Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Sweet Aroma or Bitter Afterbite?

The other day, I had someone ask me if I knew a "certain person." I answered yes, but it had been over 10 years since I had seen them. They proceeded to tell me that "this" person thought I was one of the nicest people and that I had a "heart of gold" and so does my daughter. I must admit...I was overwhelmed by the comment and I think it was one of the nicest compliments I have been paid for a long time...especially coming from someone that I had not even seen or talked to for over ten years.
I pondered the idea that I had made a small impact on someone's life. I had apparently left a lasting impression on her...and I was totally oblivious to it. I began thinking about the fact that EVERY single person we come in contact with EVERY single day forms some kind of impression....either positive or negative and so I thought it would be interesting to analyze it a little deeper and decided it would be worth it to do a little critiquing of my own.
Have you ever wished that you could be a fly on the wall and actually hear what other people would have to say about you if they didn't know you were listening? What would these people have to say about you? (I know, I am a brute for punishment.) The biggest problem with this is that people are too nice or they are afraid to be honest to your face. We've been taught not to hurt each others' feelings. and truthfully...can you imagine some of the things you would have to come clean about if you HAD to answer others completely honest...

"Dude, you talk to much. You're driving me crazy!"
"Well, if you asked me a question, you could at least be polite enough to pretend you were listening to my answer."
"I don't really care about your great aunt's ingrown toenail!"
"T.M.I. I didn't really need to know that about you!"
"Listen to yourself and you'll understand why you don't have any friends."
"Is there ANYTHING you don't know everything about?"
"Really...that is NONE of your business."
"Bad things always happen to you because you reap what you sow, man. If I believed in karma you would be a bad karma magnet."
"Gripe...Gripe...Gripe. That's all you do."

So...I wondered....what would people say about me? It's really hard to analyze yourself when your oblivious to your own faults and weaknesses. So, I asked my family members. (Husband, kids, sister). Believe me...THEY can be brutally honest!
But, hey, if I'm really trying to grow and change...I guess I need to hear it. But did they have to gloat so much when they were telling me?

"You always think you are right."
"You are a conversation stealer."
"You interrupt people when they are talking."
"You answer for other people."
"You are a know-it-all."
"You're pretty opinionated."
"You have to have the last word."
"You're a better talker than listener."
"You don't finish things that you start."
"You think the world revolves around YOU."

Okay, I must admit that they came up with a very good list of all of my shortcomings, of which I've listed only a few. It would be impossible to work on EVERYTHING all at once.
So I challenged myself. If I could have only a few positive phrases spoken about me...that would leave a lasting impact on others, what phrases would mean the most? What lasting impressions would I most wish to leave to this world? If I encounter someone new, would I leave a sweet aroma or would I leave a bitter, unpleasing, after bite?
I guess, here are a few of the things I would like to have said about me and to be remembered by:

"Wasn't she passionate about Jesus Christ and her family?"
"Man, she could make me laugh."
"She really had a good heart."
"She was a very giving, generous person."
"I really believe that she cared about me."
"Her children all love the Lord."
"Remember when......"
"I'm going to miss her."
"She tried..."
"She loved life and enjoyed every minute of it."
"I'll never forget her."
"She had a heart of gold."

I know I have a lot of work ahead of me, but I hope if I meet you, I leave you with a good first impression....and if I don't, be kind and forgiving...we all have bad days!

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Memories: Random Thoughts of Childhood

There is nothing better than reminiscing about the good old days....so here goes.

My grandparents on my Mom's side used to play a marble board game with us all the time. Pretty much like the aggravation game only we always had a homemade hand drilled board to play on. You would roll the dice and move or take off marbles. We would play as partners. I haven't thought about that game in years.

Do you remember the clackers? I don't know what they were really called, but that's what we called them. A string with a hard ball on both ends that you would clack up and down together. That's all they were good for...but hey, I had to have one.

We use to play a game on summer evenings where I would blindfold my sister and her friends then they would all hold hands and I would lead them around trying to mess them up and they would try to guess where they were at. Sometimes we'd pull them in a wagon we had covered with a blanket...and they would guess that way.

Every Sunday, my mom and dad would give us money to walk down town to buy some comic books and penny candy. As we grew older, we learned that they were trying to get rid of us for an hour or so for some romantic time. T-M-I.

Summer evenings were my favorite times and I would sit on my front porch at night and watch the cars go by (It didn't take much to entertain us back then.)

Do you remember all of the jump rope jingles. And Skateland. Now that was fun! Especially when they had couples only and some dorky boy would grab your hand to skate with you. We bowled for fun on Saturdays. We played pinball machines when we had money to waste.

We were as obsessed with Vampires as this group of teens are, only ours was Dracula and Dark Shadows. I remember one night they showed Dracula in our high school auditorium and then I had to walk all the way home afterwards. I would hit the viaduct running as fast as I could until I was almost home. I hated having to walk through that little viaduct at night. But we had to walk everywhere. Parents did not drive you anywhere...you walked. I do, however, remember a boy writing my initials and his with a heart around them with a sharp chalky rock in that little viaduct. Years later I looked for it...but they had painted over all of the graffiti. Actually, that little viaduct is where I learned some of my naughtiest words.

We had some of the best fun nights and penny carnivals. And the cake walks were always a big deal. I remember Audrey Summers would put nearly all of her kids on a spot so they could take home one of those yummy cakes. Mothers actually baked back then and those cakes were works of art!

Our basketball games were in Crawford's little auditorium. We had pep club and you had to go and cheer. I even made up some not so nice cheers about the cheerleaders who seemed to think they were all that.

We had one teacher...Mr. K....who would ask you if you wanted a knuckle sandwich. He would turn this big old ring upside down and bop you on the head with it. Or he'd take both arms and slam one on your front and one on your back sandwiching the boys really hard. I even remember when Mr. Smith took a blackboard eraser and threw it at a kid in the back of the room. It whizzed passed our heads and hit him a good one. Or he'd pick up the desk with the kid still in it and drop it hard to the floor giving the kid a good jolt. Mr. D would call naughty students to the front of the room and make them bend over and grab their ankles. He would then take this big old paddle with holes in it and crack them on the butt. But none of us ever felt abused. We pretty much deserved it. And it worked pretty well at keeping us under control.

We knew how to have fun without being entertained. If we said we were bored...we got put to work. We didn't have videos, video games, or multiple tv channels to entertain us. Music on the radio was our vice. Our parents still ironed clothes and we had to learn how to iron them right. We had spray starch and you started with the collar or sleeves first. If mom wasn't satisfied...you did them over. We hung clothes on the clothesline. We learned to cook. We fried steaks and homemade hash browns, homemade pies and homemade everything. Funny, though...I didn't get fat eating all that fried, creamy, buttery, homemade stuff...it wasn't until the processed and fast food stuff came along that I put on all that weight. We didn't have sodas with every meal. We were lucky to get a "pop" once a month...usually a big gallon jug of A & W frosty chilled root beer. We only drove to Chadron maybe a couple three times a year. We never really had to because we had everything you ever needed here in good old Crawford.

I remember going to Scottsbluff to get some school clothes and the only big store they had was K-mart. Only one fast food place...a drive-in hamburger place. No malls. Can you believe that?

I worked from the time I was fourteen doing anything and everything. Working at the Fort meant picking up litter, pulling weeds, restoring museum displays, and putting up signs. Pretty menial tasks. My starting minimum wage was $1.65 an hour.They would actually plant litter around to see if you would pick it up or step over it.

We did politically incorrect things. African-American knocking :) Yet we were pretty unaware of the racial injustices that was going on in the bigger cities. We lived history and missed it. First man on the moon, integration, Vietnam, draft dodging, Woodstock. Our R rated movies are tame compared to what you see now.

You could buy a vanilla coke and a bag of potato chips for a quarter. Our movie theater offered "Take a Chance" night for a quarter. You never knew what you would see, but you didn't care...it was a movie! I remember one boy I liked climbing over the back of a theater chair to sit by me. Sigh!

When a boy called you a stupid name...you knew he really liked you. At least that is what my grandpa told me when one boy called me Ratface.

We gave our chairs to adults...said please and thank you....and removed our caps in buildings.

Our biggest fear was Jake Hymer (our policeman)picking us up and chewing us out for riding your bike on the sidewalks.

We made some bad boy floats in our day. We used hundreds and hundreds of packages of napkins...but they were awesome. We would work on them all week in the evenings.

They were magical times. They were right when they said it was the good old days. Sometimes...when I just want to go back...I will play one of the old tunes...and enjoy some bittersweet memories. Back when my grandparents were all still alive.........and I wish I was young and free again! I miss those home cooked meals. I miss the innocence. I wish our children could experience it the way we did. But, you know what? It's getting harder to remember...