Monday, August 20, 2012

My reply from the Olympic Committee

Thank you for your email.  Interesting idea J  The International Olympic Committee charter is related to “physical activities/sports” only – but maybe someday another organization (like the Mensa group) will create a competition like you describe.  You never know!  
Description: institutional_bluerings
Erica Hutchinson
Associate Director Visitor Center and Community Relations
United States Olympic Committee
1 Olympic Plaza
Colorado Springs, CO 80909
719-866-4728 [fax]
719-330-4050 [cell]

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Olympics for the Minds

What if we trained young minds for an Olympics?  Every four years, individuals and teams would study educational disciplines to compete for gold medals.

Young men and women would choose a subject to tax the muscles of their brains. If practice, consistency, hard work, dedication, and determination to be an Olympic champion for sports, are what it takes to win gold, the same could be applied for the academic world.

Doctors communicate to the public that our physical bodies are as important as our mental health. Why don’t we follow this advice and have an Olympics for the minds equal to an Olympics for the body?

With an audience of over three billion viewing the Olympics today, imagine that same number of people learning and absorbing academic knowledge, from watching an Olympics for the Minds.

Repetition is a learning tool. Viewers would no doubt be absorbing facts from two weeks of competition, while having a good time. Information would be engrained in brains just like it is when we watch the Olympics today. Tuning in to an unfamiliar sport, we’ve all said, “I never knew that!”

It’s an incentive for test scores to improve, for the general public to learn basic skills for the first time, or a refresher course. And there would be no 14 billion dollar cost for a city to host the games. There’s just no downside to it.

If our Olympic Champions are role models today, again, imagine what a role model an Olympic Champion for the Minds would be for our youth. We could hear things such as, “I want to be a geologist, an author, a biologist, an engineer . . .”

Tuning in to a different subject, we would say, “I never knew that!” with an Olympics for the Minds.


Friday, July 20, 2012

Writing my book!


Just a quick note to say I won't be writing any new short stories because I want to concentrate on writing my novel. I'm really excited to get started.

The idea evolved from a short story I was writing. A recent instructor from my creative writing class suggested I turn it into a novel. He gave me the confidence I needed to think I can actually do it. :)

Thank you for reading my blog! I enjoy writing short stories and will continue in the future.

I hope you will follow my Living with CML blog:   I post an entry once a month.

I also hope you read my book review blogs:    OR


Also join me on Facebook and Twitter!  If you like, send me an email!

Feel free to leave me a comment below! :)

Thank you!


Tuesday, June 26, 2012


“Take out a piece of paper, girls and boys. Today I want you to write a paragraph about what you would love to do with your life. What is your dream?” said Mrs. C to her fourth grade students.
Browse any book or movie rental store and you’ll undoubtedly see various titles such as, Find your Dream, and Follow your Dream, Unleash your Dream, and Stay True to your Dream. Shelves are overfilled with inspirational books and movies about Gathering Resources for your Dream.
So what ever happened to our fourth grade paragraphs we wrote to Mrs. C?  Did any of those girls and boys fulfill their dreams?
We graduated high school and started college. But what happens if we realized after a couple of years that college wasn’t for us? If we realized we wanted to pursue our dream from fourth grade.
Do we quit college? Do we quit our current job? Most people don’t. It is socially unacceptable to do either. But I knew a brave twenty-four year old young man who didn’t listen to society.  He was courageous and decided to change his lifestyle to live his dream.
Quitting college was easy for Bob because he always hated school. Working as a server at a casual fine dining restaurant for five years, he made 70K a year. The money was good, but not the job. He wanted so badly to quit and pursue his dream. He tried to do both, but found it impossible. Never enough time to  devote to his music, he devised a plan to work until he saved enough money to be unemployed for a year or so to pursue being a songwriter, play guitar, and perform in different cities.

Bob owned a townhome which provided a monthly income. He had already saved money to buy a self-contained van to live in while he traveled. He and his friends drove to San Diego from Las Vegas to check out a van advertised on Craig’s List. A little too eager, with a lesson learned later, he bought the van and drove it home. He lived in it for six months, parked it at different venues around the city and at friends’ homes. Obviously he didn’t hook up water during this time, so he showered at friends, his mothers, and the local Athletic Club.
Being thrilled with the van at first, Bob later realized it was too expensive to maintain. He put money into it and lost money when it sold. A hard lesson learned, but through life experience vs. a textbook.
Feeling prepared on the day he quit his job, Bob felt anxious, but very, very excited. Coincidently, shortly after he quit his job, his tenant asked if he would mind if he got a roommate. Bob figured it made perfect sense if he moved in. He saved money from renting a studio room where he practiced and kept his instruments.
From day one, Bob worked on fulfilling his dream. He played guitar and wrote songs to sing. He had friends in the music business that helped him record and create artwork for his album and merchandise. He titled his album, “We Are the Blues We Write,” apropos describing Bob’s new lifestyle.
None of this was easy, but Bob had the time of his life. He loved the music world. Recording his album was a learning experience that took him months to perfect.  Failing numerous times before he succeeded, he remixed and remastered, until he completed the album goal before his first Living Room Show.
Spending countless hours until he learned how to create a website to promote him and his show was well rewarded. The site was well done and The Living Room Show was a huge success. He and three other musicians played for a local crowd of fifty. He sold some merchandise and was thrilled. Selling items on the road for an income in unfamiliar venues will be the challenge.
Bob networked and followed musicians who traveled and performed on the road.  He learned a great deal from them. Many musicians couch surfed to save money.  He worked on a list of people and cities and mapped out a route to have a plan. He already participated by having musicians couch surf at his home.
With upfront expenses for the album, maintaining a car and townhome, and life’s necessities, he is close to flat broke. He thought his savings would last a bit longer. He admitted to being scared.
Did he give up? No. He wanted to follow his dream regardless of how poor he’ll be, how hard it is, or how many times he’ll fail.
He’ll be ready to travel the country when he sets up his venues. My son fulfilled his dream he wrote about in Mrs. C’s fourth grade class.


Saturday, June 16, 2012

The Art of Interpretation

I couldn’t explain what caught my eye in that painting.

Hanging out with a group of women, dressing up, and making a fuss over flowers, are all my least favorite things to do. So what was it that made me sit down on the observer’s bench in front of that painting and gaze at it for so long? What was it that drew me back to the Phoenix Art Museum several times to view it for hours on end?
On my first visit to the museum, I felt drawn toward the painting, Spring Flowers, by Julius Stewart. It was enormous taking up a large area of the wall.  The painting was magnificent, an oil on canvas painted in 1890. The painting’s size was enough to mesmerize any art lover touring the museum. It’s not a painting you can easily dismiss. Located on the second floor, I had to walk past it in order to view other artists’ work being displayed.
Strategically placed was a bench right in front of the painting. This was ideal. It’s pretty annoying when you find art work you admire and have to move along for others to view. The bench was perfect - I took full advantage.

I grew up with three brothers, and later on had three sons. I never got used to being with a group of women. I preferred the company of men, and had a couple of girlfriends which described my comfort zone.
Growing up in a male dominated life, I never dressed up. I wouldn’t say I was a tom boy, but hats, heels, and dresses seemed unnecessary.
Flowers were a whole different story. Memories of arguments between my parents, slight as they may have been, always ended with a bouquet of flowers being laid on the counter for my mother. This apparently symbolized an apology. What I learned as I grew up was it also meant the argument was over and would be forgotten. Even as a kid, I didn’t buy it.
Both husbands that came and went knew better not to present me with a bouquet of flowers if we had an argument.

So what made me fall in love with a painting of four women hanging out together, in their Sunday best, fussing over flowers?
I sat and stared at Spring Flowers for hours. Trying hard to solve the puzzle, I politely asked the museum docent for her thoughts. She explained art interpretation. How we internalize art differently is extremely personal. She continued telling me how researchers in the field of neuroesthetics actually study people’s brains to unlock this mystery.  She suggested books to study the subject further.
A group of women hanging out all dressed up, with fancy hairdos, fashionable hats for the era, fussing with flowers in a garden were all my least favorite things, always have been and I would guess, always will be.  A mystery indeed.

The minutes ticked by until they turned into hours and I knew I had to go home. The real world awaited me. It was time to cook dinner; check my kid’s homework, do laundry, etc.
While completing my motherly duties the beautiful painting was ingrained in my mind. I was perplexed, no doubt about it. When I told my family about the museum and the painting, they all laughed thinking it was a joke. They knew all the things I didn’t like - so why would mom like a painting like this? I had to agree, but it was what happened, and I felt what I felt, whether or not there was an explanation.
Needless to say I didn’t sleep well. The next day I anxiously returned to the museum and meticulously gazed at Spring Flowers for hours. Even though I was still confused why I enjoyed this painting so much, I felt peaceful and carefree. I couldn’t explain these feelings.
The following week I returned to once again sit on the bench and gaze at Spring Flowers. As I turned the corner and took my first step up the staircase I was shocked, like being sucker punched.
The museum moved Spring Flowers to the top of the staircase! It looked absolutely beautiful there as it most likely would anywhere. But I could no longer sit down on the observer’s bench to enjoy it. A feeling of sadness washed over me.
Wondering why, I inquired at the front desk. I was told the Chief Curator periodically moved artwork - no particular reason.
The empathetic receptionist acknowledged my disappointment and handed me a poster size replica of the painting. Expressing my pleasure, I left and had it framed immediately.

I’ve moved several times since, but Spring Flowers is always displayed on my living room wall. Every time I admire it all I can do is shake my head.


Thursday, June 7, 2012


On such a beautiful day I thought I would take a simple walk in the park. Anticipating clearing my mind I briskly laced up my sneakers.
Coming up to the children’s swings after having walked halfway around, there was a pretty young woman pushing her baby on a swing. My first thought was, what is wrong with this picture? My kids are grown and I have a grandson I would love to be pushing in that swing. What is wrong with that woman?
Continuing my walk I suddenly stopped. Feeling disgusted for judging this woman I turned around and looked at her again.
On second thought, maybe she isn’t even the baby’s mother. If she is, maybe this is the only place she gets any free time. Maybe she’s trying to study to get a better job for her and her baby. Maybe she’s a single mom. There were lots of maybes, lots of possibilities.
Learning my lesson not to judge people was being put to the test today. Immediately failing but ultimately passing.
Being at the park, pushing her baby in a swing, while reading her Kindle, was not for me to judge.
A simple walk in the park.


Thursday, April 5, 2012

I got beat up at the park.

April 5, 2012

I’ve been feeling really bad lately since my mom is feeling so bad. I talk to her daily, but there is no conversation anymore. We used to talk about the books we were reading, TV shows we were watching, foods we were preparing, current events, and more. But she just makes it to the computer for about two minutes and we talk about nothing. She doesn’t call me even though I suggest it may be less painful. I can’t force her to call instead of using Instant Message. I just hope she does it because she likes it better, not because I hate the phone. I do call her when I just need to hear her voice, but it’s never a good conversation and she makes it short. Sigh.

She has lost interest in everything. She doesn’t read, watch TV, cook, or keep up with the news. She has pain in her hips and knees. She doesn’t sleep well. This comes from a person who slept for 8 – 10 hours nightly forever. There is no joy in her life whatsoever.

She has a nurse’s aide daily, she has Meals on Wheels, and now she has a new doctor who comes to her. The only time she went out was to go to the doctors, now the doctor comes to her. Her aide comes back after her regular daytime hours to help her with dinner and going to bed. This is what did it for me. I pretty much lost it when she told me this.

My mother is a strong woman. She doesn’t tell me things that she knows will make me worry any more than I already do. But I think she is telling me more things a little at a time because I’m going to be there on April 24th for a week. She won’t be able to hide much then. She does this out of love; because she knows what my daily life is like. I visited her 6 months ago and I can’t believe how fast she is going downhill. My brothers live close to her and see her often. I don’t get any calls from them about my mom. I have to figure out for myself how she really is doing.

It wasn’t too long ago that I set my mom up with everything to make her life easier. I went to the Medical Supply store and got all there was for comfort and necessity. I even got her new hearing aids. She was doing fine. Then she made a bad decision to go to rehab to get strength in her thighs to have surgeries. It was a bad idea and I told her so. I knew the outcome would be exactly what happened. But she didn’t listen to me. She has said she wished she listened. But it’s history now.

So, today is Thursday. I’ve been pretty sad since the weekend after hearing about the aide coming back at night. I have so many feelings swimming around in my head. I feel sad, I feel guilty, and I feel helpless. I haven’t been to the pool to exercise this week. My ear doesn’t feel right and I figure I better not risk getting water in it. But today I just had to do something because I was left feeling really bad about myself last night.

So I went to the library to look for pictures to use in my book for my grandson. I spent way too long looking and started feeling pain, but I wanted to walk in the park and get some sun, so I took the books I collected and left. I went to the park and I got beat up!

I couldn’t believe the parallel between beating me up mentally and being beat up while walking in the park. The day was windy, but beautiful. I was thinking about my mother and how I should be there every day to take care of her and all of a sudden my face was whipped with what felt like shards of glass. At first it took me for a loop and I couldn’t figure out how leaves could hurt so much.

I kept walking and before long I saw acorns on the path. I picked up a couple and that’s when I realized it was acorns that beat me up. It was like a good slap in the face, but it only lasted a minute. I went right back to feeling like crap.

So, as I’m walking my hips are killing me and I’m wondering if I can even make it once around the path. I start thinking about when I used to come to this park before I got sick and how many times I walked this path. I’d never counted but I certainly walked more than once and for hours. I had put two of my attackers in my pocket earlier, and took them out now and rolled them around in my hand for a minute. I thought it might get me to change my negative thoughts.

I now turn the bend in the walking path and see the swings where I used to swing with a boyfriend 11 years earlier. I wanted to swing again so I go off the beaten path (pun intended) and my eyes fixated on a swing. There was a young teenager on the far swing and three empty swings. I didn’t for one minute think I couldn’t swing. I don’t know why, but it never crossed my mind. Well, add to my getting beat up by acorns to experiencing one of the most humiliating moments in my life.

I get to the swing and turn my back to it to get on and I can’t pull myself up onto the swing. I have no strength in my arms and hands to lift myself up. Oh my gawd. I think, no way. I exercise 2 hours every other day, I can do this. I try again, this time pushing the swing under my butt thinking it will give me an edge. It does not. Now there are two younger girls running to the swings next to me and a father holding onto the swing poles staring at me. I try again and I can’t get on the swing. I look at the dad and I am so humiliated I can’t believe it. So I leave and continue walking.

Oh I forgot to mention another reason I’m feeling so sad. My 24 year old son, Bob, is currently in Lake Havasu City with friends. I lived there for a couple of years when my sons, Jim and Rich were about 3 and 6 years old until they were about 6 and 9. My sons know I absolutely love LHC. They have wanted to take me there many, many times, but I haven’t made it yet. I always say someday. Bob has been sending me pictures of the lake and asking me to set a date to go. Rich said we should all go in the summer, him and his new family, Bob, and me. Again, I said maybe.

It’s a double edged sword for me. Memories of my kids are precious. I love thinking of the happy times. But I was divorced in LHC after almost 10 years of marriage and their father never saw Jim and Rich again, (except for when they came to court with me for child support). It was in LHC where I met Bob’s father and was with him in Phoenix for 17 years before we divorced after again almost 10 years of marriage. He didn’t see Bob again either (except for when he popped back into our lives when Bob was 13 years old for about 6 months.) How sad is this paragraph?

I just had another revelation. I’m thinking maybe another reason I’m feeling so sad this week is because Bob isn’t here. He pops in whenever, so I’m always thinking I can’t be sad or be crying. Now that he’s not around, even for a few days, my guard may be let down. Not sure, but it just has me thinking this may be.

OK, I digressed; let me return to the park. I have to scroll up to see where I left off. I can’t believe all I’m writing. My hands are just typing away and I have no cramps, which is very odd. OK, so I’m walking the path again, after my humiliation. My hips are burning and I look at my watch and I haven’t even walked for 15 minutes yet! I feel stinging on my hand, so I look down and my pinky finger is bleeding. I guess I cut it on the chain trying to get on the swing. I’m still getting beat up! Oh my gawd.

As I reach where I began my walk I say to myself, walk it again. I know I can do this. So I kept walking. My hips didn’t hurt as much the second time around. I walked the path again and when I end up where I started, I know I can’t do it again. But I don’t want to go home yet. It’s so beautiful out and I know if I go home I’ll just feel sad. So I sit at a picnic table thinking all is good.

I start crying and I think, so much for my theory. Oh my gawd. Memories flood back to when I walked here with yet a different boyfriend 13 years ago, and then another potential boyfriend at a later time years ago. I start thinking about how I will never have another man in my life. The tears are really flowing now. My face starts stinging and I think it must be cut from the acorns. Then I feel the heat, I got sunburned! Oh my gawd, I’m still getting beat up.

I decide to just sit there and cry. What the hell. I’ll get it all out. I mean the acorns beat me up; the swing chain cut my finger, I was humiliated, my hips are hurting, my face is burning, I have guilt about my mother, I’m sad over memories of LHC and the loss of my son, I realize I’m going solo the rest of my life, what else could go wrong at the park?

So I sit, I think, I cry. I keep changing positions so I don’t turn into a lobster. I’m sitting facing the parking lot because the sun is setting and my legs were turning red facing west. I’m just sitting, thinking, and blubbering when a dog comes up to my left leg. Oh my gawd. I thought, you’ve got to be kidding. I’m going to get bit by a damn dog now? Holy shit on rye. The dog licks my leg and the owner calls her dog and he obeys right away and walks away. Wow. I couldn’t believe I did not get bitten by this dog.

As I sit there, for some reason the Beatles song, Yesterday, is singing in my head. It’s not a favorite of mine, but there it is singing in my head. Go figure. More tears.

 I decide it’s time to go home. I walk to my truck and begin my drive home. I kid you not, this is the song that played on the way home, Mama Said There’d Be Days Like This.