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Rough chop can have various meanings, depending on who’s saying it.

A French chef saying, “You’ll just want to do a rough chop of your vegetables for this stew” is one thing. If the pilot says on the overhead speaker, “We’re in for some rough chop ahead”, that’s a whole different story.

Tension isn’t always a bad thing. It’s necessary if you’re playing a guitar. Or knitting.

And pressure isn’t always a negative thing. In the shower, with shampoo in your hair, you want strong water pressure. But when it comes to the human psyche, it’s a whole different story.

Did you ever wonder about those friends of yours that you only see once in a blue moon? Doesn’t it seem like they’ve fallen off the face of the Earth? It could be that they need to re-charge their batteries after reaching a threshold of sorts. It’s probably not you. It’s the whole human circus of sights, sounds, smells. Personalities. Interactions. Micro-aggressions. Traffic jams.

I know for a fact that I ghost people, even people I love. My psyche says it’s time to hibernate. It doesn’t mean I don’t love you. It means some sort of relief valve has tripped, and for the sanctity of my soul, for the sanity of my mind, I have to decompress. De-escalate. Disconnect. Even from dear friends. It releases the internal build-up of steam so I don’t reach the point of melt down.

You wouldn’t say to a bear, Where have you been? You’ve been a no-show all winter! That’s what she has to do to survive.

What if, just for today, we showed up for the ones who never show up? We’ve got your back till you get back. Once you know the facts behind the facade, it’s a whole different story.


Have you ever had a dream so vivid that you felt as if it was a message from the universe? It happened to me yesterday at 5 AM, so I bolted out of bed to write it down.

A lovely voice was singing to the tune of Al Green’s “So Tired of Being Alone” with different lyrics.

She sang:

When you’re out of here

When you can’t go on

When you feel like giving up wherever you go

And it bothered me. My first thought was to worry that my son might be feeling this way, so before he left for work yesterday, I told him about the dream and asked him if he was feeling like that. He said he wasn’t. I said, “I’m aware that I don’t always leave open avenues for our actually communicating. Often, I come at you with tasks or concerns instead of listening.” I asked the second question. “Do you want to talk about anything going on in your life right now?” He really listened to what I said. He told me he knew he could talk to me, and that he was okay.

Who was this message for?

In that patented Nicely-Noodgy way I have, I’m now in the process of cycling through my list of loved ones and contacting them. You okay? Had this dream. Want to make sure you’re feeling copasetic.

So when you ask the people in your life, “Are you okay?” and they say, “I’m fine,” ask the second question. “How are doing, really?”

Check on your loved ones.

Don’t tune out.

Check in with your soul.

Don’t check out.

We’d love it if you stuck around. We’ll stick by you. Let’s make it better, together.

P.S. If you need to talk, the National Suicide Prevention Hotline number is 800-273-TALK (8255).

Plantie wearing her Crop Circle.

When I couldn’t knit using needles anymore due to visual issues, I decided to give the round loom a shot. That’s basically a plastic circle with pegs on it. You wrap the yarn around the pegs to knit, and there’s a tiny slot on each peg so that if you can’t see it that well, at least you can feel it with your knitting tool.

So I was knitting what I thought was a headband, but when I put it on my head, it flopped right off. Oh. I guess I was supposed to incorporate some kind of elastic element to keep it in place. I tossed it onto the table next to my plant. Her name is Plantie. Yes. See, I’m a writer. Good wit woids, as we say in Jersey. I wanted to name her Petunia, but that’s an actual name of a flower already, and she’s… I don’t know. Some other kind of green grow-y thing.

The vet’s office had sent Plantie to me when my KitKat passed away. I thought it was a very kind gesture, but I never could keep a plant alive. Still, I welcomed her, watered her, and tell Plantie every day she looks lovely and healthy. Give her a shpritz with the mister. (This may be risque for a prayer blog, but…why does that phrase sound obscene to me?😏)

One day I put Plantie in the center of the Unrealized Headband I’d knitted. Huh. That looks pretty decent, actually. Why, my word! That’s not a headband after all. It’s a tiny round knit thingie to adorn my plant’s basket. Let’s call it a Crop Circle! This could be a thing!

Every bit of your creativity has a purpose. Let it speak to you and find its own rightful place in the world.

Speaking of bare minimums (as a recap, here’s a link to my last wee postie), I remember the time I went to a franchise donut shop and experienced a real-life example. I’m not naming names here, but it rhymes with Flunkin Flonuts.

When I got my order, the employee handed me a small, flat piece of cardboard with my coffee. I asked her what it was.

“It goes on your to-go cup.”

“What for?” I asked.

“In case the cup is too hot,” she replied.

Oh. Shouldn’t it be on the cup already? Cuz now I’m holding it. You know what? It is too hot. Really does need a sleeve.

I wondered why they would do it this way. It’s happened every time since, and that was a few years ago, so I have to assume it’s a company policy.

Let me see. They were sued because the coffee was too hot. Instead of ordering the manufacturer to make new cups that were thicker (and would cost money), they ordered sleeves that could slide onto their already existing cups.

Rather than making it policy for employees to put the sleeve on the cup (which would take three extra seconds and theoretically cost the company profits), they decided to do the barest minimum possible.

Here’s your to-go cup filled with scalding coffee. We know it’s too hot for your hands to hold. So here. Take the Java (nay, let’s call it “Lava”) in one hand (we’ll call that your expendable hand, so if you’re right-handed, use your left), the sleeve in the other. And here’s a coupon. 10% discount for your visit later today to the Medi-Merge.

Here’s my point. Isn’t it better to raise the bar just slightly than to avoid improving a situation? Food for thought on a Sunday afternoon.

One of my favorite movies, Jerry Maguire, was on TV the other day. There’s a particular scene that always gets me right here💘. Marcee is on the phone with sports agent Maguire, who tells her that her husband, Rod, has been injured in a football game.

“This family doesn’t work without him, Jerry,” she says. “Just get him home to me.”

That line has some kind of magical quality. It talks directly to my tear duct. Even if I rewind the scene and play it again, knowing it’s coming…I can’t help it. Got me!

To me, that scene is the distillation of the emotion we all feel for a loved one we cherish. We want them to be okay. We expend energy trying to find ways to cover them with love, even from afar.

We care so much about our little tribe that we come at them with “help” that really sounds like anger. “You need to make sure you get that homework done, or you’ll never get that job you want once you graduate!”

Way to pile guilt on top of anxiety! Mother of the year!

How often do religions do this as well? That is, foster fear, guilt and shame that can cause a person’s spirit to break and actually keeps potential converts away. The only true path to grace is leading with love. Any religion — or company, or politician, or human being — who treats people with kindness and means what they say? I’m right there with them.

Doing something is better than doing nothing.

Doing something specific is better than doing just anything.

On the scale of motivation, maybe is better than no. And of course, yes is better than maybe.

Every day brings a host of tiny choices. Does the family want omelets or cereal? For that, you’d have to make sure you have eggs and cereal, of course, then take a poll. The sub-set of next steps would include choosing which kind of cereal. My son isn’t generally inclined to say yes to my beloved Raisin Bran Crunch. He’ll go for the Cinnamon Toast Crunch. If we have it, that is.

That brings us to: winter coat or light jacket? Sub-set of next steps: Google the weather. Find the coat. Where did you leave it last? It’s not in the closet. Is it still in the car? Do you need gloves?

We need accurate information to make good choices. I like to write things in bold to make it easier for my brain to grab hold of an idea.

Inventory of ingredients. Do we have the things we need to make this idea an action?

Recipe to make it a reality. What do we need to do to make this thing happen?

Breaking down a problem makes it a project. Take it a step at a time and before you know it, it’s a job well done.

On a TV show, a character at a bakery was shown putting whipped cream onto a slice of pie. I noticed that the product name, Reddi-Wip, was featured very prominently. The camera even zoomed in. Well. That wasn’t obvious product placement for which the producers were going to be remunerated! Nah. It was organic to the plot. Not at all gratuitous. In the next scene, they gave the flippin’ container a close-up! Reddi-Wip will have to get credit for that cameo. Probably needs to get a SAG-AFTRA card.

I thought, that’s more than product placement. Might as well put it on a product placemat: REDDI-WIP! EAT NOW! STUFF YOUR FACE TO THE POINT OF GLUTTONY!!

Can’t we do that with positivity also?

So many times, people are pushing negative things for their own benefit.

Every news headline and most forms of entertainment nowadays seem designed to make us tense, even fearful. Can it be these shows are sponsored by pharma companies that manufacture antidepressants? Could there possibly be any connection? Who else runs commercials on these shows… Let’s see. Alarm systems. Identity theft companies.

That’s not to say we don’t need to stay safe. Or take medication. But with all these slings and arrows coming at us, we have to shore up our souls’ immune systems. Think about what’s good and uplifting as often as you think about what might go wrong. And pray without ceasing. Troubles won’t disappear, but you’ll find they’re not always as big as they seem.

I knew it was time to take down a perfectly good bathroom cabinet. My visual issues are such that I no longer have depth perception. I just can’t see the edges of things until I bump into them. That cabinet was a concussion waiting to happen.

So we took it down, and to my surprise, behind it, found a small patch of old wallpaper. Huh. It must be from the house’s previous owners, some 25 years ago.

It’s got rows of elephants, festooned in gold, red and black, marching in formation. They even seem to be wearing hats and shoes!

It occurred to me that SueBE would think of this as an interesting archaeological dig and excavate the facts until she determined who put up that wallpaper. She could probably even figure out what era the artwork was from.

Lori would see the poetry in the henna-red, dancing elephants. She’d find a spiritual metaphor in their perfect symmetry and solidarity.

When I look at it, I find the humor in it. “I hope the ones in front of me know where they’re going, cuz I’m plum lost!” Or maybe this animal team is the pachyderm version of the Rockettes. The Trunkettes?

Seeing through other people’s eyes is the key to community. Also compassion. Sometimes even comedy. I like this tiny swatch of history and humor so much that I’ve decided to leave it up on the wall. It’s a way to do what’s right for me (take down the cabinet so I don’t bump into it) and to enjoy a quirky artifact. Sure, it’s got a few flaws and dings, but don’t we all? Yep. I think it’s a keeper.

Isn’t it true that everyone is attached to their devices all the time nowadays?

I suppose we’ll all just have to accept the fact that, as a society, we’re living virtually most of the time, even in groups and at dinner.

It might be a bone of contention among the generations, but it’s the way of the world now. Of course, looking at the bright side, some people are using technology to make the world a better place, like the gamer who raised over $600,000 for St. Jude’s Hospital by playing Fortnite, or the use of virtual reality to help people with mental health issues.

Still, I can’t help relating to the grandparents in this funny ad from advocating a “device-free dinner.”

Heck, before you know it, advances in technology will allow us to time travel. Maybe even create new species on our devices. Poof! I just made a giraffe with zebra stripes and the bill of a platypus. Why? Why not!

I’m all for expressing opinions and connecting with communities online, but it’s easy to forget that the ones on the receiving end of mean-spirited tweets are human beings. Staying inside that social media bubble, it’s possible to lose sight of the world outside it.

It won’t be long before these times are called “the old days.” Here’s hoping we can all find a way to be with each other in a room and have a conversation, like they did in ancient times!

Lately, I’ve been thinking of how to appreciate our loved ones while they’re still here, as opposed to missing them after they’re gone. To really talk to them and connect on a personal level.

That’s easier said than done. For example, when talking to my son, I tend to default to: Here’s a problem I have to tackle and resolve! Instead of, How was your day, son?

What I’d like to do is encourage him. Surround him with support. Let him know I’m there for him. Isn’t that what we really need from everyone in our lives? I’d like to be standing by at all times. Not to catch him when he falls, but to cheer him on as he gets back up.

He’s a talented musician and I hope he succeeds beyond his wildest dreams. Some tiny be reasonable! part of me says, I hope he can at least earn a decent living. But that’s not all I want for him. I want him to be happy, healthy, loved, appreciated. Welcomed wherever he goes. In fact, I want him to be treated like a king. Is that too much to ask?!?

Oh. Maybe it is! I’m back now.

All I can offer is my eternal love and my patented Homespun Humor™. Maybe I’ll suggest that, since he’s going to be a music producer, he should come up with a catchy name, like Diplo. What about Daplo? Or instead of Timbaland, Tundraland? Steve Aoki is taken. How about Steve B-Oki?

All right. Maybe I don’t have any Value-Added Bon-Mots© to offer my son on the road of life, but he knows I’ve got his back. All I ask is that he calls home once in a while, and does his best. The rest? He’ll work it out along the way.

Have a Mary Little Christmas

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