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Walking It Off

2 Apr

ImageAs the sun lowers in the late afternoon sky I resist the urge to close the computer, turn off the desk lamp, put on my walking shoes and get outside for a quick stroll. Why such resistance? In my head, I know that a brisk 25 minutes outdoors will fuel me for a couple more hours of work after dinner. Everything I read about exercise and nutrition tells me it is so. A lifetime of experience has proven it to be true. Yet I resist. Is it laziness? Perhaps I need a nap, although I’m not much of a napper. Maybe a snack will give me the boost I need? I’m not hungry.

All day I told myself I’d walk this afternoon….going to get it done and rid myself of the desk-sitting, computer-gazing cobwebs in my head.

 

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Important Legal Materials Enclosed

23 Jan

My little red Honda CR-VIt looks like junk mail, but the bold-face type below the return address (unfamiliar to me, I should note) exclaims: “IMPORTANT LEGAL MATERIALS ENCLOSED”. The fact that it’s addressed to “Resident” does nothing to add to its importance, but I cannot resist opening ……… and very disappointing….

It’s from United States District Court District of New Jersey, containing a Civil Action Proposed Class Action Settlement for problems with air-conditioning and compressor units of *certain older (2007 and prior) Honda vehicles. These lawyers have apparently identified me as a Honda owner (I owned a Honda CRV once), but for some reason cannot recall my name. The law requires that I be notified, but I know I don’t meet the requirements for joining in the Class Action Settlement fun. That little red CR-V was one of the most trouble-free cars I’ve ever owned. 

Honda gets credit for offering to “partially reimburse any out-of-pocket expenses incurred”, even if it did take them 10 years to find me….

If you are or were a Honda owner and need help filing a claim, go to http://www.AlinLitigation.com for more information.

* Honda Odyssey, model year 2005 – 2007, Honda CR-V, model year 2002-2004, Acura TSX, model year 2004

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Honda CR-V

23 Jan

Honda CR-V

My little red CR-V

New Year’s Revolution

1 Jan

Skating at Rockefeller CenterEach January, I review and renew my list of self-improvement practices. I recommit to exercising my body and vocal cords, so I can be comfortable on stage as a singer – obviously these habits provide beneficial side effects every day, not just in performance situations. “Be in the moment” has been my mantra for years – as a younger person, my tendency was to always worry “what happens next?”. Not that I don’t plan ahead, I certainly do, but I also make an effort to find a way to enjoy where I am now, right this moment. Even if I’m in the car, in traffic, and I need a rest stop soon. Here’s my little remedy for this situation: crank the volume on your iPod or radio and sing at the top of your lungs until the next rest area appears on the horizon. You’re welcome!

The next practice I’ll renew and continue is daily gratitude, requiring increased mindfulness on my part. It doesn’t always occur to me to feel grateful for the small pleasures in life, like a cup of french roast coffee in my own kitchen, a full refrigerator, or that parking space waiting just for me in front of the dentist’s office. I’m often wearing blinders against these small gifts, taking them for granted, when I should be giving thanks to the universe for allowing me these simple delights. Gratitude practice reveals more to reasons to feel grateful – I see that when I remember to look.

Each year I vow to challenge myself: learn a new computer skill, take on an unfamiliar duty within my  business, add a new yoga stretch to my morning routine, smile at strangers or be more loving to my family, friends, colleagues. I like having the New Year as a reminder to press on, to do and be a better person. I haven’t fleshed out what the 2012 challenges will look like, but getting back into the gym is one routine I’ll restart this week.

For the past six or so years, author, speaker, media and marketing whiz Chris Brogan has published his January 1 edition of “My Three Words“, an alternative to resolutions where he states his focus for the coming year in three words, which for 2012 are: Temple. Untangle. Practice. Chris challenges his readers to respond with their own three and focus on defining goals and experiences related to the chosen words. My three words for 2012 match the Fisher-Price toy company’s tagline: play – laugh – grow.

What’s your plan?

The Scent of Memories

18 Nov
Happy Little Girl Swinging

Happy Little Girl

“Memories, imagination, old sentiments, and associations are more readily reached through the sense of smell than through any other channel.” ~Oliver Wendell Holmes

An article in the Boston Sunday Globe discussed the theory that “smells are very much tied to memories, yet scents are overlooked as we record history.” I don’t recall much detail of the history taught to me in school, but I’m sure if you’ve ever read an account of the Pilgrims crossing the ocean in the Mayflower, you’ll understand why certain smells would forever trigger unhappy memories in the minds of those hardy souls who finally landed in America. No doubt also that the smells of other hardships, like war, would stay with the unfortunate participants and witnesses for a very long time.

Certainly my fondest childhood memories, my personal history, are tied to scent in one way or another. Even now I love the smell of new books and crayons, which were the best (sometimes the only) reason to anticipate that first week back at school after summer vacation. We always had an above-ground swimming pool in our backyard, so the chlorine wafting out of the pool room at the gym reminds me of home. Mom was and is a great cook, so the aromas of foods we regularly enjoyed in my childhood, like spaghetti and meatballs or broiled steak and french fries, still evoke fond memories. As she encouraged all five of us in the ways of cleanliness by doling out chores regularly and urging our participation in housework on a weekly basis, we became familiar with the pleasant scents of Lemon Pledge (used sparingly) for dusting, Niagara Spray Starch for ironing, Windex for sparkling, streak-free windows.

As a kid, I assumed everyone lived exactly as we did, eating pork chops or American chop suey for dinner, washing dishes with Ivory liquid, cleaning bathrooms with lemon-scented ammonia, using Cascade powder for the dishwasher and All laundry detergent in the washing machine. Walking into another family’s home  – a rarity in the days when we’d play outside all day until the streetlights came on – I recall feeling physically assaulted by the weird new smells of these unfamiliar homes. Unrecognizable food smells, cleaning products (or lack thereof), cigar or cigarette smoke (this was the old days, when people smoked in their homes), pets – all were a reminder that everyone is not the same, they don’t all live the way we do, care about the same things, have the same concerns and goals. And they probably thought our house smelled weird, too.

To this day, the smell of Lemon Pledge reminds me of home, as do the scents of Murphy’s Oil soap, Windex, spaghetti and meatballs, chocolate chip cookies, apple crisp and Christmas trees. Diesel bus fumes bring me back to the excitement of summer drum corps travel and competitions. All comforting reminders of my happy childhood, my personal history.

What scents bring back good memories for you?

Autumn is Lovely But….

22 Sep

It happens every year. Summer comes to a close, the evening air is cooler, vacation time is over, the neighbor children appear at the bus stop at 8:15 a.m. each weekday. It makes me sad. Don’t get me wrong, I’m grateful for each breath I take and love my life most days, but I mourn the passing of Summer and have done so for 50 years. Actually, I can trace this feeling back to when I started 2nd grade. I love the heat and the humidity and the sand in my shoes.

They say if you love something, set it free. I’ll miss you, Summer. Until next year…Sandy Footprints

That Nice Kirby Sales Rep

8 Sep
Kirby Sales Rep

Kirby Sales Rep at Work

We had a Saturday afternoon free. Relatively free, anyway – just errands to be done and tying up loose ends before heading out to dinner and a show with friends. During a cold call from the Kirby Vacuum cleaner people that morning, we decided to let them come by and show us the vacuum/carpet shampooer in exchange for a free rug cleaning, which we had been putting off for ages. What we didn’t plan on was that the Kirby sales rep would be such a great guy.

Once a musician, some changes in his life required him to work a 9 to 5 job so he could take care of his young son, so he signed on with the local Kirby distributor and learned about the Kirby system ten years ago. We had done some research – if you Google “Kirby Vacuum”, you’ll find many stories of people being bullied by unsavory sales people into making purchases they neither wanted nor could afford. Our Kirby rep told us at the beginning, “I’m here to show you how it works – you’ll either buy it or you won’t”. Fair enough. We wanted our carpet cleaned. And we felt strong enough to say “no” to this guy at the end of the process.

He was neither a bully nor unsavory. What he was, was knowledgeable, pleasant, quick, and efficient. Being in sales ourselves, we appreciate that in a salesperson. He was personable without being too personal.

We listened to his pitch, asked questions, and let him clean our carpet. What we didn’t do was say “no”. The Kirby Sentria system vacuums rugs, floors, furniture, and delicate items like lamp shades. It also shampoos carpets (without soaking them or using harsh chemicals) and has brushes and crevice tools to make vacuuming air conditioning grates, ceiling fans, that narrow space on either side of the fridge or car seat, and especially carpeted stairs, easy and quick. There are more accessories for floor buffing or polishing, sanding and other tasks, but we opted out on those. I’ve since used many of the attachments and functions of the Kirby Sentria we now own, and it truly is one of the best and most efficient household appliance investments we’ve made in our 28 years of home maintenance.

This post was intended less as an endorsement of the Kirby product itself, and more an endorsement of this terrific sales professional, who represents his company, his product, and himself, with enthusiasm and class. Thank you, Tom, for showing us how it’s done.

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