“Don’t Put Your Junk in my Backyard” -Don Morgan

“Don’t Put Your Junk in my Backyard” -Don Morgan

I bet every single person who just read that above quote smiled. Every. Single. One.

Well, that’s how Don Morgan made everyone feel. He had this effect on everyone he met. No one was a stranger. He always made them smile. That was his style. He had a quote for everything. And he meant what he said. He was wise. He was true. He was authentic.

Other People’s Junk

When my friend Marla Morgan was growing up, she remembers hearing her dad say “Don’t put your junk in my backyard.” He offered advice with that too. Don’t let their problems be your problems. The thing that throws us all off, is carrying around other people’s junk. If you don’t have their junk, then you have the clarity to do what you are meant to do on this earth. It makes sense… It just makes sense…

Marla entered the child care business. Taking care of 6-week old to 6-year old children is her passion and she does it extremely well. As she was getting her business up and running the kids loved listening to a song called “Don’t Put Your Junk in My Backyard”. The irony! We don’t need another person’s rake, toys. dirty smelly socks, old tires, or rotted out cars. That’s theirs. Not ours.

When someone starts dumping their junk on us, we need to say “Not in my backyard!”. All that junk can trigger reactions, emotions, feelings, some we may not even be aware of. I’ve got my own junk! I’m working on my junk through therapy, reading, talking, meditating, quiet times, walks, friends.

Work Hard, Don’t Dump

I work hard, so I don’t dump it. You go do the work on your junk. Don’t put yours in my backyard anymore. I don’t want it and obviously neither do you.

 

“I really like riding a bike because when you ride a bike you feel like you’re free.” -Maeve

“I really like riding a bike because when you ride a bike you feel like you’re free.” -Maeve

What is it about riding a bike? Is it the beautiful monotony of the wheels going round and round? The pedals powered by your own legs? The speed? The breeze? The glide?

Maeve is right. You do feel free.

You’re going on your own power. That is freedom. It’s faster than walking. Sure you could run. But why run, when you can sit on a bike and get there faster?

Sometimes you’re coasting with the wind at your back, thinking you can go on like this forever.

Sometimes you’re going uphill, putting it in granny gear and pedaling with all your might.

Sometimes you’re going downhill, truly feeling the wind on your face – smiling big – thinking “This is fun!”

Whichever example above is your ride, you still know you are in control. You can steer that bike anywhere you want to go. You can shift the gears. You can pedal the pedals as slow or as fast as you want. You can sit back and coast and enjoy the ride.

Sound familiar? How many times in life are we pedaling so hard, revolutions going round and round, we shift the gears and do anything to get up that hill?

What about those times when we’re on the downhill? We worked so hard now we can let the decline take us for awhile.

And those moments when we are on the straight away maybe pedaling for a bit then coasting…is that the time we are doing what we need to be doing, but also wondering… looking… for what’s next. Or realizing that all is well?

Those are moments. Just moments. At least in my life, they are moments. I never seem to have a long period–months or years–of coasting. Never. But for that I’m grateful.

Between kids, work, life, and husband, there is not much coasting for me, but I have to not let that stop me from coasting, sitting back on my seat, taking one side of the handlebars, standing up straighter, looking around, and enjoying the ride. That’s when you can feel confident in thoughts and feelings.

You know you can compete against any obstacle you come across.

“Having a good attitude doesn’t mean you are going to live. It means you are going to live well.” -Wendy W.

“Having a good attitude doesn’t mean you are going to live. It means you are going to live well.” -Wendy W.

Coming from a woman who has cancer. Brain tumor. Glioblastoma. It keeps coming back. They keep operating. She has deficits here and there. But none that are debilitating. And the tumor is not your typical Glio. It doesn’t have the customary tentacles that invade the brain in the intricate spots, which typically makes it one of the most deadly type of brain cancers. Wendy’s (pictured above on the right) is special. It is somewhat encapsulating, so when it grows back they can go back in and take it out.

But why do we have to have cancer or a devastating life event to make us realize it’s all about the attitude? We know teenagers have a bad attitude. And look how fun they are to be around.

Living Well

Living well doesn’t mean having nice clothes, a large home, or a fancy car. Living well means living with contentment, peace within, authenticity. Living from a place of love not fear. Being connected.

If we look at our situations from a place of love we see it in a whole new light. Wendy isn’t living in fear that this cancer might take her life. It probably will. Wendy is living in love. She shares her story and faith with others. I tell her she needs to get out there and speak. She needs to go “on the circuit”. Her story is incredible. Her faith is unstoppable.

Her third child die of SIDS. Her fourth baby, shortly after delivery, was found to have a twisted intestine and was miraculously saved. A doctor happened to stop by Wendy’s hospital room to see how she how she was fairing, since he knew about her losing her last baby, and figured it out. Years later, she went through a divorce. Raising five kids wasn’t easy, but she had a good relationship with her ex.

The Diagnosis

Then one day, she felt confused and had a severe pain in her head. Something wasn’t right. Wendy went to the doctor and her symptoms warranted that an MRI be ordered that day. She was called immediately after the test (unheard of normally) to go talk with the MD. She knew it wasn’t good, but when they asked her to bring someone with her, she got a pit in her stomach.

Her ex was worried about her. During the MRI, he waited at a nereby Target, just in case she needed him. And when Wendy got the call, she immediately called him and asked him to accompany her to the doctor’s office for the results.

“Sure. I’ll be right there.” He quickly replied.

“Where are you?” she asked.

“Across the street.” he answered.

He came. They heard the news together. He pulled his wedding ring out of his pocket and asked her to marry him all over again. She said yes. And today they are going through this journey together. Doing the chemo. Raising the kids. Helping their daughter get married.

Live Well

Wendy continues to have a good attitude. She will claim it has gotten her this far. She is part of a “LiveStrong” group that exercise together, and get together for breakfast once a month.

She isn’t speaking “on the circuit” yet, but she does give talks locally, sharing her good attitude and faith. She asks for signs. She looks for signs. She gets signs. She knows she is not alone. Her life is FILLED with family, friends, kids, kid’s friends, love. She willingly shares her smile and stories of hope. Wendy knows she is still here to keep others going. Wendy lives well.

“Did they have TV when you were a kid?” -Jack

“Did they have TV when you were a kid?” -Jack

“How old do you think I am?” I asked Jack incredulously. I know he’s a kid in the 21st Century, but geez! Is my face cream not working? Am I not covering up the grey enough? Just because you have access to multiple devices at one time and I only had Atari growing up, doesn’t mean I walked to school in the snow. Up hill. Both ways.

Televisions and Telephones

We did have televisions and telephones when I was a kid. And not just tin soup cans attached to a string either. I do make my children aware of these facts in this age of modern technology. When we go to my brother’s house over the holidays, I show my kids the black rotary dial phone my dad had in his study that my brother now has.

I say “Kids, come here, I want to show you something. This is called a telephone. You have to pick up this handle, wait for a dial tone, then dial each number individually. Then, wait again until the circle returns to it’s correct number placement.”

And this is the response I get…

“Maaaaa-uuuummmmm, (eye roll, eye roll) we know that’s a phone.”

I quickly reply “But did you know it has a cord and you could only go as far as the cord allowed? Did you also know there was such a thing as a ‘busy signal’? That meant the person you were trying to call was on the other line talking to someone else.”

Then I really stick it to them by saying this: “We had to WAIT to talk with a person.” Can you picture my kid’s disdain?

I get the same response when I pull out my old typewriter. I start in again…”Kids, this is called a typewriter. I had to use this apparatus to type my term papers in college. When I made a mistake, I had to roll the paper up, use a product called ‘white out’ to cover up my mistake, then very carefully roll the paper back to the exact spot where I had left off typing.”

“Do you have any idea how difficult that was?” I ask them. However at this point only the 10-year old remains standing there barely listening to me as the older three have heard this schpeel many times before. They’ve left to go put in their ear buds and watch YouTube on their tiny portable mobile device (aka phone.)

So Jack, to answer your question…

Yes, I had TV when I was a kid. If we wanted to change the channel we would actually have to get up with our own two legs, go to the TV and turn the knob. Can you imagine having no remote? We didn’t even have cable!

And I had to sneak to watch Saturday Night Live. I swear at the worst possible moment, when there was a raunchy part, my Dad would walk in and tell me to “turn off the boob tube!”. Busted… every time!

And now Jack, you have a TV everywhere you look. You can barely go out in public with out seeing a TV. Even at the gas pump. And that phone in your pocket is a mini TV that you carry with you everywhere.

Fortnite Obsession

I want to limit your screen time… curb your Fortnite obsession. I tell you to “Turn off the Boob Tube!” too and I mean it.  I don’t want you to get notified instantly. I want you to have to be met with a busy signal. I want you to have play Pong where there are only 4 non life-like things on the screen to monitor. I want you to wish you were outside playing at Terabithia rather than playing Battlefield 1.

Yes Jack, I had TV as a kid, but nothing like you have it now.

 

“Do it with GUSTO!”

“Do it with GUSTO!”

“Do it with GUSTO!”

How many of us are just going through the motions, strolling through life? Wondering at times… “I don’t even remember driving here.” or even deeper “How did I get here?” I mean “How did I get here–at this point in my life?” Minutes turn into hours. Hours turn into days. Days turn into weeks. Weeks turn into years. Then something happens. We wake up & wonder “How did I get here?” “What am I doing with my life?” Have you ever asked yourself that? In other words have you ever asked “Am I living my life with GUSTO?”

Brian’s short life.

The above quote “Do it with GUSTO!” was a favorite saying of my brother Brian. Brian did everything with gusto. His running, biking, academics, shenanigans, friendships, adventures (at age 17, he even rode a horse from Michigan to Kentucky!) Life was meant to be lived. And he lived it!

Thank God he did, because he didn’t live a long life. He died at 18 from a virus that attacked his young, strong, gusto-filled heart. Brian was my bestest brother. He was 10 years older than me, but we were always together. Actually, it was more like he let me follow him around everywhere.

Then, one day, he had a bad cough. I knew something wasn’t right that night. I stayed in my bed, wide awake, quiet as could be. Listening to that cough. My tall, Irish, Marcus-Welby-type physician father came home from “making rounds” and took a listen to Brian’s heart. Something was definitely not right. Two extra heartbeats… Four total… Not good… They immediately rushed Brian off to the hospital, which was the beginning of a painful journey for him and our family. My parents never to be the same again. Several months, several doctors and several hospital stays later, Brian lost his battle.

Brian was supposed to go here.

When I turned 18, life was very different for me. I was here. Brian was not. What would he have done had he kept on living? While I was on a particular college visit my Mom told me “Brian was supposed to go here.” Done. I knew right then and there that was where I too was supposed to go to school. My college experience influenced the rest of my life. The friends I met. The courses I studied. My college experience was full of GUSTO! That is one example of how Brian’s words influenced my life and still do today.

We’ve all heard it though…

“Live the life you dream!”

“Seize the day!”

But what are you doing about it? It’s time to wake up! Stop the ho-hum, the hum-drum. It’s time to live your life. NOW. It’s time to “Do it with GUSTO!”

So DO the thing you’ve been thinking about, because it will continue to nag you if you don’t. You won’t feel settled if you don’t do it.

GO on that trip that you’ve always wanted to take.

CLIMB that mountain that you’ve always wanted to climb.

COOK the seemingly impossible meal.

FIND the love of your life.

START the business you’ve always wanted to start.

But remember to LOVE yourself first. Because if you don’t love you, no one else will. And part of loving yourself, is by being true to you. You are here now. Brian isn’t. What a life he would’ve led! What a life he would’ve lived!

So get off the computer. Turn off your phone. Get out there. Breath the fresh air. Take in the blue sky. Listen to the birds. They are singing to you.

Live your life and “Do it with GUSTO!”

“B for Breakfast”

“B for Breakfast”

We’ve all heard of the psychic powers of a “mother’s ear”. It can never be out done, just like the eyes in the back of her head!

Wedding Weekend

It was early morning. We were all crammed in our hotel room, two parents and four kids ages 11, 8, 6, and 3. It was a family wedding weekend and everyone was always together morning, noon, and night. I’m lying in bed in my ‘just about to wake up sleeping stupor’ when I hear in the distance the sound of a hotel door closing. I remember sleepily thinking “Was that our door that just closed? It must be a dream.”

A few minutes pass…I wake up with a JOLT!

“The door! I heard OUR hotel door close.” I exclaim.

I threw off the covers, lept out of bed and started counting heads. My God… I’m missing one!

Who is Missing???

“Jack. Where’s Jack?” I yelled.

Jack, the 6-year old, is a crazy sleeper. (Read=he moves all over the place!) I checked everywhere in the hotel room–under the blankets, on top of the blankets, under the sleeper sofa, in the bathroom, in the bath tub. No Jack.

The door. He was the one who opened the door.

I threw on a sweatshirt and shook my husband to wake up. And out the same hotel room door I went. He wasn’t there. I run up and down the hallways yelling.

“Jack! Jack!”

Then I stopped. I’m stunned, as I noticed… Our room was right by the elevator. A revelation–the elevator! I run to it. Pushed a button. But wait! Did he go up? Did he go down? I push both buttons frantically. I was swaying. I was antsy.

“C’mon. C’mon. C’mon…… Hurry up!!!!” I proclaimed.

Doors finally opened. As I got in I noticed an older gentleman already in the elevator. Yet another revelation…..my son may have gotten in the elevator with a stranger, a creeper! The thought made me sick to my stomach so I tried to instantly put it out of mind.

Up or down?!?

“Excuse me Sir, did you see a cute little curly haired boy in his blue striped pajamas?” I ask.

“No. Sorry.” he stated.

I stood there looking at all the buttons. Again the unsettling question: Where did he go? Up? Down?

The “L” for lobby was already pushed so I made a quick decision to go to there. The doors open to the lobby and I fly out of the elevator in a panic. I happen to see my Mom and asked her if she had seen Jack.

“No. Why?” she asked.

I then told her of my reality.  As I’m told her, I started to cry. As I explained what happened, a kind hotel worker came up behind me, tapped me on the shoulder. I turned to him.

“Ma’am. Ma’am. Excuse me Ma’am. Is this your son? We found him wandering around in the basement.” he said.

I turned to see my son’s sweet little face encircled with his curly brown hair standing there in his blue striped pajamas.

“JACK!!! JACK!!! My God, JACK!!!!” I reach down to scoop him up. “I was so worried about you. Where did you go? Where were you?” I said.

In his sweet little lisp-y, wispy voice he said “I’m thorry Mama. I wasth hungry. Tho I went to go get food. I got in the elevator and pushed “B for breakfast.”