Silver Sneakers

I have worked out most of my life. I started ice skating at five. I skied and swam. When I was 24, I started officiating sports and called football, baseball, ice hockey, soccer, and basketball games, an avocation I practiced for 40 years. When I was 30, I got my first health club membership and I have had one ever since.

The Silver Sneakers program is designed to provide free gym access for people 65 and older.

So, I’m a long-time gym rat. I’ve lifted weights, utilized aerobics equipment, and practiced yoga, but I’m primarily a lap swimmer. I mention this because recently I turned the golden corner for those of us who spend time at the gym. The reason? Silver Sneakers.

For the uninformed, Silver Sneakers is a health and fitness program that provides gym access and fitness classes for older adults. It’s covered by some Medicare plans. That means I no longer have to shell out those monthly fees to the health club.

The idea, of course, is to keep old people moving so they’re less likely to succumb to problems like heart disease, broken bones from falls, high-blood pressure, diabetes, cancer, and obesity. If people get exercise, chances are they won’t become ill or injured, which keeps those Medicare costs down.

I’ve been swimming laps regularly for 35 years, so I am pretty comfortable working out.

I was feeling pretty smug the day I walked into the club and asked to be moved to the Silver Sneakers rolls. I had just finished swimming a thousand meters – sadly, I used to swim two thousand, but as I’ve already intimated I’m old.

“Of course! I’d be happy to help,” a tall, twenty-something smiled down at me. “Sit right here. Just show me your ID and your membership card, Ms. Montgomery.”

I noted he was very solicitous.

After putting the important bits of information into the computer and handing me my new key fob, he placed both elbows on the desk. “Now, we can provide you with a free one-hour counseling session.”

“What for?”

He tilted his head. “To help you learn how to workout.”

I squinted. Did I look like I needed help finding my way around the gym? Did I look like I spent my days on the couch eating Ding Dongs? Did I look like I didn’t know a free weight from a foam roller?

Then, I had an I-glimpsed-myself-in-a-store-window moment. I know you’ve done it. You walk by a reflective surface and the person you see staring back is not the one you always imagined. I was forced to consider how this nice young man saw me. He smiled sweetly. I stared back, realizing I might now appear to be a little old lady.

I said I’d think about the offer. It certainly wouldn’t hurt to see if there’s anything I’ve been missing. I thanked him and left. Though I stared at the floor whenever I got close to a window.

Wild Horses on the Salt Cover 2

A WOMAN FLEES AN ABUSIVE HUSBAND

AND FINDS HOPE IN THE WILDS OF THE ARIZONA DESERT.

Published by Liaison – A Next Chapter Imprint

Rebecca Quinn escapes her controlling husband and, with nowhere else to go, hops the red-eye to Arizona. There, Gaby Strand – her aunt’s college roommate – gives her shelter at the Salt River Inn, a 1930’s guesthouse located in the wildly beautiful Tonto National Forest.

Becca struggles with post-traumatic stress, but is enthralled by the splendor and fragility of the Sonoran Desert. The once aspiring artist meets Noah Tanner, a cattle rancher and beekeeper, Oscar Billingsley, a retired psychiatrist and avid birder, and a blacksmith named Walt. Thanks to her new friends and a small band of wild horses, Becca adjusts to life in the desert and rekindles her love of art.

Then, Becca’s husband tracks her down, forcing her to summon all her strength. But can she finally stop running away?

Order your copy here: http://mybook.to/wildhorsespb

What’s for dinner?

The pandemic has changed many things in our daily lives, and one – which seemed minor at first – has taken on more importance, of late. I’m talking here about dinner.

Ryan loves to cook, but since the lockdown, having to come up with meals seven nights a week has been daunting.

It used to be that my sweetie pie cooked lovely evening meals on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday nights, while I watched admiringly, sipping beer from a champagne flute. (One of my very few quirks.) We don’t live in the same home, though we’re only separated by eight houses. So, pre-pandemic we didn’t see each other often during the workweek, which is perhaps how we’ve managed to stay together for the last 28 years.

Ryan has the soul of a chef and delighted in planning, shopping, and producing our meals. He always made extra, so I could spend the rest of the week eating luscious leftovers. In case you’re wondering, yes, I’m quite capable of cooking. I just don’t love the process quite as much as he does, though if there’s chocolate and sugar involved I’m queen of the kitchen. But Ry is a man who binge watches Diners, Drive-ins and Dives and who would happily tattoo Guy Fieri’s face on his bicep.

Now, in the seventh month of our confinement, something has changed.

“What do you want for diner?” Ry asked with little enthusiasm.

“What’s the matter?” I squinted from my La-Z-Boy, then smiled sweetly. “I’ll be happy with whatever the cook wants to make.” When I got no response, I was instantly concerned.  

Then, he shrugged. “I’m not used to cooking. . . everyday.”

I flashed on my mother, who would come home from work and stand frozen before the refrigerator, while three bratty kids whined for dinner. When my dad got home, we’d all sit down – for those youngsters among you, we actually gathered at the table every night for dinner – and more times than not we’d complain that we didn’t like her cooking. And that would push her over the edge into scary-mom land.

I now realize what a pain in the butt it must have been for her to work all day – she was the only mom in the neighborhood who held a job – and then have to figure out what meal might make us all happy, a feat almost impossible to perform.

See this sweet, 1960’s mom cooking for her grateful family? Not my mom. Not my family.

“You don’t have to cook everyday, Ry. The kids and I can forage.”

But he looked sad, as if somehow, now that he’s retired, it’s his job to feed us, and that if he doesn’t work his culinary magic, we’ll all be disappointed.

A short time later, he snapped his tablet shut and rose with a smile on his face. At dinnertime, when he produced a huge, baking dish bubbling with lobster mac and cheese, there wasn’t an unhappy mouth in the house.

“Nice, honey! You outdid yourself,” I said, scraping the last bit of gooey goodness from my plate.

The thing about dinner though is there’s no finish line. Tomorrow he’ll have to rally his culinary skills again.

Good luck, sweetie pie. We’re all counting on you.

Wild Horses on the Salt Cover 2

A WOMAN FLEES AN ABUSIVE HUSBAND

AND FINDS HOPE IN THE WILDS OF THE ARIZONA DESERT.

Published by Liaison – A Next Chapter Imprint

Rebecca Quinn escapes her controlling husband and, with nowhere else to go, hops the red-eye to Arizona. There, Gaby Strand – her aunt’s college roommate – gives her shelter at the Salt River Inn, a 1930’s guesthouse located in the wildly beautiful Tonto National Forest.

Becca struggles with post-traumatic stress, but is enthralled by the splendor and fragility of the Sonoran Desert. The once aspiring artist meets Noah Tanner, a cattle rancher and beekeeper, Oscar Billingsley, a retired psychiatrist and avid birder, and a blacksmith named Walt. Thanks to her new friends and a small band of wild horses, Becca adjusts to life in the desert and rekindles her love of art.

Then, Becca’s husband tracks her down, forcing her to summon all her strength. But can she finally stop running away?

Order your copy here: http://mybook.to/wildhorsespb

Waiting for a wireless world: the curse of cords

download
I wish my desk looked like this, but it doesn’t.

Once upon a time, we were told computers would make our lives simpler. Seemed rational, though we were also told they would lead to a paperless society, which is clearly not the case and is a story for another time.

I’m not arguing that computers don’t give us options never before seen in the history of mankind, it’s just that they make certain things so damn hard.

I’m speaking specifically of cords. Lately, I’m afraid to look behind my desktop where a nest of cables snakes in a pile from my power strip. I have tried reordering the mess on multiple occasions but it always manages to morph back in a tangled heap.

The problem intensified recently when, following my retirement from teaching, I needed to purchase some new computers, as well as a cellphone, an item I was acquiring for the first time ever. (Stop snickering.)

images-1
This isn’t really what the cables look like behind my desktop, it just feels that way.

All my new gadgets needed various types of cords, items unimaginatively name DVI cables, HDMI cables, PS/2 Cables, Ethernet cables, USB cables, etc. Though some of these cords came with my purchases, I had to buy others. I considered the cost of these additional wires and wondered why they weren’t included with my new devices. Made me wonder what my dad would have done in olden times had he toted that big square TV home and discovered there was no plug.

After utilizing power tools to pry my cords from their human-proof packaging, I plugged them in. There were so many, I had a brief panic attack. I need order to function, so I tried a bunch of twist ties, but the pile looked even worse.

Then I had to deal with the chargers. In addition to my desktop, I have a laptop, a Kindle, and a phone. But it gets better. I currently have two college-student kids pandemically stuck at home, each of whom also has multiple devices, as well as my sweetie pie who owns a tablet. Chargers sneak from sockets everywhere, though no one seems bothered by this but me. Nor do they struggle, as I do, with the question of which cord goes to which device.

The question arose: Why can’t the cords and their corresponding ports all be the same? I checked that out, figuring mankind had survived with just a few regional variations of the wall plug since the advent of electricity. I discovered there are three types of connectors: “twisted-pair connectors, coaxial cable connectors and fiber-optic connectors. Generally, cable connectors have a male component and a female component, except in the case of hermaphroditic connectors such as the IBM data connector.”

images
Why so many different types of ports? I’m guessing the answer is simple: Money.

I won’t pretend to understand that. I’m a simple sort. So, when I looked up the different types of ports, I was similarly confused. “Many USB ports look the same, but there are different generations with different capabilities. Some are USB 2.0 and some are 3.0 – the 3.0 ones are blue while the 2.0 ones do not have a special color. 3.0 is much faster than 2.0, but the device you are connecting must support 3.0 to use the extra speed.”

As to the why there are so many variations, even I can figure that out: Money. The various tech companies want us to keep shelling out funds for all those cords. And each company insists on it’s own special varieties, so no mixing and matching allowed. You know they could make this easier on us, but money rules. And we have no choice, if we wish to participate in the technological world.

Now, if I could only figure out which plug goes where. Sadly, that sometimes involves me sheepishly asking one of the kids for help and hoping there will be no eye rolling, after which I sometimes expect a pat on the head and a smile that says, “Isn’t Mom cute!”

In the meantime, I await a truly wireless world, where my desk is neat and clean and orderly. Is that really too much to ask?

Wild Horses on the Salt Cover 2

WILD HORSES ON THE SALT

A WOMAN FLEES AN ABUSIVE HUSBAND

AND FINDS HOPE IN THE WILDS OF THE ARIZONA DESERT.

Published by Liaison – A Next Chapter Imprint

Order your copy here: http://mybook.to/wildhorsespb

Rebecca Quinn escapes her controlling husband and, with nowhere else to go, hops the red-eye to Arizona. There, Gaby Strand – her aunt’s college roommate – gives her shelter at the Salt River Inn, a 1930’s guesthouse located in the wildly beautiful Tonto National Forest.

Becca struggles with post-traumatic stress, but is enthralled by the splendor and fragility of the Sonoran Desert. The once aspiring artist meets Noah Tanner, a cattle rancher and beekeeper, Oscar Billingsley, a retired psychiatrist and avid birder, and a blacksmith named Walt. Thanks to her new friends and a small band of wild horses, Becca adjusts to life in the desert and rekindles her love of art.

Then, Becca’s husband tracks her down, forcing her to summon all her strength. But can she finally stop running away?

The real reason for sports

I don’t know when sports will return to normal. But I’m hoping they do and my rational might surprise you.

Life-long sports fans often look at the showy reasons we are willing to spend hours watching and reading about our favorite teams. As those of us who grew up in the 60s and 70s can attest, perhaps “the thrill of victory…the agony of defeat,” – the opening to ABCs Wide World of Sports – says it all.

But maybe there are better motives for having sports in our world. And I’m not talking about the various professional leagues, nor am I referring to big-time college sports. I’m talking about youth and school sports where the benefit of participating on the field or court is one of the most important activities for preparing young people for the business world.

download-1

Ninety-six percent of big-time female executives played sports.

Don’t believe me? Well, consider this. According to Ernst & Young, a multi-national professional services network, 96% of women in C-suite positions played sports. (Note here that C-suite refers to the highest-ranking senior executives in an organization. The C stands for chief.)

I spent 20 years teaching journalism and communication skills in a Title I high school in Phoenix. I was fortunate enough to get to know my students well, as sometimes I had them four consecutive years. I mention this because I was able to see how much my charges grew from freshman year through graduation. The ones who seemed to mature the most were often those who participated in sports. The question is why.

images-2

Young athletes learn the importance of perseverance, mental toughness, and teamwork.

Young people are often insecure. (Think back. Be honest.) They fear failure and ridicule and often keep to the shadows, worried about being laughed at. But an athlete can’t do that. When you step on a playing surface you are required to be resilient. After all, on occasion everyone drops a pass or strikes out or angers the coach. There’s no hiding then. Athletes must hone their mental toughness in the public sphere. They must learn to persevere even when the scoreboard says they’re losing 66-0.

It’s not easy to get up and go out for another pass. But young people who do are mastering some of the most important skills in the workplace. Athletes must deal with defeat and failure and not give up. They must be able to overcome frustration, be confident, and work with others toward a common goal. If you’ve ever spent one day in an office, you can see how important these life skills are.

Last Game Touchdown

I taught high school for 20 years and officiated amateur sports for four decades, so I’ve seen first hand how sports help young people grow.

I officiated amateur sports for 40 years, and I wish parents and fans understood the lessons their children are being offered when they decide to participate in sports. Sadly, some parents are often more interested in convincing their kids that they are sure to become Olympic or professional athletes someday, money and fame being their only enticement. I wish they’d remember that almost all high school athletes will never play again once they graduate and just 2% of NCAA athletes will ever turn pro.

But these statistics should not negate the importance of sports participation. The get back up and try again ethos is engrained in sports and those who can’t handle failure, those who quit and walk away, will perhaps continue that trend throughout their lives. While those who take a breath and give it another go will grow to be confident, secure, and resilient.

I’d hire them. Wouldn’t you?

Wild Horses on the Salt Cover 2

WILD HORSES ON THE SALT

A WOMAN FLEES AN ABUSIVE HUSBAND

AND FINDS HOPE IN THE WILDS OF THE ARIZONA DESERT.

Published by Liaison – A Next Chapter Imprint

Order your copy here: http://mybook.to/wildhorsespb

Rebecca Quinn escapes her controlling husband and, with nowhere else to go, hops the red-eye to Arizona. There, Gaby Strand – her aunt’s college roommate – gives her shelter at the Salt River Inn, a 1930’s guesthouse located in the wildly beautiful Tonto National Forest.

Becca struggles with post-traumatic stress, but is enthralled by the splendor and fragility of the Sonoran Desert. The once aspiring artist meets Noah Tanner, a cattle rancher and beekeeper, Oscar Billingsley, a retired psychiatrist and avid birder, and a blacksmith named Walt. Thanks to her new friends and a small band of wild horses, Becca adjusts to life in the desert and rekindles her love of art.

Then, Becca’s husband tracks her down, forcing her to summon all her strength. But can she finally stop running away?