Don’t Forget to Play


It’s good to see so many people have discovered something I’ve known for years. Coloring is a great way to relax. There have been numerous stories about the popularity of adult coloring books this past year, and if you check the current list of best selling books on Amazon, you’ll find that half of the top twenty titles are adult coloring books.

As a college student, instead of spending all my time buried in textbooks at the end of every semester, I’d go to the store and buy coloring books and crayons and then devote as much time to coloring as to studying. After their initial surprise subsided, others joined in the coloring breaks providing much needed stress relief during exam week.


While all of the attention has focused on adults coloring, there are plenty of ways to bring play back into your life.

  • Build a snowman or sand castle (pretty popular this weekend)
  • Toss a frisbee
  • Play with a pet
  • Go to a playground and swing
  • Play a board game
  • Ride a bike

It’s so easy to get in the habit of zoning out in front of the television or computer screen, but participating in play helps you forget about work and other adult responsibilities. Play fuels your imagination and relieves stress. It can even help you connect with others and be more energetic.

Who wouldn’t want to swing on one of these?

Recognizing the benefits of play, the city of Boston built a playground especially for adults with glow-in-the-dark swings, corn hole, ping pong, bocce and a giant Jenga. What a great idea!

“We don’t stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing.” George Bernard Shaw

Stay young and make time to play.






Use Gas Prepaid Cards

It seems like I get a call every month from a credit card company informing me that my account has been compromised. I should know the routine by now:

  1. Receive a text asking that I verify a purchase.
  2. When I respond no, I did not make the purchase, a second text asks me to call at my earliest convenience.
  3. The call again inquires about a suspicious purchase.
  4. Result: card cancelled and a new card issued to be received in about ten days.
  5. Finally, changes to any automatic payments made on the card.

The credit card company never reveals where the card was compromised, but in most cases the most recent legitimate purchase was made at a gas pump; and it seems every week or so another story about a skimming device being found at a gas station is reported.

Of course the easiest way to avoid this problem is to pay cash, but this is such a pain. Go inside. Wait in line. And make one of two less than desirable choices: either pay more than the gas will cost and then return to wait in another line to get change or pay less than you know you’ll need and leave without a full tank. Neither good choices.


Another solution to this problem: purchase gas prepaid cards when you buy your groceries and then use these cards when you fill your tank. I started doing this when Publix offers $50 gas cards for only $40 with a purchase of $50 of groceries – a great deal, as well as a way to avoid credit card fraud.


I admit I haven’t made a complete switch to paying using this method, but I know it’s a smart move. Let’s start using prepaid gas cards.



Even if you decide not to use the prepaid gas card option, remember your debit card does not offer protection from fraud like your credit card.

Kick the Sugar Habit

Sugar made headlines last week with the release of new nutrition guidelines. The big news: sugar should only be 10% of daily caloric intake. As my mom would say, “That’s about as clear as mud.”

What’s meant by this 10% news? Based on a 2000 calorie diet, sugar intake should be limited to 50 grams or about 12 teaspoons. That’s a little more helpful, but then when I read that one soda contains about 10 teaspoons of sugar, I really got the picture.

I’ve cut way back on soda, but knowing that one soda contains enough sugar for an entire day makes me think about those unlimited soda refills at restaurants. That sounds dangerous for someone like me who is a self diagnosed sugar addict. I love sugar…not only in soda, but in cookies, cake, brownies, ice cream and candy. Cereal for breakfast is just another excuse for some added sugar, and when you consider things like syrup and jelly, not to mention the sugar hidden in dressings and other processed foods, I’m in trouble.


Walking through Target yesterday, I saw a super-sized box of Lemonheads, and I wanted to buy it badly. I tried to remember of the last time I’d eaten a Lemonhead and kept thinking about how I like the soft super sour outer layer as well as the sweet inner core. I’m proud to say I did not succumb to the temptation and left the store empty handed.

A diet limited to only 50g of sugar is going to be tough considering the information I found on the following containers in the refrigerator and cabinet:

  • can of soda – 39g
  • box of apple juice – 22g
  • fat free yogurt – 13g
  • ketchup – 4g
  • lite dressing – 4g
  • strawberry preserves – 12g
  • pancake syrup – 33g
  • M&Ms – 31g

Looks like I’m in trouble, but I’m committed to cutting back on sugar. Not sure if I can reduce to only 50g, but I’m going to work on it. Hope you’ll join me in an effort to kick the sugar habit.





Be Flexible

I preach organization, planning, goal-setting and list making but not to the exclusion of being flexible. You may have noticed that on the last day of 2015, I posted 13 Down, 2 To Go. That’s right on the final day of 2015, we had completed only 13 of the 15 adventures we set as goals for 2015. We didn’t watch a boat parade during the holiday season, and I didn’t catch a redfish.

Meghan caught my redfish.
Meghan caught my redfish.

Sure, it was possible to complete these two, but things changed. A 90th birthday celebration and a memorial service for a loved one took priority. Squeezing in a parade and a fishing trip just to check them off a list would have taken away the joy and caused a busy November and December to be filled with stress.

What’s the purpose of the 15 in 15 list? It’s an attempt to make sure we get out and do things we enjoy. When we started the list in 2013 we were still working and relied on the list to make the most of our weekends and time away from work. Retiring in May, the list took on a different meaning. We no longer need to plan how to use precious days off. Instead, our 15 in 15 list served as a resource in planning our new found freedom.

An unscheduled trip to Miami, sailing and biking, took priority over a redfish trip planned in August. We can go fishing later, right?


A camping trip in the Panhandle morphed into a camping trip up the east coast just because we had more time.

Trying to accomplish an unrealistic goal just because it’s on a list causes unnecessary stress. Lack of flexibility may also result in missed opportunities. Sometimes our plans are not in our own best interests so it’s important to adapt to changes to be successful. Being flexible also makes it possible for you to effectively face challenges. You haven’t failed when you change the plan. Instead, you’ve learned the original plan failed to meet your needs.

You’ve probably heard John Lennon’s famous quote: “Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans.”

Replacing an air conditioner with the money saved for a down payment on a car…that’s life.

Twisting your ankle the week before cross country camp…that’s life.

An accident that sidelines you from your daily routine…that’s life.

Babies that arrive earlier than expected…that’s life.

Hurricanes, floods, blizzards and so many other natural events that interrupt schedules or even change lives forever…again, that’s life.

And life isn’t something that gets in the way of our plans. It reminds us that our plans aren’t always a priority.

I’m not going to stop planning, and I hope you won’t either. Being organized, setting goals and making lists are all worthwhile activities, but it’s just as important to be flexible.




2015 in Review

The inspiration for this blog came Mother’s Day weekend in 2012 when none of my daughters could answer the question posed in the newspaper, “What advice have you received from your mom?” The year 2015 marks the third full year of writing Mom’s Monday Memo, and since its inception in November of 2012, I’ve written more than 160 weekly reminders of advice on Mondays. I’m proud to say I haven’t missed a Monday and while themes repeat, each week provides a different tip or reminder. Now on the last Monday of the year, it’s time to implement a practice of effective teachers: a review. So let’s take a look back at the Monday Memos from 2015:

Fight the Flu

Treat Yourself Like Your BFF

Make a Good First Impression

Trash It!

Set the Reset Button

Don’t Obsess Over the Weather

Don’t Put Soda in the Freezer

Check Your Order

Let Someone Carry Your Bags

Grab a Bag

Carry Your Insurance Card

Don’t Eat At Your Desk

Above All, Love Each Other Deeply


Carry ID…Always

Make a Medical Kit

Take a Deep Breath…and Bring Headphones – airport survival

Avoid Distractions – driving tips


There’s a Pass for That – park, museum passes

Organize Your Important Papers

Buckle Up 

June 1st Hurricane Reminders

Back it Up

Listen Grandma

Follow Your Brain Instead of Your Heart

Don’t be a Distracted Hiker

Know Your Foreign Currency

Recycle That Computer

Don’t be a Control Freak

Register for Do Not Call

Fill ‘er Up and Check Your Car

Take a Daycation


Don’t Forget to Live in the Moment

Renew Someone’s Faith in Humanity

Check for Ticks

Pitch a Tent

Go Fishing!

Make a Fall Bucket List

Designate a Meeting Spot

Cut the Tags

Wear an Apron

Don’t Forget a Map

Stay to the End of the Game

Invest in a Good Mattress

Don’t be an Idiot or Maniac 

Please…No Tablet Cameras

Prepare for Christmas

Family Comes First


Record Serial Numbers

Stay Awake

And remember, it’s always good to review information so that you make it an automatic part of your life.





Record Serial Numbers

On Tuesdays as part of the Homeless Ministry at church, we provide bicycles to those who do not have transportation. Last week a woman who’d received a bicycle a couple of weeks ago came in and asked for the serial number of the bike she’d been given because it had been stolen and she needed the number so the police could retrieve it for her. (She said she’d found it but was unable to prove it was hers.)

Unfortunately, we were unable to help her since the church does not keep a list of serial numbers for the bicycles. However, this reminded me of the importance of recording serial numbers in case of theft. In fact, on two occasions we’ve had stolen bikes returned because we were able to provide this information to the police.


After my green Schwinn Stingray was stolen from the bicycle rack in front of our apartment complex in Pompano, we called the police, made a report including the serial number which my Mom had written in her address book (under B of course) and a few days later the bike was found, identified and returned. This bike had actually been stolen the year before when we lived in Jacksonville, but my brother and I found it abandoned by the thief only a few blocks away with a flat tire. I guess this bike was really meant for me and me alone.

On another occasion, my sister’s bike was returned after being stolen from a bike rack at a mall in Pompano. A few weeks later, she saw her bike parked in front of the local water park. She found a police officer and asked him to call home and get the serial number so he could identify the bike as hers. Long story short…that number along with the officer’s questioning of the bike’s “new owner” resulted in the bike being returned to my sister.


I don’t have an address book like my Mom had to record serial numbers, but I do have an Evernote account where I keep that type of information. An address book, a digital file, a note card taped to the garage, whatever works for you…just make sure you record the serial numbers of your bikes.




Family Comes First

This week’s Mom’s Monday Memo is written by Dad, not Mom, so it should probably be added as an edition to Dad’s Dissertation. 

Family comes first. These words are easy to say but more difficult to put into action. I have said this often but have not lived it to the fullest. We get busy raising kids and attending sporting events or performances. We try to pack or cram as much activity into our vacations until we are exhausted. We look to fill our spare time with stimulating or thrilling activities.

imageSeveral events have occurred during the past weeks that have driven home the importance of family and friends. Recently, a number of friends have lost close family members. Without question each friend would have valued one more quiet dinner with their loved one. Dee and I hosted Thanksgiving for 34 family and extended family members. It was so gratifying watching cousins, aunts, uncles, and grandparents laughing on the front lawn while enjoying dinner.

Dee and I made it a priority to attend my uncle’s 90th birthday celebration in Birmingham this past weekend. Though my uncle has severely impaired speech, his appreciation for his family was clear through his hugs and kisses.


As I think about the most meaningful experiences in my life, I do not think of the places I have travelled or the activities I enjoyed. It is the time with people that really matters. I remember sitting around a table with cousins after a birthday or funeral laughing until we cry. It is the enjoyment of engaging in a board game with our daughters and son-in-laws. I value the conversations I have had with my father or father-in-law while sitting in a small fishing boat on a foggy morning. These are my most memorable times. The common denominator has been taking the time to be attentive to those who are the most important to you.

Before it is too late, slow down and take the time to place your family first. It will be the most important gift that you can give and receive this Christmas season.

Prepare for Christmas

It’s the last day in November. With Thanksgiving behind us, it’s definitely time to prepare for Christmas.

The stores have been preparing for weeks with decorations, music and displays to entice shoppers to buy. Lights have been strung downtown and candy canes, toy soldiers and bells adorn light posts. I’ve noticed several cars with trees tied to their roofs the last couple of days, and several friends have posted pictures of their homes decorated for the season.

And of course, you can’t turn on the television, radio or computer without hearing about Black Friday, Cyber Monday, door buster deals and predictions about the total sales anticipated during the coming weeks in the busiest shopping time of the year. But it’s not shopping or decorating or baking or addressing cards that I’m suggesting you do to prepare.

The past several years have been filled with campaigns to put CHRIST back into Christmas by those who are appalled by a greeting of Happy Holidays. However, more recently I’ve noticed an effort by a few, to put CHRIST back into Christmas by recognizing Advent, the time to prepare for and anticipate the coming of Christ. I think that’s a much better campaign.

Yesterday was the first day of the Advent season, the time to prepare. It’s a good time to slow down instead of getting caught up in all of the hustle and bustle thrust upon us at this time of year. Slow down and prepare for Christmas by celebrating Advent. If you’re not sure how to do that, I’d like suggest you visit the blog of First United Methodist Church of Ocala where you’ll find daily Bible verses, readings, music or videos that can be a source of inspiration as you prepare for Christmas.




Please…no tablet cameras!

When I see people using their iPads or other tablets as a camera in public I’m so embarrassed for them. In fact, tablet manufacturers should stop including cameras on these devices to avoid this type of public humiliation.

How embarrassing!
How embarrassing!

I can understand that these cameras may be needed in a pinch when a phone or digital camera has a dead battery or isn’t working, but even then it’s best to use the tablet camera at home to document a birthday or whopper fish, not at a concert, game or other public event. It’s not only embarrassing but  irritating to sit behind someone holding a tablet above their head blocking the view of all behind them with a 9″x7″ camera.

If you use a ladder, you need a real camera. To protect the identity of the tablet photographer, I did not include a picture of his tablet faux pas.

I witnessed one of the most embarrassing examples of using an iPad camera last weekend at the Chalk Festival in Venice. A man in his 20s, carried a step ladder around the festival and took photos from an elevated position like the serious photographers with expensive equipment. Did he really think his tablet pictures required that type of set up?

Do yourself and everyone else a favor and please…don’t use a tablet phone (at least not in public).


Don’t be an Idiot or Maniac

I recently read an article that described two types of drivers: Idiots and Maniacs.


It described those who drive slower than you as Idiots. Anyone who slows you down falls in this category. That might be student drivers, older drivers, texters or someone driving a vehicle experiencing mechanical difficulties.

On the other hand Maniac is the term given to drivers who speed along the highway often times weaving in and out of traffic or riding your tail, flashing their lights, honking and probably calling you an Idiot.

When you’re driving, especially on the Interstate, take a deep breath, avoid the urge to retaliate against either the Idiots or Maniacs and certainly don’t emulate their bad behavior.

  • No texting.
  • No speeding.
  • No tailgating.
  • No yelling at drivers.
  • No weaving in and out of traffic.
  • No road rage.

Be safe. Don’t be an Idiot or a Maniac.