Be Aware of Your Surroundings

You have to love technology.  It makes it possible to multi-task by working, searching the internet, sending emails, texting, talking on the phone, reading books, watching videos, or listening to music while doing other things. But while technology makes it possible to pack a lot into your hectic day, it can also cause you to be distracted.

Even before all of these distractions, John frequently admonished me for not paying attention to my surroundings. I remember one time in particular when he yelled to me from the car as I walked through a parking lot because someone was following me, and he felt I was unaware of a potential problem.

awareWith the news this past week of three attacks on the University of Florida campus, it seems like a good time to remind you of the importance of taking some simple precautions for your personal safety.

The Electronic Security Association provides good tips concerning personal safety that we should all think about so we’re in control of our environment. Check them out:

Walking/Running Precautions:

  • Take a friend (even a furry one). Walking a dog, especially one inclined to bark at strangers, is better than venturing out alone.
  • Take your cell phone with you so you can call 911 if you see something suspicious.
  • Let a friend or family member know where you’re going and when you plan to return.
  • Avoid walking too closely to bushes or areas with any kind of tall overgrowth.
  • Stay attentive to your surroundings and if listening to music, keep the volume at a low level so you can hear what’s going on around you.
  • Only run or walk in familiar areas.
  • Use caution when out at night. If you are out after dark, always carry a flashlight with fresh batteries.
  • Always walk on the sidewalk facing traffic. Facing traffic makes it more difficult for someone to drive up behind you without being noticed. 

Driving and Parked Car Precautions:

  • Before heading to your destination, make sure you have enough gas to get you there and back. You don’t want to be stranded alone.
  • If you feel like you are being followed, drive to the nearest gas station or open business. Do not drive home until you are completely sure you are alone.
  • Roll up the windows and lock all car doors every time you leave your car.
  • When you approach your car, have the key ready.
  • Avoid parking in isolated areas especially at night. If possible, park your car under a lamppost.

If You Are Attacked:

  • Noise is your most immediate defense. Not only will sound attract attention to you and make your location known but it may also cause the would-be attacker to flee.
  • If possible, run in the direction of help. An assailant usually will not engage in a pursuit because it could increase the possibility of detection or apprehension.
  • If the assailant demands your purse, keys or money, give it to him or her. Don’t risk your life.
  • Never leave the site of the attack when prompted by an attacker. Don’t believe an assailant that says he or she won’t hurt you if you leave with him or her. Stay where you are, fight and scream.

Since you can only be in control of what you are aware, please be aware of your surroundings!







Make One Change for Planet Earth

IMG_4662Tomorrow is Earth Day. A day set aside to mark the anniversary of what’s considered the birth of the modern environmental movement which began in 1970 when groups fighting against oil spills, polluting factories and power plants, raw sewage, toxic dumps, pesticides, the loss of wilderness, and the extinction of wildlife came together as they recognized they shared common values.

In 1970,  Republicans and Democrats, rich and poor, those in cities as well as rural areas, labor unions and business interests came together for a common goal which resulted in the creation of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, and the passage of the Clean Air, Clean Water, and Endangered Species Act.

So glad Ocala’s finally embraced recycling.

By 1990 Earth Day went global with over 140 countries recognizing the need to address environmental issues and led to significant recycling efforts.

While there are still many who make changes to protect Earth’s resources, unfortunately, many businesses, lobbyists, and politicians now work to dismantle the positive work from the past 44 years.

With the 45th anniversary of Earth Day one year away, it’s a good time to commit to making one change this year for the health of Earth. There are so many options:

  • Increase recycling efforts
  • Carpool
  • Plant a tree
  • ALWAYS use reusable bags at the grocery instead of plastic
  • Stop drinking bottled water
  • Eat less meat
  • Turn up the AC a degree or two this summer and turn down the heat in the winter
  • Buy less of everything


No more bottled water!
No more bottled water!

I know this is a huge waste of resources as well as money, and how can I continue this practice and then complain about the companies pumping water from the aquifer? I still don’t want to drink the water from the tap, but I’m investing in a water purifier instead of buying the bottled stuff.

What will you do?

Make one change for planet Earth!





Print Pictures

IMG_4391Boxes of photos with thousands of prints line the shelves of a closet with more photos in albums and drawers. It can be overwhelming to go through so many pictures trying to locate ones from a particular event or time period. It’s time to weed out those blurry pictures, duplicates, and ones that are not meaningful, and then I’ll need to determine a more effective way of organizing and labeling so they can be enjoyed instead of stored.

As much as I dread the thought of undertaking the picture organization task, I’m glad we have photographs from not only our years as a couple, but ones from our childhood, and even earlier pictures of our parents, grandparents, and early generations. Pictures in Easter outfits with bonnets and white gloves, pictures around the Christmas tree, pictures of birthdays, vacations, sporting events, friends, family, and other special occasions.

I’ve never taken so many pictures as since I got a phone with a camera. No worry about forgetting the camera, needing more film or flashbulbs, and it’s always charged so it’s always picture time. Photos of everyday events fill my camera roll and photo stream. Today it shows 780 photos saved on my phone, and that’s just the ones on the phone. In the past year, I’ve taken over 5000 pictures. No subject is too mundane.

I love digital photography. Since there’s no cost associated with bad pictures I can just shoot away sure to get a few good shots and then I can save on the computer, no more boxes or drawers full of the extra prints. However, there’s a big problem with this system. Technology changes and if some of these photos aren’t printed, we risk losing them.

This has happened with pictures taken in the past. Boxes of slides can no longer be viewed so we’ve lost our record of those memories.

Videos stored on VHS and 8mm tapes cannot be enjoyed now that we don’t own the devices needed to show them. Of course, we can take these tapes to be digitized so we can watch them again, but in what format should they be converted? Will this be a process that needs to occur every decade to keep these images?

There’s something to be said for old-fashioned prints, not dependent on technology. You can enjoy them for a lifetime and they can be passed on to the generations that follow.


Take pictures. Save them on your phone, camera, computer, or other storage devices. Make them into slide shows to show others and enjoy, but don’t stop there. Please print, label, and organize a representative selection of pictures EVERY year. You’ll be glad you did!






Be a Good Neighbor

Our “backdoor” neighbor sent a letter this week to introduce or reintroduce herself to those in the neighborhood. In her letter, Julie said that she’d made a New Years’ Resolution to be a better neighbor and this was part of her resolution. After a brief introduction Julie provided her contact information – phone number and email address – and invited neighbors to feel free to call on her for help.


I responded to her letter with an email and included our phone number, something you wouldn’t have needed to do a few years ago. Her letter made me realize that the phone book is no longer very useful for finding numbers to contact neighbors. And while we’ve exchanged cell phone numbers with several neighbors, there are others I couldn’t contact in case of an emergency. So Julie’s letter reminded me to make a better effort to be a good neighbor.

Here are some tips on how to be a better neighbor:

  • Introduce yourself. If you don’t know your neighbors, look for opportunities to introduce yourself and exchange phone numbers and email addresses so you know how to contact one another should the need arise.
  • Communicate with your neighbors. Give them a heads up if you hear any neighborhood news. Let them know you’re planning a yard sale or a party so they can be prepared for the onslaught of cars. Talk to the old-timers in the neighborhood; you can learn a lot about your community.
  • Watch out for your neighbor’s welfare – keep a watchful eye and be a caring person. Collect newspapers stacking up when your neighbor is out of town or return their trash cans that blow down the street. Let your neighbor know you’ve got their back.
  • Maintain your home. Don’t let the yard get overgrown or piles of leaves stack up. Keep your garage door closed. Make repairs. Trim shrubs and trees. Put your trash out on the right day and bring in the cans or bins at the end of the day and don’t leave toys, newspapers, flyers, or other “stuff” in your yard.
  • Control your dog. No one wants to hear your dog bark at all hours and if you walk your dog in the neighborhood, clean up the mess your pet leaves in your neighbors’ yards.
  • Buy lemonade. When you see children in your neighborhood manning a lemonade stand, buy! It doesn’t matter if you want the lemonade. Help the kids have some fun.
  • Be a good driver.
  • If someone needs help, lend a hand. Welcome those who are newcomers and support those experiencing times of change.
  • Be informed about community issues and vote. Whether the issues involve a homeowners association or city and county government, it’s important to stay informed about the issues and weigh in for the benefit of your neighborhood.
  • Keep it down. This is especially important if you live in an apartment or condo, remember you share common walls.

Smile, socialize, and contribute to the security of the community…it’s worth the effort to be a good neighbor.












Give the Gift of Time

The best gifts I’ve received have been those of spending time with friends or family. Two years ago for Christmas, I received a card from your Dad inviting me to spend every Wednesday evening with him for 2012 and Date Night officially began.

I changed my availability to students from 8:00-8:00 to reflect that my day ends at 5:00 and he cleared his calendar on Wednesdays so he’s home by 5:00 ready to spend the rest of the evening together.

It only took 32 years to start date night, but worth the wait!

Date Night doesn’t require an event, only time together. There’s always food, we’ve tried many different restaurants, and most weeks we go somewhere or do something: watch a movie, see a play, go for a bike ride, sit on the porch and watch the sunset, and every December…Christmas shop; but most of all it’s time for just the two of us.

Our yearly family weekend is special for the same reason. I receive the gift of your time which always guarantees the weekend will be perfect.

Unfortunately we spend too much time thinking about gifts we can purchase for others. Instead of shopping, we need to think about giving the gift of time. Make a phone call. Invite friends for dinner. Go for a walk. There’s nothing like sharing your time with those you care about.

Time is a created thing. To say “I don’t have time,” is like saying, “I don’t want to.”

~Lao Tzu

Give the gift of time.




Keep It Simple

With the holiday season just around the corner, it’s easy to get so wrapped up in cleaning, cooking, baking, shopping, gift wrapping, decorating, and holiday events that it’s nearly impossible to enjoy the holidays.

Remember, you don’t have to do it all.

If you don’t have time to bake or just don’t enjoy it, then don’t do it! Visit the bakery and purchase baked goods instead.

Less is more when decorating! No room for a tree? A wreath, stockings, table decorations, candles, or a Christmas cactus or poinsettia can make your place festive. Or if you love decorating a tree, great…but don’t feel like you need to decorate every corner of the house.

My idea of decorating!
My idea of decorating!

Shopping need not take over your life. Set a budget. Stick to it. Make gifts if you have more time than money.  Spending too much and suffering from buyer’s remorse can take the joy out of the holidays. And you don’t have to create masterpieces when wrapping gifts…a bag with a tag is all you need.

I love cards, but I don’t send them (and as a result I don’t receive many either). Selecting cards, addressing them, writing notes, and then mailing is just more than I can manage. The good news…you can always send messages by email or text. I know it’s not the same, but better than being stressed out over sending cards.

If you love decorating, cooking, entertaining, and shopping then go wild! But if you feel overwhelmed by these tasks, then keep it simple so you can truly enjoy your family and friends as you celebrate.

I think this poster created by The Optimism Revolution says it all!


Keep it simple and breathe!



Twirl Everyday

If this advice does not sound like me…you’re right! “Twirl everyday,” is advice from three year old, Lily.


My friend, Joan, sent a card with birthday wishes last week. On the front of the card is a print of a watercolor Joan painted of her twirling granddaughter, Lily. The message inside, “You must twirl everyday!” comes from her very wise granddaughter.

I don’t think I could say it any better myself.

Twirl everyday!



Read Your Credit Card Agreement

When the booklet containing my credit card agreement came in the mail recently I did something I’ve never done before. I read it.

I didn’t just flip through it. I read it…cover to cover…and I learned about some benefits provided at no cost just for charging purchases on my card.

Here’s what I learned:

No need to purchase insurance when renting a car. Instead by simply charging the rental on my credit card Auto Rental Collision Damage Protection is included. However, the credit card protection is void if I agree to the insurance provided by the rental agency.

No need to purchase trip insurance. Charge airline tickets, hotel rooms, and tickets to events and all are protected in the case of Trip Cancellation or Trip Interruption. They even claim to offer refunds on accommodations that are unsatisfactory and cover problems relating to delayed flights.

Lost Luggage…covered. The benefit reimburses for the cost to repair or replace baggage and the personal property contained. Even Baggage Delays are covered at the rate of $100 per day for the purchase of clothing, toiletries, and charging cables for cell phones.

Travel and Emergency Assistance Services are available by calling a toll free number 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. This includes medical or legal referral assistance as well as emergency transportation or ticket replacement assistance.

The Travel Accident Insurance includes a $500,000 benefit.

There’s also Return Protection which will reimburse me for the cost of an item purchased if I’m dissatisfied with the item.

A Price Protection guarantee provides reimbursement for the difference in price on a purchased product when a printed advertisement at any retail store advertises it for less within 90 days. Looks like something to keep track of for Christmas purchases.

The Purchase Protection covers replacement or repair of purchases in the event of theft, damage or accident.

Finally, it offers Extended Warranty Protection which adds one additional year to the warranty of products.

I can think of a several times I could have used these benefits…a stolen computer, a damaged piece of luggage, a vacation cut short due to the illness of a relative.

I’ve added the toll free number for the credit card to my contacts in my cell phone so that should the need arise I’ll be able to take advantage of the benefits provided.

Do yourself a favor. Read your credit card agreement!






Pick People Over Gadgets

Oops! If this looks familiar that’s because I inadvertently scheduled it to be posted on September 30th! I didn’t follow my own advice from the 30th to slow down, and as a result I posted Pick People Over Gadgets before I intended. I recently heard Dear Abby’s daughter, Jeanne Phillips, describe her mother, the famous advice columnist as a “do as I say” person who rarely followed her own advice. Just for the record, I try not to be that type of mom…but today proves I need to take my advice and SLOW DOWN! It’s embarrassing to make mistakes that could easily have been avoided by taking the time needed to do it right the first time. Now I hope you’ll not only Slow Down, but Pick People Over Gadgets!

This is meant as a reminder to me as well as you. It’s not uncommon to be in a room with more gadgets than people, and each one offers another form of distraction.

On too many occasions each person is engrossed in their phone, tablet, computer, or even the television instead of interacting with one another. I think it’s even worse that each person isolates himself on his own individual screen because while watching TV has long been a distraction at least everyone was watching the same program and then discussing the game or movie or program.

Unfortunately, with individual screens there’s little reason to interact with the people with whom you share the space. One reading, one playing games, one watching videos, one surfing the web, while another works. No conversation. No common experience. No interaction.

I guess what really caught my attention was an article I read (on my iPad, but when I was at home alone) that described pajamas with dots than can be scanned using an iPhone so that a story can be read. How sad! Instead of a person reading a bedtime story, a child scans his own PJs and listens to the story on the phone?

I’m not advocating no screens when accompanied by others. I know we’ve always read the newspaper or magazines or books with others in the room and since it’s really no different now that you’re reading on a device instead of the traditional paper versions. Electronic games really aren’t much different than crossword puzzles or other paper and pencil games from the past and the distractions created by television haven’t changed much in the last 50+ years, but what has changed…the screens are with us everywhere! Let’s all work to give them a break.

Make people the priority. No screens at dinner…especially when at a restaurant. No screens at the movie. No screens at athletic events, concerts, or other entertainment events. And when you have guests or visit others, turn off the screens. Be in the moment. Enjoy your friends and family.

I know this is difficult, but it’s worth the effort. Our employers demand more and more of our time now that we’re always available on a device, but we can exercise more control. I won’t be leaving my phone behind because I’ll still be taking way too many annoying pictures, but I vow to turn off the screens and pay more attention to people.

I hope you’ll join my and choose people over gadgets.



Slow Down

I’m not sure who I’m writing this for…probably me! Last Wednesday I caused myself a lot of extra work and wasted time because I tried to do things too quickly. I volunteered to substitute for another driver delivering meals for a Meals on Wheels route. When I agreed to take on this task, I felt it would be no problem to clear a couple of hours out of my schedule especially since I could just start work an hour early and continue an hour later.

Well, a staff meeting was scheduled after I made the Meals on Wheels commitment meaning I’d need to leave the meeting about 15 minutes early. Not the way I planned. Then afternoon appointments starting piling up. What should have been an easy assignment was getting more difficult.

Nevertheless, I arrived at Marion Senior Services at 10:32 grabbed the ice chest on the bench outside, gathered the basket, route sheets, and the frozen meals. I was on the road in less than ten minutes and since several clients had cancelled delivery for the day, I’d be finished in record time.

However, when I opened the trunk of the car at my first stop, I realized I did not have the hot meals…only the cooler with the milk, fruit, bread, and butter. So much for finishing in record time. It was necessary for me to return to Marion Senior Service to pick up the rest of the meal…15 minutes to the office and another 15 minutes back to my first stop on the route. By hurrying, I managed to waste 30 minutes and at least one gallon of gas.

This is a good example of what happens when you rush through tasks. Hurrying almost always results in additional work and wasted time. Remember the carpenter’s saying, “Measure twice, cut once.” Sure, it may seem like a waste of time to measure twice, but better to take a couple extra seconds measuring than cutting the board the wrong length wasting time and materials. I sure wish I’d measured twice on Wednesday…checking each item packed so I could have avoided a return trip.

At least it’s comforting to know I’m not alone in failing to slow down. Quotes abound on the subject. Here are seven of my favorite:

It has been left to our generation to discover that you can move heaven and earth to save five minutes and then not have the faintest idea what to do with them when you have saved them.  ~C.E.M. Joad

Whoever is in a hurry shows that the thing he is about is too big for him.  ~Lord Chesterfield

The West has made people too time-conscious, not knowing where they are going but speeding to get there because time is short. ~Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh

Never be in a hurry; do everything quietly and in a calm spirit.  Do not lose your inner peace for anything whatsoever, even if your whole world seems upset.  ~St Francis de Sales

He bites his tongue who speaks in haste.  ~Turkish Proverb

Nature does not hurry, yet everything is accomplished.  ~Lao Tzu

He who sows hurry reaps indigestion. ~Robert Lewis Stevenson

I hope you can learn from my mistake. Do it once and do it right…slow down!