Friday’s Focus—Get in Trouble

Not the kind you need a lawyer for but the kind that will put a smile on your face and make you feel like a kid again. With the beginning of a holiday weekend only hours away and fresh page on the calendar, it’s as good a time as any to go do a little something or go a little somewhere that’s been nipping at your heels but somewhere along the line you decided you were too old for it, had no time for it, or were too busy for it.

Shake it up and shake it off. Stop looking at your phone, take off that watch, and close that laptop. Get the wind in your hair, your hands a little dirty and be a little more flexible with the day.

Surrender to the what if’s and why not’s and indulge that part of you that you would if you could but you decided you couldn’t so you didn’t and go have a blast!

There’s always time for the responsible stuff in life and it’s easy to forget that it’s just as important to take some time out for play.

Taking things deeper doesn’t always mean taking things more seriously. Sometimes we feel we need permission to do things we feel we “shouldn’t” or “aren’t supposed to” because we’re adults. The only permission you need is the one you give yourself. What are you waiting for?




Soundtrack of Summer

I can’t believe that Memorial Day is just days away! Summer is thisclose and I’m dazed by how quickly time is passing. Before I know it, I’ll be making plans for Thanksgiving Dinner and Christmas shopping, but until then, my most immediate plans are farmer’s markets, watching the robins pick at the worms in the freshly mowed lawn, and long lazy weekends in the backyard.

I woke up this morning to the familiar warm air and crisp smell of a day when you don’t even have to look at the calendar to know that June is coming. I opened the window wider and leaned my head against the frame, closed my eyes, took a deep breath in, letting my senses take me back as my mind replayed for me in no particular order, the movies of summers past:

Sitting on my parents’ patio with the radio on and a fresh glass of ice tea next to me, soaking up the sun like a lizard and listening to some new singer by the name of Madonna;

Driving around in my parents GMC pacer with the windows rolled down and my red mini-boom box strapped to the passenger seat because there was no radio, blasting Bryan Adams, “Summer of ‘69”;

Working at a private pool for the summer hearing Don Henley sing about the “Boys of Summer”;

Going with my best friend to the local public pool. The air permeated with the smell of chlorine and French fries, and the cries of “Marco” “Polo” were mixed in with Bananerama’s “It’s a Cruel Summer” and the Motels singing about “Suddenly Last Summer”;

I remember days of jumping through a sprinkler because there was no other way to cool off, and when there wasn’t a sprinkler, my husband and I became nine years old again throwing water balloons at each other and chasing each other around the back yard with Super Soakers as the Beach Boys, “In My Room”, Eddie Cochran’s “Summertime Blues”, and David Lee Roth’s version of “California Girls” played on the stereo.

I let these memories continue to play as I started my day and headed out the door to go to work, which brought back its own memories of traveling the Garden State Parkway.

Being a Jersey Girl, driving down the shore was a rite of passage with traffic so thick you could hold a conversation with the people in the car next to you for a few exits until the next toll. Strains of music could be heard from each car’s own choice of summer tunes, but nothing, absolutely nothing beats a Bruce Springsteen song on those parkway drives with all the windows down and the volume cranked to the belting of “The highway’s jammed with broken heroes on a last chance power drive….” Call me jaded, call me old, but I don’t care—when I hear that line, it still makes me smile and gives me goose bumps.

I never realized until today how much of a role music played as a part of those summer memories. Every one of them has a soundtrack—anything by John Mellencamp, Bruce Springsteen, and The Eagles; “Summer Breeze,” by Seals and Crofts; “School’s Out,” by Alice Cooper; “Saturday in the Park,” by Chicago, “Under the Boardwalk,” by The Drifters; “Hot Fun in the Summertime,” by Sly and the Family Stone, and on it goes.

My summer soundtrack for this year is still to come and I’m looking forward to creating new memories with maybe some new songs. With this last thought, I made the final turn into the parking lot of my office. Shifting into park, my hand stopped midway to the radio to shut it off when the unmistakable first beats of Mungo Jerry came on the radio…“In the Summer time when the weather is hot…” You’ve got to be kidding. Serendipity at it’s best. I laughed out loud and stayed to listen to the song smiling all the way.

Yeah baby—welcome to summer! What’s your soundtrack?

See the USA in Your Chevrolet….

I love highway rest stops. There. I said it. Rest stops, truck stops, I love them all. Those commercialized hubs on the major highways and over state lines gets my heart beating a little faster every time we go on the road. With the warmer weather around the corner, I have vacation/road trip on the brain, and with that comes memories of past road trips and so naturally, between needing gas and restroom breaks, there are the rest stops.

There is a sense of adventure in the anonymity of rest stops and an unspoken instant camaraderie with other road travelers. No matter where you go, they’re all the same–people striding purposefully toward the bathroom while others leisurely eyeball the cold case for something to munch. Then you have the tchotchke shoppers checking the token key chains, shot glasses, hats, and t-shirts emblazoned with the state bird or motto of wherever they are. Newspapers, magazines, local and state maps, and miscellaneous car paraphernalia round out the window shopping before heading over to the cashier to pay for the coffee or whatever it is that will get these travelers through to the next leg of their trip.

Where are all these people going? Coming from? Who are they visiting? Meeting? Leaving? Rest stops are like a pause in the journey. It lets you take a time out and assess how far you’ve come and how far you’ve yet to go.

Every vacation has a story and every road trip just begs for one. Some of my favorite memories have come from rest stop situations that enhanced our vacations like nothing else could have, from “lost keys” that ended up being on the air filter of the car engine while stopped in Memphis to a rest stop in Pennsylvania where I gave a woman back her wallet she thought she lost but simply left behind in the bathroom.

My favorite rest stop memory though happened just outside of Las Vegas where I found a coupon for 10 percent off a wedding service at a Vegas chapel. The initial reason for our Nevada trip was a whole other story, but we held on to the coupon and in the end, simply couldn’t resist. We got married on the way back to the airport on our last day in Vegas and then boarded the plane to come home. (Yes, we used the coupon.)

That particular rest stop has led me to the best road trip of all as this year marks 20 years with my husband—definitely the trip of a lifetime! So if you’re planning on any sort of road trip for your next vacation, be sure to enjoy the rest stops along the way. You’ll never know what you’ll find or where they may lead you, but at the very least it could be one of the best parts of the trip!