Archive for the ‘Acceptance’ Category

My Pumpkin is Frozen…and other things that don’t go as planned

Lately, my life has not been going “as planned.”

The calendar tells us that autumn has arrived….and we welcome it.

Welcome Fall

Autumn is wonderful.  It’s a time of hearing the crunch of leaves under our feet…for breathing in the crisp, fresh air…for finding beauty in the witness of nature changing slowly from one season to the next.

Beauty of Autumn

But on this Saturday morning, October 29, many of us wake and scream…my pumpkin is frozen!

Frozen Pumpkin

We find that winter has made an unexpected early arrival.

Winter in October

Winter in October 2 Winter in October 3

Each day, we go about our lives, expecting the expected…until the unexpected happens.

Yesterday, my family received unwelcome news.

Like snow in October, we adjust.  We deal.  We go into our closets to find our boots and our gloves.  We tromp through the snow and the slush.  We shield our faces from the wind.  We muddle through the unexpected…knowing that one day, maybe when we least expect it… we will again feel the warmth of the sun.

It will thaw our pumpkins…………………………….and brighten our days….

IMG_2623 IMG_1801

…and fade the memory of an unwelcomed season.

How do you deal with unexpected and unwelcome news?

I’m going to try hard to write a few posts this week and catch ya’ll up.  I’ve truly missed being here on a regular basis and commenting on your posts as well!!

Over the Waterfall

Last week was a tough one for me.  In fact, it was probably the most emotionally difficult week of my life…so far.  During times like these, I tend to become a bit introspective.

On most days, you see your life as water in a stream, flowing down a defined path.  You can see the channel ahead of you but you can never see its end.  As you go along, there are a few twists and turns.  There are also a few rocks.  Some rocks you flow over.  Some you flow around.  Some you pick up in your current and carry along. 

Stream 2 

At times, the water runs slow and calm.  The air around you is quiet.  You can’t see the path ahead, but that’s okay because you’ve been traveling along the same path for so long that it has become predictable.  Trees fall and you pass under them.  You trickle along.   

Stream 1

In an instant, the calm quietness gives way to a loud rumble.  You find yourself tumbling over an edge.  You can’t hang on.  You fall fast and can’t see the bottom.  Everything seems out of control.  You brace yourself for pain. 


With a fast-beating heart you reach the bottom with a loud crash.  You tumble over and over and over again, hurt and unable to catch your breath.  You feel disoriented, confused, and gasp for air.  The current carries you against your will.  The path is unfamiliar but you try to regain control.  Looking around, everything seems different and scary. You are very afraid.

Just when you think the pain and fear are too great to bear, you look behind and see beauty.  It provides a sense of peace.


As you move away from the tragedy and the beauty, the memories of both remain and you carry them with you down this new path. 

Sometimes the memories cause you stumble over roots…


…but most of the time the memories of those experiences are used to sprout color in the strange, new world.


 Has any single experience changed your perspective on life?

If you liked this post, you may also like The Long View and Show and Tell.

There’s No Comparison

Another post inspired by your comments…

In A State of Ignorant Bliss I told you that for an entire week I turned off everything that had an on/off switch.  The Writing Goddesscaught me in a big fat lie.  My camera did require power…and I used it…a lot.  It was too hard to resist photographing someplace as beautiful as the Caribbean in late January when there was a blizzard back home.

I’ll honestly admit that after looking at the collection of pictures, I’m critical of every image of myself.

  • Where did all those freckles come from?  Oh gosh; I hope they’re just freckles and not age spots.
  • Why did I wear such an ugly shirt?
  • Are those veins I see popping out of my hands?!? 

Look for yourself.  You might see a happy woman standing in front of an interesting rock.  I see hand veins. 

Being on the beach in a bathing suit, for an entire week, gives ample opportunity for a person to compare herself with thousands of other bodies.  And I compared, and compared, and compared some more.  You’d think that by mid-life a woman would stop with the superficial self-critical comparisons.  I didn’t used to do it that often, but recently I’ve been doing it more and more.  Ya see, about a year ago people started to say this to me…

You look so good!…for your age.

When did that last part start to get tagged on to an otherwise uplifting compliment?

The shock of all shocks was the back-handed compliment that I got from someone who I hadn’t seen since high-school.  He said:

Hi!  Nice to see you again…you’ve held up well.

What the hell is that supposed to mean?  Have I reached the age where I should be breaking down?  Geese man, I’m only 40.  Wait another few decades and then let me know what you really think.   I’m not a plastic coated Barbie Pirate Girl.

Comparisons are not always bad.  In fact, I like to compare myself to others as a way of self-motivation.  If they can do it, so can I!  By keeping company with people who I consider better than me in some way, I often get inspired to keep moving ahead…to continue improving…to be my personal best.  I see them out in front of me and I pick up my pace.  I move forward with a little more gusto.

When comparisons turn bad is when that little voice inside your head converts them into a negative thought about yourself.  She’s/he’s  more _______ than me.  I’ll never be as _______ as her or him. 

My own negative inner voice usually attacks when I’m making a physical comparison…and that’s just plain superficial.  If you tend to do this too, remind yourself that you are much more than your body.  Your body simply carries your BACKBONE around. 

Your physical self needs to be healthy and strong and it is your responsibility to make it so, but you will never look like or be someone other than yourself. When you are only trying to be the same or better than someone else, you are totally missing the mark on your own true potential.

Cut out the negative inner voice that comes with comparing and contrasting.  Use comparisons as a way to motivate yourself to move forward…to grow…to evolve…and make self-improvements.  It’s a much better use of that little voice inside your head.

What one thing about yourself do you want to work on improving?  Do you think drawing a comparison to someone else would be motivating or defeating?

If you liked this post you may also like Funny Mirrors and Taking a Compliment.

How to Park a Body

This post was supposed to be about exercise.  But it isn’t…and this is why…

I was at the gym today, totally minding my own business.


When I overheard this…

Tall Man:  So, after I pick up a body and it’s my lunch hour, can I stop for lunch?

Short Man:  It depends.  Where and for how long?

Tall Man:  Lunch is from 12 – 1 and there’s this diner I like.  So, about an hour.

Short Man:  No, they usually don’t like us to do that.

Tall Man:  Humph.  Well, is it okay if I just run inside somewhere and pick up something to eat?  Like for 10 minutes or so?

Short Man:  Ya, that’s usually okay.

Tall Man:  Okay, so when I do that, where should I park?  I mean, can I just park in a regular space?

When I die, please do not send that man to pick me up.  The mere possibility that the driver of my dead body could be enjoying a Super Value Meal while my body is decomposing lying peacefully in the back seat just creeps me out.

I don’t usually think about my own mortality.   But, overhearing Tall Man getting advice from his coworker about where to park a body during lunch got my mind churning.

According to the experts, now that I’ve turned 40 and entered the mid-life years, I’ll be starting to think about my own mortality more often.  Maybe I will.  Maybe I won’t.  I have a pretty strong belief in my personal answer to the question of what happens after death?, so I’m not afraid of it.  But what I am starting to think about is all of the things that I’ve yet to do…to experience…to accomplish. 

No matter what our ages, most of us are striving to live rich and satisfying lives by our own definitions.  With simple things like laughter…spontaneity…and knowing that inner beauty deepens with age…I have no fears about getting older.  My next birthday is coming at the same pace as yours.  And I’m ready to kick my age in the…

If  you want to go deep:  What does it mean to live a rich and satisfying life? 

If you want to go shallow:  Do you think body-drivers should stop for lunch when they have cargo on board?

Share your thoughts in the Comments section above. 

I hope your week is off to a lively start!

If you liked this post, you may also like An Espresso and $1.23.

I Gotta Feeling

I got a new electronic gadget.  It came with instructions.  In 12 languages.  I will never, ever read it…but I’ll keep it on hand for reference if  when my gadget goes haywire.  And it will.  Trust me.

Don’t ya sometimes wish that people came with instruction manuals?  When something goes haywire, wouldn’t it be so nice to reach for step-by-step instructions?  Emotional 102.  Mid-life crises…page 64.  Stress overload…page 88. 

An instruction manual would also be great for decision-making.  Lately, it seems like every which way I turn there is a choice to be made.   This week, my brain is tired from so much deciding.  Major – should I attend a very joyous wedding and very sad funeral in the same weekend?  Moderate – Should I work until midnight to meet a deadline? Minor – Roast beef or chicken?  After a while, it all just seems to blend together into one big decision called LIFE. 

If you read The Decision Bell in the previous post, the reader decided to follow her heart and did not take the job.  I think that when it comes to major life decisions, it’s good to listen to opinions and advice from others, but in the end, only you know what is right for YOU.  That’s called listening to your gut.  Not your brain.  Not your heart. 

You don’t need to be psychic to have an intuitive self.  Being intuitive simply means that you know what is right for YOU, independent of any logical reasoning or emotional upswell.  Often, we don’t understand why our intuition is sending us in a certain direction…we simply go. 

All it takes is to step back, take a deep breath, and listen to your inner voice. 

I get intuitive messages from myself all the time.  I think of it as my invisible instruction manual.  I don’t always listen to these inner messages, but I get them.  Truthfully,  if I paid more attention to them over the years, I would have avoided some pitfalls, but such is life.  What I’ve learned is that when I ignore my gut instincts, I’m usually taking the wrong path.  When something feels wrong, it usually is.  But, what that little voice inside my head tells me something is right…I need to trust it…even if I don’t quite understand why. 

Something’s telling me it’s going to be a good weekend, so I’m signing off with the Peas…

I gotta feeling, oo, oo, that tonight’s gonna be a good night
That tonight’s gonna be a good night
That tonight’s gonna be a good good night

Do you typically listen to your intuition?

Lessons from The Breakfast Club

Do you know where your VHS tapes are hiding?  Well, go and find them my friends…because this week marks the 25th anniversary of The Breakfast Club.     

At my house I have my own Saturday morning Breakfast Club ritual.  It consists of me…in my jammies…watching morning news…sipping coffee…and fighting for couch space with a lazy cat named Buster.     


Because my Saturdays aren’t typically screenplay worthy, let’s cut back to the movie.  The Breakfast Club was one of those movies that captivated teens not only for its humor, but also for the deepness of its message.  If you haven’t seen the film, think of a 1980’s version of a modern-day reality show.  Trap five high school students from different social clicks in Saturday detention, assign them a task to complete, and watch the drama unfold.     

Mr. Vernon:  Well, well. Here we are. You have exactly eight hours and fifty-four minutes to think about why you’re here. You may not talk.  You will not move from these seats.  Any questions?      

Bender:  Yeah. Does Barry Manilow know that you raid his wardrobe?    



As five kids sit around teasing each other and delving into their teenage thoughts on life (dating, sex, drugs, parents, school, etc.), they discover that they are more similar than different.  Over the course of the day, they learn about each other’s personalities that are hidden beneath their looks and social circle stereotypes.      

The movie doesn’t have great cinematography.  Its stars were not accomplished actors.  It didn’t win any awards.  So, why is this movie memorable enough to celebrate a 25th anniversary with a New York City screening and spots on the national news?     

I think it’s because there is a moral to the story, and one that’s rarely told from the teenage point-of-view.  To have a meaningful relationship with another person, you need to take the time to know the person that lies beneath the exterior, because what lies on the outside only tells a very small part of the story.    

 Dear Mr. Vernon:     

We accept the fact that we had to sacrifice a whole Saturday in detention for whatever it was we did wrong. But we think you’re crazy to make us write an essay telling you who we think we are. You see us as you want to see us… In the simplest terms, in the most convenient definitions.     

 But what we found out is that each one of us is a brain…and an athlete…and a basket case…a princess…and a criminal…Does that answer your question?    

 Sincerely yours,    

The Breakfast Club    

Have you ever judged someone before you really knew them?

An Espresso and $1.23

Heading into the weekend with a fury…and I could definitely use a little extra cash.  My wallet is completely void of paper money.  Happens sometimes…even to the best of us. I hate being cash-less.  Like when your co-worker asks if she can pick up some lunch for you…you reach into your purse…you see the empty space where your cash used to be…you smirk and say “no thanks, I brought a can of soup from home.” Ug! 

Being armed only with credit cards and coins bugs me.  I never charge things under $10.  And, there’s nothing worse than counting out $1.69 in change for a coffee at the drive-up window.  It would be just like me to drop a handful of nickels onto the pavement while attempting a hand-to-hand coin toss through the Starbucks drive-up window.  I would drive away before collecting fallen pieces of silver off the ground…unless, of course, I was in dire need of caffeine.  There are few times in my life where I would have crawled around on oil-stained pavement for a Café Mocha.   

Almost everyone I know has a coin collection area in their car.  Mine is the ashtray, now spilling over into the cup holder.  Every once in a while I do an empty-out into the larger, more impressive coin collection jar that gracefully decorates my kitchen counter.   


When the jar fills up, the coins get emptied into their final resting place – a cardboard box under the counter.  Every few years, I head to Coin Star for a cash-in.  The amount is usually shockingly high.  I’m also super relieved that my change box is finally empty!  I smile to myself and think…No More Change!!   

But then it happens…I head out with my new crisp bills and hand them over to cashiers…to waiters…to bartenders.  And what do I get back…a coin.   


It goes from purse…to ashtray…to jar…to box.  Blah!  

That’s the thing about change.  It’s always collecting somewhere.  Penny by penny.  Quarter by quarter.  Adding up fast without us even noticing.  It feels soooo good when our collection jars and boxes are empty, but they don’t stay empty for long.  

As I head into the last weekend of 39th year and endure the funny cards and taunts from friends about having to face a 4 as the first number of my age, I’ve been thinking about change.  Change can’t be stopped and we shouldn’t try to stop it.  If we wish that things would stay just like they are…or, if we long for how things used to be…we will drive ourselves crazy.  

Mrs. Gump says that life is like a box of chocolates.  I say that life is like trading in a $5 bill for an espresso and $1.23 in change.  Every day, we trade in our time for experiences…and with them…come change.  Let’s live life with all of the vibrancy and vitality that we can give it.  Let’s remember that change is supposed to happen.  Otherwise, life would be kinda boring…wouldn’t it?   

 What have been the biggest changes in your life?  Do you have any tips about how to embrace change in positive ways?

When Roles Reverse

I spent the past week wishing that I had a magical human cloning machine.  They’ve done it for sheep don’t ya know.  Yes, world, I wanted two or three of me walking around on this planet.  Why?  Cause one just wasn’t nearly enough.

I spent the week juggling work and spending time at the hospital with my Dad.

Waiting in rooms…

…sporting the ever-so-fashionable “Cancer Sucks” Bondi Band

Reading signs…

Staring at doors waiting for doctors to appear.…

And acting like a comfortable visitor…

Learning the news that a parent is sick is not easy.  I know.  The role of parent/child gets turned on its head faster than you can say Jack Robinson, and you’re suddenly in the role of caregiver and supporter. 

Being there for a parent when they really need you is something that lots of children experience in their lifetime.  When and if this time will ever come for you…who knows.  It hit me before 40, but it’s hitting my brother at 27.  That’s young in my book.  Others don’t confront this situation until their 60s or later, and some never will.

My parents played a big part in shaping who I am today.  They influenced the development of my BACKBONE and helped establish my morals and values.   I also have Dad’s ridiculous sense of humor and Mom’s cautionary approach to trying new things.  Plus, probably tons of other quirks that I either credit to them or curse them for passing on through their stupid genetic merge. 

Caring for a parent (when you are so used to them being there for you instead), is a major wake up call to the precious thing called life.  A big alarm bell goes off reminding you to make every day count.  Beep, Beep, Beep…  Only this time, you can’t hit the snooze. 

Did your parents play a large role in shaping who you are as person?  If you weren’t raised by your biological parents, who most influenced your life? 

Boxing a Chameleon, Part 1

If you’ve read my About page, then you know that I don’t like it when people try to put me in a box.  Does it look like I could fit into a box?  I warn you not to try. I aint gonna fit

You know the scene.  You’re at a dinner party and meet someone new.  Within the first five minutes they ask The Question or pose The Statement.  If you’re new to the blog ,what I’m saying is that people want your stats.  That’s the info that would flash across the TV screen and under your head shot when the sports reporter is talking about your performance in the game of life.  The usual…

Name, occupation, age, marital status, hometown, income bracket, religion, political party, education, and a few little fun facts. 

The unfortunate thing is that once someone has your stats, they’ll pair that info with assumptions they’ve made based on your looks and Bam!, they think they know you.  They’ve built your box.  Do this to me and I’ll quickly sound the game show buzzer for a wrong answer.  Errrrr…. Try AgainYou can’t box a chameleon.

I have a lot of different interests and find myself in different settings all the time.  Maybe it comes from growing up in a middle-lower class working family and climbing clawing my way up the corporate ladder, but I’m at ease and comfortable in very diverse environments.  And, it’s a genuine feeling of ease. 

You could meet me on the street…

in a crowd…

dropping from the sky…

at work in a man’s world…at home being a wife…or even at an elegant black tie affair…

So, where do I fit in?  If you met me in any one of those situations, you would make assumptions.  You would box me.  That’s human nature.  We crave definition. 

A few ex-friends have dropped me like a hot potato when they discovered that I no longer fit into the box they designed for me.  That caused a lot of confusion in my life.  I was always questioning who I was and trying to define myself – trying to squeeze into a box.  Any box. 

So, I picked a nice sturdy box and lived in it for a while.  Let’s call it the Upper-Middle Class (Boring) Lifestyle Box.  I stopped doing things that didn’t fit the mold.  It was dark in that box.  There wasn’t enough air.  And, my back ached…all the time.

Enter stage right – early onset of a mid-life crisis.  I wanted needed out of that  box.  I had been in there too long.  That’s when I began some soul searching and the idea for The Chameleon’s Backbone sprung to life.  The box didn’t define me.  It confined me.

[Sidebar to guys in the audience – most of us face mid-life identity issues.  Buying a corvette, shaving your head, and ditching your wife for a 23-year old chick named Candi is not a productive use of this time.  Geesh – get a grip!]

So, here I am…heading full steam ahead to my 40th birthday.  My box is gone – thank God.  So far, I’ve come to the conclusion that regardless of what I’m doing, how I’m dressed, or what group of people I happen to be with, I am still the same me, carried around in the same body, having the same values, supported by the same BACKBONE.  My environment can change all it wants, but it doesnt mean I have to change to fit in.  My chameleon nature is genuine and is only happening on the outside.  Inside, I am solidly me.  It took a long time for me to figure that out.  No more play-acting.  No more boxes.

Have you ever felt limited because people put you in a box?

Graves and Phantoms

Some things are hard to say out loud. 

Is there something you’re dealing with that you just can’t bear to hear yourself say out loud?   Do you think that maybe, just maybe, if you say it, then you’ll have to acknowledge to yourself that it’s true?  Is it something scary, something sad, something that you can’t change no matter how much you wish it were different?       

© Kathy Wynn


 I have one.       

My mom is dying.   There, I said it.  Now it’s out there, out of my head and into yours.  It was hard to say.  I suppose it wasn’t that hard for you to hear because you don’t know her, she isn’t your mom, but I’m sure it made you uncomfortable, even if just a little.       

I think I understand why it’s hard for me to say certain things out loud — things that are true, but that I wish weren’t.  I call these my Grave TruthsThey are things that…      

  1. I can’t change and are completely out of my control;
  2. Are serious matters;
  3. I don’t fully understand “why” and probably never will;
  4. Other people would be uncomfortable talking about; and
  5. No response could possibly help to make me feel any better.

We all face Grave Truths at different points in our lives.  As time passes, these truths may get easier to face and accept, but they can never be changed.  I can’t change the fact that my mom is dying.  That is a Grave Truth.      

I’ve heard many of my friends talk about things like they are Grave Truths, when in fact they are not.  I call these Phantom TruthsPhantoms do not meet #1 and #2 listed above.  Phantom Truths are things that can be changed and improved, like…       

  • a bad habit or out of control addiction;
  • an eating disorder;
  • a bad financial situation;
  • an unsatisfying job;

Or, situations that are not serious, like…getting gray hair (cue the horror movie scream – aahhhhhhh!).  Trust me, finding a gray hair and other signs of aging are not that serious.  We’ll be talking about coping with the number of candles on your next birthday cake in future posts.  My 30th birthday was very hard on me — too hard!   

Don’t let Phantom Truths fool you into thinking that you are powerless over them.  Often, simply recognizing that change is possible is half the battle!  

If there is something going on in your life that is hard to say out loud, look at the list above.  Do #1 and #2 apply?  If not, it’s a Phantom!  Muscle up the courage to start making a change.  You are the director, casting-agent, and lead role in your own life story.  Make it one you’ll be happy about.    

One last note.  Remember that no matter how many Grave and Phantom Truths are lurking around in your life, they cannot change who you are.  Even with serious stuff you will always be you, no matter what is happening around you or to your body.  If you think there is simply too much to bear, call on the strengths of your BACKBONE.  

How do you deal with the Grave Truths in your life?  Are there any Phantom Truths that you have the power to change? 

Check back on Friday for an uplifting launch into the weekend!  I’m heading to Pittsburgh Steelers Training Camp and will report back about the experience.  And photos, lots and lots of photos…..