I’m Not a Patient Patient

Shannon Kernaghan Im-not-a-patient-400 I’m Not a Patient Patient Challenge Fashion Health Humor Lifestyle Risk

I admire my current doctor and her no-nonsense approach to my body when I haul it into her clinic for my annual check. Her quiet inspection is appreciated because any gasps, giggles or “hmms” would make me nervous.

Despite scheduling an appointment weeks in advance, I’m tolerant of the required wait time. As for the magazines, some are outdated and dog-eared.

While taking furtive glances at other long faces who share my delay, I contemplate the person who assigned the phrase “waiting room.” He/she is a genius because never did two words better describe both process and surroundings. This same brain obviously invented the word “patient,” as in who you are and how you must behave while waiting.

My only objection involves the patient gown. Did I say gown? Paper towel is more accurate. In the past, it was tough enough to sit shivering in a shapeless, backless cotton smock. At some point the shift was made to paper, which is not surprising in our budget-crunching society.

“Take everything off and use that to cover up,” the doctor’s assistant said before she closed the door.

“Cover up with what?” But she was gone and it was just me and my square of paper, neatly folded on the end of the examining table. This wasn’t a gown, this was a large serviette. I was to cover up and maintain a shred of naked dignity. When I tried to arrange myself underneath, I felt like a paper cut-out doll. And if I didn’t stay still, my serviette would slip to the floor.

Although the instruction was to take everything off, I drew the line at socks and glasses.  What if the fire alarm suddenly rings? I’ll need socks to keep my feet warm and glasses to see where I’m running. Anyone gripping a flammable paper towel should stay away from direct flames.

And knock on wood that my doctor doesn’t find anything wrong with me. On second thought, don’t bother knocking on wood. During your next doctor’s visit, you’ll be wearing a tree in the form of a paper towel. Gently rub a corner of it for the same superstitious results.

As for those vintage magazines in the waiting room, I have a suggestion: convert them into cover-ups. They’d be thicker than the cover-ups I’ve been given. More importantly, patients will have something to read while they endure that second near-naked wait for the doctor to arrive.

Did you know that Trump won the US election? Good thing I went for a check-up!

This Valentine’s Day, Oh Poo!

Shannon Kernaghan valentines-oh-poo This Valentine’s Day, Oh Poo! Adventure Challenge Culture Dating Humor Lifestyle Memories Relationship Sex

 

If you trace the origins of Valentine’s Day, you won’t find a pretty picture. One legend claims that a Roman priest named Valentine was executed on February 14, 269 AD, for marrying couples against the advice of Emperor Claudius II. He figured single men were more enthusiastic about fighting his battles than family men. Somehow this grim tale resulted in heart-shaped cards, chocolates, red roses and candlelit dinners on February 14.

Humans are hopeless romantics, considering all the quaint love-infused traditions. Many I heard as a child. For example, if you twist the stem of an apple, you can predict the last name of your future love interest. Each rotation represents one letter of the alphabet. My search for sweethearts was restricted because the apple stems generally broke off at the letter D or E. I wonder how many eligible Xangs, Youngs and Zedenkas I overlooked in my quest for romance.

Another example features birds: if a robin flies over your head on Valentine’s Day, you’ll marry a sailor. Finding a sailor in my prairie city was no simple feat. If sailor was a misprint for tailor or wholesaler, my chances might have improved. The maddening catch with traditions is that they’re tough to apply universally.

Continuing with the legend, if a sparrow flies overhead, you’ll marry a poor man but you’ll be happy. Based on personal experience, poor men are always plentiful, no matter where you live. So are sparrows. Erect a birdhouse in your backyard and see what stakes a claim first, yellow canaries or sparrows.

But if a goldfinch flies overhead on Valentine’s Day, you’ll marry a millionaire. The legend doesn’t expand on whether you’ll be happy with your millionaire. Apparently hooking up with one is reward enough. Since I don’t know what a goldfinch looks like, that sweet bird of opportunity might have flown past without my knowledge.

Now, let’s say you’ve met Mr. or Ms. Right and you’re ready to start a family. How many children will you have? Go back to that dubious apple, the one missing its stem. Cut it in half and count the seeds. If nothing else, I know why we’re statistically producing 2½ children in each household. All of this apple-dividing is giving us fractional kids.

Despite the strange legends, Valentine’s Day holds a special place in my heart and funny bone. It was February and I was staying in a hotel for a work project in Prince Albert, Sask. Waiting next to me at the elevator was a cute young man. When the door opened, we walked in together and pressed our floor numbers. Simultaneously, we glanced down at fresh dog doo in the corner.

“Did you do that?” he asked.

“No, I’d remember that.” He eventually convinced me to go out with him. And the rest is history.

I wonder if there’s a romantic legend about discovering your sweetheart over dog poop.  If not, I should start one. It worked for me because a few years later I said, “I doo!”

My GPS has PMS

Shannon Kernaghan Stoopid-ass-GPS-600 My GPS has PMS Adventure Challenge Family Relationship Risk Travel

 

I need more direction in life. I’m not talking about spiritual, relationship or career guidance but actual direction, as in navigating from point A to B. My problem is I lack a sense of direction many are born with and take for granted.

Me: “Excuse me, where’s the nearest restaurant?”

Helpful bystander: “Go north for three blocks, take the west entrance blah blah, veer south blah blah . . . ” After I hear any mention of compass points, my logical brain goes into hibernation. This free time allows me to wonder what the guy slopped to produce such vivid blue stains on his shirt and if he’s had hair plugs, considering his questionable hairline. All good things to ponder although I’m no closer to my lunch time Cobb salad.

I envy people who can look up at the sun or stars and immediately have their bearing. These directional shamans border on magical. I require something more concrete, like a peaked mountain or expanse of ocean. Read the north-facing lichen on a tree when lost in the woods? I’ve been in those woods. My only discovery is that all sides of the tree look mossy. And now I have to find a bathroom.

Follow a road map? That’s doable, providing I don’t lose my place or spill hot coffee on the map. Sure, I can find highway exit signs, if they’re large enough to read while speeding past and if there’s enough time to make the necessary lane change.

“More help is on the way,” my gismo-lovin’ man announced with our first GPS that provided glorious turn-by-turn directions, all with female voice prompts.

I think Paul’s disappointed, missing my shrieks and my “How many miles of notice do you need?” clever questions. Gone are my bouts of silence when he used to blame lost time on my confusing directions. Gone are his insinuations that it must be somebody’s time of the month.

It’s now happy travels, with updates of when to expect road construction and how to maneuver through detours. Wherever we go, we travel with that woman’s melodious voice telling my husband he’s driven too far, here’s how he can backtrack and I really like your truck, handsome, drive here often?

I’m keeping an eye on those two. With all the help from global positioning, I’m afraid my job in the passenger seat will become obsolete.

“Honey? Feel like pulling into that truck stop?” I plan to ask. “I’ll grab us some coffee.”

Let’s see how Ms. GPS can handle spilled coffee down her microprocessor. Now I won’t be the only one in the vehicle to suffer from directional PMS.

Super Bug? Meet Super Traveler

Shannon Kernaghan blog-travelling-suitcase2 Super Bug? Meet Super Traveler Adventure Bikini Challenge Humor Travel Tropical

 

When I started traveling in my teens, half of my luggage contained beauty products – bulky hot rollers, make-up by the bucket and a spectrum of nail polishes. My suitcase needed layers of duct tape to keep the works from springing open on the carousel. “Spontaneous travel” was not a phrase in my vocabulary.

After those teen years, my total luggage weight decreased. Eventually I could skip onto planes with nothing more than a carry-on bag and a light heart. Considering my destinations were generally warm, the basic wardrobe of shorts, T-shirts and bikinis required minimal packing. After all, most toiletries and more clothing can be purchased on arrival.

Something remarkable occurred at an untraceable juncture. I transformed into a Travel Superhero! Maybe I’d skimmed too many online horror stories about unprepared travelers. Suddenly I was never far from my bulging purse and prepared for any contingency, including airport delays and minor medical ailments.

Where I once journeyed with a toothbrush, now I carry a Ziploc bag of cough drops, antacids and pre-moistened wipes, to name a few. These emergency supplies give me a heightened sense of security.

I’m not done. I also drag along a six-pack of sunblock with SPFs in the triple digits. And don’t forget the mini sewing kit. You never know. Buttons could pop and hems could fall with abandon. I’ll be there, no longer with my spectrum of alluring nail polishes from my youth, but with my rainbow of threads. Move over Spiderman, Super Traveler is on this journey!

I’ve swapped my hot rollers for bandages and alcohol swabs. Instead of a big make-up mirror taking space in my carry-on, I bring spare socks and undies in case my luggage goes missing. There’s always room for a few granola bars and juice boxes. Someone in my orbit might suffer from low blood sugar. I’ve become the Superwoman of All Possibilities.

In the airport, if my husband Paul mentions he’s leaving to find a washroom, I whisper, “Want anything from my special baggy?” I tilt my head down and raise my eyebrows, willing him in.

“What?” and he looks at me as if I’m trying to sell him contraband.
“You know, a toilet seat protector? Wet wipes?” I stop listing my wares as soon as he rolls his eyes and shakes his head. “I’m here if you change your mind,” I call out while he walks away.

On our last trip, I had plenty of satisfaction. After our first night of celebrating, Paul needed aspirin from too many cocktails and then a bandage for his cut finger. If that wasn’t pleasure enough, he asked if I’d brought a sewing kit because he found a tear in his favorite shorts.

I couldn’t stop grinning and repeating, “See? You laugh at my stuff, but now you’re sure sounding sweet.”

It was only when he asked for the camera so he could take pictures of the ocean from our balcony that my know-it-all bliss ended.

“Camera? I thought you brought it!” I’d managed to bring the entire contents of our medicine cabinet, yet forgot to pack the camera.

“Honey? What about some nice calamine lotion?” I said. “Um, you’re turning a little red in the face.”

Married to Bear Grylls? Build Up Your Muscles

Shannon Kernaghan Bear-Ghylles-400-1 Married to Bear Grylls? Build Up Your Muscles Adventure Challenge Recreation Relationship RV Travel

 

The British adventurer from Running Wild with Bear Grylls has some nifty one-liners: “Life is an adventure – live it” and “If you risk nothing, you gain nothing.”

Okay. I was ready to welcome adventure, to gain something. I was about to go camping.

My inaugural day could best be described by a “hangry” interpretive dance. Since you can’t see me dance, simple words must suffice.

First I e-mailed my sister to let her know that Paul and I bought a truck tent and planned to enjoy evenings cuddled around a camp fire, communing with nature. “It’ll be an adventure,” I wrote, “discovering how much I enjoy this, or how much I need a hotel room. Can’t say until I try, but I’m game. Wish me luck.”

Her reply wasn’t heartening: “I can’t be objective because I haven’t camped for so long, and my experiences were pretty primitive. Maybe it’s the teenage drunken mosquito-filled nights of camping I remember! No sleep, someone always vomiting and someone always burned by the fire. Hangover mornings. Good times.”

Fast forward a week. I emailed my sis again: “On Saturday we took the new tent to a secluded place for a dry run. When I say secluded, I’m talking no Golden Arches and no bathroom, only the far off engines of ATVers also communing with nature.

“Other campers had been there before, based on the meat poles for hunting, fire pits and log stump chairs. But the place was too quiet, not even a bird call. M Night Shyamalan movies looped in my brain.

“The temp was 32 degrees, the sky overcast and the wind gusted non-stop. Did I mention it was snowing?

“Our new truck tent? The assembly advertised a ten-minute set up in the box of our truck. It took an hour. One of the poles was too long and didn’t fit, no matter how we struggled. I envisioned the pole snapping and flying like a javelin, and one of us losing an eye.

“On to our romantic fire. The smoke plume followed me, no matter where I sat. There was no cuddling. I was too busy playing musical stumps and blowing my nose. I’d feel Paul’s glare  every time I bailed to warm up in the truck, preferring a reclining leather chair to a hard stump.

“By noon I was starving because we didn’t bring any food. Why? Paul said we wouldn’t stay long enough to worry about meals. I foolishly believed him. And luckily I have strong thighs and decent balance. Men have it easy when nature calls in the woods.

“By the way, did you enjoy your hotel suite in New York last weekend? Wanna change places and commune with nature? . . . Still there?

“Paul grew sullen when I complained of being cold, hungry and smoke-choked. Good times.

“Tent dismantling took considerably less time – we jammed it into the carry bag. Nothing ever fits its carry bag after the first use.

“Returned home in the afternoon, thawed in a hot tub and downed a glass of something strong. So what’s new with you?”

Will I ever head out again with Paul and a tent? For sure. When the thermometer hits the mid-70s and when the cooler is packed with enough food to feed Bear Grylls. Or a Grizzly bear.

Scratch the Grizzly comment. Who needs to worry about fighting off wildlife? I’ll be happy if my thighs hold out.

Did I mention good times?

Winning Loser? Avoid Las Vegas

Shannon Kernaghan Shannon-at-the-slots-400 Winning Loser? Avoid Las Vegas Belongings Challenge Lifestyle Relationship Travel

 

I suffer from an anatomical shortfall: I was born without the lucky bone. Like the inert patient in the game Operation, I’m stuck with a wish bone.

What’s as bad as your own failure with gambling? A partner with similar lousy luck. Our track record is upheld with every draw we enter. Prizes and dreams aside, we support lotteries and believe we’re contributing to our local and extended communities.

Then again, the temptation of winning a show home (professionally decorated and furnished), a vehicle (who’d turn down a Porsche Boxter or motorhome?) and a vacation (from Las Vegas to Australia) makes our stab at philanthropy that much easier. With more than a thousand chances to win each time Paul and I purchase a ticket, losers like us can appreciate these favorable odds.

Correction: we HAVE won in previous draws. Was it any of the above-mentioned homes, vehicles or trips? Nope.

Were we drawn for a drone or party barge, to name a few of the toys my husband and I could enjoy? Nope.

We missed out on more goodies, like the karaoke machine guaranteed to spice up a lifeless party. And with my commitment to coffee, I’d clap my hands with caffeinated glee over the high-tech espresso maker we might have won.

Instead, we won two-way radios. We already own a pair and they sit idle, along with other corroding items in a box of gadgets that seemed like a good idea at the time. Four walkie-talkies for two people living in a small space is overkill.

Another prize we won is a pair of binoculars. At least we can stay connected to the BIG winners. If I wanted to, I could take my binoculars and park outside the show home. From there, I could watch the new owners have fun in their professionally decorated living room. Someone in the same lucky family probably won the karaoke machine so they might be partying right now.

I’ll be able to update Paul through one of our four two-way radios, providing he stays within close range.

“Paul! Get your car keys, we’re going out!”

Wait a minute. Can you spell r-e-s-t-r-a-i-n-i-n-g order?

After a heavy dose of sour grapes contemplation, maybe we ARE lucky. After all, if we won the weekend in Las Vegas, I know us: we’d skip into the casinos, convinced that Lady Luck is finally on our side. Then we’d lose buckets at the blackjack tables and slot machines.

On the plane ride home, we’d sit silent and sullen, calculating how we lost more in gambling than the trip was worth, and how we were so bedazzled by blinking VLTs that we forgot to buy any souvenirs.

“Did we eat in the last three days?” I’d ask.

According to the last calculation, I figure we’ll come out ahead in the next contest . . . providing we don’t win anything!

Phew. I think our luck’s finally turning around.

    My Bikini Drove Me to the Gym

Shannon Kernaghan Bikin-babe-pool-side-800-e1499891769101     My Bikini Drove Me to the Gym Bikini Challenge Culture Fashion Health Humor Lifestyle Relationship Tropical

 

I finally did it – I joined a gym. Years had passed since my last exercise regime, so it was time to quit stalling. My husband didn’t encourage me to join, neither did my friends. It was my bikini that did the talking, prompting me to run, not walk, to the nearest gym.

When I originally bought that itsy bitsy bikini, I was lean and confident enough to forego the matching cover-up. Now, I’d wrap myself in a quilt before wearing those revealing strips of Lycra in public. I don’t especially want to wear a bikini, nor do I have a place to wear one with regularity. But the word “option” is key.

The chant “fit the bikini, wear the bikini,” drifts through my brain while perspiring to an hour of aerobics, or fast-walking to floor 38 of the Stairmaster. This mantra calms me after scary reflections in the mirror, because I’m not sure if my eraser-pink face is the signal of a good workout or an imminent stroke.

Fortunately, fitness centers have changed through the years. My previous gym had instruments of torture from the Inquisition. One device consisted of a vibrating belt that I’d loop around my hips. If it did tone me, I never found out how or where. I was too busy reading the caution sign tacked above the noisy motor. Bold red lettering warned users not to operate the machine for longer than five minutes OR RISK INJURY.

Overzealous, I purchased a lifetime membership. Turns out “lifetime” referred not to my life, but to that of the gym. The gym was in worse shape than me because within a year, the doors closed and all I had for keepsakes was my laminated membership card and a troubling rash, no doubt from that vibrating belt.

As for my new gym, I love it – the staff, the equipment and every enthusiastic member. During my first aerobics session, I forgot my glasses and tried to follow the trainer, struggling to hear her instructions over loud music. In the wall of mirrors, I glimpsed a woman who wore the same baggy pants. I admired how she kept up with my pace . . . until realizing that woman was me!

After my inaugural workout, I returned home both motivated and famished. While standing at the kitchen counter, I ate a brick of cheese along with fistfuls of salty crackers and a big chocolate minty thing I really didn’t like. It was either that or frozen waffles and syrup to kill my sugar craving.

Sure, there’s a challenge ahead, but who knows. My future might include a hot and sunny location where I’ll be wearing nothing more than a teeny bikini as strut down a sandy beach.

Hey, it’s a lovely dream. Just get rid of all the mirrors first.

 

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Shannon Kernaghan Street-Billboard-600-4book     My Bikini Drove Me to the Gym Bikini Challenge Culture Fashion Health Humor Lifestyle Relationship Tropical

Stop Cluttering My Mind

Shannon Kernaghan Clutter-400 Stop Cluttering My Mind Belongings Challenge Culture Friendship Humor Lifestyle Relationship

 

There’s a lot of chatter about clutter. The subject is explored on talk shows and dissected in “how-to avoid it” articles.

When I spent the day helping a friend unpack at her new home, she told me she needs to hold a yard sale.

“Now? Why didn’t you do that BEFORE you moved instead of dragging everything to your new place?”

Too busy, she said.

I know what she means because I’m the antithesis of a clutter expert. The only advice I’ll give is to NOT take my advice.

When my husband and I decided to leave the west coast, we purchased boxes, spent days wrapping and packing, and hired movers to put everything in storage for two years.

Throughout those two years, we paid storage fees and insurance. When it was time to settle in Alberta, we once again paid movers to reconnect us with our belongings. After days spent unpacking, I was awash in a sea of cardboard – cutting, folding and hauling the works to the recycling depot.

Then what did we do? We gave away a third of those belongings!

“I don’t need this,” my husband said again and again, tossing the ski poles, thermos and tent-in-a-truck contraption into the give-away pile.

“Honey, why didn’t we do this BEFORE we moved?”

Too busy, he said.

But then he went overboard. Forget clutter cleaning – he was on a minimalist mission and started to purge. If there were two of anything, one had to go.

“Um, those are book ends . . . we do SO need both!” I whined and grabbed one from the pile.

Worse, when he realized we had two blenders, he gave away the cool-looking silver one and kept the stained harvest gold relic that neither of us remembered buying.

On countless occasions I heard myself shriek: “You’re giving away your fishing rods and all your gear? Everything’s like new! And your binoculars? Again, like new!”

“I have another pair I like better,” he argued. “And I’ll probably never use any of the gear.”

“You might.”

“Nah. Out it goes.”

I’d created a clutter-free monster! (I should have unpacked on my own and put him on cardboard duties.)

He does deserve credit for his philanthropy in finding new homes for his belongings because some items went to appreciative new neighbors and others headed to charity.

But then he’d toss out an expensive or useful object and I’d squeal in a high-pitched voice: “With what we’ve wasted on moving and storage for two years, we could have spent a month in Hawaii!”

If I had to leave for any length of time during the culling process, I’d point out my precious gewgaws and give him loving instructions: “Touch any of this pile, and you die. Got it?”

If I were a dog, I’d have territorially peed around my pile.

Once everything was tidy and in its place, and once the fresh sheets were on the assembled bed . . . I still wanted most of that stuff back. Being a minimalist wasn’t high on my list of aspirations.

Wait. I’m no better than the rest with their talk shows and how-to articles. It’s not enough that you might be dealing with your own clutter, but now I’ve made you hear my own rant in the process.

Mea culpa, and happy uncluttering. But don’t touch my stuff!

 

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High Sticking with Goldfinger 

Shannon Kernaghan Goldfinger-400 High Sticking with Goldfinger  Challenge Dating Deception Humor Sex

 

In my early twenties I accepted a date with a man I met in a night club. He owned a major business and I recognized his face from news articles and TV profiles. Although I wasn’t attracted to him, my girlfriend convinced me I’d have fun, that I should “go for it!”

Date night didn’t begin well. He phoned ten minutes before his scheduled arrival to say he was running late and I’d better take a cab to the hockey game.

While seated at the stadium he ignored me but enjoyed the game, leaping and roaring with delight or disgust, punching the air.

I sure didn’t remember as much gold when I met him several nights earlier. For hockey night, “Goldfinger” wore a lot of jewelry. Even the sheen of his hair and skin seemed unnaturally bronzed.

When the game ended, we headed to the parking lot. A group of people had gathered around his expensive foreign car. As we approached, he leaned over and whispered, “They’re not looking at you, they’re looking at my car, Sheri.”  Rude! And Sheri is not my name. Tack these onto the list of bad date indicators.

My middle name was hopeful . . . make that stupid. I should have listened to my intuition, not my girlfriend. Questions: 1) why didn’t I escape to the row of idling cabs outside the arena and 2) why did I agree to stop at his office when he offered to show me “something special”? Sheri’s decision-making skills were sorely lacking that night.

“Take a seat,” he said, pointing to a couch. He went to a wall unit and pulled out a key ring from his pocket. Then he removed his shiny gold baubles – the bracelets, watch, necklace and two jumbo rings he had to lick before they’d budge. He placed them inside a drawer and locked it.

“I’m not going to steal anything,” I called out. He mumbled about them getting in the way. “In the way of what?” I asked. No answer.

With my coat still buttoned, I watched him disappear behind a door. Suddenly his office lobby transformed – the bright lights dimmed and a gas fireplace ignited with a pop. Next, the couch vibrated. I jumped up. It quickly expanded to a semi-circular bed.

My fight-or-flight instinct kicked in and I started to breathe heavily. Got to get out. The moment I fast-walked to the door and hauled on the handle – locked! – another door opened, releasing the smell of damp cedar. There stood Goldfinger in a short brown robe.

“Here,” and he tossed a matching robe at me. “Get comfortable.”

I let the robe fall to my feet. “I want to go, you said we weren’t staying!”

He stretched across his couch-cum-bed.

“Come on Sheri, let’s relax in the sauna.”

My back hugged the door. “No, I want to go. Now!” I pulled out my cell phone and quickly punched the number for a cab. I didn’t have Goldfinger’s address but knew the company name and added, “Please hurry!”

He remained on the bed and thumbed through his phone, probably looking for a replacement to slip on his guest robe. Sheri was a disappointing dud.

Finally, he threw the ring of keys at me. With shaking hands, I tried several before the cylinder clicked.

Glorious freedom! I left the key ring dangling in the lock and fast-walked to the road. I’d never felt so relieved to be done with a date.

As for that “something special” Goldfinger promised to show me, I assumed it was a memento from his trip to Africa, not what was under his short robe. I wonder if it was covered in gold?

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