventured out for some much-needed self-care. A mani, Pedi & brow wax is a good kickoff for the new year. Little did I know it was going to be a therapy session.

The second I sat down, Julie, If that’s her real name, made small talk by inquiring if I had a lovely holiday. My response was not much more than “eh,” and this is when she began lecturing me on the need to live every day. Good thing I didn’t mention I was already undecorated due to the unwanted smile of a stuffed snowman.

A woman sits in the chair next to me, and she is greeted like a celebrity, or maybe just a regular customer. In the nail salon world, they are one and the same.

Julie lights up with enthusiasm as she asks if a trip is planned. The woman, grinning from ear to ear, responds that she’ll be leaving for a 51-day Caribbean cruise. No doubt my shriek could be heard for miles.

While my toes were being loved beyond measure, I listened to every detail of her upcoming adventure. Talk about living every day.

The short version is her frequent cruising has enabled her to reach a certain status according to the world of The Royal Caribbean Cruise Line, allowing her to live it up for less than $100 bucks a day. The Titanic kept running through my mind.

I was still stunned as I sat down for my manicure. I let Julie know polish will not be necessary, just a manicure. She already got that memo implying more than once that my hands might have been digging ditches recently. I’ve never felt more like a gargoyle in my life.

Of course, my curiosity got the best of me as I examined the hands on either side of me. They were in my age range, so it seemed legit. The jury is back, and the verdict is that I might be lumberjacking, or I’ve been neglecting my hands. Hint, I don’t wear plaid.

Julie kept telling me to relax. So, after the 3rd time, I told her that I was settled. This was not the correct response. It was followed by a quick “no, no, no, you’re worrying. Enjoy this time for yourself.” My stiff hands were speaking some hardcore truth.

After that, I was hesitant to enter the waxing room. After being reminded again about my neglect, but now with a side of hot wax on my face. As always, once finished, I was prompted to look at the finished product. I gave a glance and said everything looked good. At this point, I should have known Julie better.

Julie stopped me from getting up, and she said, “no, get closer to the mirror and LOOK.” I wasn’t arguing. “No more worry, no more neglect for her.” I wasn’t sure if I should ask if she takes Blue Cross or tip big.

The universe is truly magical, and at times hilarious. I needed to hear these truths, and sometimes my squirrel-like attention doesn’t get it but throw me a weird situation in a nail salon, and I’m all ears. Well done.

Don’t ignore the messages carried by angels named Julie. Enjoy the Ride!

Timing Is Everything

Well, it’s been a minute, folks. 5 months and 24 days, to be exact. In my defense, it’s been busy in my world. 2020 changed her dress and rolled right over to 2021 without missing a beat. Gotta love her attitude.

Rewind to January when we were approached by our son inquiring about purchasing our house. He was tied into a lease until July, so the plan was to sell and use the extra time to look for our new digs. I do believe I heard God laughing out loud.

We looked, we liked, we offered, we were outbid. We looked, we wanted, we over-offered, we were outbid. Finally, we looked, we fell in love, we over-offered, including our souls, common sense, and dignity, while being outbid by cash-carrying soulless bidders with nothing to lose. We grabbed our white flag and waved it with our last shred of dignity.

In May, we packed up, donated, sold, and trashed 30 years of our life and jammed it into a one-bedroom, one-bathroom apartment in the suburbs that I like to call “The Resort.” The jury is still out on how this actually happened.

Life here at “The Resort” has been an experience I will cherish for a very long time. The Summer weekends were spent poolside, the cooler weather at the fire pit, and now in the clubhouse, all with a group of people we now consider friends. All of those rejections lead us here to pause, play and enjoy life for the first time in a very long time. The universe knew exactly what it was doing.

Since settlement in October, I’ve been looking back at what I’m leaving behind and finding myself stuck in a time and place that no longer serves me, wrapped in familiarity, but preventing me from moving forward. Growth limbo.

Christmas hit me like a freight train of emotion. My son hosted dinner, and even though he remodeled to make the house his own, the flood of memories from holidays past met me at the door. Not the welcome wagon I was expecting.

As I stepped into the dining room, I felt the past rushing in like an out-of-body experience, and not in a good way. It was a reminder of a version of myself that I no longer recognize. The energy was clear as a bell, including a pounding headache.

On the way home, I realized that chapter had officially closed. Don’t let the door hit you in the ass!

It’s time to embrace the new without fear but anticipation. I sit here thinking about what is ahead as we forge into new territory in 2022. A new home, in a new city, in a new state. Go big or go home.

I’m gathering the good, the knowledge, the lessons, the love, and the memories from the past, packing them with care and heading forward to … Enjoy the Ride!

Girlfriend?!

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Over the past year and a half, we’ve been hearing a lot about healthcare workers being heroes. Frankly, I never thought they were anything less. One stint in a hospital is enough to see the light. 

Last November, my mother was in the hospital for an extended stay. Unfortunately for everyone, so was the patient a few doors down. I think I’ll call him Pita (pain in the ass).

As if things weren’t bad enough with COVID on the rise once again, the hospital reaching total capacity, and untrained me taking care of one too many Code Browns, use your imagination folks, to count, we ALL had to deal with Pita. Trust me; I earned a cape. 

On one quiet Saturday afternoon, mom was resting, and I was reading when we were interrupted by a commotion coming from the hallway. Enough to stop the cleaning woman in her tracks right outside our door. 

I looked at the cleaning woman with a WTF glare, and she responded with a WTFK’s. Facial expressions speak volumes.

Now mom was wide awake, wondering what was going on. All we could hear was a loud voice insisting at the top of his lungs to see his girlfriend. I peeked out the door to see a 6’4′ bare assed sock-wearing hands flailing big mouth trying to escape. Superpowers would come in handy. 

Without missing a beat, my mom says GIRLFRIEND?! and we both started laughing. It was like that’s all she heard.

The cleaning woman came into the room laughing and said, “she’s on vacation.” Now, we are howling. Mom chimes in with, “she’s not coming back.” The only thing missing was popcorn.

While we were acting like three school girls laughing at all the things the girlfriend probably did after dropping Pita at the hospital entrance, he was making vulgar remarks to the nurses about their bodies. He was a real charmer. 

As security arrived, I saw one of the nurses filling up a syringe, smiling ear to ear. Pita was going down!

Mom couldn’t get out of bed, so Juanita and I gave her a play-by-play of the injection. They’re going to need a big one,” she said. The giggles continued.

Finally, silence took over, and the nurses went back to their duties as if Pita never existed. Night night.

Juanita stayed a little longer to talk to mom about her age, sense of humor, and unruly men. This was the best medicine mom received.

Remember, heroes cross our paths every day, some with needles, some with mops, but all serving a purpose. It’s important to recognize the good in everyone as we … Enjoy the Ride!

Shit Show — Season 2 The Unveiling

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As Season 2 of that shit show we call 2020 continues, I must say it’s been interesting. What are we on now Episode 9? All I know is I’ve spent a good portion of it crying at EVERYTHING—my emotions on steroids. Not the happy go lucky ones, the “you look like Alice Cooper” kind. I’ve already lost a pair of contacts to a riptide on my face.

A dear friend reminded me that tears are an excellent way to hydrate. I also believe this to be true. My skin is glistening, and my eyes no longer require fake tears in a bottle. I’m one sad song aways from bottling my own and selling them on Etsy. Tears are Us.

Ok, so back in Episode 1, I was on the brink of losing it. Not only was I grieving the loss of my mother, I had the realization that I was also grieving the loss of the way many things had been for years. I was mostly missing that upbeat call at midnight, wishing me a Happy New Year as I lay sleeping on the couch missing the ball drop. Kind of a bummer for the season opener.

Episodes 2 & 3 were much better. I spent the morning trying to figure out what I could do with this newfound freedom. As I left the house for a fun-filled day with my love interest, I was excited about the possibilities. We walked around a small town in New Jersey that I swear was the set of a Hallmark Christmas movie, and I saw my first sign that anything is possible. It was a plaque with my full name, middle initial, and all, followed by PhD. Not that I have any intention of getting a PhD., but it made me think, ‘you got this world by the balls, now go get it.” All the answers are there if you keep your eyes open.

Oh, Episode 4 was a real doozy! It was my first day back to work after 252727262782 days off, and there was NO INTERNET! I work for a physician, and our entire system is internet-based. The phone was ringing off the hook, patients were coming in with new insurance information, and this one issue was about to paralyze our day. I thought, “No, absolutely not, not today 2021 you 2020 wanna be, NO!” There is always a Plan B waiting in the shadows; no matter what the situation, look and you will find.

Ugh, by noon, the earth was back on its axis, and our internet was restored just in time for the start of Episode 5, which was almost too perfect. These days I’m skeptical of smooth sailing. I’ll assume that’s a little PTSD from 2020. I got into my car, and as always, made sure my phone was on Bluetooth. Why? Because every day for the last, FOREVER days, I called my mom on the way home from work. Another contact fell victim to this cry festival.

Episode 6 began with waking up after a dream that was so vivid and intense it left me lying in bed wondering, “Was that a dream?” I spent the rest of my morning analyzing that bag of crazy before heading to work. As if that wasn’t enough, real-life crazy started with news alerts on my phone about the new Civil War talking place in D.C. Hearing and seeing this footage was alarming, but I was not surprised, to be honest. Was I expecting it so early into Season 2? No, but here we are riding the crazy train. That entire episode shined a big fat light on subjects that can no longer be ignored, denied, or defended. 

As I opened my eyes on Episode 7, I thought, “What’s next?” Ugh, while watching the morning news, it became clear that shit was getting very real here in the good ole U. S. of A. Watching the hypocrites surface and take flight was a real highlight. I’m not positive, but I do believe I may have broken a record for consecutive obscenities screamed at an object a/k/a a T.V.  Oh, and I was laid off, but I’m happy.

Wow, that is all I can say for Episode 8. The list of flip-flopping hypocrites was growing at record speed. At the same time, our Commander in Lies continues to search for a 12-year-old with more than one social media account he can use, and we are now up to 5 senseless deaths following whatever the hell that was that took place in Episode 6. On the bright side, I had a male and female cardinal show up in the tree outside my window. They spent over an hour watching my every move. I’m just going to call them mom & dad and leave it at that. 

Episode 9 opened up with ANOTHER vivid dream that was absolutely exhausting. I really believe this is the universes way of saying “Girl, we tried to tell you while you were awake, but you kept ignoring us.” We all know what this means – change is a coming. Something tells me those cardinals are working hard.

As I look at my personal life and the world around us, the veil is being lifted from reality. On a personal level, I recognize things about myself and those around me who may or may not remain in my circle with a clear lens. The evil and injustices evident to many for far too long are finally getting recognized with greater clarity and an undeniable audience. A change is gonna come.

In the meantime, my griefcase is packed, my eyes are open, and as always, I’ll fasten my seatbelt for the rest of Season 2 and try to Enjoy the Ride! 

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