Things I want to keep in mind.

Category: Miscellaneous

More fear

Another mass shooting.  A crazy guy with a bunch of guns.  A cry for better gun control laws.  Another media frenzy.  We all buy into it; the panic, the anger, the deep seated fear.  We listen to report and dreaded report, on multiple channels and over a multitude of media forums.  Our world seems to get crazier and crazier by the minute.

What can we do as an individual?  How can we live amid this madness?  How do we avoid joining the frenzy?  How do we prevent depression, anger and doom from ruling the day when we feel so powerless?

In truth, no matter how many mass shootings there are, no matter how inept our rulers are, no matter how ruthless our “enemies” are; as individuals our power is limited to our minuscule corner of existence.  We CAN remain informed and mindful of how we are governed. We CAN contact our representatives and let our voices be heard.  We CAN teach our children to be good, caring, strong citizens.   We CAN be good citizens ourselves.  We CAN make right any wrong within our purview and not turn a blind eye.

In times like these, we may feel so powerless, we withdraw, throw up our hands and change the channel. We become apathethic, complacent and hopeless.  Conversely, it is easy to buy into the mayhem; to join the ranks of twitterpaters.  The sky is, indeed, falling.  We become angry, inflexible, verging on hysterical. In both cases, depression and anxiety prevail.

In the paper today, one of the articles I read said the FBI is investigating whether or not the gunman had been “radicalized” by someone.  Aren’t we all at risk of being radicalized on a daily basis?  Watch or listen to the news for 10 minutes and feel the fear mongering sink in.  We have to pay attention to our world, we can’t bury our heads in the sand. BUT we don’t have to join the herd.  Turn OFF the news, set your phone aside.  Walk outside. TALK face to face to someone about something other than the chaos.  Remind yourself that the one thing you can do as an individual is to live your best life beyond and in spite of the frenzy.  Have courage, as often as you can.




Time goes by unfettered.  You certainly can’t slow it down or hold onto it – even if you want to.  When you are young and in the thick of living, time is your rival.  You must keep up with that ticking clock – it rules the day.  As you age, the clock becomes a different kind of rival.  The focus isn’t trying to fit as much into that little face of hours and minutes but to keep that little face from bowling you over.  (In this modern day of technology, the clock no longer has a face….but a digital readout.  I’m outdated in my analogies…)

I recently attended the celebration of life for one of my high school teachers.  It was interesting to see the ensemble of retired teachers in attendance.  They looked so old.  Made me feel young-er, sort of.  Stepping into the old school and sitting in the gym, where I played basketball and sang in concerts and played french horn in the band – I began to feel old again.

The teacher we were celebrating was the business teacher from 1972 until approx 2001.  He coached basketball, football, wrestling and was involved in several other extracurricular business class organizations.  He had a daughter, a son and several grandsons.  When he retired from our school, he moved to another larger city to be near his daughter and son.  He continued to work as a teacher until he was diagnosed with liver cancer a couple of years ago.  By all accounts, he was a very fun-loving, caring and giving person. He loved his wife, his family, playing golf and teaching.  He died in July but they arranged this little celebration for those of us who could attend his funeral in July.

I grew up in a small town and attended a small, rural high school.  My graduating class had 26 students.  Most of us had attended all twelve years of school together.  In those days,  the teachers lived and raised their families in the community as well.  Because they were a part of the community, they were committed to the school and to teaching.  They certainly weren’t there to make money!

Attending the celebration of life was a walk down memory lane.  Of course, there was talk about his life, what he loved, how kind he was and there were funny stories about different points in his lifetime in our valley.  It was sad and funny – as it should be.  Seeing my old teachers, talking about those old days, made me ruminate about my life as a teenager.  I have always known that I have limited memories of those years.  Of course, my focus at the time was about my appearance, my peers and my nonexistent love-life.  In addition to pondering those old days, I also observed the crowd and considered the celebration ceremony itself and how I would do things differently at my own funeral/memorial.

In recent years, I have attended more funerals than in my younger years.  Stands to reason, I am getting older.  Parents, friends, and other family members, are reaching the age of mortality.  These things come to the forefront, not only as we age, but as we lose friends, family or acquaintances through illness or accidental death.  It just feels more prevalent as you consider your own age in the process.  And since my mother is ill and in a memory care facility, I am always thinking about preparations for her funeral.

This was a celebration of life, well after death.  While it was still a bit raw for his immediate family, it wasn’t as difficult or as emotional as it was two months ago at his funeral service.  This ceremony was meant for those of us who couldn’t attend his funeral but still wanted to have a chance to say our good-byes.  There were several speakers, music was played and there was a reading of an open letter written by him a couple of months prior to his actual death.  All very touching and heart-felt.  Then the family requested any comments or stories from the audience (an “open mic” as it were).  Several people shared stories or memories about the teacher, mostly funny little anecdotes or expressing gratitude for his work as a teacher or coach.  Then – hobbling up to the microphone, came a retired teacher – who decided to tell her own life’s story about the horrors of teaching.  She said very little about the man we were honoring.  She was talking to hear the sound of her own voice.  It. was. painful.  And far too long.

This made me question the logic of having an open mic at a memorial/funeral service – it seems there is ALWAYS someone who takes advantage of the opportunity for a captive audience.  I’ve been to several funerals where this has occurred.  So I’ve decided that at my mother’s funeral (and at my own) there will be a precept for the open microphone – something along these lines: “We have limited time so please only share stories ABOUT the deceased.  No need to try to convert anyone to your religious beliefs or to discuss your own life history.  AND if you can’t say it in 10 sentences or less, you really should write it down and send it to the family as a personal message.  Better yet, write it in your journal and have it read at your own funeral.   Thank you for your cooperation.”

Of course, I am being facetious – we really wouldn’t say that but we would want to….  A funeral/memorial should be about the person you are honoring.  Stories about THEM.  Stories that generates a pleasant sensation and something that will bring peace to the family as they remember the person they’ve lost.

Be amazed

The clouds are a very dark gray this morning.  Looks like we’ll be getting more rain.  It has been an interesting summer here in Montana.  It was hot and dry and we experienced a plethora of forest fires – all over the state.  In our area, we had more than our fair share.  From mid-July until a few days ago, we endured very smoky days.  Air Quality was listed as hazardous for the entire month of August.  And then — it snowed in the high mountains and poured rain in the valleys.  The smoke is gone, fires have burned out and everything is very “fall” like.  Nature turned the page to the next season.

I often dream of living in a warm, moderate climate – where the temps occasionally get high or low but for the most part, remain the same year round. But I think I would miss the seasons.  Each season has its own beauty and unpleasantness – the transition period from one to the other is usually the very best time.  You know something different (possibly better) is coming.  Just about the time you think you can’t tolerate one more snow storm, the sun rises and you see the beginning of new life; green grass, trees blooming and flowers poking their heads above the slushy snow.  Last week, when we had reached our limit with the smoke and heat — the rain and snow arrived.  A special gift.  We’ll get weary of all this rain but indian summer will fall into place – warm sun, beautiful fall colors and breezy days.  If I lived in mild weather – would I long for the seasons?

In truth, our lives are like the seasons.  We dream of mild days with no disruptions, no barometric changes.  Could we live in a Utopian world where everything was “fine” every single moment of every single day?  That would be lovely, wouldn’t it?  No one would be sad or lonely; we wouldn’t compete with each other or fight over ridiculous differences; there would be no need for using mood changing medications/alcohol and such; everyone would feel loved and cared for.  Of course, we COULD live in that dreamland – but it is just that; a dream, “never-never land”.

The disruptions and transitions of life are often difficult.  Most of us fumble through trying to find a way out of the gray clouds or a way to stay in the sliver-like ray of sunshine.  Sometimes, we need help but never ask and wallow in our desolation.  Other times, we ask and have great expectations for deliverance from our misery and fear – only to find it short-lived.  We lament our misery and wonder why we can’t find peace.  We internalize our pain and envy others who seem so much more content.

Our lives are wrought with changing seasons; clearing our path of old growth in preparation for the new.   We tire of the same old routine but fear starting over yet again.  We prefer staying in our comfy clothes, on our comfy couches and beds and staying inside – out of the elements.  Change often means a loss of some kind and we wonder if we will survive the conversion.  (Close your eyes and think of the times you thought you would never get through a particularly difficult time.  Be amazed at the realization that you DID get through it.)

Somehow, we manage.  We move on, adjust, re-align our delineation of security and comfort.  We prepare for the coming season of our life — put on an extra layer of clothing for warmth or find a cool stretch of shade; knowing there will be rain or snow – we hunker down and wait for the worst to pass.  If we didn’t have the storms, fires, rain, snow, dry heat – we wouldn’t have the sun, shade, grass, flowers and new-trees.  The same applies to our lives – we lose people we love; we feel lost ourselves, at one time or another; we feel sad and lonely; the old growth is destroyed and the new growth appears with little notice, but it does appear.  Without fail, the next season does appear.

Be the playdough you were meant to be…

Life is like a bucket of play dough.  It is nice and soft when you first open it (although it does smell a little funny).  You experience pleasure working it with your hands, squishing and molding, rolling and pulling it apart, only to squish it back together again.  There is some control in the pliability of the dough; you roll it, flatten it, make snakes, snowmen and any number of other things and it will still squish back together into the bucket.  Then, the older the dough gets, the less pliable it becomes.  Sometimes, you forget to close the lid tightly and it gets a little too dry — or you may miss a piece of the dough as you gather it back into the bucket and it becomes completely dry and turns into a little stone of dough.  As the dough loses moisture, it becomes more and more difficult to form and shape; there are pieces of different colors and dirt particles that the dough has picked up over time and use.  Eventually, the dough is no longer vibrant or the original hue.

Like play dough, we start out bright, pliable, squishy and flexible.  As time goes on, our color dulls a little.  We mix with others, take on some of their color and, inevitably, we pick up particles of dirt and carry them with us.  We lose moisture and become crusty around the edges.  The biggest difference is that we are in control of our own lid.

We can be careful of mixing with the wrong color (after all, SOME colors may complement ours and we may be willing to mix with those…..).  If we pick up dirt, we can dust it off or pick it out before it mixes too thoroughly.  We can take care in keeping ourselves moist and pliable (sounds a little gross, I know).  Most importantly, we can accept that the longer we are around, the older our containers get and the inevitably of losing our elasticity is unavoidable.  Oh sure, we can get newer, air tight containers and we can add moisture of some kind — but we are going to get dry eventually, no matter what.  We will be replaced by newer, more vibrant and pliable colors.  That’s just the way it is.

Of course, you COULD keep the lid on, airtight, and put the bucket on a shelf — never bringing it out and never exposing it to other colors, dirt or dry air.  But what is the fun in that?

For both of us

Recently, I have been missing my mom – which is unusual because we had never been very close.  I’ve been thinking about the way she used to be — about 10 years ago when she was still delivering the mail and stopping by on a whim.   She would call fairly frequently just to fill me in on gossip or ask something about the kids.   In those days, she was a gadabout.  If she got bored, she would jump in her car and drive to some unknown point in the valley or to a neighboring town.

Every Sunday, she played the organ at the country church.  For a time, she would regularly come to our house for dinner after the service.    We had a small family discord and she stopped coming over and rarely called.  As time and her dementia progressed, we lost contact until the memory loss became a safety issue.  By then, when it was time to step in and arrange for her care, she no longer remembered the discord but the disengagement of recent years only made matters worse.  I feel deprived of the last few reasonably normal years of her life before the dementia changed her into a stranger.

As I said, we were never very close but the dementia has forced into grim reality the realization that we have lost any possible opportunity to be close. Looking back into my childhood, I wished for a mother who would talk to me, tell me things, hug me and tell me she wasn’t angry with me.  That just wasn’t meant to be and, now, it truly never will be.  Having to let go of that hope and wish is hard.   It makes me sad for both of us.

Mom remains in a memory care facility.  She has lost a lot of weight and she no longer recognizes anyone.  Her biggest pleasure is when my sister brings her cinnabons or something from McDonalds.  She still walks loops around the hall with her walker and she hasn’t fallen for a couple of months (knock on wood).  It isn’t easy going to visit her – in fact, it is very difficult.  Her face is sallow and her eyes are vacant.  She rarely makes eye contact and only grunts as a response to most questions or she repeats the question.  Somewhere in that shell is a woman who had 4 children, cooked on a wood stove, chopped wood, taught children how to read, delivered mail, played the organ and acted as eucharistic minister in her church.  She was also a woman who wanted to go to college but couldn’t because of financial constraints, a woman who loved her family but always wanted something more – a woman whose true dreams and desires will never be known.

I miss having her around and I wish that things could have been different – for both of us.

Across the window

The view out of my office window changes from day to day  depending on the season, traffic on the road, activities in my neighborhood.

The young family across the road are ranchers and they are a busy bunch.  I’ve watched their children grow from toddlers to little ranchers – driving four wheelers, chasing cows and changing sprinkler pipes.  All of the ranch chores are a family activity.  I’m so proud of them even though I only know them to wave hello across the way.

A little farther across the field is my cousin’s place.  He works a huge ranch, mostly by himself, from dawn until dusk and then some. I watch him every day and though we may not see each other face to face – I often feel as though I am a part of his life just because I get to watch it unfold daily.  His fields are the greenest on this end of the valley.  I know that is a source of pride for him and for those of us who border his property (though we have nothing to do with how pristine his fields are…).

This morning the view is gorgeous, as usual.  I am so lucky.  The fields are green, the willows are full-on yellow with new growth and trees are budding leaves.  Birds are darting to and fro and the cows are calmly eating the new, soft and fresh grass.  It is a very quiet, cloudy morning.  Not even a single dog is barking but it is early morning.  Our neighborhood commentator will start his daily barking ritual when the neighborhood starts moving.

Soon the school bus will round the corner and I will watch it travel across my window until it passes in front of the house to load up kids from up the road.  Shortly after, the rest of the neighborhood will begin to cross my view on their way to work.  The dog will bark at each of the cars as they go by.

As the day progresses, I may see my husband out in our yard.  He keeps it pretty green as well.  I will see him mowing, trimming trees and setting traps for the meadow moles that create havoc with their digging and mounds of dirt.  (Caddyshack at its finest…)

And of course, the ever present and magnificent Gray Wolf peak – somehow more beautiful and awesome with every season.

While the moving parts of my view change, the actual view itself doesn’t.   The mountains change color with the seasons but they remain standing – holding their place in the world.  Each day, when I sit down in my chair — turn on my computer and look up over the top of my screen — I breathe a sigh of relief.  It is still there.  The trees, the brush, the cows, the hills, the grass, the road, Gray Wolf.  I feel the same sense of awe that my father must have felt, and his father before him.  Home.  Peace.  Stability. Strength. Comfort.

Defining freedom

Freedom is important.  We all want it and most of us are willing to fight for it, even if it is something as simple as making a strong argument with someone else about why we “deserve” a vacation from work or school.  As children, there was nothing more freeing than that last day of school and first day of summer!  As adults, it is always a major disappointment when we have to continue working through those glorious summer months.  (Unless you are a teacher and then you DO deserve the summer vacation!!!)

Vacation isn’t necessarily associated with “freedom” but it is a similar feeling.  Vacation means fewer responsibilities (although if you are a parent, you are never truly “free” of responsibilities even for vacation).

Freedom as a “first-world” matter is very different than in many other parts of the world.  We complain of our obligations to job, family, or community as if we are imprisoned by those commitments.  We are so enmeshed in our grievances about our busy lives and schedules, we overlook two important elements.  One: most of our commitments/obligations are self-imposed.  Doesn’t that mean that we retain prerogative over those obligations?  Two: the bigger picture.  There are many more constraints and impediments to “freedom” suffered by others even in our own country, in your own state and city.

Can’t find a thing to cook in the pantry?  You have a pantry full of food – many don’t.

Can’t find a thing to wear?  Nothing fits?  You have a closet is FULL of clothes – many don’t.

No time to exercise? What if you had to walk around all day because you had no place to go?

Work is getting you down?  School is boring?  Too many meetings?  Too many functions to attend?  Calgon take me away?

Imagine wearing the same thing every day.  Or having only two or three outfits – total.  You’d have to wash clothes nightly and you’d have to wash them in the sink with an old bar of soap.  Imagine having only ONE or two pair of shoes.  Imagine being sick but not being able to go to the doctor.  Imagine eating only one true meal every day.  Imagine having an old car that barely runs – and not being able to go on vacation – EVER.  Imagine.

Freedom is important.  It doesn’t have the same meaning for everyone.

(Side bar: remember to donate clothes, shoes and food.  Next time you are complaining about how busy you are or how you don’t have something you really want — stop yourself.  You are free to choose and to see.  What more do you need?)


Divorce is an ugly word, a bad word.  Even though it is quite prevalent in our current world – it continues to be distasteful.  In most divorces, the theme is winner and loser.  In reality, both parties lose no matter the outcome.  And if there are children – they are the spoils of war and the biggest losers.

Even in the worst of times, we like to believe that when push comes to shove, the children will be the priority.  Unfortunately for a large percentage of divorced couples, that isn’t the case.  The children become pawns and whether you want to do battle or not, the struggle begins early in negotiations and can last until the children are grown – depending on the parties involved.

Counseling can help but, again, depends on the parties involved. You have to be open and willing to make necessary changes.

In many divorces, the grim reality is that the marital situation was difficult enough for one party to call it quits.  Getting a divorce will not change the circumstances of the difficulty, it will exacerbate it.  Not only was it challenging to live WITH that person, now living without them is going to be extremely contentious.  Every condition or event becomes a means of retaliation or a display of power.  Frankly, it is exhausting.  For the person who is trying to make their “escape”, it can be daunting and you constantly wonder if you should have stayed in a miserable marriage just to have avoided the turmoil.  Many people do stay, for that reason.

In my own situation, by the time I actually separated from my first husband, I was already “divorced” in my own mind.   Ours was a short marriage but, early in the relationship, I knew we were not a good match.  I thought I could just “suck it up” and play along but, in the end, I just couldn’t.  I made the decision to find a way out months before it actually happened.  Because I was mentally prepared for the break, I had already grieved for the relationship.  I could easily have left on friendly terms and fully expected he would also reach that level of acceptance.  We didn’t have any real property and I was very lucky to be the wage earner of our little family unit.  I thought we would separate, split the proceeds and find an equitable visitation plan for the kids and a reasonable child support amount – and both be on our merry way.  I was quite naive.

During our marriage, my ex-husband and I had talked about his parents’ divorce.  It had been a bitter situation and left him feeling very neglected and angry.  He talked about how important it was to make sure the kids were the first priority in any situation.  I believed him.  I thought that was going to be the case.  It was one point of view we actually agreed on and I had every intention of working with him to make sure the kids were left out of any dispute.  I really did think we could do this, we could work together for the good of our children.  But that was before the divorce actually became a possibility in our own lives.

Every issue became a conflict often having a core issue involving money.  In some ways, I was lucky because he moved away that first year.  We didn’t have to deal with each other very often except through letters and we had some scathing mail battles over the years.  In other ways, him moving away was hell because that meant that when the kids went for a visit, they were very far away.  I still get an awful feeling in my stomach when I think about it.  I would cry for days – and worry about their care.  It was horrible.

We had multiple disputes – about the kids visits, about splitting the cost of braces, about splitting the cost of band instruments, about things that should or shouldn’t be said to the kids.  Again, I was lucky that the visits were only a few times a year but the damage was done just the same.  In hindsight, I constantly wonder what I should have done differently to make it easier for the kids but I’ve long since realized that you do what you can do.  You can’t control that other person, you just do your best to counter the things that are said and done in your absence.  And you hope the kids will be okay.

Fast forward thirty some years and I still feel animosity towards my ex-husband.  I am still angry over the things he has done and I find it difficult to be in the same room with him.  Listening to him talk is like a flashback into the past and I feel the echo of the helplessness I felt back then.  For our children’s sake, we have to be together on occasions; birthdays, weddings, any life celebration.  We are congenial.  And when the celebration is over and we go our separate ways, I feel the same old relief.  I am not sorry we divorced.  It was the right thing to do for all of us.  Divorce may seem like a bad word but it really isn’t.  It is about freedom, growth, strength and wisdom – or it can be if you let it.

Monkey training

Just so you are aware; awareness doesn’t come easy.  It takes time and lots of effort to stay in the moment, to pay attention to cues and triggers, it requires consistent toil and discernment.  Typically, women are aware of everything outward; how others are feeling, what others need or want, what others may think of our efforts.  Constantly at the ready and anticipating every need – of others.  To transition that awareness to our own needs and triggers – takes both persuasion and surrender.  We have to convince ourselves that it is okay to turn the spotlight inward and then we have give ourselves permission to actually do it.  Craziness.

Think of all the women you know.  It doesn’t matter if they have children, are married or have significant others, or their age.  Of those women, what is the percentage who do far more for others, than for themselves?  What is the percentage that base their decisions or choices either on someone else’s opinion or on how that decision would either affect someone else or be judged by someone else?

As women, we are so lucky to live in this day and age – but we still have a long way to go.  Wouldn’t we all just love to be totally independent?  Never have to worry again about money, our spouses, our children, our siblings, our parents, our homes, our dogs, our weight.  Wouldn’t it be great to sleep peacefully at night without a care?  Or to get up in the morning and think only of ourselves?  What should I do today?  I think I will take a long walk with my three dogs.  Then, I will eat a leisurely breakfast on the porch and read a book.  Then, I will throw a load of laundry in and hang it out in the sun to dry.  I will eat cereal for lunch and dinner.  I will wear a cute flouncy skirt with no shoes and a pretty flower top.  You’re dreamin’ kid.

If we are honest with ourselves, knowing what we would leave behind in order to have that total independence, we know that is just a fantasy.  We would lose too much without those people in our lives for which we devote most of our focus.  However, we can gain some peace by being aware of who we are and what we deserve.

Yes, as mothers, we will always worry about our children.  We will ALWAYS want what is best for them and believe we know what that looks like and how they can achieve it.  But we should also strive to be AWARE that they are separate beings and we can’t, by force of will, make their lives for them.

As human beings, we will always want what is best for our spouses, friends, family, students, neighbors but we should be AWARE of our role in their success and happiness.  We are not responsible for it, we just wish for it – hope for it – for their sake.  Our capacity for happiness should not be contingent to theirs.

Too often we strive for perfection and/or approval.  We wear ourselves out trying to do the best, be the best and brightest.  We allow feelings of failure and fear to enter in when we think something or someone we care about is faltering.  Where is that awareness then?  Gone, gone gone.  Our mind races and we begin seeking solutions and ways to help change things for the better.  We go into overdrive – what can we say?  What can we do?  What will make the difference?  How can we make all of this better or make it go away?  Lack of control amps up our fear – which is quickly followed by defeat and depression.

Awareness means when you feel that shift into overdrive – you have to step back and breath.  Try this:  Put it in park.  Sit down.  Very calmly tell yourself: “Yes, this IS my circus and those ARE my monkeys…but this is NOT how I trained them!”  Slip on your flouncy skirt and flowered blouse and go for a walk.

More on gratitude

I should never have opened pinterest.  I am most certainly grateful for technology – that is today’s gratitute topic – but, man, does technology ever distract me!  Youtube, facebook, twitter, email, IMDB…  I have an iPad, an iPhone and a desktop computer!  I have Netflix and Amazon Prime Movies!

We purchased our first computer in 1994.  At first, I was intimidated by it.  Nothing made sense, all the buttons and discs and the lingo was a foreign language.  However, I knew I needed to learn how to use it.  We were also getting computers at work — it was going to be an absolute necessity to figure it out.  As with anything, the more you use it, the more proficient you become.  Slowly but surely, things started to make sense and I was able to work my way through most programs I had to use.

When email first came out, I resisted.  I was adamant that I would rather write a letter to send.  It was more personal and I felt like I could write more of my soul in a handwritten letter.  Eventually, I gave in and now I rarely write correspondence other than email.  To be honest, it saddens me.  To be even more honest, there is no reason that I can’t write letters…it is just so much more convenient to write an email!

I am grateful for technology.  I can text my kids and friends and get a response right away.  I can send/receive photos at a moments notice.  I can look up fun facts, addresses, maps, information, all with voice instructions, if I choose.  I can learn how to apply makeup, style my hair, apply wallpaper, build a table – with step by step video instructions!  I can get ideas for baby showers, birthday parties, bathroom remodels, outfit styles.  I can try to diagnose any weird symptom from swelling to redness to prolonged diarrhea, all with suggestions for treatments and home remedies!  I can watch any movie (almost), any time day or night. And let’s not forget the moment to moment “news” updates.

We have access to so MUCH, so fast.  We should be grateful but we should be humble and prudent.  Yes, we want to compete and maintain our knowledge of technology.  The world will leave us behind if we don’t.  But, we also need to remain vigilant in utilizing our own faculties — keeping the human factor intact.  In my own case, I will kill an entire morning looking at pinterest, facebook or youtube.  If I get bored during the day, I will check all of them “just for a minute” that ends up being an hour.  If I didn’t have technology, what could I be grateful for?  Exercise? Reading?  Writing? Talking?