Thursday, August 28, 2008

The sure-fire plan for STRESS REDUCTION

I listened to a Talk Show recently and they spoke in depth about stress and the reducing of same. One of the exercises seemed uncomplicated and something that I could handle. You simply settled back in the most comfortable position of your choice, closed your eyes and started counting slowly ... the whole time visualizing your stresses taking wing.

“OK “ I thought, “here I go” ONE, TWO, THREE, FOUR,…..I barely made it to FIVE before I saw my auto insurance payment sprouting wings and drifting away. Next went my commitment to serve on a useless committee, followed closely by money lending requests ... all of them wrapped neatly in packages and flying off with the aid of their little wings.

“Wow, this is really working” I thought. SIX, SEVEN, EIGHT ... and suddenly I’m taking flight. I can’t see my own wings, of course, but I trust that they have sprouted. I feel myself being lifted high and I float with ease and complete serenity. I wonder where I am but it doesn’t really matter. I am stress free and it’s an amazing feeling.

Now I feel myself gently settling back to earth... only it’s not earth that I touch. It’s a sort of plank that I’m on and I’m still counting...FIVE HUNDRED AND TWO, FIVE HUNDRED AND THREE… The fog seems to be lifting and I see below me a large expanse of water.

If I’m not mistaken I’m “walking the plank” and I try desperately to stop counting. I can see the water roiling below me and the end of the plank is getting closer and closer...but I can’t stop the count. I’m up to FIVE HUNDRED AND TEN and a great weight is pushing me off the edge.

As I plunge to my inevitable death I wonder what happened to my wings. I hit the water and realize that there’s nothing that can save me now. I can’t swim and I’m taking on water fast. I can’t remember a more stressful time in my life, but I keep counting. FIVE HUNDRED AND TWENTY, FIVE HUNDRED AND TWENTY ONE...

Suddenly, with a jolt, I am awakened and I find that I’m back in my own room on my recliner. I breathe a huge sigh of relief and suddenly my actual stresses seem mediocre at best. “I can handle those“, I say to myself, “this counting thing really works”.

Friday, August 22, 2008


In this year of 2008, rife with political scandals and horrific acts it is pretty hard to understand how a little cartoon figure could cause such a stir. But that’s exactly what happened with Betty Boop, who made her appearance in the early 1930‘s.

As I understand it she had originally been portrayed in the form of a floppy eared dog but by 1932 Paramount Pictures and Max Fleischer had transformed her into the Betty that we all came to love. She was a blatantly sexual cartoon character but the animators made sure to keep her “pure”.

Her cartoon films stood out from the competition mainly because of the upbeat jazz soundtracks. Artists such as Louis Armstrong and Cab Calloway were two of the better-known contributors. One film was actually titled “Boop-Oop-a-Doop” and when Betty is threatened by a salacious ringmaster she tells her friend, the clown, “He couldn’t take my boop-oop-a-doop away!” That phrase became her byword.

It is ironic that Betty’s spirited sexuality would spell her doom even as it was making stars of the women who copied her antics. Can anyone forget the memorable performance by Marilyn Monroe in “Some Like it Hot”, the 1959 hit with Jack Lemmon and Tony Curtis? Her song “I Wanna Be Loved By You” with the chorus of Boop-boop-a-doop was a direct takeoff of Betty.

In 1934 the Production Code censorship laws forced Betty to increase the length of her skirt and to cover up the revealing neckline. She was no longer a “risqué” flapper. She became a husbandless housewife with a little dog named Pudgy and the films fell flat. It would seem that her cartoon career was at an end in 1939, but you can’t keep a girl like Betty under wraps.

She has been revived over the years in syndicated films and even had a cameo appearance in the Academy Award winning film “Who Framed Roger Rabbit” in 1988. Her phrase “Boop-Oop-a-Doop” has survived the test of time and is imitated to this day by teasing females.

I realize that her demise was in 1934 but it seems to me that not much has changed. We still get sidetracked on unimportant issues, (“the length of a skirt” ??), while we allow the unlawful and dangerous shenanigans of our politicians to go unchecked!

Spouting hatred under the guise of religion.

Tomorrow I will post what I had composed for today....but I feel compelled to write this first. When I checked out my blog this morning I had 103 comments from a man named Patrick who has taken it as his right to vilify Alcoholics Anonymous.

Yes, that's not a typo....there were 103 comments from this mad man. He is truly a disgrace to the airwaves and I will give you just a bit of his rhetoric so that you can judge for yourself:

I imagine 12 STEPPERS have sold their souls to the devil. Fortunately, I was saved through the power of Jesus Christ, but for many years had been exposed to the
evil “satanic cult” (Alcoholics Anonymous)

In Matthew 7:13-14 Jesus warned, Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it. Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it.

Jesus likewise warned in Luke 13:24, Strive to enter through the narrow gate, for many, I say to you, will seek to enter and will not be able.


This is the sort of drivel that he spews, along with allusions to some of us being the anti-christ, etc., etc., ad nauseum. We, in AA, know that there are many ways to get sober and we don't defile those who go another way.

Patrick is the epitome of the angry, crazed person who hides behind religion and who has nothing better than to post 103 crazed comments. It is because of him that I will now have to moderate my comments. I apologize to you regulars. You know how much I enjoy your comments and I will continue to show them.

Tomorrow is another day, but Patrick won't be part of it.

Saturday, August 16, 2008


This is a pretty grainy blow-up of an old Polaroid picture of my three children. I know the quality is poor but I have very few pictures of them all together, so I treasure it. I have it framed and sitting on my desk where I see it every day.

The thing that amazes me is that, although 43 years have passed, they still retain the same basic personality traits that they had from the day they were born. All three births were entirely different also.

Mark, my oldest boy, was a typical first-baby birth. I probably went to the hospital too early but was admitted and 24 hours later he was born. He was an exceptionally docile baby and we were entirely spoiled by the time that number two came along. “This baby rearing thing is a cinch”, my husband told me.

Today, at age 49, Mark is an architect, a voracious reader, a quiet and serious person with a quirky sense of humor.

A year and 15 days after Mark’s birth our middle child, Matthew, was born. I was experiencing a heavy, pushing feeling and, upon checking with the Dr., was told to get to the hospital ASAP. Since we lived in NY City we had no car and the cab driver was less than happy when he realized that this baby might come at any moment, and in his cab, no less.

We barely made it and Matt was born the minute I hit the maternity floor. He came out screaming and the only time he stopped for the next 4 months was when he was eating. As he grew the crying stopped but he had (and has) an insatiable curiosity and would stay awake hours beyond his bedtime, talking to himself and climbing out of his crib and then his bed.

Today, at age 48, Matt has his own remodeling business, hosts a 4 person rock band in his music garage (including Mark on drums), loves tending to his two acres of lawn, fruit trees and flowers and is the family kidder.

In October of 1961 our little girl, Jody, was born. I was having many problems with this pregnancy and about a month before she was due I was admitted to the hospital to be observed. I was lucky to be there because I experienced a placenta-previa birth and the Dr. had to perform an emergency caesarean operation.

Jody was very frail and had to remain in the hospital after I was released. It broke our heart to see her hooked up to so many lines and looking so small in the big hospital crib. However she thrived and is now co-owner with her husband of an Antique Shop in New York. She doesn’t let an opportunity go unexplored and the boys have nicknamed her “the force“.

It’s interesting to me that they all retain the basic qualities that they were born with. Have you found that to be true with your children?

Tuesday, August 12, 2008


Dr. Laura Schlessinger is a radio personality who dispenses advice to people who call in to her radio show. Recently, she said that homosexuality is an abomination according to Leviticus 18:22 and cannot be condoned under any circumstance. The following is part of an open letter to Dr. Laura penned by an east coast resident, which was posted on the Internet.

“Dear Dr. Laura,

Thank you for doing so much to educate people regarding God's Law. I have learned a great deal from your show, and try to share that knowledge with as many people as I can. I do need some advice from you, however, regarding some of the other specific laws and how to follow them:

When I burn a bull on the altar as a sacrifice, I know it creates a pleasing odor for the Lord - Lev.1:9. The problem is my neighbors. They claim the odor is not pleasing to them. Should I smite them?

I would like to sell my daughter into slavery, as sanctioned in Exodus 21:7. In this day and age, what do you think would be a fair price for her?

Lev. 25:44 states that I may indeed possess slaves, both male and female, provided they are purchased from neighboring nations. A friend of mine claims that this applies to Mexicans, but not Canadians. Can you clarify? Why can't I own Canadians?

I have a neighbor who insists on working on the Sabbath. Exodus 35:2 clearly states he should be put to death. Am I morally obligated to kill him myself or should I pay someone else to do it?

Lev. 21:20 states that I may not approach the altar of God if I have a defect in my sight. I have to admit that I wear reading glasses. Does my vision have to be 20/20, or is there some wiggle room here?

Most of my male friends get their hair trimmed, including the hair around their temples, even though this is expressly forbidden by Lev. 19:27. How should they die?

I know from Lev. 11:6-8 that touching the skin of a dead pig makes me unclean, but may I still play football if I wear gloves?

I know you have studied these things extensively, so I am confident you can help. Thank you again for reminding us that God's word is eternal and unchanging.

Your devoted fan, Jim.”

Thursday, August 07, 2008

MEETING MARTHA … another blogger relationship

We, in the blogging world, know how much fun it is to actually meet the friends that we’ve met on the computer. My recent visit and lunch date with Martha was one of those times.

I had planned my usual trip North to see my daughter and her husband in NY State. I take Rt. 81 North through Virginia and it bypasses where Martha works, so it proved to be the perfect opportunity to meet her for lunch. She is an award-winning roving reporter for the public radio station WMRA in Harrisonburg, Virginia.

Martha’s website is called “Bouncing Off The Bottom” and is of special interest to a lot of us in recovery. Her book, “How to Stop Screwing Up” is her take on the 12 Steps of Alcoholics Anonymous...but it’s written to include anyone who wants to change their life.

How often have I heard our AA members state that they wished their spouse (friend, family member, etc.) could benefit from our program. As the back cover of her book states: “You don’t have to be addicted to booze or drugs to work the Twelve Steps: you simply have to want to stop whatever behavior is slowly stealing the pleasure from your life”. Amen to that. It is a wonderful book.

Now to our lunch date. Martha met me at a designated place and we proceeded to a wonderful restaurant in the heart of Harrisonburg...a place I would never have found on my own. But the delicious food was just a small part of the hour or so that we spent together.

Martha is not only beautiful, but she exudes a love of life and an enthusiasm for every aspect of what’s happening in our world. We practically stumbled over our words as we jumped from topic to topic. It was so much fun to finally put a face to my blogging friend.

Martha is a bundle of energy and, besides her full time job as a reporter (which often entails traveling), she is working on her second book. We talked at length about that and of the revisions that she wanted to present to her publisher. I felt honored to be in on the “ground floor” and will be interested to see the final product.

Our lunch date was too short but it was the highlight of my trip North. It was just another example of how the blogging world opens doors to friendships that would be impossible without the computer.

Sunday, August 03, 2008

THE CHESS GAME … circa 1972

A few years after my husband died in 1990 I was looking through some old photographs. I came across a wonderful one of Dick and one of our sons playing chess. It really touched me because it was so reminiscent of how they used to spend hours at the chess board. Dick had been teaching all the children to play since they were toddlers.

The only problem was that it was a Polaroid shot and was almost 20 years old. As so often happened with film of that era it had faded so that I could barely make out the expression on Dick’s face. I mentioned this to Mark (the son in the picture) and he agreed that it was a shame to lose that memory.

Then Mark did a wonderful thing. Unbeknown to me he “stole” the photo when I wasn’t looking. He is an architect and has a very good eye for design so it wasn’t difficult for him to produce this wonderfully stylized version of that photo. He captured the moment exactly as it had been in the original.

This was his Christmas gift to me that year and I was thrilled. I had copies made and, in turn, gave them as gifts to all of my family members.

And the games continue today. Mark is a rated chess player and competes whenever he can get the time. He and his siblings learned a lot from their dad...not the least being the tenacity and patience to play a good game of chess.