Browsed by
Month: February 2016

Assume – Makes an @$$ Outta U & Me – or maybe just me

Assume – Makes an @$$ Outta U & Me – or maybe just me

I make way too many assumptions and they’re usually wrong. Here are just a few.

Assumption #1: That aggressive driver? Oh, yeah. My bad. That pushy tailgater riding my bumper? I’m quick to assume that I must’ve made them mad with my driving. Maybe I’m too slow or use my signal too liberally. But guess what? It seems that’s just the way these folks drive. I’ve watched them zoom past me and tailgate the next car, then the next. So the ugly truth is, it’s nothing personal.

Jenn's Bumper Sticker
A bumper sticker I designed after too many harried commuteshey pass me and…. the truth is…they drive like that all the time. Yep. Inevitably they zoom past just to hug the next car’s bumper. It’s nothing personal.

Assumption #2: Salad is the healthiest menu option. Truth – not always. Add lots of cheese and dressing and croutons and deep-fried chicken and you’re eating more carbs and fat on that salad than what’re in your average cheeseburger. Read the calorie count before you order. Otherwise you’ll unknowingly eat your way back into those fat jeans.  (Do any of you remember the Seinfeld episode where the friends got hooked on non-fat froyo and they all gained weight?)

yoga pantsAssumption #3: Now that I’m middle-aged, I need to dress a certain way. Hmm. Truth – Not according to this hilarious article via the Huffington Post. Well, I guess since my expiration date is looming, I can wear whatever the bleep I want. Carpe yoga pants!

Assumption #4: I can do everything myself. Ha. Hee hee hee. What a load of bologna. Asking for help is my Achilles heel (I almost typed Achilles hell – Freudian), but I need to ask. Everything I do is better when I invite others into the process. Everything. Whether it’s planning a fundraiser, doing an art project, or writing a novel, other hands and eyes make my efforts shine. When I try to tackle stuff all by my lonesome, I end up stressed, frayed at the ends and bitter like unsweetened chocolate.

A photograph, taken and colorized by my father, Gary Riley in the early 70s
A photograph, taken and colorized by my father, Gary Riley in the early 70s

Assumption #5: I’ll be around for my next birthday. It’s something I try to control with exercise and diet, but the truth is, there is a large amount of variability in life. Any given day could be my last. That thought doesn’t depress me, in fact it helps me to live mindfully. I say my peace in real time. I let go of hurts. I hug my kids (often against their will) and I smile at my husband, letting him know that as hectic as the pace of our life is, we’re in this together. And I wouldn’t want it any other way.

So, this week, I’m going to try to assume less. I’m going to give the world the benefit of the doubt and try to make that my new habit. <3

Top Ten Reasons I’m (still) Grateful I’m an American

Top Ten Reasons I’m (still) Grateful I’m an American

Back CameraSorry I’ve been silent over the last few months. If you’re a regular reader, then you know that this blog is a place where I laugh at myself, ponder life in serious and not-so-serious ways, and aim to show a different side of issues. I always ALWAYS add a dose of humor and Pollyanna-positivity to my blogs.

Lately though, my blog drafts start out lighthearted and quickly devolve into whines, rants and whimpers. I can’t hit the ‘publish’ button and add to the cacophony of negative voices shouting across the United States. Lately, my country’s become a place where hate and derision permeate every channel of the mainstream media. The us versus them viewpoint has become the norm. As much as I’ve tried to duck my head in the sand lately, that culture of suspicion and hate has leaked into my own writer’s spirit so I’ve kept silent.

But, not anymore.

Today, I choose to add my voice to the conversation. Sometimes I’ll roar like a lion and other times I’ll whisper. But, my intention is to reclaim this blog as a place to highlight the common experience. I’m still convinced we have more in common than we don’t, that good people are the norm, that this country of ours is a special and unique place filled with authentic, giving, loving and hard-working people just trying to do their best.

Top Ten Reasons I’m (still) Grateful I’m an American

JOY! copy
A sketch of daughter, Bryn, pursuing her happiness.

10)  Every citizen’s right to pursue happiness is protected by the law. It’s in our Declaration of Independence. What other country in the world legally protects the pursuit of happiness? Yeah, I didn’t think so.

9) I can drive a car or a bus or whatever. There are still places on this planet where I cannot drive, not because of any prior record or lack of skills, simply because I have breasts and a baby box. Yeah, it’s ridiculous. To explore a list of the most ridiculous restrictions on womens’ rights around the world, click here.

8) We are a thriving democracy. Every voice counts. We can volunteer to canvas and phone bank for issues that are important to us. We can get out and campaign for people we believe in. And best of all? Every election, we have the privilege to cast our vote.

7) We have free public education for children. Did you know that 60 million primary school children aren’t in school? That’s according to the United Nations. Many kids have to stay home to take care of siblings, collect water, and do other work to support struggling families. Learn more here.

6) We give time and money to charities. In fact, after world-leader, Myanmar, we are the second-most giving country in the world. 68% of us give money and 44% of us give volunteer hours. We’re doing a lot of good. If you want to see the Mashable story, click here.

Jenn Tweet5) We are rich in diversity. According to 2009 census information, in 40-50 years we will be a majority-minority country. That’s fantastic. Some articles even prove how diversity makes us smarter. Here’s a snippet of an article from Scientific AmericanDiversity enhances creativity. It encourages the search for novel information and perspectives, leading to better decision making and problem solving. Diversity can improve the bottom line of companies and lead to unfettered discoveries and breakthrough innovations.

Well, it’s just another reason I’m excited for our country’s future. Here’s a link to the article.

4) Our 400+ national parks. Did you know that our National Park Service is about to blow out a hundred birthday candles? We have the greatest land trust in the world and it is a gift to every generation yet to come. Our parks preserve the best of our country, and include countless places that hold cultural significance. If you wish to be one of this year’s 275 million visitors, click here to find a national park near you.

3) We agree to disagree. It’s unique to live in a country where we can have different points of view, have respectful debates and walk away better for having the conversation. Did you read that snippet above about diversity? Every word of it applies to intellectual diversity as well. In the United States, our speech is protected by the Constitution. And I know first hand from living with two opinionated teens, robust debates always end up enriching my view on issues.

2) We can love who we want. It’s protected by the law. I just ask that you love someone that treats you with kindness and respect. Other than that, be happy.

flag series copy copy1) We are in control of our own future. Called the “American Dream,” it is the most well-known tenet of our society. A person that comes from nothing can work hard and become a screaming success. Doubt it still exists? Here’s an article about 10 well-known celebs that came from poverty and now sip champagne.

According to by James Truslow Adams, “life should be better and richer and fuller for everyone, with opportunity for each according to ability or achievement” regardless of social class or circumstances of birth.[

In the United States, you can scratch your way to the top, heck you may even land a book deal and reality show along the way. This isn’t the case in other countries, where opportunities aren’t allowed to people based on many things including gender, race, politics, and money, to name a few.