It’s Official…I’m Not Tech Savvy

It’s official. I’m not tech savvy.

I went to college at a time when it was OK to not be tech savvy. I knew how to type. I knew how to use a Mac for journalism, since that was my major. I didn’t take a programming class, because I took Spanish…I loved learning a new language. I didn’t learn how to make a spreadsheet or how to use Microsoft Word. I don’t even know if all that existed then. I knew how to do what I knew how to do, and that was fine. It was the 1980s.

Right out of college, I took a job as a flight attendant. All I needed to know how to do on the computer was sign in for trips and sign out when I was done. Easy peasy! I didn’t need to know more! I later worked in the travel industry, planning trips and meetings, but there was a certain computer system we used for that. I knew what I knew, and it worked for me. I was a pen and ink girl for a lot of things, because I found that I remembered things when I wrote them down. I still take constant notes when I’m in a meeting or on the phone, because that’s how my memory works…write it down, and I’ll remember it. My memory rarely fails me. Four hundred people attending a meeting? I have immediate recall if I write the names down before typing them into the computer. When they arrived and told me their names, I knew if they were registered or not…immediate recall. If someone couldn’t find someone’s name in registration, they would come to me, and when I heard the name, I would know if they had actually registered or not…immediate recall.

And then, technology moved a lot faster than I did. I can use a computer. I can launch a simple website using WordPress. I have always been able to do most of the things I needed to do, or I knew who to ask.  I have a dear friend who is a librarian, and she has taught me a lot. Sometimes, when I knew it would take time for her to teach me how to do things, I simply asked her to do them for me, and being the awesome friend she is, she did them. But I should do better.

One thing I learned during this pandemic is that I need to get up to speed on technology.

With the pandemic, everything has become “virtual.” That means I had to learn how to join Zoom meetings and Google Meet. Seriously, I had never done that before, but now I get it! I haven’t set one up yet, but I’m going to figure that out too. I might even try that today, just so I know how when I need it.

This year, I became a member of the board of a club at our daughter’s school that produces and presents a big awards show at the end of the year, and I signed on to chair that event. Fortunately, the people who have chaired it for the past six years were still on board, and I would treat this year as an apprenticeship, because I learned that I have a lot to learn…about the event, the process, and about technology.

I like to think I “learned on the job” this year. I can usually open an app and figure it out. I’m not completely inept. And I’ve worked with the Word app before, but this year, I was given a Word template to use for the awards show, and it threw me for a loop! It was something that was to be top secret, and only my eyes could see the finished product, so I had to figure it out. Word is a pretty simple app, right? Well, I sat down to work with the template, which I had been warned was a little tricky, but I thought, “I’ve got this!” No, I didn’t. Every time I would try to replace script within the template, it became skewed, or it wouldn’t do anything at all! I would click where I wanted to type…nothing.

After struggling with the template, I called my librarian friend to ask her what I’m doing wrong. After telling her what was happening, she said, “I think you have a different version of Word on your laptop, and maybe you need the latest one.” I couldn’t get my computer to download the latest version of Word, because well, my laptop is on my husband’s ID, and I don’t know the password. He was out of town, so I called him…he doesn’t know it either. I think it’s time for me to get my own laptop. That was the first thing I learned.

I struggled. I stressed. I didn’t know what I was doing, but I refused to admit defeat. I refused to admit to the other committee members that I didn’t have a clue. I had a few days to figure it out at that point, so I put it aside and went to bed.

At about 1:30am, I woke up and had a thought, “Maybe I can download the latest version on my phone and make it work?” I downloaded the latest version of Word to my phone, and lo and behold…within two minutes, I had everything on the template changed. I slept peacefully after that. I had found a solution to my problem, and I even felt a little…dare I say… savvy!

In reality, I know I’m not savvy. When other people send me documents to peruse or edit, it still scares me. I’m terrified I will mess it up beyond repair. I tend to think of the old Los Angeles Dodgers second baseman, Steve Sax, in the 1983 season. I remember hearing someone say about him, because he was the error king, “He has messed up second base so badly, nobody will  ever be able to play it!”  (In all fairness, I should tell you Sax eventually overcame his case of the “yips” and had a full career in Major League Baseball…and he was easy on the eyes. You can see an old picture of him on TMZ here.)  I suppose I need to take my own advice that I often give our daughter. She enjoys sports, and I always tell her that if she believes she can do something…if she can visualize herself doing something in a game…she can do it. Sometimes, confidence will pull us through. My brother goes into things knowing he can do them. He’s not cocky. He’s just confident. I need to approach technology with the same confidence.

So if I’ve learned anything during this pandemic, it’s that I have a lot to learn. I have set a goal to learn as much as I can over the summer about different useful apps…so I won’t be afraid of them anymore. I’m going to learn how to create slides and videos and fancy, complicated spreadsheets. Sure, I might have to ask my teenage daughter to tutor me along the way, but that’s OK.

I also know I owe my librarian friend dinner and a cocktail for all the whining she has listened to!

Bring on the technology!

My Birthday

My birthday.

Today is my birthday. Everyone who knows me knows I love my birthday in a crazy way. I can’t help it. It’s my day, and I love it.

My daughter is fully aware of how much I love my birthday. She woke up this morning and texted me before I was even awake. Apparently my husband took coffee up to her before bringing me coffee this morning…to give me a few extra minutes of sleep. His bringing me coffee is not a birthday thing; I’m fortunate that he brings me coffee in bed every day, which makes every day feel like a birthday, I guess. But today really is my birthday.

When my daughter texted me from upstairs this morning, she said, “Happy Birthday to the best mom ever!” I replied, “Thank you! I love you!” She replied, “Love you more!” I responded with “You have no idea how much I love you. One day, when you have a child of your own, you will understand.” And that’s the absolute truth. I always knew my mother and daddy loved me, but once I had my own child, I fully understood the depth of their love for me. So when she says “love you more,” I always think, “Just you wait till you have your own child.” Always.

Birthdays are funny like that. I love celebrating, but I also love reflecting on previous birthdays.

Last year on this day, I was in Los Angeles with my friend, Meg. My “birthday twin,” Chiko, was getting married on our shared birthday. Chiko and I call ourselves “birthday twins,” because we share a birthday. No, we aren’t the same age. In fact, she is far younger than I am. She is also far taller, and she is drop-dead gorgeous. Add in the fact that I’m from Alabama, and she is from Nigeria, and we are some interesting “twins.” She is, quite possibly, one of the kindest people…and funniest people… I’ve ever known. I was fortunate to be invited to her wedding, and I took my friend, Meg, as my “plus one.” My teenage daughter had final exams, and my husband stayed home with her. It was a glorious wedding/reception, and Chiko was the most beautiful bride! I’ve written about it before, because a Nigerian wedding is a real event! Wow! And the food! We made new friends and tried new foods…a most memorable wedding and memorable birthday.

This year is a much quieter birthday, partly because of the pandemic, and partly because it’s raining all day in Charlotte. I’m perfectly happy with a quiet birthday. My daughter eventually came downstairs this morning and snuggled in bed with me, and I told her, “This right here is the perfect birthday gift…just getting to be with you.” And it made me think of my mother. It sounded like something she would have said. I’ve been a mother for 16 years, so now I fully understand why my mother felt that way…because she loved me more than I ever could have imagined.

So I’ll enjoy a quiet birthday with my little family. It’s also National Sunscreen Day, but we definitely don’t need sunscreen in Charlotte today, since there’s not a chance the clouds are going to lift. We’ll stay in and be quiet today, but that doesn’t mean I can’t keep celebrating for at least a week (or a month)! I’ll need that sunscreen soon!

Happy Birthday to me!

 

Apple Cider Vinegar Gummies

Apple Cider Vinegar Gummies.

Y’all know I love to share when I find a great product! My latest find? Goli Apple Cider Vinegar Gummies! ***As always, consult your doctor before taking any dietary supplements.***

Are there benefits to consuming small amounts of apple cider vinegar? Maybe. Studies have shown it might help control blood pressure, and it might aid in digestion. I don’t know how scientific those studies were, but according to WebMD, studies have found that drinking vinegar might help fight obesity, and one study found that “vinegar improved blood sugar and insulin levels in a group of people with Type 2 diabetes.” So believe me when I say I’m no snake oil salesman. I’m not pushing this product. I’m simply telling you that I like Goli Apple Cider Vinegar Gummies.61DOyVv18wL._AC_SL1280_

If you’ve ever tried to drink apple cider vinegar, you know it’s not easy. But a year or two ago, I read that it would help with a gallbladder attack. What I read suggested mixing it with apple juice. When I had a gallbladder attack (I have gallstones), I mixed the concoction, but I didn’t really expect it to help, but on that day, it was either the shortest gallbladder attack ever, or the concoction really helped. I don’t know which was true, but I drank the concoction the next time too…and the same thing happened.

So when I was ordering some things with a friend who works in a store in LA, and he suggested the Goli Apple Cider Vinegar Gummies, I decided to try them. I told him to add two bottles to my order, and honestly, I forgot about them till the box arrived.

I opened one bottle and tried two gummies. To my surprise, they were delicious! I put the two bottles in the cupboard in my kitchen, so I could take two in the morning and two in the evening, and one bottle disappeared way too quickly! How did I go through a whole bottle in under two weeks? My husband, when questioned, confessed. I explained to him that he should have read the directions on the bottle…it’s not recommended that anyone take more than six a day, and I promptly ordered more directly from the Goli website.

Now, here’s what I can tell you…before you try any kind of supplement, you should consult your doctor. I don’t know if these Goli ACV gummies have actually helped me in any way, and I hate to jinx myself, but I can say that my gallbladder attacks have been fewer and farther between. Before you start to lecture me about the gallbladder, I should tell you I have consulted a doctor and practically begged them to remove it…to no avail. Are the gummies helping me with the gallbladder thing? I don’t know. Maybe it has a placebo effect, but whatever it is…I’m planning to keep taking the gummies!

Like I said, I placed my first order with a friend who worked in a retail store in Los Angeles. Since the store is closed right now because of COVID, I had to order from somewhere else when I started running short. I went straight to the Goli website (click here) and ordered, but after a few days, I received an email that the shipment would be delayed. I waited. And when I eventually called Goli, they refunded the cost of shipping, but they still couldn’t tell me exactly when my order would ship. So I went to Amazon and ordered there. The Amazon order arrived way ahead of the order shipped directly from Goli, but I’m well supplied for a while, since I ordered five bottles from each place! You can order from Amazon here.

So this is my way of sharing information with you about a product I love. Does it have any real benefits? I don’t know. My own experience is that my gallbladder seems less crazy. Is it because of the gummies? I don’t know, but I’m going to keep taking them. They’re so good, it’s almost like having a little treat in the morning and a treat in the evening!

Holding Out for Puerto Rico

Holding out for Puerto Rico.

My 2020 vacations, so far, are a bust. I haven’t left the city of Charlotte since January…well, except for a brief drive into South Carolina just to see what an open economy looked like earlier this month. Just like most of the people in the United States, I’ve been stuck at home since March. I was supposed to go on a spring break trip with my daughter and some friends, but we cancelled two days before our departure date, because of the coronavirus. It was the right thing to do, but dang! I miss going places! I miss travel!

Different people have different things they miss about “normal life.” What do you miss? I know lots of people, including me, miss sports! The world just isn’t the same without live sports! Sometimes I get my sports fix by watching an old game or turning on an ESPN 30 for 30, but it’s just not the same. I know lots of people miss their coworkers. My daughter misses her school. Yes, she misses her school. There was a time, when she was in 8th grade, that she thought she wanted to change schools. She has gone to the same school since transitional kindergarten, and I get it…she thought she wanted to change. I think 8th grade is a time when kids want more independence and control. I took her to visit a couple of schools, and I let her make the decision. Sometimes kids need a change, and sometimes they just think they do. She decided to stay where she was, and earlier this school year, she told me she knew she made the right decision. She said, “I go to the perfect school for me.” It was like music to my ears! I think she just needed to know she had some control of her own destiny. In just two short years, she will be a proud graduate of her school, but right now, she misses her school…and her friends there…and her sports there…the staff there…her coaches…and yes, her teachers too.

I miss all that, but I really miss vacations. Our first couple of trips for summer have cancelled, simply because they were in coronavirus hotspots. I don’t know if I’ll even get on a plane this summer, and that’s heartbreaking, but yes, I know it’s a first world problem. I know. I am thankful my family is healthy. I am thankful we live in a place that we have been able to go outdoors during all this. But it’s OK if I miss vacations. We all have things we love that we are missing, and I’m missing vacations…new experiences…new people…even familiar experiences and people.

Sure, we are going to the beach a couple of times, and we will have lots of fun, but I will miss the bigger trips.

I have a vacation planned for the middle of July with a friend from college and our teenage daughters. We planned a trip to Puerto Rico months ago. My friend’s daughter just graduated from high school…she’s one of the the high school grads of 2020 who didn’t get to have a real graduation ceremony…or a prom…or lots of other special memories. When we planned the trip, coronavirus was barely on our minds, and while we haven’t worried about our trip, because it’s entirely out of our control, we are constantly saying to each other, “I hope we can go.”

My daughter and I went to Puerto Rico in 2017 with some friends from Ohio, and we loved it. As it turned out, Hurricane Maria hit the island a couple of weeks after we left. We know it’s not the same, but we want to go, because we know the people are wonderful. We know it’s a beautiful island with lots of friendly people, history, and great food. Honestly, I remember telling my friend, “I’d come back just for the food!” No joke…the food is the best! And the people! Without making this piece sound like an advertisement for Puerto Rico tourism, I can honestly say it is one of my favorite places ever. It’s easy to get to, and there are no long lines for customs and immigration, because it’s a US territory! The historical sites on the island are incredibly well-preserved. The beaches are beautiful. There’s a big city and a beautiful rainforest! The bioluminescent bays are natural wonders. And did I mention the people and the food?!?! I have met lovely people there, and they love their island; they want other people to love it too! To learn more about Puerto Rico, click here.

And now, we have plans to go back. We might not get to go to some of the destinations we wanted to visit this summer, but we’re holding out for Puerto Rico. Plus, their economy was ravaged by the hurricane in 2017…now this pandemic. Let’s support our friends in Puerto Rico!

Fingers crossed.

 

Apple Cider Vinegar Gummies

Apple Cider Vinegar Gummies.

Y’all know I love to share when I find a great product! My latest find? Goli Apple Cider Vinegar Gummies!

Are there benefits to consuming small amounts of apple cider vinegar? Maybe. Studies have shown it might help control blood pressure, and it might aid in digestion. I don’t know how scientific those studies were, but according to WebMD, studies have found that drinking vinegar might help fight obesity, and one study found that “vinegar improved blood sugar and insulin levels in a group of people with Type 2 diabetes.” So believe me when I say I’m no snake oil salesman. I’m not pushing this product. I’m simply telling you that I like Goli Apple Cider Vinegar Gummies.61DOyVv18wL._AC_SL1280_

If you’ve ever tried to drink apple cider vinegar, you know it’s not easy. But a year or two ago, I read that it would help with a gallbladder attack. What I read suggested mixing it with apple juice. When I had a gallbladder attack (I have gallstones), I mixed the concoction, but I didn’t really expect it to help, but on that day, it was either the shortest gallbladder attack ever, or the concoction really helped. I don’t know which was true, but I drank the concoction the next time too…and the same thing happened.

So when I was ordering some things with a friend who works in a store in LA, and he suggested the Goli Apple Cider Vinegar Gummies, I decided to try them. I told him to add two bottles to my order, and honestly, I forgot about them till the box arrived.

I opened one bottle and tried two gummies. To my surprise, they were delicious! I put the two bottles in the cupboard in my kitchen, so I could take two in the morning and two in the evening, and one bottle disappeared way too quickly! How did I go through a whole bottle in under two weeks? My husband, when questioned, confessed. I explained to him that he should have read the directions on the bottle…it’s not recommended that anyone take more than six a day, and I promptly ordered more directly from the Goli website.

Now, here’s what I can tell you…before you try any kind of supplement, you should consult your doctor. I don’t know if these Goli ACV gummies have actually helped me in any way, and I hate to jinx myself, but I can say that my gallbladder attacks have been fewer and farther between. Before you start to lecture me about the gallbladder, I should tell you I have consulted a doctor and practically begged them to remove it…to no avail. Are the gummies helping me with the gallbladder thing? I don’t know. Maybe it has a placebo effect, but whatever it is…I’m planning to keep taking the gummies!

Like I said, I placed my first order with a friend who worked in a retail store in Los Angeles. Since the store is closed right now because of COVID, I had to order from somewhere else when I started running short. I went straight to the Goli website (click here) and ordered, but after a few days, I received an email that the shipment would be delayed. I waited. And when I eventually called Goli, they refunded the cost of shipping, but they still couldn’t tell me exactly when my order would ship. So I went to Amazon and ordered there. The Amazon order arrived way ahead of the order shipped directly from Goli, but I’m well supplied for a while, since I ordered five bottles from each place! You can order from Amazon here.

So this is my way of sharing information with you about a product I love. Does it have any real benefits? I don’t know. My own experience is that my gallbladder seems less crazy. Is it because of the gummies? I don’t know, but I’m going to keep taking them. They’re so good, it’s almost like having a little treat in the morning and a treat in the evening!

Memorial Day

Memorial Day.

It’s more than just a day to gather for a picnic with family and friends. It’s more than just the beginning of summer. It’s more than a day off from work.

Lots of folks think Memorial Day is a day to honor all veterans. Nope…that’s Veteran’s Day, observed in November. This federal holiday, observed on the last Monday of May, is for honoring and memorializing military personnel who made the ultimate sacrifice for their country…they died while serving our country.

Don’t get me wrong. there is nothing wrong with gathering with friends and family on Memorial Day weekend. There’s nothing wrong with celebrating the beginning of summer. But the actual purpose of this particular holiday is to remember and memorialize those made the ultimate sacrifice to make freedom possible and keep it possible in this country.

When I was growing up, we gathered with family and friends on Memorial Day, often at my grandparents’ house, but my parents always made sure we, at the very least, talked about the meaning of the holiday. My grandfather served in World War II, but we were fortunate he came home safe and sound, as did his brother. I can’t remember hearing of any family members who lost their lives in the line of duty, but my parents always made us aware that our freedom “wasn’t free.” People lost their lives so we could be free.

I think, this year, with the isolation of the COVID-19 pandemic, we have learned a little something extra about freedom. It has forced me to spend a lot of time thinking about freedom and how fortunate we are to live in a country where we have freedom. Sure, it has been limited in the last couple of months, but we know this is temporary. Can you imagine what it would be like if these limitations on our freedom were permanent? If we risked arrest for leaving our homes without permission? Or if we risked living out our lives in a work camp for speaking out against our government? I don’t claim to understand all the other cultures and governments of the world, but I know that in this country, if we aren’t happy with the government, we can, at the very least, vocalize our unhappiness. Remember, people in North Korea can’t do that. If they speak out against the government, they can be killed or sent to work camps.

Several years ago, I read a book called Escape from Camp 14, by Blaine Harden, based on the life and journey of a man named Shin Dong-hyuk, the only former prisoner known to have escaped from an internment camp in North Korea. It was eye-opening and disturbing. In fact, I’m going to read it again, just to revisit the details. It truly made me thankful that I live in the United States, but I think it will be especially meaningful now. If you’d like to read it, you can order from Amazon here.

While Memorial Day is always meaningful to me, this year, it will have more meaning. I will sit down with my family over breakfast Monday and talk about the meaning of the holiday. Weather permitting, my husband and I will take a walk through a cemetery near our home. Unfortunately, we don’t have any small flags to place on the graves of those who lost their lives in the line of duty this year, but we will remember those who lost their lives while fighting for our country’s (and the world’s) freedom.

Happy Memorial Day to you and your family.

 

 

 

Returning to a Simpler Vacation

Returning to a simpler vacation.

When I was a kid, my family took vacations. They weren’t usually extravagant, but they were loads of fun. Lots of those vacations involved amusement parks and beaches.

The beaches were almost always Gulf Coast beaches, because those were the closest to where we lived, and let’s face it, they are the prettiest. Argue if you want, but I know the truth…it’s hard to beat the powder-white sand and crystal-clear waters of the Gulf Coast. Sure, I’ve had fun on Atlantic beaches (lots of great memories on Maine beaches) and Pacific beaches, but the most beautiful beaches in the US? Gulf Coast. Sure, Caribbean beaches are incredible, but with air travel being a little iffy right now? Gulf Coast.

When I was growing up, we tended to visit the Gulf Coast beaches of the Florida Panhandle. Often, it was Panama City Beach…the most-developed beaches of the area. It was great fun. Back in the day, there was Miracle Strip Amusement Park…lots of great memories were made there. The rides were legendary: the Starliner rollercoaster; the Abominable Snowman; Dante’s Inferno; and lots of other midway-like rides. We loved it. Aside from Miracle Strip Amusement Park, there was also Shipwreck Island, a waterpark with a wave pool (a big deal in the 1980s) and waterslides that were so big they gave you wedgies. Great memories!

The beaches were beautiful. Restaurants and gift shops were plentiful. And often, our friends were there too, so we would run into someone we knew.

We also visited Destin and Fort Walton. A couple of times, we stayed in Seagrove Beach with family friends, and one year, our whole family…with all our aunts, uncles, and cousins, spent a few days in Mexico Beach, a quiet beach community in the Panhandle…we made some great memories on that trip. Mexico Beach is still a quieter village than most beach towns, and back then, there wasn’t an amusement park or arcade in sight. We spent time on the quiet beaches. We went scalloping in Port St. Joe. We sat around laughing and playing games. We made some great memories. In fact, we talked a lot about streaking, because the Ray Stevens song, The Streak, was popular at the time.

Even more funny is that we often traveled in a Volkswagen bus. My mother, for whatever reason, decided in the early 1970s that she wanted a VW bus, and she got one. Daddy thought it was funny that she wanted one, because Mother couldn’t even drive a car with a manual transmission. But you know what? She learned. He bought the VW, and he then taught her how to drive it.

After we got the VW, we took it on all our family vacations. Daddy used to laugh at the fact that we had two perfectly good air-conditioned cars sitting in the driveway, but we opted to drive that VW, sans A/C, on our crazy vacations. For whatever reason, vacations were just more fun in that vehicle. I’m not sure why my parents eventually decided to sell it…maybe it had something to do with the perpetual oil leak that no one could seem to repair. But it was fun while it lasted.

So, this summer, since flying is not an option till at least July for us, we’ll be reliving some of those vacations of my childhood. I’m taking my daughter to a Florida beach to hang out with her cousin who lives nearby. They’re about a year apart in age, and I’m hoping they’ll make some great memories just like I made there. Hopefully, I’ll get to spend some time with my cousins and my aunt too. We have friends from Ohio meeting us later in the visit, and maybe I’ll have the chance to show them some of the things I loved in that area when I was a kid. We won’t be staying in Panama City Beach. We’ll be staying in the resort area between there and Destin, and it’s a lot different than it was when I was a kid, so I’ll be figuring it all out too.

Later in the summer, we will visit the beaches in Alabama…also beautiful, white sand beaches, but I don’t often tell people about them, because those beaches are the best-kept secret in the country. My husband grew up on the Alabama beaches. We visited them when I was growing up too, but he practically lived there in the summer. We’ve been taking our daughter there for years, and we had our own place on the beach there several years ago, but we sold it, because I didn’t like feeling like we needed to go there. But now that our daughter is 16 and can drive, it will likely be a different experience for her. She has a friend who lives there too, and she will likely take a friend with her, so she will have lots of fun. I’ll likely get to see some friends from college (I’m talking to you, Suzan and Cupcake) and some friends from the Mobile area (where I lived before moving to Charlotte).

We do have a vacation to Puerto Rico planned for July…still holding out hope that it will happen. It looks like we won’t visit California this summer…the first time in years we won’t spend at least a week there in June. But we don’t want to go if restaurants and stores aren’t open. That’s a big part of the fun there. So that’s off the table…but Puerto Rico…we still have our fingers crossed on that one.

Other than Puerto Rico, though, it will be totally old school beach vacations for us. And that’s OK. No matter what, we will have fun. I’m actually looking forward to spending time in the car with my daughter…extra time to talk and see different things as we go. And we will get to enjoy more time with family just hanging out at the beach.

I sure wish we had an old school VW bus to drive.