Items of Interest

Twitter responded to the the terrorist threats against Belgium, made over the weekend of November 21st,  in a very unique way:  cat memes.

During the city wide lockdown citizens initially  began tweeting information about the on-going operation. Police quickly requested, via tweet, that the public not share any  information. They complied by replacing those tweets with a variety of cat memes. I believe that by responding to threats with humor, they showed the terrorists that the citizens of Brussels will not be intimidated, as well as their love of cats.

As a current job searcher I’m always on the lookout for advice that can help achieve the desired result (getting hired.) According to this self test on Resume Genius, hiring managers take only six seconds in deciding whether to keep or trash a resume.

It offers ten different resumes and you have to choose, within six seconds each, which ones you’d keep or toss. Once you receive your score (the average score is 6, I got a 5) you’re then shown three resumes. Of those candidates you must choose the best one, after which you’re shown what percentage of the test-takers chose each of the three candidates.

The purpose of the exercise is to illustrate the importance of having a well done resume, both in appearance and content. It was fun, informative, and a real eye opener!

This list caught my eye on November 19th, which was this year’s Great American Smokeout. As a former smoker (I’ve been “clean” for four years and seven months) I wanted to see which ones I had utilized in my own efforts to stop smoking. It turns out that of the ten, I had practiced six.

It wasn’t my  first attempt to quit; there were many over the years. I wasn’t a heavy smoker. I didn’t reach for a cigarette first thing in the morning and refrained from smoking in the car or while I was doing other tasks. Despite quitting several times for varying periods of time, I always went back. I believe that was because I wasn’t truly committed. Once I made up my mind that I was going to quit for good, I was able to do it. Mind over matter in addition to some good strategies was the ticket I needed to finally kick the habit!

This is a wonderful story about a  man, Hyong Yi, who honored his late wife on the first anniversary of her death by handing out 100 love notes to total strangers.

Each note was numbered and, when read in order, chronicled their life together. Hyong encouraged the recipients to pass the messages on to a loved one and even supplied a blank card to write their own notes on. His goal wasn’t to gain attention on the Internet, but to simply remember his wife is a loving way.

Many of the people responded in a positive way and these heartfelt thoughts can be found on

After spending sixteen years in prison on sexual assault charges, Luis Vargas was cleared on November 23rd after new DNA evidence linked the crime to another man.

Stories like this really get to me. Imagine being wrongly accused of a serious crime and then being put in prison for it. Sixteen years is a long time to have taken from you. I can’t fathom what that must feel like.

Thankfully the advancements in science have made DNA testing possible and will hopefully prevent these types of horrific mistakes from being made.


Mine Your Own Material

The things we leave behind; there are so many. Some we leave happily by choice and others because we simply have to.

In 2006 I left the home that I raised my children in. I had remained in an abusive marriage far too long, but experienced mixed emotions about leaving. On one hand, I was desperate to get away from an alcoholic husband. On the other, I was leaving 18 years worth of memories behind. A lot of those memories were awful, but the ones of my kids growing up were priceless and far outnumbered the bad ones.

I knew for a long time that day would come, but nothing prepares you for the flood of emotions. Despite believing that it was the only healthy option left, I continued to second guess myself. I was anxious to make a fresh start, but terrified of the unknown. I knew that while familiar things can seem comforting, they can still be very bad choices.

There were so many things I wanted to take, but couldn’t. The roll top desk that we bought early in the marriage, the bookcase from my mother-in-law that housed my favorite stories, and the lighted Christmas village from my goddaughter. These were only a few items of a very long list.

Then there was the house itself. We worked long hours to get it ready and I invested my heart in preparing a nice home for my kids. My boys were one and three years old and my daughter wasn’t born yet. The marriage was already in trouble and I foolishly believed a new house would provide a new start.  Soon after moving in I realized this was pure fantasy.

After my departure, I managed to live without the house and all the things in it. I went on to make a new home that I grew to love, because it was truly mine and I found real peace there. However, it wasn’t until years later that I understood the connection to all the things I left behind.

Every item, large and small, had a memory attached to it.

They reminded me of a person, a place, or a recollection that had value for me. All these things together represented my past; my history.

Despite the bitter circumstances of my exit, I realized something important: we take our memories with us. Even though they’re often attached to inanimate objects, the invisible string that connects them is…well…invisible. It only exists in our minds, just like the memory. Although I no longer had these things in my possession, I could still feel the positive emotions they embody.

Now, when I drive past my old house, I don’t feel the intense sadness and loss that I did in the beginning. It’s just another home in that particular neighborhood. This change was possible because I took the happy memories with me and left the rest behind.



Let the Scene Write Itself

It was a perfect beach day. The skies were azure blue and dappled with white clouds resembling gossamer. The sun warmed the sand and the sea breezes blew steadily, without so much as a break. There were a lot of foamy whitecaps lining the waves, which seemed higher than usual. A group of seagulls stood silently at the water’s edge looking out to sea as if waiting for something. There weren’t many people on the Florida beach in November; some walkers and joggers and a few sunbathers. Only one family was present on this stretch of beach and the three children busied themselves building a sandcastle.

Michael, the oldest, was a typical big brother. At nine years old he was bigger and stronger than his two younger sisters and believed he should be in charge of the castle building. Walking deliberately around the structure, he eyed it from different vantage points and gave directions to the girls.

“That won’t work,”he said as he brushed sand from his board shorts, a bright pattern of lime green and navy blue.

The girls ignored him and kept on working, pushing sand with their hands from one spot to another. The older sister Maddie was seven years old with dark hair pulled back in a ponytail. Her teal colored two piece suit almost matched the sky, except for the bands of coral, yellow and pink that stretched across the front of her top. Mary was the youngest at four years and was quite the diva, with a pink suit and purple tutu. Her matching hat tied under the chin and had a picture of a mermaid on the top with shiny sequins for scales. Coordinating water wings completed her outfit. Strawberry blonde strands of hair worked their way out of the hat over her forehead and blew in the wind.

There was no arguing and little conversation between the children; they worked silently, moving and molding sand. It almost appeared that they could read each other’s thoughts, as they worked in tandem. Occasionally, Michael would make a running jump over the sandcastle and the girls would protest, but they continued to work.

“Mary, go get some water,” Maddie said and Mary obediently picked up the yellow cup and scampered on her tip toes towards the surf.

An elderly couple walked past the children and the woman smiled at the scene.

Mary returned with the water and handed it to Maddie.

“I hope we can come back to the beach for our summer vacation next year,” Michael said.

Maddie nodded in agreement, “Mom said if we’re good at the funeral tomorrow, then we can come back next summer.”

Mary stopped and gazed down the beach. “When is next summer?”

“It’s a long, long time away,” responded Michael. “By the time it gets here, you’ll be going into kindergarten.”

“Yeah, I wish the years didn’t last so long,” Maddie said as she swatted at a bug. “They take forever and I wish they’d go faster.”

And eventually they did.