Friday, February 27, 2015

Station Wagons, Sunburns And Suburbia

     We're known as the "Baby Boomer" generation, but I prefer to think of people my age as the "Live and Learn" generation. We threw caution to the wind when we were young and tested the boundaries every chance we had to prove our invincibility to the world. We slept in cribs that were covered in lead based paint, rode bikes without helmets and consumed enough penny candy from the corner drugstore to fall into a sugar coma.

     Our Weekends were spent at beaches, lakes, and public pools without the protection of sunscreen lotion. Suntans were the norm and burns were treated with the smelly sap from an aloe plant.

     We didn't worry too much about what we ate---our food didn't come with nutrition labels listing the number of calories per serving or percentages of fat. We ate butter guilt-free in an age when words such as "triglycerides" and "cholesterol" were as alien to us as the moon.

     We rode in the back of station wagons without seat belts, and played games on the floorboards of cars. Our parents smoked as they drove (often with the windows rolled up), because no one knew that cigarettes caused lung cancer.

     And yet, we survived.

     There are so many memories from my childhood that my kids will never experience, which I'm pretty sure they're thankful to have missed. To them, a world without internet, cable TV, video games, cell phones and microwaves equates to living in a cave and communicating with rocks and sticks. It's beyond their comprehension how a family of six could share a single rotary phone, especially one that had a party line. And sadly, they will never know the joy of cramming six sweaty people into a telephone booth on a hot summer day.

     What else have our children missed? The thrill of dropping off a roll of film from a Kodak Instamatic and counting down the days before the developed prints are ready from the local camera store. Luckily, there was no such thing as the internet back then, so all those incriminating photos we took from prom night and spring break remained hidden in the back of our closets.

     Remember drive-in theaters? There's still a few around in rural areas, but for the most part, they've gone the way of the dinosaurs. There was nothing more fun than to pack the Pontiac GTO with a cooler of food, some blankets and a few friends to watch a movie under the stars with a crackling speaker hooked to the car window.

     Sundays were a day of rest rather than a day spent bargain hunting at the local mall. When I was young, the only place in town that was open had a cross above its door, and the majority of our friends were sitting in its pews. Those lazy afternoons were perfect for reconnecting with family over a rousing game of Monopoly. It was also an opportunity to discover how ruthless your siblings could be when it came to buying up prime property on Boardwalk and Park Place.

     Our television programs were very different from the ones that kids watch today. The shows that aired were wholesome and entertaining. Granted, many of the TV sets in American homes were limited to three channels and adorned with rabbit ears wrapped in tin foil, but at least the shows reflected strong family values. Back then, there was no such thing as a "couch potato" since remote controls had yet to be invented.

     Today's kids will never know the cushion of safety we felt from the world outside of our small slice of suburbia. Front doors and car doors remained unlocked, and bicycles could be left out on the lawn overnight without worrying that they might be stolen. As children, we had more freedom to explore the neighborhood with our friends and could play at the park until dusk without fear of being abducted.

     Handwritten letters have all but disappeared as a form of communication these days. Thanks to technology, the messages our kids send to friends are  nothing more than abbreviated texts. There's something to be said about a six page, handwritten letter from a long distance friend who cared enough to take the time to write it.

    Forty years ago, "Google" couldn't be found in the Webster's Dictionary, and "Yahoo" was something cowboys yelled during a cattle drive. School projects were researched with thick books from the public library rather than by the click of a mouse. World Book Encyclopedias lined the shelves of many homes, and term papers were pounded out on a Smith Corona typewriter.

    There were no Starbucks, ATMs or iPads, but we grew up appreciative of what we had. Today's younger generation may have all the technological advantages that we could only dream of while watching The Jetsons, but I wouldn't trade it for the simple pleasures I had while growing up. But it sure is nice to surf the net while sipping on an ice cold frappuccino…..

Friday, February 20, 2015

The Invisible Generation.

In honor of the International Day of Compassion, I'm taking part in a group posting for the "1000 Voices Speak For Compassion." There are over 1000 writers from around the world participating in this project today in an effort to spread compassion across the globe. I chose a topic that is close to my heart and one that needs to be addressed as a reminder to be kind to the people who deserve our utmost respect and gratitude.

* * * * * * * * * * * * *

Late one night in mid December, I stood in the check-out line at a Target store to purchase several children's toys for a holiday fundraiser. The line was moving slowly, and the people ahead of me were grumbling about the cashier's inability to move things along faster. I understood their frustration---my feet ached from being on them all day and I desperately wanted to be home in my cozy bed.

When it was finally my turn to check out, I was startled to see an elderly woman hunched over the cash register. Her expression was one of weariness and defeat after listening the harsh criticisms from the shoppers in front of me. As she carefully scanned the toys I'd selected, I couldn't help but wonder what circumstances in life had made it necessary for this woman to work through the night in a busy department store. I knew her feet had to hurt far worse than mine, and that she deserved to be home resting rather than putting up with the verbal abuse from rude customers.

After ringing up my purchase, the elderly woman said that she hoped the children I'd bought the gifts for would love their new toys, and with a tired smile, wished me a Merry Christmas. Walking out to my car that evening, I felt like a heavy rock was lodged deep in my belly.

 I thought about the woman for days afterwards. Would she need to put in extra hours at work through the holiday season just to make ends meet? How many more times would she be forced to endure the lack of common courtesy from impatient customers?

Whatever happened to compassion and respect for the elderly?

Although we live in a youth-oriented society, there's a quiet generation of people who are being blatantly shunned and abused. They are the "invisible" generation; the elderly among us who are often regarded as feeble-minded and lacking in the ability to contribute to society in a meaningful way. This ageist attitude has robbed senior citizens of their self-worth, leaving them the victims of prejudice and disrespect. Compassion, courtesy and respect have gone by the wayside.

 Until we walk in their shoes, it's hard to imagine the quality of life that our elderly face. Their financial situations are often compromised by the death of a spouse, rising medical bills, and a Social Security allotment that's too small to cover the cost of living.  Societal ideologies have contributed to the belief that the elderly are unable to function efficiently, and consequently, they're excluded from the very thing they need most---intergenerational socialization.

I'm ashamed to admit that when I was in my early twenties, I was completely self-absorbed and had absolutely no interest in my elders. For several months, my grandmother lived with us when she was incapable of living by herself. My mother was solely responsible for feeding her, dressing her and changing her adult diapers. I was too busy having fun with my friends to bother asking if my mother needed help. On the few occasions that she did ask me to watch my grandmother so that she could run  errands, I balked at the idea of caring for a woman in diapers.

I cringe now when I think back on those days. I watched my mother fight tears of frustration every time she had to lift my grandmother out of bed, or continually remind her where she was once senility crept in.

And I did nothing to ease her burden.

I look at my mother now, a widow in her mid-eighties, and I marvel at her bravery and strength. But this doesn't stop me from worrying about her every time she steps out of her home. Is she invisible to others? Do impatient drivers cut her off on the highway and yell at her as they speed by? Do people ignore her when they see her struggling to lift heavy bags from the grocery store into her car? Is she taken advantage of by scam artists who view her as a vulnerable, elderly woman? My mother is intelligent and fiercely independent, but it hurts my heart to think of someone ignoring her or mistreating her in any way.

Age should never define a person or diminish our respect for them. When I see elderly people, I'm reminded that this is a generation that was raised during the Depression era. They fought wars for our freedom and faced unthinkable trials and tribulations so that we could have the liberties that we enjoy today. They deserve to be honored, loved and have their dignity preserved.

I still see my mother as the graceful, vibrant woman she was when she was raising me. She taught me compassion and love through the sacrifices she made for our family. I can only hope to be half the woman that she is once I reach my eighties. She is, and always will be, my hero.

I don't see an "invisible" generation when I look upon the elderly. I see people of strength, wisdom and integrity, and the backbone of generations to come.

****UPDATE***Hey y'all, if you haven't read my book, "Who Stole my Spandex?" yet, now is your chance! The KINDLE version is on sale for only .99 for a LIMITED time! Grab it while you can and spread the word to your family and friends. Thank you! Buy it here:

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Fly On The Wall In A Wild Kingdom

     It's that time again! For those of you new to my blog, welcome to another monthly edition of Fly On The Wall group postings, where 14 bloggers invite you into their homes for a peek at what goes on behind closed doors.

     This has been a quiet month for us, so I believe the fly has been catching up on his naps. I wish I could do the same. Most of my time now is taken up with book marketing strategies---the difficult side of a writing career. It's incredibly time consuming and takes away from what I love doing most---WRITING! The good news though is that my tech girl designed a new page on my blog for the book, which you can see here:

     If you were a fly buzzing around my house this month, here are a few remarks you would have heard floating around the Doyle house:

"I would never go on a cruise ship. Too many rogue waves out there."

"Hey Dad, come here and let me prove to you how strong I've gotten since I've been lifting weights. I'll pick you up."
"No thanks---I don't want to end up with a broken clavicle."

"I wish my inner editor would stop waking me up at 4:00am to share her ideas with me."

"A fart is just a warning sign of what's to come."

"Our neighbor is having a garage sale and he's selling a giant plastic worm that kids can ride. Should I buy it?"
"No, I'm not riding the worm with you."

"I'd wrap that in bacon."
"You'd wrap anything in bacon and eat it, including your pillow."

"Can you please tell our son that changing the toilet paper will not cause brain damage?"

"Karma takes too long to catch up. I'd rather just smack you right now."

"I don't have a bucket list but I have a F@%k it list that never ends."

"Just because my reality is different from yours doesn't mean I'm crazy."

"Of course I love you, but you sound better when your mouth is closed."

I'd like to share a funny little story with you that happened yesterday. If you read my previous post about the odd things that occur around my husband--- ---then this story will not surprise you.

One of my chinchillas had diarrhea late in the afternoon, which can be dangerous with these types of animals. I called my vet, only to learn that he was out of town for a few days. They gave me the name of another vet at a different office and suggested I take my chinchilla there. Luckily, my husband had just gotten home from work and offered to take our pet so that I wouldn't have to change my dinner plans.

He was gone for two hours, and I began to worry that something was seriously wrong. Just as I was about to call him, he walked in the front door with a big grin on his face. Apparently, National Geographic was at the vet's office filming for their series, "National Geographic in the Wild" and asked if they could video my husband and our chinchilla during their doctor's visit! How crazy is that? My friends asked if I was disappointed that I wasn't there, and my answer was a resounding "NO!"  I hadn't washed my hair in two days and was still sporting a bleach-stained t-shirt from the previous day that had a few grease spots on it from my lunch. I'm grateful that I WASN'T there.

The episode will air some time in the fall---I'll keep you posted. Now, hop on over to the homes of the other bloggers participating in today's Fly post and see what they've been up to!

Want more Meno Mama? A few days ago I was a featured guest again on one of my favorite sites--Blunt Moms. You can read the post here:                          Spatulas on Parade                          Follow me home           Stacy Sews and Schools                     Battered Hope                              Just A Little Nutty                                  The Momisodes                    Someone Else’s Genius    Eileen’s Perpetually Busy               Juicebox Confession                    Dinosaur Superhero Mommy          Menopausal Mother                        Disneyland in Kentucky                               Go Mama O                 Baking In A Tornado


Friday, February 13, 2015

The Little White Lies Men Tell Themselves

     Last week I admitted to the little white lies that my female peers and I are guilty of telling (you can read the post *here*), but I've decided it wouldn't be any fun if I didn't share the male side of the equation. I've gotten a few brave men to 'fess up about the lies they tell themselves and their significant others, and some of these go way beyond the usual, "Of course I don't think you look like you've gained weight" tales they eagerly tell their women in order to avoid a night in the dog house.

     Fellas, I'm betting there are quite a few remarks here that are going to sound painfully familiar to you. It's time to put down the TV remote and admit that you're just as guilty as your partner when it comes to stretching the truth like a giant rubber band. Just remember how much it stings when that band snaps back.

*I'm only going to watch one game this weekend.

*Of course I'd rather order a tofu burger from the menu than a juicy Porterhouse steak.

*Yes, it was on sale.

*If I lose a few more pounds, I can squeeze back into my Speedo.

*My wife won't notice if I leave a few dirty dishes in the sink.

*A man can never have too many flashlights. Or screw drivers.

*I don't mind taking all the kids with us on our romantic vacation to the Bahamas.

*It's okay that no one else in the family notices that the trash can is overflowing.

*I never fart in elevators.

*No honey, those jeans don't make your butt look big.

*I don't mind giving up my championship game tickets to stay home and help you pick lice out of the kids' hair.

*This isn't fat---it's muscle.

*No one will notice I'm going bald if I wear a baseball cap 24/7….or wrap this long, single strand of hair around the top of my head.

*It wasn't a mistake…. I meant to do that.

*Of course I remembered our anniversary is today.

*My in-laws won't care if I burp at the dinner table.

*It doesn't bother me that I have to drive thirty miles to the store that carries that special shade of lipstick that you love so much.

*I don't mind getting up at 3:00 a.m. to investigate the strange sound that you heard outside.

*Sure, I can last all night without Viagra.

*My boss won't notice if I'm late to work three days in a row because the drive-thru line at Starbucks is ridiculously long.

*As soon as I get the prototype for my invention of an atomic sponge made, I'll be able to retire on the millions I'll make from it.

*Of course I understand your moodiness.

*I don't mind spending $400 on Justin Beiber concert tickets for my daughters.

*It's perfectly fine to let the snoring, farting dog share the bed with us every night.

*Even though I'm in my fifties, I can still keep up with the teenagers and play several rounds of basketball in 90 degree heat.

*I'm not overweight---I'm just big boned.

*Size doesn't matter.

*I love having my in-laws over for dinner every weekend.

*My wife won't notice that I went to Home Depot for a packet of nails and came home with a pressure cleaner.

*Of course I don't mind working over time without extra pay. My family won't mind, either.

*I didn't clog the toilet.

*It's good to let the grass get knee-high every now and then. I'll mow it next week.

*I know where I'm going and I don't need to ask anyone for directions.

*I don't mind that you're feeling too tired and grumpy for sex. I can wait.

*You still look beautiful to me even with that unidentifiable rash on your face.

*I never think that you and your girlfriends talk too much.

*Of course I love your creamed brussels sprout and salmon pie. Who wouldn't?

*My wife thinks my love handles are sexy.

*I'd be happy to teach our Evil Knievel--wannabe teenager how to drive.

*Men don't gossip.

*I'm not crying over that Hallmark commercial. I've got something in my eye.

*Just because I'm giving you a sexy body massage doesn't mean that I expect something else in return.

*I'd be happy to stop by the drugstore on my way home from work to pick up a box of tampons for you.

*Just one more beer, and then I'll stop. I promise…...

     That wasn't so hard now, was it, fellas? So how about a big slice of creamed brussels sprout and salmon pie with a tofu burger on the side….unless, of course, you were lying about that?

This week Meno Mama was all over the place!  I shared the "Do's and Don'ts of Valentine's Day Gifts on the Huffington Post:     I was also a guest on the blog "Take A Walk In My Shoes" with my Valentine post, "How To Keep A Husband Happy":   


Friday, February 6, 2015

The Little White Lies Women Tell Themselves

    Little white lies. We're all guilty of using them, whether it's to protect someone's feelings or to get out of attending the fifth Pampered Chef party invitation we've received in a month. We stretch the truth on the internet to make our lives sound more interesting. We tell our teens that our wallets have more cobwebs in them than an Egyptian tomb to avoid paying for a concert we secretly don't want them to attend.

     White lies are used to avoid the truth about ourselves and our loved ones. We use them to validate our actions, manipulate situations in our favor and to help sidestep conflict with others.

     Many of my female friends are very sensitive to the feelings of others and confess to using white lies whenever necessary. For instance, they would rather shave their heads than tell their husbands that they really didn't want a nose hair trimmer for a birthday gift, or that their friend's expensive bridesmaid dress looks more like a gunny sack dunked in a vat of Grey Poupon.

     My own mother is guilty of telling me little white lies when I was a child.  "If you eat all your carrots, you'll always have good eyesight"…. WRONG. I consumed more carrots in my youth than the entire rabbit population at the local pet store, and I'm still sporting 2.5 readers.  She also told me that calves liver is an acquired taste. Thirty years later and I still gag when I smell it frying in a pan with onions.

     Here's a list of the typical white lies that many women tell themselves:

*I'm only baking these chocolate chip cookies for the kids.

*All I need is five more minutes of sleep, and then I'll get out of bed.

*The kids won't notice we're eating leftover tuna casserole two nights in a row if I bury it under a mound of cheese.

*I refuse to give away my size 6 clothing because I'm sure I can lose these last 20 pounds of baby weight.

*My husband doesn't need me to remind him that our anniversary is coming up.

*I don't waste time on Facebook or Pinterest.

*I can quit eating sugar and salt anytime.

*My husband won't notice that I spent a fortune on yoga clothes but haven't been to the gym in six months.

*One more glass of wine won't affect me.

*I'm not sleeping…. I'm just resting my eyes.

*My husband will never see the extra charges from the Ikea store on our credit card bill.

 *I'll wake up early tomorrow to finish the project.

*My co-workers won't care if I re-heat broccoli in the lunchroom.

*The kids won't mind if we use their inheritance to invest in a billy goat farm.

*My husband won't notice that I haven't had time to wash my hair in three days.

*I'll start my diet on Monday.

*My daughter won't be angry if I tag her on Facebook with an old photo from her awkward, prepubescent years.

*The calories from the bites off my husband's dinner plate don't count.

*I'm sure my boss will be understanding when I call out of work for the third time this week with a sick toddler.

*I dance so much better after several vodka martinis.

*Just one more bite and then I'll stop.

*No way was she born with a perfect body like that.

*My son won't mind if I show his new girlfriend twenty hours of old family videos.

*I swear I didn't eat the last slice of pizza. It must have been the dog.

*I'm only going to watch one more episode of Orange Is The New Black on Netflix before I go to bed.

*I don't need to write down that information because I have a mind like a steel trap.

*I can't understand why I'm not loosing any weight. I haven't cheated on my diet at all.

*My husband won't be disappointed when I claim another headache for the third night in a row.

*I can't throw away my collection of Hello Kitty socks---they might be worth a lot of money one day.

*Of course I'm on my way there. I left ten minutes ago.

*I'll buy these jeans one size smaller because I know I'll fit into them eventually.

*No, really, you don't have to get me anything for my birthday.

*My life would be perfect if I won the lottery.

*I don't snore.

*It's perfectly acceptable to steal chocolate from my kids' Easter baskets and hide in the bathroom to eat it.

*I'll be ready to go in just a few minutes.

*Of course I love your new hairstyle. That purple mohawk really brings out your eye color.

     If ten or more of these apply to you, welcome to the Little White Liar's club. Now pass me that plate of cookies---- the kids won't notice if we eat them all. We can always blame it on the dog.


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