Good Morning Beautiful!

12733505_10153260834997541_4899769578013394154_nThere are places in my life where I look for motivation. Church, for instance. I expect church to be motivating and inspiring. I expect to be challenged to be better than I am.

I also expect my family to motivate me: The dog greets me at the door, prancing on her toes, saying “Yeah, yeah, time for a walk. Time for a walk. You know you’re the greatest person in the world. Yes you do. Yes you do.”

My daughter motivates me to get off the couch or leave the computer keyboard behind:  “Come downstairs and play with me Mom. You know you’ll have fun.”

Or even my sister, “Come on, do it. You’ll never know if you don’t try. When is that book going to be published, by the way?”

I even expect motivation at work. Colleagues proofread and edit pieces I write, “Geez Michele, could that sentence be any longer?”  “Do you think you could find a new word for ‘robust’?” “That’s good, but could you make it 50 characters shorter?”

And I have a few college friends who write blogs and articles that inspire and motivate me.

I do not, however, look to paper towels for the one thing that will get my day moving in the right direction.

That is why I was so surprised on Monday morning, when after stepping out sock-footed, before the coffee had finished brewing, onto the cold, cold, cold garage floor at 5:30am to put food into the dog’s bowl (yes the same dog who is continually motivating me to be a great person)— I found, on the paper towel roll that I had purchased for the bargain basement price of $0.97, motivational quotes.

“Wake up and be AMAZING!”  The roll yelled at me in a multicolored, teenage-girl font. Seriously?!

I stood there in my oversized comfy pajamas, with my husband’s T-shirt poking out from underneath the top, and looked at the inspirational quotes on the roll. “Good Morning Beautiful” (complete with eighth notes), “Here’s to a Great Start” (written in the shape of an apple), and “Time to Shine” (complete with little yellow and red rays of sun).

My sarcastic mind immediately went to work as I ripped a towel from the roll to serve as my workspace for making the day’s lunches.

How about “Wake up and be Medusa?”  or “Time to pull the blanket over your head and sleep in”  or “Let’s get rolling” in the shape of a chocolate iced donut?

Perhaps the people who designed these motivational paper towels had the best of intentions, thinking that if people saw positive messages on their paper towels they would have a better day.

Now, if the paper towels had really good knock-knock jokes, or one-liners from Robin Williams, or Yogi Berra quotes, they would be truly awesome. That would indeed get my day off to a great start.

© 2016 Michele Arduengo. All rights reserved.

The Dog Ate My Christmas Present

Our silly tomten.
Our silly tomten.

We have four gifts under our tree right now. All of them were purchased by our daughter for Grandpa, Grandma, Mom (me) and Dad. That’s it, four gifts. And the dog ate mine.

Okay, perhaps that is just a bit of an exaggeration. The dog opened mine. My daughter and her sitter arrived home first, and they were able to rewrap the present.

It’s been that kind of Christmas season. Continue reading “The Dog Ate My Christmas Present”

Practically a Teenager

“I’ll be 9, which is almost 10, which is practically a teenager…so don’t call me little…”

That is how some of the conversation at our house has gone recently.

“Whoa! Slow down there partner, you’re still 8 right now, and you will never have the chance to be 8 years old again, so make sure you REALLY enjoy these next couple of days. And when you turn 9, don’t rush into teenager. Enjoy being 9; it only comes around once in a lifetime.”

As I rapidly approach my collision course with the half-century mark, I truly understand the quote “Youth is wasted on the young.” Continue reading “Practically a Teenager”

To Boldly Ask What No One Has Ever Asked Before

Playing in the dirt from a young age
Playing in the dirt from a young age

We had just passed a road construction site on the small two-lane state highway on the way from our hotel to my Dad’s house. The new road cuts and construction revealed bright red dirt— really red dirt, even by the standards of the Piedmont Plateau in Georgia.

From the back seat my daughter asked, “Mom, what kinds of worms do they have here in Georgia?”

“The same species that we have in Wisconsin, why?” I answered.

There was a thoughtful silence, then “But they poop out red dirt?”

It is truly a miracle that my husband managed to keep the rental car on the road.

Actually, it was an insightful question. Continue reading “To Boldly Ask What No One Has Ever Asked Before”

Best Birthday Ever!

Bedtime stories were read. My daughter was snuggled happily under the covers. The lights were out, and I was lying next to her, holding her as we looked at her brand new Cinderella light. Glitter swirled and twinkled in the blue light, scattering patterns on the ceiling.

“Did you have a good day today?” I asked.

“Oh, Mama, it was the best birthday ever! And I want to stay up all night looking at my Cinderella light.”

I smiled. “It is beautiful. It reminds me of when I was younger and I would spend countless hours daydreaming by the Christmas tree, looking at the patterns the lights made on the ceiling.”

Children embrace their birthdays with such enthusiasm. They are excited to celebrate their day with their friends and family. They are excited to celebrate and share the joy of their lives with the people they love.

While my daughter’s thoughts probably drifted to dreams of princesses, fancy dresses and towering castles, my thoughts drifted to “birthdays” and the differences in the way children and adults view their special day.

Where do we lose the childhood simplicity of a celebration of life shared with others? Isn’t that what a birthday is about—celebrating life? Continue reading “Best Birthday Ever!”

Vision

I got my new bifocals today,
Such is the fate of the myopic forty-one-year-old
I stopped myself halfway through dialing your phone number
To tell you about them,
the brace for my knee and the orthotics for my shoes.
We could have lamented the declining body together.
As I held the phone in midair, I thought about the new pair of glasses
that you purchased a week before you died,
And how much I miss our conversations,
And how I wish I had called more often and talked longer.
I understand now what you said about the high price of vision.

Life is a gift. Sometimes it is hard to see that. Especially if we are among the blessed and the privileged. Continue reading “Vision”

Charmed

Ever since I learned that J.K. Rowling wrote her first Harry Potter novel in a café, I have longed for the perfect place to go to write my great American novel. I think I may have found it, a tranquil haven of WiFi access, caffeine, and calories wrapped in delectably tempting fresh-baked pastries, all topped with friendly smiles and conversation: Charming B’s Coffee Shop. The décor is beautiful; beautiful woodwork lighted by morning sunshine streaming in through the stained-glass windows. The leather sofas inviting me to sink down into their lucious depths. And, surely among all this olfactory and palatine stimulation, my muse has found santuary and is waiting to inspire me.

I was fortunate; instead of spending the 6:30-7:30 am hour on my commute to work, I was able to spend that early hour at Charming B’s during my work-from-home day last week. Although my obligations to my employer meant that I was writing about buffer systems for biochemical reactions and preparing an undergraduate laboratory about the basics of buffers instead of living in an imaginary world of marauder’s maps and invisibility cloaks, I like to think that my derivation of the Henderson-Hasselbalch equation was inspired. Continue reading “Charmed”