Friday, October 23, 2015

Martin Sheen for President!

Remember West Wing?  Remember what a kick-ass president Jed Bartlett was?  We should call Martin Sheen right now and see if he'd run for president, and I'll tell you why.

Our president should be funny.  Maybe not stand-up-comedian funny, but have a sense of humor for cryin’ out loud.  Jed Bartlett quotes:
  • When his aid wanted to date his daughter:  “Just remember these two things – she’s nineteen years old, and the 82nd Airborne works for me.”
  • On a particularly rough day:  “I’ll take the Indian ambassador in the Oval Office.  And then if you could just ask the Secret Service to step in and kill me.”
  • “I came to this hallowed chamber one year ago on a mission, to restore the American dream for all our people as we gaze at the vast horizon of possibilities open to us in the 21st century.  Wow, that was ambitious of me, wasn’t it?”
Our president should be smart and capable, yet know when to ask for help.  Jed Bartlett had a PhD and called shots from the situation room without breaking a sweat.  He also called the Butterball Hotline when he wasn't sure about cooking his stuffing.

Our president should be kind.  Jed Bartlett granted presidential pardons to two turkeys on Thanksgiving when he was only required to pardon one.

To quote Mike McCurry, a former press secretary for the Clinton administration, our president should possess "the compassion and integrity of Jimmy Carter, the shrewd decision-making and hard-nosed realism of Richard Nixon, the warmth and amiability of Bill Clinton, and the liberal passion of Teddy Kennedy."
Jed Bartlett was all that and a bag of chips.

But in all seriousness, to break it down in body parts…
  • Our president should have guts, because we have no idea what the next presidency might face.
  • Our president should have heart, to show compassion and understanding in the direst of circumstances.
  • Our president should have legs, to go the distance when the race for peace and prosperity has been long, and the finish line is still in the distance.
  • Our president should have eyes.  New eyes.  Not the same old way of looking at things.  Not the "tried and true" ways that have led to conflict and separation.  Our president should have eyes that see all people as one, all nations united, all dreams for peace a reality. 
And so should we all. 

Friday, July 31, 2015

Fear Not - the Future is RED!

I'm sitting at the local gourmet pizza place waiting for my salad, hoping for a quiet lunch so I can work on my novel.  Too bad.  One after another, a dozen elderly women toddle into the tiny room where I sit, and I am soon to realize it is the weekly Tuesday meeting of the Hysterical Ladies Society. 

Seven are wearing red hats, three have canes, all are smiling and laughing.  All are glowing with an inner beauty so that I can hardly stop looking at them.  Their eyes are bright and alert, and they have clearly dressed up for one another on this special day.  They don’t let their red hats dictate the color of their outfits.  Their colors are as vast and varied as a box of crayons.

One wears a lavender suit with a heavy jacket and complains of being cold.  I sit by the window wearing a paper thin peasant blouse and shorts, and am sweating like a whore in church on this July day.

The lavender lady is reluctant to hand over her empty Target bag to the lady beside her, worried she’ll need it to take food home to her dog.  In my pantry at home are at least a hundred plastic Target bags, and I wish I could hand them over to this funny lady who takes leftover pizza to her dog.  I imagine a white fluff ball of a mutt waiting at home for her, probably on a pillow.  He’s about to get pizza. 

The youngest of the women – eighty-five if she’s a day – orders a glass of wine and three others immediately follow.  One says, “You’ve been driving?”  She is incredulous, her eyes big behind her glasses, her lipsticked mouth turned down in disapproval.  This scares me.  I want to know what the chastised one drives and where she lives so I can avoid her.

One struggles to put on a sweater and says, “By the time I get dressed I feel like I’ve done a day’s work.”  They laugh and the one helping her into her sweater says, “We should go to Mexico!”  I picture her chasing young men in banana hammocks while trying to balance a Mai Tai in one hand and her cane in the other.  “I’m serious as a heart attack,” she says.  She is on oxygen, but she is clearly an instigator.
When did we begin to discount the elderly?  Why do we think they have nothing to offer?  I am dying to sit at their table with them.  I want to hear every one of their stories, learn their names, ask them where I can get a red hat.  I am fifty-seven and suddenly excited about being eighty.  Or ninety.  Or more.

I’m guessing that many – maybe all – have lost husbands.  Maybe some have even lost children.  But they are here, and they are dressed, and they are laughing.  They meet once a week to celebrate being alive, inspired, alert, and creative.  They are hysterical, but in the best sense of the word. 

As they were all arriving at the restaurant, two of them waved and called out to two others through the window.  Then turned, put their gray heads together, and said something nasty about one of the other women.  Something about whiskers.  Then they laughed and I thought of junior high girls.  Some things about us change.  Some things, not so much.

They are sassy, and feisty, and fabulous. As the Zen saying goes, “The butterfly has not days but moments, and somehow it is enough.”  We must remind ourselves to make this moment count.  This fabulous, red-hatted, overly-lipsticked moment. 

So save your Target bags, grab your red hat, and meet me at the pizza joint in thirty years.  I only hope I am half as cool as they are by then.  Seriously, where can I get a red hat?

Saturday, July 18, 2015



  It’s one of the first words we learn.  Usually spoken with enthusiasm and sometimes even urgency, it incites curiosity, wonder, and makes us, well…look!  We must remind ourselves never to become complacent about the beauty blooming all around us.  That would be a crime.  Unpunishable – like wearing a Speedo after the age of 50, or living in Canada and not understanding hockey rules – but still a crime.   

I recently spent the day at the top of the Red Tables – thanks to my friend Larry, who not only drove us up there and told us the names of all the flowers, but put a bench with blankets in the back of the truck so we could get the full effect of the views and the smells and the jaw-dropping beauty all around us.  Also with us was my longtime friend Junanne from Fort Worth.  We took a Texas girl up to 11,000 feet and she did great – way to go Junie!

And the word I heard most often that day was, “Look!”  Usually followed by, “Wow!”  The Gore Mountain range, the Elk range, the Collegiates, wildflowers, deer – so much beauty it was hard to know just where to look. 

Sure, it’s easy to get busy and forget to look around at our gorgeous planet.  Most of us work, or go to school, or take care of families – or all three.  But the opportunities to look are endless.  Not just on a hike, or bike ride, or from the top of a mountain – but while waiting for soccer practice to end.  Or standing at the bus stop.  Or sitting at a stop light.  So what if the guy behind you honks and gives you the one-finger wave.  Feel sorry for him.  He just doesn’t get it. 

Channel your inner five-year-old.  Remind yourself to look!

Saturday, June 20, 2015

My Mom “Likes” me!

My beautiful amazing mom “likes” me on Facebook.  She said she wished there was a button for “very, very much.”

Asking people to like me on Facebook takes me back to the sticky hand-holding friendships of grade school – when being liked was a matter of life and death and wearing the wrong socks could bump you to the “not cool” table.

How did we survive the growing up years?  It's a miracle we made it through, but it was all worth it to arrive at the grown-up friendships of today.  I am constantly amazed and humbled by the kindness, generosity, and love of friends – and count my mom as #1 on that list.

My funny, kooky, brilliant, beautiful friends have stood by me on the long road to being published.  They have held me (and Mom) on their strong shoulders as we lost my dad and both of my brothers.  They celebrate every little success with me as if it were their own (it is), and tell me when I have spinach in my teeth (most of the time).  They help me decide who will play each of my characters in the movie, and spend inordinate amounts of time deciding what we will all wear to the Oscars. 

They would help me hide a body (hopefully not necessary) and stood by me when cops pulled me over for driving through a barricade (kind of a long story).

If you don’t have good friends, try to find some.  If you haven’t been a good friend lately, maybe change that.  And if you know someone who could use a fabulous person like you as a friend, think about adopting them.  The to-do list can wait one more day.  Call a friend, send a funny card, meet for lunch, have a laugh.

At the end of the day, your “likes” on Facebook will come and go, but your true friends will walk with you down this windy, pot-hole filled road of life, to the end.

Saturday, June 13, 2015

Mean People Really Do Suck…or Living, Breathing Free Radical

No, silly…a free radical isn’t the same thing as an uninhibited liberal.  In the simplest terms, free radicals are molecules responsible for aging and tissue damage, and maybe even disease. They float around and steal electrons from other molecules, which in turn causes that molecule to become a free radical, and the snowball effect ensues, creating havoc for your cells. 

Free radicals can cause damage to your cardiovascular system, immune system, brain, skin and organs – just to name a few.  They can cause cancer and most experts agree they lead to aging.
Those same experts would have you avoid smoking and drinking, eat a healthy diet, and get some exercise.  But what is one of the biggest troublemakers?  Stress.  And what is one of the biggest causes of stress?  Mean people.
We all know a few mean people, those energy vampires who try to suck the life out of everything good.  If you can, avoid these people at all costs.  But if you must be around them, try to limit the amount of time you spend with them, and remember to breathe.  Just breathe.  Take three deep breaths and feel sorry for them.  To be a mean person must be a miserable life.

And if you are a mean person?   Knock it off!  You’re shortening your own life, and maybe even the lives of the people around you.  Do you really want that on your conscience?

Saturday, June 6, 2015

The Circle of Life is Killing Me

If I feed the fox, will it stop trying to eat the baby magpies?  If I let the deer eat the columbines in my front garden, will they leave the tomatoes alone in the back garden?  If I leave milk out for the cats, will they stop going after the chipmunks?  If I leave apples and strawberries out for the hawks, will they stop trying to eat the cats? Honestly, this whole thing is wearing me out.  

Here in the mountains near Aspen, everyone tells you not to feed the wildlife.  We have lots of bears, and they are always hungry.  They can sniff out a dried up Kind bar in the glove box of your car from 3 miles away.

But also, according to experts, we need to leave the animals alone, because they know what they’re doing.  And we, clearly, don’t.  When we try to step in, we invariably screw things up.  Here are a just a few examples of our brilliance:

In the 1990’s a crate of 1,000 giant African snails was smuggled from Nigeria into the United States and sold to exotic pet dealers.  A single one of these baseball sized slugs can eat an entire head of lettuce in one sitting.  (will someone please explain to me how a 16-ounce snail makes a good pet?) 

Continuing our strange exotic pet theme, walking catfish were imported from Southeast Asia as aquarium fish in the 1960’s.  They escaped from breeding tanks in Florida.  These strange fish are able to breathe and crawl on land, and aggressively go after other fish and wildlife.

The kudzu plant was introduced to the South at the New Orleans Exposition in 1883.  A fast-growing vine, it quickly became a favorite of Southerners looking for cover for their porches, or vegetation to feed their livestock.  It’s now known as the vine that ate the South, and there’s even a poem warning Southerners to close their windows at night to keep the vine out.  It has become an invasive menace and now covers more than 7 million acres in the south.

The wise guys (spiritually advanced people) say that there is perfect harmony in the universe, if we will just leave it alone and stop messing with it.  

My mom had a tiny hummingbird nest in one of her trees.  Last year the mother came back to the nest, and Mom witnessed the miracle of two babies hatching, growing, and taking their first flight.  This spring, the nest blew out of the tree in a storm.  Knowing how much she loved watching them, I agreed with her that using Gorilla Glue to reattach the nest was a great idea.  You’ll be shocked to learn that the mother hummer wasn’t impressed. 

You can’t fool Mother Nature.  And you can’t fool a mother hummer.  I bet even the gorillas are laughing at us. 

Sunday, May 24, 2015

Voila! Something Bad For You!

I don’t like to brag, but I am really, really good at taking a perfectly healthy food and turning it into something dreadfully fattening and not the least bit good for you.  Sure, I eat kale, but I sauté it in butter.  Quinoa with black beans?  Love it!  Smothered in cheese and sour cream.  Green tea?  Absolutely.  Hand me the honey. 
I can walk into a health food store and within minutes sniff out the one thing that probably shouldn’t be in a health food store.  Healthy food?  Not so fast.
Case in point:  Today I went to my favorite local health food store for oranges, apples, kale, and coconut oil.  But I accidently bought Dark Fudge Sea Salt Carmel Drizzle popcorn.  At the checkout stand I got behind one of those people.  You know, the ones who would rather eat razor blades than sugar.  She took inventory of my cart and sadly shook her head.  
If any of the following foods are considered fruits or vegetables, I am a total rock star at eating healthy: 
the aforementioned popcorn
banana chocolate chip muffin
zucchini bread
carrot cake,
apple fritters
peach schnapps (kidding)

Being a vegetarian for me means not eating creatures.  But unless cookie dough is a health food, I could maybe use a little work on my diet.  I wonder if I could check myself in to the Betty Crocker clinic to try to get clean.