Saturday, January 29, 2011

right of passAGE (literally)

During our youth we reach certain milestones as we grow older. At age 16 we get a driver's license, at age 18 we become adults and have the right to vote, at age 21 we reach the legal drinking/gambling age, etc. Those are all exciting birthdays but as we get older they start to lose their appeal. First comes 25, then 30, then 40 bringing nothing with them except clever phrases like, 'the dirty 30' or 'over the hill.' That is until you qualify for the senior citizen's discount at the local Denny's, get your AARP card or can retire and start collecting Social Security (assuming it's even still around when WE get there).

Well, today as I talked with someone who has made it past each of those earlier milestones and is currently working on some of the others, we spoke of the other 'privileges' that come with old age...or rather the behaviors that become more acceptable/excusable the older we get. There are three major ones that we discussed:

1) You no longer have to be politically correct. You can say whatever you want. People can chose to be offended, or they can just chalk it up to your old age and grumpy disposition...or the fact that you 'grew up in a different generation.'

2) You can drive erratically (for example: you can drive 20mph under the speed limit in the fast lane, you can back up without looking over your shoulder, and you can leave your blinker on indefinitely, or not turn it on at all.)

3) Perhaps the most important (and the reason the person wishes to remain anonymous) is the fact that you can 'fart anywhere you want.' By way of example this individual explained that at the beginning of a relationship we are all careful not to break wind in front of the other person; as the relationship progresses we become more comfortable and, in certain instances, passing gas is at least tolerable; but, it is not until we reach our golden years that it is okay to cut the cheese freely in private and in public.

My response to those three suggestions was: 'haven't you already been doing all of those things anyway'...and quick came the reply, 'yeah, but it's getting worse.'

I have to admit that suddenly getting older doesn't seem so bad.

If you have any others you would like to add to list, feel free.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Best Blind Date Set Up...

We've all been set up on blind dates before, right? This email that I received this week is quite possibly the best approach I've ever seen, heard or read.

"Before we begin, let me say that this (email) will probably fall in the category of “Emma’s top 10 all time most awkward emails." And trust me I’ve written A LOT of awkward emails.

That being said, here we go…

Travis this is Stacy. Stacy this is Travis.

1. You both are sort of Asian… I think, 'hell I don’t know, but I’ve been set up for weirder things.'
2. You both travel. (or so I hear)
3. You both are outstanding members of the LDS church. (as far as I know)
4. You both are single (if this is not the case then you can stop reading now).

So when you combine these four factors, the result is (obviously) Matchmaking Nirvana… or at least to a certain coworker I have. I personally think it’s ridiculous. The chances of crap like this working is about as likely as Matt Damon showing up on my door step… riding a unicorn… nekkid.

Anyhoo, normally (because I set people up soooooo often) I would have just given a phone number to you, Travis, and let things go from there. But oddly enough, Stacy here doesn’t have a phone at the moment (sigh). She claims she didn’t really need one while she was in ECUADOR taking care of little ORPHAN BABIES (fact) and also claims to “really enjoy” the freedom that phonelessness gives her (crazy hippy talk). I figure that will change now that she’s got a big girl job … if not we probably won’t be friends anymore (kidding, sort of… you're walking a fine line Miss Stacy). So I’m giving you each other’s email address and you can exchange whatever information y’all want (if you want). Or you can totally blow each other off (at least that is what I would do).

Moving on, based on my conversations with you (Travis, I’ve talked to you probably less than 5 minutes since I’ve known you. HA! And Stacy, minus that whole phone bit, and the stint with old-man window air conditioner repair guy) I think both of you are pretty normal. I doubt you’ll have to worry about stalking issues or the like. Just in case, though, you’ll probably want to meet up in a public place (Walmart, Redbox, Super Target if you're fancy-like).

So there you go kids… have fun stormin’ the castle.

Oh there’s one more thing. Did I mention, I think you two are probably related? (Queue “Big Love” theme song…Warren Jeffs is applauding right now).

The more I write the more I’m realizing this is bound to be an EPIC FAIL, but I figure it will result in a hilarious story… so just to pacify my coworker (she digs playing matchmaker), go to dinner (lunch? Ice blocking?). Definitely keep it cheap (del taco on a Tuesday?), go dutch even!… you can exchange frequent flier miles, talk about your cousins, write a travel log (or whatever you kids do these days), then go your separate ways.

On the off chance that this does work (which it won’t, these things never do) I’ll expect this email to be printed, framed and hanging in your living room.

Best wishes for wonderful life together... or at least 15 minutes at the Dairy Queen."

I guess all that remains now is to see just how great Del Taco can be on a Tuesday night.

Monday, January 10, 2011

David Brooks

I recently discovered a new columnist whose writing style I really like. His name is David Brooks.

One of my favorite articles is one that he wrote about 5 years ago. It's called Saturday Night Lite.

Here are some of the best quotes from the article:

"I blame the arbiters of virtue. Sometime over the past generation we became less likely to object to something because it is immoral and more likely to object to something because it is unhealthy or unsafe. So smoking is now a worse evil than six of the Ten Commandments, and the word "sinful" is most commonly associated with chocolate.

Now we lead lives in which everything is a pallid parody of itself: fat-free yogurt, salt-free pretzels, milk-free milk. Gone, at least among the responsible professional class, is the exuberance of the feast. Gone is the grand and pointless gesture."


"This isn't the empire of an American Caesar; it's the empire of faux Caesar salad.

I blame parents. Kids are raised amid foam corner protectors and schooled amid flame-retardant construction paper. They're drugged with a vast array of pharmaceuticals to keep them from becoming interesting. They go from adult-structured tutorials to highly padded sports practices to career-counselor-approved summer internships."

He ends with these words:

"no matter how dull and responsible you become, an alternative and much stranger moral universe is always just one slippery step away."


Saturday, January 8, 2011


This message is as much for me as it is for any who might read this.

A few years ago on one of my first sales trips to the Texas panhandle I visited an advertising agency that prided itself on being the 'oldest ad agency west of the Mississippi River'. Their office looked as though it was stuck in the 70's with the earth-tone decor, the smell of old books, and outdated office furniture. As I stood in the waiting area I saw a door full of interesting quotes and thoughts. The one that stood out to me the most was one that said the following: 'Smile, it gets worse.'

I laughed silently to myself and thought about something my mom had taught me as a kid. She explained to me that the reason we experience tough times is to prepare us for the tougher ones to come. There is definitely some truth to that.

Fast forward to the present day (well a couple of days ago), I found myself sitting across the table from a friend sharing the fortunes from the cookies we had just eaten. As 'luck' would have it, my fortune said something with a completely different said, 'Don't Give Up! The Best Is Yet To Come.'

It was a timely message and one I felt compelled to share. As a missionary I would often receive little stories enclosed in each of the letters that my grandfather would send. One such story illustrates the idea of the fortune cookie well. The story is told of an elderly woman who had reached the end of her life. She called the pastor of her church to her home so that she could get all of her affairs in order. Upon leaving, the pastor turns to the elderly woman and asks if there is anything else that he can do for her. She responds by telling him that there is one more small thing she would like him to do...make sure that she is be buried with a fork in her right hand.

Obviously puzzled, the pastor asks her to explain her unique request. She proceeds to tell him that her favorite part of church gatherings was when someone would tell those in attendance to, 'keep their forks' after they had finished eating dinner. Those words meant that dessert was to follow shortly.

Nodding his head, the pastor agreed to do as she requested because he understood perfectly what she was trying to say. She had lived a full life, eaten all of her dinner so to speak, and now she would hold her fork in anticipation of partaking of the dessert that awaited her.

Our lives are much the same way. We must eat all of our vegetables if we hope to have a bowl of ice cream afterward. Through the trials and tribulations that we face we become better and stronger. If we endure those difficult times that come to each of us and see them through to the end not only will we come to understand their purpose in our lives, we will also prepare ourselves for better days ahead.

I know that sometimes it is easy to get discouraged, to lose faith, or to give up hope in the face of adversity. But, remember the words of the fortune cookie, 'Don't give up. The best is yet to come!'

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

The Value of Opinions

In keeping with Harper Lee, there is another great lesson in the classic novel, To Kill a Mockingbird.

'People are certainly entitled to think what they want, and they're entitled to full respect for their opinions, but before I can live with other folks I've got to live with myself. The one thing that doesn't abide by majority rule is a person's conscience.'

I don't mean to discount the value of other people's opinions of fact, in many ways, those opinions have helped me to make changes in my life for the better. With that said, there is danger when we allow the judgments of others to affect us in a negative way.

I have found that we are often hard enough on ourselves as it is and we do not need to allow other people's words, thoughts, or actions to burden us even more. It doesn't matter how many people share the same opinion (majority rule), what matters it what we think of ourselves.

I've always loved the phrase, 'keep your chin up and your nose clean.' When our lives are in order (noses clean) then we can keep our chins up regardless of what others may think of us.

The best way to keep your nose clean is to follow this counsel: 'Good, Better, Best...never let it rest until your Good is Better than Best.' There's always room for improvement.

Monday, January 3, 2011

The Courage of Dating

I made a promise last week to write something on my blog with the condition that I would be given a topic to write about. The topic was dating. I don't consider myself any sort of authority on the subject. In fact, the thought, 'those who can't do, teach' comes to mind.

So, rather than offer any of my own profound insights on the subject, I'll allow Harper Lee to do it:

"I wanted you to see what real courage is, instead of getting the idea that courage is a man with a gun in his hand. It's when you know you're licked before you begin but you begin anyway and you see it through no matter what. You rarely win, but sometimes you do."

Dating can be tough. Rather than winning really only win once. But, it's important to remember that the times that you don't win only become losses when you choose not to learn something from them. I know that I have learned something new from each relationship that I've been in and I'm a better person because of it.

Knowing that the majority of the relationships that we're going to be in will either end in heartache and disappointment for one or both parties gives us the impression that we 'are licked before we begin' but we must have courage and 'begin anyway' and, more importantly, 'see it through no matter what.'

Each 'no' brings us that much closer to a 'yes'. Some have already found it. Some of us are still looking.