Saturday, May 31, 2014

The Chicks Return to the Nest

All of the baby birds have flown back to the coop for a reunion of sorts. This mama hen's heart could not be more full. There has been a retelling of stories, good-natured teasing, and conversation. How grateful I am to call these people my children; my family.

My tiny house has been filled with the laughter of these awesome kids...and we are almost at maximum capacity, with people sleeping all over the house. I wouldn't have it any other way.

We are off for a hike. There will be time for reflection when I am alone with my thoughts. For now, my favorite moments, captured on my camera. Have a great weekend. I'm off for the canyon with the ones I love most.

Friday, May 30, 2014

Worth the Wait

You wait, and you wonder, and you think you can't possibly survive. With the ragged breaths you've been taking, you're not even  sure how you are going to successfully get that next breath, but, somehow, you do. You take that one, and then another, until the panic subsides. Sunsets go, and sunrises come, and every day you wake up, praying for the strength to keep the tears at bay, or if you can't, that they will only hit you when you're alone.

That's how this last winter was for me. It was so hard to release my expectations. I knew the secret wishes of my heart, and I had to let them go. By letting go of MY plan, I made room for more blessings than I dreamed possible. Having no attachment to a particular outcome freed my mind to be open to so many more possibilities.

You see, I would welcome the chance to be a wife, even though marriage is fraught with challenges. Being single, and resisting my solitude isn't healthy. I love being retired, but my financial situation was uncertain regarding medical coverage for my son and me. Marysvale was my favorite place in the world last winter; I never wanted to leave, but that was not my home. Marley was a source of comfort, and I didn't want to let go of my sweet little dog. 

I realized pretty quickly that in order to be happy, many things were going to have to change. I could no longer go through the motions, and assume the routines that had been established were going to get me where I needed to be. 

So much change at once was challenging. I moved away from Marysvale. I gave up my visitations with my little Boston terrier. I started over in the small town of Joseph.

I had to release my expectations. I just let them go, trusting that things would work out, just like Jackie said they would. I found comfort in her words, "Everything is going to be all right." Whenever I felt overwhelmed, I would practice my DEEP BREATHING, and whisper her words to myself until I felt at peace.

Yesterday was a turning point for me. Did my luck change? I'm not sure luck was involved. My patience paid off, and my dreams are coming true.

At this very moment, my cozy, little house is filled with more than half of my children. We will be joined by my married kids, Dylan and Jamie, and then the house will REALLY be filled. My only grandchild, Hans, is a Great Dane, and we are loving having him in the house. Nothing makes me happier than being surrounded by my children. But there's more...

I dared greatly by interviewing for a job at my old school. There were two openings, and I was hoping to fill one of the positions. I received the phone call I'd been waiting for: I got the job. Having Sierra arrive was just one more highlight of the day. 

This fall, I will return to Monroe Elementary School, as a second grade teacher this time. Am I excited? Yes. Yes, I am. I will spend my weekdays teaching, and my weekends hiking with my kids in the canyons of Utah. There is another date on the horizon. I feel energized, and blessed, and grateful. 

Jackie, you were right. Everything IS going to be all right. It already is. It was hard to believe I would be in this good place in my life after the darkness of the past winter, but spring is here, and life is GOOD. Where I am right now was worth the wait.

As I am re-reading this post in 2016, I am amazed by just how much my life has changed for the better. I made so many new friends once I dared to let go of my old life, and the pain that came with it. Returning to teaching that year gave my days purpose, and I spent my days with darling second graders who kept me on my toes. And then, out of the blue, it seems, came Chuck. WE CLICKED FROM THE BEGINNING. Our love story continues, and I'm so grateful for the blessings that have come into my life because of him.

What are you waiting for? I know it's so hard to be patient, riding out the wave of darkness and despair that seems to threaten you for days on end. Don't give up. Better days are coming. Just keep taking those deep breaths, and try every day to find something good. Sometimes you might have to look extra hard, but I bet you'll be successful with finding the silver lining in your dark clouds. It will be worth the wait; I just know it. 

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Never Say Never

"When will I get to the age when I can do whatever I want?" Bridger asked in exasperation after a challenging day at work.

"I don't know; I'll let you know if I ever get there," I told him.

Oh, the hard lessons we learn about life once we begin our first job. I can't imagine many satisfying jobs available to young people who are without skills or education. Those first jobs teach us valuable lessons about commitment, work ethics, and drive. The biggest lesson my first job as a manual laborer in a large orchard/nursery business is "DON'T QUIT SCHOOL."

Bridger happened to ask this question after a challenging day at his own work, on the very day I had been busy with re-licensing for my teaching certification. Yes, the teacher who glibly gave away all of her teaching possessions, donated her extensive classroom library, and cheerfully chucked all of her professional documentation, has decided it's time to return to work.


Although retirement has been lovely, and probably freed me up to survive this last year better than I ever could have managed if I had been trying to hold down a job, it is now time to get serious about securing some financial security for myself, and obtaining medical coverage for my son. It has been a wonderful year without many obligations, and it freed me up to do those things I've been meaning to do: get organized, start my blog, and take better care of myself.

The realities of life demand that we not do whatever we want. How different the world would be if we all took that attitude. 

Most of my adult life, I have been a collector of the whimsical graphic illustrator, Mary Engelbreit. Several of her designs are included in the treasures I keep in my Happy Box. This morning I pulled out my box, and found my favorite quote of hers on a note card I had saved:
"To be happy, don't do whatever you like; like whatever you do." 
As they say, life begins at the end of your comfort zone. It is certainly where the most learning takes place. Now that I have felt blissfully happy and comfortable for a moment, it's time to shake things up a bit. 

So today, I have my first job interview in 31 years. I'm a little nervous, and more than a little excited. If I am going to be a teacher, you can rest assured I'm going to be happy about it! Wish me luck.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Everything in Its Place

"When you live in a small house, you can't just put things down, you have to put them away."  

I don't know who said that, but I am trying so hard to live it since moving into my tidy, little cottage. Yes, I'm a little obsessive about putting things away. I remind Bridger often that if we'll keep after it, our house will always look nice. 

In reading the Fly Lady's blog, her key word is ROUTINES. If you struggle with keeping your house organized and cleaned, you might want to check the Fly Lady out.

There are a few routines that I do that I think have kept my house "company-ready." As soon as I wake up, I start putting pillows back in place, and pull my covers up before slipping out of bed. The bed is practically made before I even hit the floor. When I leave my room, nothing is on the floor or on any horizontal surfaces, unless they serve a decorative purpose.

After a quick trip to the bathroom, I transfer a load of clothes from the washer to the dryer, if I started laundry the night before. While I'm waiting for the Keurig to heat water, I put away the pots from the dish drain if I didn't do that the night before so the day starts with an empty sink. A quick wipe down sees to it that my kitchen is ready for the new day. 

I realize a retired person's schedule is so different from a working person's, but with a few simple routines in place, life is easier for all of us. On particularly busy days of going to the gym, running errands, and meeting family obligations, I'm always so grateful to walk into my little house and see that everything is clean and tidy.

Anything that needs to go to the car is by the door: reusable grocery bags, dry cleaning, etc. The first time I head to the car, all of that goes with me. When I get home from the store, I gather any trash, my water bottle, and empty the car of any paraphernalia when I go back in the house.

Anything we do every day needs to have its own routine. For me, that's hiking or gym time. As soon as I get home, I empty my hydration pack, hang it to dry, and put away the pack. (I learned how to take care of my hiking equipment from my oldest. He is a great example of taking care of things, and being organized.) My hiking/workout shoes have a special place under the bed by my bedroom door. (Storage is at a premium in this 900 square foot home.) If you have littles, you can train them to put away their belongings after their practices/games/performances. It will save so many headaches later when the next event occurs.

My bathroom is so small, it requires that we put everything away. I keep my 31 Tote in my walk-in closet across the hall. It has my lingerie, hair appliances, and extra lotions, etc. Bridger and I each have our own medicine cabinet, but there is NO under sink storage. After we shower, we use the squeegee I keep in the tub to wipe down the shower walls. We hang the bath mat back up on the tub, and I do a quick mopping of the tiny floor by hand to gather hair and dust.

Dinner prep is so simple when it's just me here. A simple salad made with leftover chicken or beef is a staple. I also live off of my Buff Pumpkin Stuff which I use as a meal replacement. I make up a big batch of that a couple of times a week. When I have my boy at home, I try to put a little more effort into meals.

Washing dishes as I prepare dinner sees to it that I don't have a big pile of dishes to do after dinner. Bridger knows I expect all dishes to go in the dishwasher after we eat. 

After dinner, we usually hang out in the family room where Bridge plays guitar. His guitar and speaker are a constant fixture in that room when he is home. I don't mind people knowing we live here, too, and do not consider that clutter. 

My bedtime ritual includes tidying up the bathroom as soon as I wash my face and brush my teeth. I wipe down the sink and the toilet tank. If there is a full load of clothes to wash (there are only the two of us), I pop a load into the washer. I am now ready for bed.

What simple routines could you adapt for your home? Even if you pick ONE thing to do every single day, you will then be able to add another routine to that after the first one becomes a habit. Routines have made all of the difference for me. Our home feels so cozy. The Eagles song comes to mind..."I get a peaceful, easy feeling" here. What a great feeling it is to have a little home of my own. 
A big shout-out to the folks from the Facebook group, 40 Bags in 40 Days. They got me off to a great start. Here are the blog entries about my journey of de-cluttering and de-crapifying before I moved here:





FRAGILE: HANDLE W/ CARE...What about the sentimental stuff?


Tuesday, May 27, 2014

To Weigh, or Not to Weigh

We've all heard the debate:

Toss the scales. Never let your mood be determined by an inanimate object. 

Only weigh once a week to check your progress. Any more than that, and it becomes obsessive. 

You are so much more than a number.

You owe it to yourself to get healthy. That requires some accountability.

Guess what? I believe all of the above. I love Steve Marboli's quote:
"The scale can only give you a numerical reflection of your relationship with gravity. That's it. It cannot measure beauty, talent, purpose, life force, possibility, strength, or love."
It's hard to argue with that logic, isn't it? And yet...that numerical reflection goes up or down, not dependent on gravity, but on my behavior in the moments leading up to stepping on the scale.  

Remember Fen-Phen? LOVED those pills. I went from an overweight, napping/drooling couch potato to a trim, active athlete with help from a prescription. I had never had so much energy. Never mind that I was risking my overall health to achieve my goals. I was losing the baby weight from giving birth to two babies. Never mind that the youngest was seven. It was baby weight; I assure you.

So, I went on to have baby number three, and afterwards, found myself in worse shape than ever. I knew something had to be done. In desperation, I found myself sitting on the crinkly paper in the examination room of my doctor's office, begging for the latest wonder drug. He just shook his head. 

"Denise, you don't need a pill. You already know the secret."

I groaned. "Move more; eat less. Auuugh. That just takes so much work. I want magic." I went home without any prescriptions, and set my mind to the task at hand. Losing the baby weight... before this baby entered kindergarten this time!

I did it; I lost EIGHTY POUNDS. (Yes, he was a very big baby.) People would ask me what I was doing to lose weight, always hopeful there were some secret. It's no secret, folks. If caloric expenditure is greater than caloric intake, weight comes off. There is no magic; just math.

Is there no secret then? I do think there is one important key. This may not be true for everyone, but for me, I knew there was an underlying cause for my mindless eating. I was numbing myself from uncomfortable feelings. I was not living in harmony with what my heart and mind were feeling and thinking. I was denying what I truly felt. 

I watched my weight plateau for a very long time, and then I watched it start to climb when I was going through a time of anxiety, and unrest. My first reaction was to turn to food for comfort. I didn't beat myself up over it; I knew it was a survival mechanism I'd used before, but I knew I couldn't continue this pattern, and feel good about myself.

While reading BrenĂ© Brown's Daring Greatly, and Deepak Chopra's What Are You Hungry For?, I came to the conclusion that it was time for me to face my fears, to lean into the discomfort, and have some tough conversations. Oh, no, there was no magic pill. I did some hard emotional work. And once I did, the scales started to a good way. 

The plateau is broken. Weight is no longer spiraling out of control. I've been here before; I can do this. 
Photo credit: fitbie

And so, the saga continues. For me, I weigh. Every. Single. Day. Iam rarely surprised by the numbers that I see. They reflect my habits. I know when I overindulge, I am going to see the numbers increase. I know when I'm working out, and making good choices, the numbers will decrease. It's just that simple, and it's just that hard.

Decide for yourself what will work best for you. To weigh, or not to weigh. Either WEIGH, what really matters is what you're doing between weigh-ins. Somehow, be accountable. Record what you eat, judge how your clothes are fitting, or step on the scale. You will be rewarded with your healthy habits. It just takes time.

Monday, May 26, 2014

ZUMBA: Save the Back Row for Me


As soon as I set my water bottle at the back of the room under the large fan, I secure my position on the back row. I'm the new girl at the gym, and I'm not what you'd call a natural dancer.  I love Zumba; it makes me smile. And sometimes, it makes me laugh out loud. I look forward to going to two or three sessions a week, since I've joined, but that doesn't mean I'm any good at it. Okay, to be frank, I suck.

It never fails; sometime during the hour long session, there is a dance step which requires the group to complete a complicated move WHILE rotating 360 degrees, 90 degrees at a time. Did I say complicated? Try holding your arms above your head, while drawing a circle in the air with your hands, while swaying your hips in the same direction as your hands, and then leaping, and landing in a new position, 90 degrees from where you were. 

I am concentrating so hard on counting the beats in my head, and staring at the back of our instructor, that before I know it, the entire group has rotated 180 degrees without me, and there I am, trying desperately to keep the rhythm, and perform the right moves, but I'm still facing forward, and everyone else is facing ME. I feel like I am performing for the class, and doing a very poor job of it. The awkward moments only last a few moments, and they always make me laugh, so it's all good, as they say down south.

For those who have been coming to Zumba for years, or even those who have done the routines every week for awhile, the moves seem to come naturally. Everyone has their own little flair for the dance, adding a head bob here, a flick of the wrist there, or a thrusting of the hip or pelvis on an accented note. My own nuances are comical, at best, but I can do a "single-single-double" like nobody's business.

Me, I'm just trying to survive. In an effort to help the new girl (that would be me), the instructor will hold up her hand to let me know how many of the next step we're performing. Anyone who knows anything there ignores her upheld hand, knowing it's just a signal. Not me, I hold my hand up, too, trying desperately to mimic her EVERY move. I quickly pull my hand back down when I can see in the grand expanse of mirrors at the front of the room that once again, I'm the "odd man out."

Zumba enthusiasts seem to enjoy audience participation. Dancers periodically yell out, "WOO-HOO!" or a simple "WOO!" to let others know how much they're enjoying themselves. Instructors encourage class members to join in on certain parts of the song, singing along with the Latin music in Spanish, or having everyone shout in unison, certain repetitive phrases of the lyrics.

"Come on, people!" the instructor might say.

"I can't HEAR you!" she might interject.

"How's everybody doing?" she'll ask above the sound blaring from the speakers.

It's not that I don't KNOW what to say, or that I don't WANT to be an active participant, but I am one of those people who struggles with too many tasks at once. Yes, I can manage to walk and chew gum at the same time, but ask me to coordinate a dance step with hand movements, AND a verbal response, and suddenly, I feel like I'm trying to pat my head and rub my tummy at the same time, and what little synchronicity I had, flies right out the window.

If you've been thinking about trying Zumba, but weren't sure if it's for you, I'd encourage you to give it a whirl. If you're a dancer, you'll fit right in. And if you're not, there's something there for you, too. We all need more exercise, and it really is a good time. If nothing else, it will keep you laughing at yourself, and that will keep you humble. Burning calories, having fun, laughing hysterically, and lessons in humility; what more could you want?

Zumba: the exercise that has it all. You don't have to look good doing it; you just have to have fun. Just remember: save the back row for me!

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Living at Grammar Police Headquarters

The conversation prompt required that we use no filler, no "he said/she said." 

This is a short, texted conversation, but gives a glimpse into the life of a family of grammar police.

"Hey, Bridge...If you'll buy some milk chocolate chips, and Rice Krispies, I'll make you treats!"

"Do you want a gallon of milk?"

"Noooo...I need MILK chocolate chips."

"Oooh!  I get it now. I couldn't BELIEVE you left out a comma."


"Seriously, I'd be devastated if you forgot your comma."

"Well, that's a little dramatic."

"No, that's spot-on."

Saturday, May 24, 2014

REQUEST (A Short Poem for Bridger)


Keep me from living too fast,
and if I live too fast,
slow me down. Come
anytime. Come laughing
into the house.
Clap your hands. Slam the door.

Make me stop my frenzy, and 
lean into me so I can take you in my arms.
Tell me the bumblebee has returned,
take my face in your chubby hands,
and really make me see. 

Or tell me
the snap dragons have blossomed,
and show me.

See to it that I see. Talk to me
until I'm half as alive as you,
and until I slow down, wondering why
I ever started to hurry at all.

Remind me how amazing life is;
don't just tell me, convince me.
You know I won't be too hard to convince.

Adapted from the poem "Summons" by Robert Francis

Friday, May 23, 2014

Into Each Life Some Rain Must Fall

"Into each life some rain must fall." That phrase usually pops into my head when I find myself feeling sadness or anxiety about situations in my life that aren't ideal. And then, after I've shaken hands with my reality, I set about trying to find the silver lining in the current dark cloud. There are almost always blessings in disguise at those times; it's our job to find them.

We may have old patterns of behavior that govern how we react to setbacks or bad news. We are always free to choose how we are going to behave. We can't control the events of our lives, and we certainly can't control the people in our circle. All we can control is our perception, and then our reaction. We can continue with our old habits, or, after some reflection, we may decide that the way things were is not how things are going to be.

This quote by Kathy Kinney came at a critical time for me:
"One day she finally grasped that unexpected things were always going to happen in life. And with that she realized the only control she had was how she chose to handle them. So she made the decision to survive using courage, humor and grace. She was the queen of her own life and the choice was hers."
 I was just starting to come to grips with several of my recent trials, and felt like I was coming off as conqueror, when once again, I was caught off-guard by some sad news from a dear friend. My own wound of grief re-opened, and I began the healing process anew. Within a couple of days, there were new situations brewing in my life, and I finally realized, "This is as good as it gets." 

Life isn't about sunny skies and smooth seas. It's learning how to navigate the storms, and maintaining an even keel when the water is rough. It's about balance. Ebb and flow. Highs and lows. I understand that "there must needs be opposition in all things." It is after we have experienced the night, that we appreciate the day. When pain finally subsides, we know the blessing of comfort. After sickness, we are grateful when health is restored. 

If I've learned anything, it's that we are not only meant to survive our trials, it falls to us to learn how to thrive. Darkness is sure to come, but there is always the promise of another day. Nothing lasts forever, not the good, and thankfully, not the bad. The one sure thing is change. 

So, if you are currently enjoying a wave of goodness in your life, embrace it, and savor it. We are never promised an endless succession of good times. 

And if you are facing a trial that is overwhelming you, be brave. Mindfulness is not just about enjoying the sweet moments of our life, but also it is about dwelling in our times of trial long enough to learn from them. It won't last forever. A new day is coming. With courage set as our intention, humor and grace are surely to follow. 

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Looking for Mr. Right (Part Six) In His Own Words

"In My Own Words" is the last section we'll review of the Match profile. There is a 200 character minimum, and a 4,000 character maximum. (So between a handful of words to less than a thousand.)

It’s a tricky thing, this marketing of self. You don’t want to lie, but you want to make a good first impression. You don’t have to reveal EVERYTHING in your profile either, in the name of honesty. Using discretion is an art, apparently, and there are not as many artists represented online as one would hope. Some say so little, they must think a picture is worth a 1,000 words. Some put it all out there, in all its glory: the good, the bad, and the ugly. 

As a teacher, after assigning an essay, how many times did I hear, "How long does it have to be?" Some of the guys must experience the anxiety of school all over again when they get to the section, "In My Own Words." Match requires they write at least 200 characters; that's numbers, letters, and punctuation. Take this guy, for example, who had a minimum to meet in his simple headline: 

"i promise to entertain you if you promise to do likewise. wow, this thing requires a lot of letters before it will let us move on. i keep having to add more and more words to fill it up. sheesh, this is annoying :)"

He probably really hated the essay portion. I'm sure he's not alone, but there are some who take it on with enthusiasm and confidence.

There are creative souls out there, and this fellow had a hard time deciding which metaphor he wanted to use, so he started out selling himself as a car, and then, as a dog. The double entendre of his commands was not lost on me.

"One owner, low miles, soft lips, good tires, nice engine, fresh paint, stored in a COLD garage- turbo charged, dependable, loyal, and consistent.
"Great Bloodline, well behaved, very affectionate and kind, does not bark, responds nicely to commands, such as come, laydown, fetch and let's get down tonight. Occasionally chews on furniture-prefers earlobes. Is very devoted. Shares readily with anyone in need.
"If you regularly hit, kick, bite, yell or have hidden issues, he will not be a good fit in your home, he has already experienced this from his prior owner. Who has since moved far, far away."
A retired police officer had a well-organized essay, but taken out of context, one of his tips could make a girl nervous.

Get his Drivers licence#, full name, plate#, text this to someone, then "Google him" before you meet in a public place of your choosing."
On second thought, in this day and age, maybe he makes a very good point. Obtaining this information might be a little awkward; that conversational segue would be challenging, at best.

As a writer, I can appreciate an author's voice, and this next guy does an excellent job of that. His profile picture showed him on horseback, just to set the scene for you. 
"so here i are again,,i swear ,not sure why i even try,,but i  
am ,,,you lookin for a good guy here i am ,,,you wanting  
some un to ly to ya ,beat ya ,cheat on ya ,steal from ya ,,or  
abuse yer belongins,,well keep going cuz that ain't me and  
at the same time i won't tolerate the same things being done
to me n mine,,,but hey you wanna go have some fun out in 
the hills give me a shout,,want to be wined and dined in the
          city ?,i ain't yer man ,,I can cook better than any restaurant  
and know what b in my food,,,I b pretty easy going  
,,maybe too easy,as you wanna leave here you ain't gotta 
jump the fence.just hold on a minute and i'll open the gate  
fer ye,,,nice home and life to be had here for the right kinda
gal,with good ole down home views and values"
After a brief introduction of what one man was looking for, he concluded with the following question. (It's easy to see one thing his ex-wife did that troubled him.) 
"Also, can you survive without a cell phone stuck to your hand?"

This next essay was longer than many. He's obviously smart, and
knows himself, and what he wants. There was something just a little disturbing as I was reading it, but maybe there is some woman out there who might think, "This is the man for me."
"Before getting started, let's discuss why you may want to  
avoid me. If you are looking for that comfy, secure,  
predictable life, stop right here and move on to the next  
profile. I don't believe in home ownership, material  
possessions or having a steady job working on someone 
else's dream. Life is too short."
I would like to argue that while life is short, it is also too long to be homeless, and without life's comforts, and I think there's a lot to be said about having a steady job, especially since it provides a steady income. Oy vey. I couldn't help it; I had to see what else he had to say. I felt like I was getting an insider's look at one of Stephen King's characters. He continues:

"I'll answer honestly and bluntly any of your questions, no 
sense in wasting your time, giving you the answer that I  
think you want to hear. That all being said, I am an  
educated, world traveler with many useful skills and am  
well mannered in all situations, well almost. But your  
Mom might still freak out if you brought me home.

Since honesty is obviously very important to women, here  
are some things you could honestly expect when climbing 

-I believe in God. He has a plan for us and ours. I trust he  
knows what is best.

-You believe in me. Or what's the point?

-I don't think like you do. Never will, so don't expect me  
-I will never storm your secret garden, but I will always be 
searching for the gate."
May I interrupt? Is a secret garden what I think it is? What an interesting choice of metaphors. At least he did not say what he was trying to say crudely.
"-I am hardwired to protect you. Without even thinking, I  
will take a bullet for you. However, I would do so,  
knowing that you're pulling a pistol out of your purse and 
taking aim over my shoulder.  
-Someday I will need to ask you to get your passport and  
gear, we are going on a life adventure. If you can't go  
without taking your Fido/Fluffy, please don't reply to this  
profile. Oh, and if your butt can't fit into the co-pilot seat  
of a Cessna 172, no need to reply."
Where could I try on a seat of a Cessna 172, for size? I'm assuming it's smaller than first class seating, and much smaller than coach. Yeah, I'm not sure we're a good match. His butt-size criteria is a little too specific to suit me. I'll let him continue. 
"-I can fix anything. As an engineer, I actually know how  
things work. I enjoy home remodeling and think nothing of
moving out a wall or changing a roof line. I love  
woodworking and do automechanics for fun.
One assumes he is a vagrant handyman, working on projects for others, as he already explained his disdain for home ownership.
-I don't hunt, play video games or watch professional  
sports. Never saw the purpose. I do fish with my girls and  
watch kid's sports. 

-Expect to have days filled with strange foods, rain, dust,  
mud, language barriers and no running water or cell phone 
I have a feeling he's not referring to brief periods of interrupted utility services at the house during a storm, and having to eat a meal of cold leftovers or a sandwich. Um... 
 "-Expect to have my full attention and commitment  
intimately. Exclusive of all others. If you make it through 
this gauntlet, you deserve that. Absolutely no games  
here!!-I do respect your need to visit family on special  
occasions, but those boxes marked 'Christmas Stuff'....,  
might as well sell those at a yard sale."
This guy has drawn a line in the sand. No Christmas decorations? Has he no soul? Already he's setting limits on who I can visit, and when. My anxiety grows.
"-Expect a strong passion of defending the defenseless.  
Expect a calloused view on pets. If pets don't serve a  
purpose, and few do, then they are consuming resources 
better given to hungry children. A starving child or a  
overweight cat, is there really a choice? 
-I have no interest in impressing the Jones'. My drive is to
make a difference, my passion is to experience life."
And the line was crossed. NEXT...

While we realize most people on the dating websites are looking for a committed relationship, these essays should be viewed as a basic introduction. We can save the specifics for later, after a line of communication has been established, and after we know each other a little better. That being said, there are some who like to get into details a little too soon. 
"you will come to my door wrapped in nothing but saran wrap, I'll come to the door with a bottle of wesson oil...." 
There was more, much more, but I am trying to keep this blog at a PG-rating. As one of my friends said who read his profile, "At least he was honest in his profile to give the ladies a glimpse into his lifestyle."

One 73-year-old man who had sent me an email, expressing his interest in meeting me. While he was much older than my search criteria, I thought I'd give him benefit of the doubt, and see what he had to say. There was a little disclaimer at the end of his profile, suggesting he may not meet a woman’s search criteria because he was a convicted felon, but he was sure that his alleged victim would gladly give him a good reference. He would supply her phone number, if anyone were interested. How thoughtful, and very honest.  People like him give criminals a good name. (And for the record, no, I did not take him up on his offer.)
I think I spent five days in my online lurking. It was entertaining, and it gave me something about which to write, but maybe I am just not ready. 

Once again, I am reminded that there are much worse things than being single. My curiosity is cured, for now.

***If you missed the earlier installments of this online dating series, they're included here: