Archive for the ‘Memory’ Category

Ghost Signs

The next time you’re in a town, large or small, look around for Ghost Signs

A Ghost Sign is a hand-painted advertising sign that’s been on a building for a long time.  The colors are faded, the surface is worn, and the words have no relation to the building’s current use.

Can you make out this one?

Berkley Springs WV

Ghost Signs remain on  buildings for a variety of reasons.  Maybe the owner thinks the sign has some cool, nostalgic appeal.  Or, maybe the building owner is indifferent or lazy and hasn’t gotten around to covering up the message. 

I like Ghost Signs.  They give a hint of the past while not interfering with the building’s current, modern use.

S Boston WV 2011-04 (TZ) (18)

People have Ghost Signs too.  I think of them as memories from our past that time has faded….the types of things that don’t (or shouldn’t) have any relevance to our present life other than nostalgia.

The messaging on our personal Ghost Signs can vary widely.  The pink dress that your mother made you wear…when you wanted to go outside and play in pants.  The bad performance evaluation at work….when your boss was blind to your brilliance and talent.  The boy who got away…before putting a ring on your finger. 

At the time these messages were painted on your life, they called for attention; but now looking back, their vivid colors have lost their luster.

When we apply a fresh coat of paint to our Ghost Signs, or never let them fade in the first place…we allow our past to unduly infiltrate our present.  By doing this, we imply to ourselves and everyone around us that the message is still relevant and that we haven’t moved on.

I know a few people who hold on tight to irrelevant memories and blame past experiences for ruining their present-day life.

It’s not where you came from that matters most…it’s where you are now and where you’re going.

Ghost signs don’t need to be forgotten, but they should be allowed to naturally fade…by the sunbeams that enter our lives each and every day.

Do you have any faded Ghost Signs?  Are there any that  you continually repaint?

R: Trouble Remembering? Ruh Roh!

This morning,  I had a freak-out moment while procrastinating about getting ready for work. 

I’ve felt sluggish the past few weeks.  Mental fogginess has set in.  Also, I’ve been having trouble remembering things.  Ruh Roh…that indicates a problem.

(C) Hanna Barbera

There are a few things that I do ritually in the morning:

1.  drink a cup of coffee; and

2.  watch the morning news.

With a mug of coffee in hand and the national news on a commercial break, I flipped the channel…to an infomercial.  That was a smart move because everyone knows that infomercials are much more informative than regular commercials (cough).

The program fooled me at first because it was disguised as a talk show.  A smart-looking doctor sat on one side of the table.  A well-dressed host sat opposite.  They were talking about improving Mental Edge.  Hummm…that interested me.


The smart-looking doctor said that…by age 4o…up to 40% of brain power is lost.

I’m 40!  I’m having brain fog! Yesterday, I couldn’t remember someone’s name 2 minutes after they introduced themselves.  Last week, I forgot where I put my keys.  I haven’t been able to balance my bank account.  Aghh!  40% of my brain must be toast! 


Then…the well-dressed host introduced the star of the show… a miracle cure for mental clarity.  A bottle of pills for $19.99.  And, if I called right away, they’d double the deal.

So, the “doctor” told everyone watching channel 19 this morning that 40% of our brains were gone.  Why?  To scare people into calling the 1-800 number.  Please, don’t ever tell me that I only have half a brain…unless of course you know me…and believe it to be true.  😦

To help clear brain fog, increase oxygen flow in your body.  Take a walk or do some form of exercise.  Try it – I swear it helps.

What’s the status of your mental edge?  Do you have any advice for keeping it sharp?

L: Linkin Park Lyrics

It is well documented that music stimulates a person’s memory.  Why?  Because sound is a sensory input that activates specific parts of the brain. 

When I hear certain songs, vivid memories come flooding back.  Does the same thing happen to you?

A few weeks ago, as I turned on my car engine to begin the drive to be with my mom in her last days, Waiting for the End by Linkin Park was playing on the radio.  I have a feeling that, for better or worse, this song will always bring back the memory of that drive.

Here’s the video that shows the lyrics.  The words to the chorus are below.

Waiting for the end to come
Wishing I had strength to stand
This is not what I had planned
It’s out of my control….
Flying at the speed of light
Thoughts we’re spinning in my head
So many things were left unsaid
It’s hard to let you go…
(Oh!) I know what it takes to move on,
I know how it feels to lie,
All I wanna do
Is trade this life for something new
Holding on to what I haven’t got
Sitting in an empty room
Trying to forget the past
This was never meant to last,
I wish it wasn’t so…

Does any song or piece of music have an important meaning to you?  Does music stimulate your memory? 

If you liked this post, you may also like Great-Full-Dead.

The Junk In My Trunk

Before you turn away or get too excited…this post is not about my…


The absolute greatest part about hosting The Chameleon’s Backbone…besides using myself as a lab rat for BACKBONE testing and strength training…is YOU.

As far as I can tell, there are about 60 of you out there reading on a regular basis.  The number doesn’t matter.  What matters most is that we’re pondering thoughts together about ourselves and our lives.  We’re learning who we are beneath our skin…realizing that our uniqueness is awesome…and musing over how we express ourselves to the outside world.    

Some of your comments on prior posts have been so incredibly insightful…and funny…and thought-provoking that  I’ve been tempted to write some very long replies.  Instead, I’m picking a few recent comments and will be continuing the conversation here on the main page.

So without further adieu and thanks to Joanne at One Woman’s Eye for inspiring…

The Junk in My Trunk

In the post A Plastic Santa and the Red Velvet Cake, I showed you my massive collection of holiday decorations.  Joanne commented that she tends to hold onto things that have sentimental value.  That got me thinking about the sentimental things I own. 

I looked around my house and saw this…


…a musical angel with the chipped wing that sits on my fireplace mantle.  I don’t remember when I got this, but I was a very young girl.  Looking at her, memories flood my mind.  Like the pink shag carpet in the bedroom I shared with my sister (it was the 70s). 

But the real juicy stuff…the most sentimental things I own from childhood…are not suitable for display on the fireplace mantle.  They are all in a trunk.  Joanne’s comment inspired me to lift its lid and look inside. 

 The inventory:

  • prom dress
  • baby book
  • graduation gowns
  • Ted (a.k.a. my teddy bear)
  • various newspaper and magazine articles
  • a Raggedy Ann & Andy blanket
  • my high school letter

Like I said…the junk in my trunk is not suitable to display.  I mean, what would people say if they walked into my living room and saw this above the fireplace…


And before you say that saving sentimental items is a female thing, I assure you that it’s not.  Guys save baseball cards, trophies, and other important things.  Even teddy bears.  I know because I also lifted the lid of my husband’s trunk.  And guess what I found…

What sentimental items do you still have from childhood?  Why are they special to you?

A HUGE THANK YOU to every reader.  The Chameleon’s Backbone is not about me.  It’s about us…about you.  I’m simply hosting.  Your comments are an extension of each post and every comment is appreciated and accepted, even if you don’t necessarily agree with me.  After all, if we were all like-minded, life would be pretty predictable and boring.  

Stay tuned for future posts inspired by your comments.

The End of Year Break-Up

Ending a relationship over the holidays is very difficult.  But, when you’re not happy and believe deep in your heart that you will never be happy, breaking up is the right thing to do. 

I took some time this past week to reflect on a close relationship that I’ve been in for about a year…

…and I decided that it needs to end.

Although deciding to break-up was a difficult decision, an even harder thing to decide is how to tell my soon-to-be Ex.

  • Face-to-face? 
  • Over the phone?
  • By writing a letter? 
  • By asking a friend to break the news for me?

I know that sending a Dear John letter is very impersonal, but in this case, I think a letter is the right way to go. 


Dear 2010,

I am writing this letter to say good-bye.  We had some good times during our year together…and I will remember them fondly.  But we argue too much, which hasn’t been good for the relationship.  You were always testing me.  I was always fighting back.  You were always trying to keep me down.  I always wanted to outshine you. 

I realize that you may want to know why I’m breaking up with you.  Without going into a lot of painful detail, I’ll just say that all of the classic reasons are in play.

1.  You didn’t get along with my family.  In fact, you caused us a lot of pain 

2.  You were not good with money and your future financial stability didn’t look very promising. 

3.  You were always good about giving, but even better about taking away.

4.  Our political and religious views were too different.

5.  And lastly, you had a lot of passion and potential, but lacked the stamina to keep it up.  And everyone knows that when there are long-term problems in that department, it’s time to call it quits. 

Things started out so good, but the chemistry faded.  The spark is gone.  It’s time for both of us to move on and find happiness elsewhere.  You were a good year, but we just weren’t meant to be together forever. 

Please don’t contact me again.  I’ve hired a matchmaker and already have a blind date lined up for Friday night.  His name is 2011.



  How will you remember 2010?  Was it a good year for you?



If you’re looking for music from the 60s (yah, man) or photos of hippies in tie dye…you’re in the wrong place of cyberspace.  But, please continue reading…you just might like the non-musical and drug-free version of self-discovery…

I usually end posts with a question.  Today, let’s start with a question, which is one of my favorites from The Book of Questions

If you could live one year of your life in total happiness, but afterward not remember it, would you? 

Think about it.  Would you?  If you’re inclined to comment now, go ahead (at the top)…but come back and continue reading.  If you need a minute to ponder your answer… go ahead…take your time…my virtual self is not in a hurry…I’ll just sit here peacefully and wait.

There have been a ton of photos posted on the Internet of the beautiful Northeastern U.S. fall foliage.  It inspired me to grab my camera and go for a walk in our local nature park. 


I looked for colorful leaves, but didn’t find very many.  It smelled like fall.  It felt like fall.  But, to tell the truth, the trees were green and yellow…and the fallen leaves were mostly brown.  Fall is different every year.  Last year was awesomely colorful and I wished it would stay that way until spring.  This year, not so colorful…but skipping winter would still be a-okay with me. 

I hate to think that the dreaded 4-letter word s-n-o-w will arrive in a few months.  I always take a vacation in the winter and escape to a warm place with sun, sand, and room service.  Each year, the trip comes and goes too fast…just like the fall leaves.  I prepare in advance and make Great plans.  The trip is always Full of fun and relaxation.  Then it is over and Dead and I’m on a plane heading back home to winter-ville. 

I call these parts of my life Great-Full-Dead experiences.  I anticipate them, enjoy them to their fullest, and then poof…they’re gone.  I’ve thought about the question above numerous times and have changed my answer a few times.  When I answer yes, I want a year of non-remembered happiness, I think of the year like a long Great-Full-Dead experience.  But, when I answer no, I don’t want to give up a full year of memory, it’s because looking at those vacation photos makes my heart leap with joy. 

A lot of things in life don’t last…but our memories carry on inside us forever. 

How would you answer the question above?

Next Monday, October 18, The Chameleon’s Backbone will be featuring a book review and first-ever Read My Mind Giveaway for a free copy of the book.  Be sure to participate next week for your chance to win!

The Name Game

I met a lot of new people this week.  In fact, just yesterday, I met exactly 18 new people.  I know because I counted them.  There were staring at me with utter En..Thu..Zee..As..Em.. while I gave a presentation at work.  My co-worker was taking notes while I was yammering on and facilitating conversation.  Beside each note, she wrote in parenthesis who was talking….    

  1. Let’s consider a new funding strategy. (Stan)
  2. We need more public outreach. (Marybeth)
  3. What about improving public safety? (Julie)

What?!!?!!  How could she possibly remember all of those names?  Without stickers on their left breasts that read Hello My Name is_______ or names written with Sharpie pen on their foreheads, knowing the names of 18 people I’ve never met before is not going to happen in a fast 10 minutes.  Not in my world.  I know there are ways to do it (like associating something about their appearance with their name) but this never works for me.  It usually goes something like this…   

New Person Enters Room   

Him:  Hi Tracy.  My name is Robert, but you can call me Bob…Bob Anderson.   

Me:  Hi Bob, nice to meet you.  Please have a seat and make sure you grab an agenda.  We’ll be starting shortly.    

Convo #1…Inside My Head  
  • Do the name association game thingy – hurry!!
  • Bob, Bob, Bob, Bob…B is for Bob.
  • Think of an association….quick!
  • Okay, Bob’s head is shaped like an apple.
  • Bobbing for apples is funny.
  • The man with the apple-shaped head is Bob.

New Person Enters Room   

Her:  Hi.  Sorry I’m late.  I got caught in traffic.  I’m Dierdra Williamstien.   

Me:  Glad you could make it and don’t worry about the traffic.  Happens to me all the time.  Please take a seat…and make suuuure you grab an agenda.   

Convo # 2….Inside My Head  
  • Again, do the name association game thing-er-ma-gig.
  • Dierdra, Dierdra… 
  • Her name sounds like deer, she was in her car, maybe Deer in Headlights.  
  • Yes, that will work, her eyes are a little wide.
  • The lady with the wide eyes – her name is Deer. 
  • No!  Deer-DRA!  Don’t forget the Dra.  Like DRAcula.  I’d get wide eyes if I saw Dracula.
  • Yes, that will definitely work.  Got it.
  • The lady with the wide eyes – her name is Deer-Dra.

Problem is, once the meeting starts, I look around the room and see people with apple shaped heads, wide eyes, yellow shirts, spiky hair, cute jeans, and pointy noses.  In a professional meeting, I can’t possibly point to someone and say “yes, you, Ms. Wide Eyed Applehead”…which is usually all I can remember….  

© Andres Rodriguez

Do you have a good short-term memory?  Can you remember names?