Wayback Wednesday- Mission To Marry Part Two

This post continues the story of my quest for love and marriage that I started last week.  I recommend that you read last week’s post ( Wayback Wednesday- Mission To Marry (Part One) – Terri LaBonte- Reinventing Myself in Retirement ) first. In full disclosure, I wrote this essay 10 years ago, so specific facts (for instance, ages, shared life experiences, etc.) are no longer accurate.

The realization that it was okay if I ended a relationship because the man just was not the person I wanted did nothing to stop my search for love and marriage.  I took a moment to remind myself that I wanted more than a husband.  I also wanted happiness.  Then, I decided to up my game.  I attended an adult education class called “How To Meet The Right Person.” At the end of the class, I signed up for private lessons from the instructor.  Imagine!  I was plunking down $75 a week for private tutoring in the art of meeting people who might like the real me and I might be able to enjoy without twisting my personality into a pretzel.

My dating guru suggest some strategies and gave me some assignments.  He even set me up on some “practice dates” with other clients.  In one situation, he sat at a nearby table and gave us feedback about our presentation and dating skills.  I almost expected one of those electronic score boards that you see in the Olympics.  At any minute, I figured a blinking “2.1” would come up on the wall in the restaurant to tell the whole world how far away I was from a perfect “10”.)   It was all incredibly stressful and emotionally draining.  I was still experiencing all these situations as me trying to fix myself to be good enough for this man rather than realizing I was supposed to be deciding if this man was good enough for me.

Just as I was summoning courage to discontinue my private dating lessons and cut off the guru’s $75 per week, he made one last suggestion.  He mentioned a singles dance he thought I might attend.  The event was what I referred to as “the pudgy people’s dance.”  It was sponsored by an organization that celebrated women with “more ample” figures.  I was little skeptical and, to be honest, more than a little horrified that the “secret” that I am overweight was out of the bag.  Still, I told myself, if I was going to pay this guy $75 a week, I should at least try to get my money’s worth. 

The night of the dance, I entered the room tentatively.  Within minutes, I was surrounded by gentlemen of all sizes, ethnicities, and ages asking me to dance.  I relaxed.  I had fun.  I talked to people.  I set down my worries about not being good enough, since this bunch seemed to think I was plenty good enough.  I stopped trying to be the woman trying to attract a husband and started being one of the gang. 

That night, I met a wonderful man.  A man who, specifically, is wonderful for me.  We both loved movies and had some of the same favorites.  We both loved Las Vegas.  We both enjoyed some of the same music.  We both had similar religious values.  We both were financially sound.  We both had successful lives with career, family, and friends.  We each had interests that we did not hold in common at the time, but that we could grow to enjoy together in the future. We were both wildly attracted to each other. 

It has been almost 16 years since that night.  We are still together.  Between us, we have lost three parents since we met, weathered illnesses and surgery, gone through job changes, and shared the sorrow of saying good-by to my elderly welsh corgi.  We work well together as a team and we play so joyfully that I cannot imagine how my world would keep moving should he not be in it.  He moved into my tiny, one-bedroom, one-bathroom condo nine years ago.  He has filled every inch of that small space with love. 

No, I still do not have the husband for whom I worked so hard.  I suppose you could say that my mission to marry has been a failure.  Now and again, there are times- when I watch a wedding on TV, or a friend gets married, or I am feeling a bit “not lovable enough to marry”- when I still dream of a proposal and of a wedding.  After all, if nothing else, there is something kinda ludicrous about calling a man your boyfriend when you are 52 years old and the “boy” in question is 60. 

More often, though, I understand that my mission to marry didn’t really fail.  Sometimes, on a mission, you do not accomplish what you wanted, but you do accomplish what you needed.  I may not have the husband, but there is no doubt in my mind that I have the happiness.

What are your thoughts?  Have you also experienced a “mission to marry?”  Please share your perspective by leaving a comment.  In the alternative, you can email me at terriretirement@gmail.com

Have a HAPPY day!

Terri/Dorry 😊

PS   For those of you who want to receive automated email notifications every time I post new content, please read Bonus Blog from yesterday.  I think I’ve figured out how to fix the glitch. 

Bonus Blog

For those of you who have been waiting with baited breathe for the second installment of Wayback Wednesday- Mission To Marry, I’ll be publishing that tomorrow morning. I wanted to try a little experiment today to see if I could bring my technological wanderings back into line.

Awhile back, I noticed that I was not getting the regular automated email reminders when I posted new content. I did not think too much about it. I figured it was something just with me, as I often get lost in techno-hell. However, in the last week, two of you wonderful readers have approached me with the same question. You are not receiving the automated notifications that there is another serving of Terri waiting for you in the blogosphere. Can’t have that. What gives?

I have spent many hours trying to figure this out. I have failed. I still do not know what gives. I do not know why my push notification feature pushed itself right out of my wordpress account (or is it jetpack?- I have a hard time telling what does what and which password goes with which- I do suffer for my art.) That is the bad news. The good news is I think I have found a tool to fix the problem or at least let me start the subscription service from scratch.

I know that there are about 30 of you who were receiving automated notification under whatever old system has abandoned us. If you get a notification when I post this piece, we are golden. If not, it looks like my workaround will mean you will need to resubscribe if you want to receive those notifications.

For anyone who did not previously subscribe for notifications and for those of you who did, but are not getting them now, there is a pretty easy way to get on board. There is a box to subscribe at the side of the homepage (under the long list of months since the beginning of the blog) if you are on a computer or at the very bottom of the scrolling on the homepage (if you are on a phone.) Please just include your email in the space provided. You will receive an email asking you to confirm your intentions. Once you click on that, you should be in business.

Thank you for your support and patience! Love you!

Terri/Dorry 🙂

Did it work? Could some of you let me know if you received the notification?

Wayback Wednesday- Mission To Marry (Part One)

This begins a two-part essay that will be the last in my “Wayback Wednesday” series.  In full disclosure, I wrote this essay 10 years ago, so specific facts (for instance, ages, shared life experiences, etc.) are no longer accurate.

After my husband dumped me (or, as I prefer to think of it now, “released me for good behavior”) nearly seven years into a bad marriage, I stumbled through a serious of unfortunate relationships.  I was engaged for about half an hour to a lithium-resistant fellow on disability for his bipolar disorder.  I spent several years dating a guy whose idea of a romantic birthday gift was a rain gage.  I had dinner with a thrice married man and his young daughter nearly every night for a couple of years.  I was imagining a married life in which our little threesome would be a happy family.  He was imagining me babysitting his daughter while he dated other women. 

Eventually, I came to the same sad conclusion that women have been coming to for centuries.  There’s gotta be a better way to run a love life. 

Although I never would have admitted it, I was always one of those women who defines herself too much by her relationship status.  Oh, in the light of the “real world,” I said all the right things.  I grew up in the first blush of the modern feminism movement.  I graduated college in the eighties and went blithely into the workforce, wearing shoulder pads in my polyester business suits.  I knew that my happiness and power were supposed to come from within me and they were within my control.  I knew a modern woman was supposed to concentrate on her own career, her own interests, and her own personal growth.  I knew I was supposed to believe that, if I did all those things, love and marriage would take care of themselves.

However, in the darkest part of my soul, I doubted.  I doubted so loudly, I could not hear all the wise, conventional axioms about modern womanhood I knew I was supposed to believe.  No matter how strongly a voice inside me tried to insist, “you should be yourself and make your own happiness” and “when the time is right and you are ready for it, love will find you,” an uglier voice rebutted vociferously.  That ugly voice said, “no one will ever fall in love with you” and “you are not normal or adequate enough to find a husband and have children.” That ugly voice won the shouting match, I am sorry to say.

Therefore, when a boy I met in high school asked me to marry him (largely because he wanted sex and good Catholic girls didn’t put out without at least an engagement ring,) I accepted.  My acceptance of his proposal mystified everyone who knew me.  The common opinion was that me getting engaged to this guy defied all logic.  It did not defy logic at all.  When you are certain that no one will ever want you and you are sure that the only way to be happy is to get married, it is perfectly logical to accept a proposal from pretty much anyone.

As you might imagine, given its genesis, the marriage did not work.  Eventually, my husband left me and I was again alone.  His departure convinced me that the secret was out that I was “too” something or “not enough” something to enter that “young girls club” of marriage and family that I read about and saw on television.  I was too ugly or too inept or not sexy enough or not nurturing enough or something.  I did not know how to fix any of those things.  I also did not understand that the only way to fix them was within myself and not by snaring another man.  My campaign began in earnest.  I was on a mission to marry. 

For the next several years of my life, I tried numerous techniques to find love.  I tried personal ads in the newspaper.  For all you youngsters out there, this was the primeval equivalent of internet dating.  I tried joining clubs.  As it turns out, all the clubs I chose seemed to be already populated by many single women.  Not that there aren’t men out there who enjoy ceramics-painting and small art house theater, but it seems clubs centered around these pursuits are often magnets for desperate women who just need to get out more.  I tried going to singles dances.  I experience some success with this activity because the venues were usually dimly lit.  I am sure I would have fared better in that environment if my appearance did not so readily remind single men of the “before” pictures in TV commercials for various self-improvement products.  I tried hanging out at church after services.  Shame on me for using the House of the Lord as a spiritual singles bar!  It didn’t work, anyway.  I tried flirting with men at work, which was just plain terrifying.  I even tried joining a professional video dating service.  I do plead a certain amount of innocence on that one.  I won the membership in a drawing.  It would have been gut-wrenching to actually pay for something so unsuccessful.

I remember going to one singles dance sponsored by a club at a church.  I found myself to be the belle of the ball that night.  I danced constantly and had masculine company at every turn.  Several asked for my phone number.  One invited himself to my upcoming 35th birthday celebrations.  I had a line of admirers to walk me to my car at the evening’s end.

The next day my mother called me.  “So, how did it go?” she asked.  I paused and asked tentatively, “Does Daddy like me?”  “What?!” she replied, “Of course he likes you.”  “Well, so does every other 70-year-old man in the country,” I replied.  It says something about my state of mind that I was considering trying to lure one of these lovely gentlemen twice my age down the aisle. 

This incident highlights a hallmark of that place in my life.  I thought I was taking control of my own fate and doing things that would get me what I wanted with such single-minded ferocity… a husband.  How could I look slimmer?  How could I present as sexier? How could I make small talk more easily and breezily? How could I appear more “normal” and subdue my naturally childlike (and now, can I say… charming?) personality?  And, above all, how could I hide my addiction to all things Tinker Bell?

The real story is that I never really did think about what I wanted.  I was always too busy plotting to figure out how I could present the traits the single men out there wanted and how to hide the parts of me that I suspected would be unappealing to a prospective husband, I never bothered to evaluate the men who I were so sure were evaluating me and finding me wanting. 

When I hit my wall after parting company with the guy who bought me a rain gage for a birthday present, I realized there had to be a better way.  I realized that, while the break-up with Mr. Rain Gage had been mutual, it was I who initiated it.  Why did I initiate it?  He was a perfectly nice man.  It just occurred to me that he wasn’t what I wanted! It was a novel concept.  I was alone, not because I was somehow lacking or because the potential husband saw past my façade and realized I wasn’t what he wants.  I was alone because the man I was seeing wasn’t what I needed.  I realized it was okay.

To be continued….

Terri/Dorry 🙂

Giving Is FUN-damental!

Many of us grew up hearing the slogan “Reading Is FUN-damental,” meaning that being able to read is key to success in life. Being able to read allows us to learn all kinds of things and contribute to the world in many ways. The slogan also reminds us how much pleasure reading can give us and how much fun it is to explore new worlds and ideas through the written page.  As a lifelong reader, I embrace this philosophy.  I cannot imagine what my life would have been like without literacy.

However, there is something that is even more FUN-damental- giving.  To me, the gift of being able to give is something that brings me a lot of joy.  It also allows me to practice grace and contribute to many people in many ways.  I would venture to say that God blesses what little I do and multiplies it so that I will never even know the full impact of my giving.  I certainly hope that is the case when I read Matthew 22:36-39:

“Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?” Jesus replied, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.  This is the first and greatest commandment.  And the second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself.”

In the act of true giving, we show love for the God who first loved us and for our neighbors.  I also submit to you that giving is a whole lot of fun.

I met a lady at our church recently who is a great example of how giving can be fun, as well as charitable.  She did not want to draw attention to herself or appear to be bragging about her giving, so was reluctant for me to mention what she has been doing since the start of the pandemic to increase her charitable giving.  I thought her story was so interesting, I believed it would help others to hear it.  She agreed to let me tell her story if I did not identify her. I will respect her wishes. 

When the pandemic started, she wanted to do something to help others who were having a more difficult time, as many of us did.  She ended up working with a few immune-compromised people, doing their marketing and running some errands.  She had no intention of taking money for these tasks, as she wanted to simply give of what she had- her time and relative good health.  It did not feel like it would be much of a gift if people paid her to do it.  On the other hand, the people she was helping felt extremely awkward about allowing her to assist them if she did not allow them to pay her.  Since they were so insistent, she agreed, thinking the situation would only go on for a few weeks. 

My church friend told me that she still wanted what she considered to be a minor sacrifice to be a gift, so she decided that she would give the money to others who needed help. 

“It is like having my own private mini-foundation,” she told me.  “Every month, I get to decide how to distribute the money.  Sometimes, I add a little to my church pledge.  Sometimes, I give money to the food bank.  Sometimes, I buy supermarket gift cards and send them anonymously to people I know may be struggling.  At Christmas time, I made it a point to eat at various small restaurants that I frequent and gave the servers $20 tips on a $10 check.  It is so fun!  Giving is a great hobby!”

Her enthusiasm for giving was infectious. She seemed to get so much satisfaction out of helping people.  I think she especially got a charge out of doing it in surprising situations and doing it anonymously.  She told me her goal was to create delight… both for the recipients and for God. She intends to continue, even if it needs to be to a lesser extent once she is no longer getting the extra money for running errands.  She wonders, too, if God will continue to lead her to opportunities to find that extra money so that she need not decrease her giving.

I agree with her.  Giving is a great hobby.  I am going to take a page from her book and begin my own campaign of random acts of giving.  Let the delightfulness begin!

How do you best enjoy giving to others?  Do you have particular strategies for deciding how and to whom you give?  Please share your perspective by leaving a comment.  In the alternative, you can email me at terriretirement@gmail.com

Have a loving day!

Terri/Dorry 😊

Aftermath

Sunrise… cool, heavy, haunted morning…

Air heavy with grief and fear…

Women crying, numb-minded and shatter-hearted.

Yesterday, our Morningstar destroyed.  We are lost.

Hiding, not shining.

Scampering, not singing.

Huddled, not journeying.

Yesterday, the sky went black when our Master died.

Today- the world still black and dank.

The sun is opening the day, but the light lacks life… flat, stagnant, polluted.

We can no longer see the Light.

Our hearts, so recently expanding and uncontainable with joy

Now feel stunted and hollow.

Was Love just an echo?

Is that an angel or a man or several men waiting in the garden?

We barely register the landscape through fuzzy eyes, not caring what we see

In a world that now seems blind and dark- Lightless.

Does light ever truly disappear?

He told us it will not, as long as we believe.

Believe in Him…

He left us with love and faith and joy.

He is gone, but they remain…

Maybe He remains, as well. 

The tomb is empty but filled with hope.

Happy Resurrection! He is not gone!  May the risen Christ be with you always. 

Terri/Dorry 😊

The Difference Between Bamboo and Violets

In my blog last week, I marveled at the creativity, innovation, and adaptability of the human brain.  This week, I am going to tackle another facet of the miracle of the mind.  It is true that our individual minds are capable of transforming to meet the needs of our individual environments.  It is also true that different brains work very differently right from the get-go. 

This thought came to me a couple of weeks ago when Max was trying to explain some fine point of Christian apologetics.  Now, I am not the brightest bulb in the chandelier, but I am by no means unintelligent.  I do like to think deep thoughts and consider meaningful questions.  Still, my brain’s tolerance for detail and abstract reasoning is quite limited when compared to his.  It can be overwhelming listening to Max follow a point of theology or scriptural history through a frenzied labyrinth of names, dates, and arguments.  When I try to keep up with the breakneck pace at which his synopses are firing, I crash against the wall at the first turn.  I try to slow him down, interrupt him to ask questions, and have him repeat his points in different words, but he still almost always leaves me in the dust by the second lap.  The good news is that I usually get something from the conversation.  The bad news is that what I get from it is a fraction of the information Max intends to impart.  I guess getting some knowledge beats getting nothing except annoyed (which I admit I often also get.)

I have to say that this mental pattern of Max’s is nothing new.  It is just the way his brain works.  He tends to get interested in a topic and just inundate his mind with it.  I have seen him go through periods when he has scavenged all the information to be had about The Titanic, William Desmond Taylor, East German military, cosmology, and Jack the Ripper… just to name a few of his mental renovation projects.  Some of these projects have been easier for me to grasp than others.  Now that he seems to be on the Christian apologetics kick, I seem to be particularly abysmal at keeping pace.

I was talking to our rector about the issue a few months back.  I really did feel badly that I was being such an incompetent conversation partner on such an important issue, but I also felt like there was no way I was ever going to have the energy, inclination, or nimbleness of brain to meet his need for theological conversation.  My rector was holding weekly “coffee and philosophy” sessions at a local café and I thought that it might be more satisfying for Max to have the opportunity to exchange ideas with people whose brains were more in line with his.  The rector told me that he and his wife have a similar experience.  He will be caught up with some theological point he is researching and will have to curb his enthusiasm… or at least the minutia… when sharing it with his wife.  My rector said he would be happy to have Max come to the sessions, but that I should know that it probably would not be an outlet for Max to burn off his theological energy.  He warned me that it would likely kindle Max’s desire to explore theological ideas even more. 

Max did decide to attend, but only if I went with him.  We have gone to about half a dozen of these sessions.  We both enjoy them.  My rector was right; it has done nothing to curtail the plethora of theological ideas being uttered in my household, but it has helped us both benefit a little more from the discussions. We have also had some rich conversations about how much apologetics is more than I can absorb.  We have also had some conversations about our different approaches to faith.  It is not that we disagree; it is simply a question of emphasis.  St. Anselm of Canterbury said, “I do not seek to understand in order that I may believe, but I believe in order to understand.”  Both of us think sturdy faith is faith that comes from both reason and spiritual experience.  I am just more on the “believe in order to understand” side and Max is more on the “seek to understand in order that I may believe” side. 

One day, when we were attending the “coffee and philosophy” session, Max alluded several times to an idea saying, “even Terri was seeing the holes in that statement.”  Other attendees kind of took him to task for making it sound like he thought I wasn’t that smart.  I did not take it that way because I knew he was referring more to brain orientation than brain power.  Max thinks I am very smart… far smarter than I am.  Max tried to explain this to the group and the rector said he knew what he meant… that my intelligence was more an intrinsic wisdom (rather than a scholarly approach.)

That got me thinking about how each person’s brain operates differently.  We all grow ideas and thoughts and solutions and relationships in the messy gray matter of our minds.  We all grow them differently and cultivate different crops, as a result.

This brings me to bamboo and violets.

Max grows bamboo in his brain…. Tall, towering, practical, sustainable ideas that are limitless and sometimes out of control.  You can watch a whole bamboo forest of ideas grow to the very stratosphere just by listening to him for five minutes.  You can literally see the bamboo of his thoughts grow before your very eyes. Bamboo will grow almost anywhere.  It has shallow roots, making it easy to harvest.  If one idea gets harvested, he is on to the next one.  He mulches and fertilizes and lets the momentum of growth carry him along. 

I, on the other hand, grow violets in my brain.  Violets are deep rooted.  They are a little delicate but are much stronger than they look.  They tend to grow out rather than up.  They need to be kept out of the direct sun and nurtured with some restful, contemplative shade.  They do not really have any practical purpose.  They are just there to be beautiful and interesting and colorful and joyful.  My brain is just as powerful, but the output is nothing big, noticeable, or intrinsically valuable.

Sometimes I wish I could have a bamboo brain.  On the other hand, the world needs violets, too.  No one who trades in beauty and joy is powerless.  I enjoy stretching my mind and finding the parts of it that could grow bamboo if necessary, but I also enjoy knowing that the best of me will always be the best of me.    

How would you characterize your brain? What kind of mental crop do you raise? What about the way you think makes you uniquely you? Please share your perspective by leaving a comment. In the alternative, you can email me at terriretirement@gmail.com.

Have a growth-filled day!

Terri/Dorry 🙂

Brains

If there was a word to describe 2020 (besides the unprintable ones, of course), I think it would be “pivot.”

The human brain is a strange and wondrous thing to behold.  Especially during the pandemic, we have seen how adaptable and creative it can be.  I marvel at how nimbly many people resculpted their brains to accommodate the changing times. There are many examples.  

After a brief period of discombobulation, the world figured out new ways of doing old activities. Disney World scrambled their approach to queue management and replaced parades with cavalcades- single floats that wandered through an entire park to prevent people bunching together to watch a parade.  Churches have employed various online platforms and “drive-in” methods to continue to engage congregants.  Doctors have developed “telehealth” to handle medical visits that do not require “hands on” examinations or treatments.  People who never thought they could work effectively from home and collaborate with their teams are running efficient, effective businesses from inside their Zoom accounts.  In times of plummeting sales, many retailers have expanded their product lines to include snazzy face masks and hand sanitizer.

It is also true that the strain on our collective brains has caused many people to temporarily throw in the towel on “normal” activities.  They started spending their time doing new things that they never would have explored before the pandemic.  I hear a lot of people talk about completing big home projects, catching up with old friends with whom they have not communicated in ages, taking up new creative pursuits, learning new skills, and finding more time to settle into God’s arms.

The more deeply we delve into the COVID19 world, the easier retooling our lifelong routines, thoughts, activities, and perspectives seems to become.  I hope we have not become so comfortable with our new circumstances that we permanently discard some of the activities and traditions that used to give us joy.  I can see people thinking that there is no longer a need for in-person continuing education conferences because, while it was pleasant to get together and share ideas, “we’ve been doing the same thing on Zoom for a year, and it is so much cheaper.”  I can see people thinking that they miss traveling, but it does take a lot of work and planning to implement a vacation.  I can see people thinking that they used to like going to church services, but it has turned out to be so easy to simply watch YouTube in their pajamas.  I can see people thinking that they enjoyed all the clubs and activities they had pre-COVID19, but that it has turned out to be quite restful not to have to juggle such a full calendar.  I can see people abandoning hugging, shaking hands, and touching each other because it now feels awkward. 

I have been worried about the slow degradation of communal life since we began the “two week” stay-at-home order.  Our experimentation and discoveries about alternate ways of doing things have been wonderful.  I love that the pandemic has forced us to re-examine the way we live and relate to one another.  I love that some of the strategies we are forced to employ to promote social distancing have allowed us to be more inclusive.  For instance, my Alpha course is meeting online, which has allowed guests from all over the country to attend.  Entertainment has become more interactive, in some ways.  I am thinking of the Disney Sing-along television specials that popped up during quarantine.  In the past, most television entertainment was extremely passive.  The action focused on the performers while the audience just sat at home, staring at a screen.  Because performers could not be on stage together during the pandemic, Disney changed the emphasis to creating strategies to allow the audience to provide their own entertainment.  The place where I get my nails done now has a plexiglass wall between my face and the technician’s face.  I put my hands through a small opening at the bottom of that barrier.  Surely, this is a better procedure, COVID19 or no COVID19.  The technicians really do not need to have client after client breathing their germs of any kind into their faces all day long. 

All the positive changes aside, I still believe there is a more sinister downside to month after month and year after year COVID precautions.  As people’s acceptance, tolerance, and lethargy about our “new normal” grows, so does the danger that we will never regain the things we have lost.  I do not want to lose the warmth of hugs, the excitement of traveling, and the rich connectedness of gathering with people in person.  All the restrictions and adaptations have been necessary over the past year.  I am glad we did them.  I just do not know how long we can continue without permanently losing some of the emotional and social richness of living communally in the world. 

I do have some hope.  A friend and I have been stubbornly supporting our community’s book club over the past year.  Before the pandemic, our club was extremely well-attended.  In fact, it was starting to get a bit unwieldy, with 20 members often attending the discussions.  We discontinued meetings for a few months at the beginning of the pandemic.  We discussed going to Zoom, but most of our participants were not ready to enter the Zoom-asphere at that time.  As soon as our community center opened, we went back to scheduled meetings.  For several months now, our attendance has ranged from 4-6.  Well, things are changing.  Many of the people in our community have now been vaccinated.  At our March meeting, we had 10 participants.  Clearly, people are emerging to start searching for the good things we left behind in the pre-pivot world. 

What’s next?  Hugging? 

Have you seen any indications that the world is starting to get back to its pre-pandemic state? What are you observing? Please share your perspective by leaving a comment. In the alternative, you can email me at terriretirement@gmail.com.

Have a normal day!

Terri/Dorry 🙂

The Bunnies Are Running!

Everybody’s heard of the Elf on the Shelf.  Some people also have the privilege of having a “Bun on the Run.”  I’m special that way. 

I have a whole family of bunnies in different colors and sizes on my kitchen table.  I originally had two bunnies… but, you know, they are rabbits.  They multiplied, as rabbits are wont to do.  See my own personal Rabbit Hole:

Here is where Archibald, Arabella, Wynken, Blinken, Nod, Tumble, Eenie, Meenie, Miney, and Mo live from Ash Wednesday until Easter.  Most people give up chocolate for Lent.  I indulge in bunny hunting.  Every morning, Max hides a bunny somewhere in the front living area of our house and I stalk the missing “bun on the run.” 

My bunnies have an active life.  They have individual personalities.  They manage a series of complex, interconnected relationships.  At least they do in my own mind. 

Archibald and Arabella are the mommy and daddy bunnies.  Archibald always looks long-suffering.  He doesn’t have two carrots to rub together. Arabella, frankly, always looks exhausted.  She is afraid she is losing her girlish charm. Archibald and Arabella, being the largest, are the easiest to find.  This is a problem for them because all they really want is five minutes of peace and quiet away from those kids.

The diaper babies (Wynken, Blinken, Nod, and Tumble) are also easy to find.  They are each about the size of a ping pong ball. Wynken and Blinken are very close and never go anywhere without each other.  Nod tends to fall asleep as a defense mechanism against his chaotic childhood.  Tumble is a little behind his siblings developmentally and is always “falling” behind!

Those newborn siblings (Eenie, Meenie, Miney, and Mo) are the sneaky ones.  They are out of control.  You cannot blame Archibald and Arabella too much.  Just imagine if you gave birth to quadruplet babies while still having quadruplets in diapers at home.  Rabbits running rampant is the requisite result of riotous reproduction.   Kids, please do not try this at home. 

I often need several hints to find the hiding newborns.  They are each just a touch bigger than a cube of cheese… or the tip of a baby carrot.  Meenie and Miney are especially clever at the game.  They are the most competitive of all the kids and like to “get one over” on each other… and on me. 

The first time I almost gave up on the game of bunny hide and seek was when Miney decided to hide on a small support disk under the kitchen table.  This first picture shows what the scene looked like before I started rummaging about looking for Miney.  The second picture shows him perched on the table support.  Would you have found him?

The next time I almost surrendered, Meenie was hiding in the wireless television headphones.  Various creatures- both bunnies and elves- have sidled over to the headphones before, but this was the first time one actually climbed INSIDE the ear covers.  It was kind of gruesome… like the earwig scene in the Wrath of Kahn.  Happily, I found Meenie before some poor sap unknowingly donned the headphones and had a rabbit burrow through his or her brain. Again, here are pictures of what I saw before I found Meenie and what I saw once I spotted him.

I have a couple of weeks left of my bunny quests.  Both Max and I are enjoying them.  We live such a full and rewarding life!

Your turn?  Where would a bunny hide in your house?  Why would you WANT to hide a bunny in your house?  Please share your perspective by leaving a comment.  In the alternative, you can email me at terriretirement@gmail.com.

Happy Easter!

Terri/Dorry 😊

P.S. I know Easter is more than bunny running.  It is the most important day of the year to me.  As I write this, it is a beautiful spring day and I am just playing with y’all!

Memories

Not misty watercolor memories.  Vibrant, solid, high-definition memories.

That is how I spent the week that I did not publish a new blog post.

Yes, I originally decided to let the blog take second fiddle to working on my new book this year.  After careful consideration, I decided that I would spend more of my overall writing time on the book instead of the blog.  The first time I did not publish a new post this year was on 2/24.  I would like to say that I spent hours working on Puppies, Guppies, and Letting Go instead.  However, I gave up lying for Lent.

For some reason, I spent most of the week daydreaming and recalling some specific events of my childhood. 

I thought you all deserved to know what kinds of things cluttered my brain that week.  Here are some of the highlights:

  • When I was in kindergarten, we had a May pole in the middle of the classroom.  Every day in May, we danced around it, braiding ribbons of multi-colored crepe paper around the pole.
  • When I was waiting for the school bus one winter morning in New York, I noticed that the vacant field by the bus stop was beautiful in the snow.  I had this bright idea to sell tickets for tours of this winter wonderland.  I even got a couple of takers.  My appalled parents could not figure out a way to explain why this activity was wrong.
  • My family visited some sort of combination amusement park and zoo when I was about four.  We walked past a cage with a sign that announced the animal residing inside was a flying squirrel.  I saw no animal residing in the cage at all and told my father, “He must have flown away.”
  • When we moved to California, I had a small round suitcase that I took with me on the airplane.
  • The very first ice cream place we visited in California was the Baskin Robbins 31 Flavors that was about a mile from our house.  The man who owned it was named Mr. Zero.  He was very nice and bought Campfire Girl nuts from me.
  • When my mother’s mother was in the hospital, my father would sit in the car with my brother and me while my mother visited.  He sang us songs.  I particularly remember him belting out “I’ve got a sixpence, a jolly, jolly sixpence.  I’ve got a sixpence to last me all my life.  I’ve got tuppence to spend and tuppence to lend and tuppence to send home to my wife… poor wife.” 
  • When camping in Idyllwild with my family when I was about nine, I used to sit and watch squirrels for hours, as they harvested acorns.  There was a quietness that you could feel rather than hear.  The path was blanketed with pine needles.  There were fallen logs where I would sit, breathing and thinking.  Pine air tastes good.

I would like to believe that these memories have some productive purpose.  Perhaps they will eventually work themselves into fodder for the book.  I seriously doubt it, however.  I think my brain just went on a little vacation down memory lane and chose some pretty bizarre highways to get there. 

I think there might be something seriously wrong with me. 

What is one of your vivid childhood memories that seems inconsequential but is actually means a lot to you? Please share your perspective by leaving a comment. In the alternative, you can email me at terriretirement@gmail.com

Have a memorable day!

Terri/Dorry 🙂

Did You Miss Me?

I’m baaaaack.

Did you even realize I was gone for a week? 

Last week was my first “not posting because I did not have anything prepared to say” Wednesday since I started the blog in January of 2016.  Did the tectonic plates shift?  Did the world stop spinning on its axis?  Are icebergs melting at the polar caps more rapidly? Has the Liberty Bell cracked once again?

It sure felt like it.  To me.

I am sure that most of you are only aware that a Wednesday has come and gone without a Terri LaBonte morsel just now as I bring it to your attention.  You are probably reading this and saying, “oh, yeah, she didn’t publish last week.”  After all, I know that most people are understandably too wrapped up in their own lives to be unduly concerned about the absence of one weekly blog post.  I am not self-absorbed enough to think missing a week of Terri time counts as a problem in your lives. 

Since this blog is all about me, however, I did want to share how not posting for a week impacted me. 

I was fidgety the week before my FTP (failure to post) and could not settle myself.  It was like there was something that I was trying to forget, but just could not.  A vague conception of there being “something” up in the air never left me.  That feeling was probably bigger because I kept pushing it away from my consciousness until it was about something amorphous and intangible rather than a specific task.  I think I used to get like that when I was working, too.  There might be something I did not want to do that I decided I did not have to do. The task would not completely remove itself from my mind.  I did not focus on it enough to name it and vanquish my dread about it but did focus on it enough to keep me awake at night.  It was kind of masochistic.  I made a conscious decision that I did not have to do the task, but still seemed to believe I had to feel guilty about it.  I think it is important to do the right thing in life.  It does not have to be important to feel bad about not doing something that you have intellectually decided is not a moral imperative, however.

When Wednesday morning came around and I did not publish a post, I had a sense of failure.  Even though nobody cared, I felt like I had somehow let someone down.  Maybe it was just me I was afraid of letting down.  It seemed a defeat to me.  That was especially true because I did not spend any time at all last week working on my new book, which was the whole reason I decided to post less regularly.  The idea was that I would allow myself to skip the odd week of blogging in order to use my writing time to work on my book.  I did not write at all last week.  Just typing this feels somewhat like a shameful confession. 

After Wednesday, I started compulsively checking my blog statistics to see if there was any negative impact from not posting.  You would swear the blogging stakes are much higher than they are.  I did not see any particular downward trend in views or visitors.  Even if there were a downward trend, what would it matter, really? 

Of course, I know that I do not have to have a reason to skip a week.  Writing is my pleasure and if becomes a chore or a stressor in any given week, I should respect those feelings and take a break.  No one is paying me to write.  Blood will not be spilled if I do not write.  The pandemic will not spread further if I do not write.  You all have supported my plan to only write when I feel called to say something interesting… even if it is only interesting to me.  In short, there is no reason for me to have such complicated, unpleasant feelings surrounding the issue.

I suspect that the unpleasant feelings stem from something much bigger than just not posting for a week.  COVID crazy has been eating away at me this week.  Everywhere I turn, there seem to be challenges and barriers.  My book is not going well just now.  I have a book club meeting coming up and I have not read the book… nor am I particularly interested in doing so.  I guess there seem to be a lot of barriers in my way just now.  I think I will probably get over it, but I would not put money on the result.  As I said, I see my current mood to be a kind of lifelong pattern. 

I have said it before, and I will say it again.  The most difficult change most of us will ever undergo is changing our minds.

So, did you miss me?  How did you use the 2.1 minutes you usually spend reading my blog?  I hope it was something fun.

Have a useful day!

Terri/Dorry 😊