You Call This Retail Therapy?

Shannon Kernaghan Therapy-400 You Call This Retail Therapy? Fun Humor Lifestyle  retail impulsive shopping impulsive behavior

I enjoy a good sale. The best experience is one that melds impulsiveness with rock-bottom prices.

Last week I set out to buy a box of bandages. Instead of going directly from the store’s First Aid aisle to the cashier, I wandered past a section filled with sale items. 

The write-up on one of those items read: “Sick and tired of snoring? Relief is right under your nose.” The front of the box pictures a couple in bed. The man is asleep, mouth open, while the woman is wide awake with eyes that stare towards the ceiling. Her expression? “Kill me now.”

Flip the box over. The “after” shot shows the couple sleeping contentedly. His mouth is closed and hers is upturned in a happy smile. She wears glossy lipstick.

I bought it and saved $6. When I finished pawing through instructions and packaging, all that remained was a tiny piece of opaque plastic resembling a clip-on earring.

At bedtime I re-read the instructions: “Once in position, you can move about, lie down to sleep and even take a run.”

Now why would anyone wear this when running? People might pant, but they don’t snore.

More helpful notes: “The nasal dilator tips are to fit comfortably against the septum.” Since the illustration was too tiny to be useful, I looked up the definition of septum: “The dividing wall or membrane between bodily spaces – compare dissepiment.” I did compare and found “See septum.” 

I was running out of patience. And night.

Then I applied lipstick. Not really but I should have, as a courtesy to my husband. After all, the contents in my bedside drawer scream anything but sexy. The foam earplugs shout, “Turn down the TV, I’m trying to sleep, dammit!” and my cumbersome mouth guard hollers, “Stop clenching your teeth!”

Did I mention the snoring gadget is for me? My husband also snores but with my earplugs in place, I’m oblivious.

By 4:30 a.m. I yanked off the contraption. The instructions had referred to a dilating action; I only experienced pinching, like the slow strangle of tight socks.

As for the dilator with its claims of no sticky strips, no skin irritation and no side effects, I’ll add my own critique: no work.

If my husband doesn’t like my occasional snorts and snuffles, he can move to the couch. At least I won’t have to bother with any lipstick.

After all of this retail therapy, I may need some actual therapy!

audio version song
“Cancun”
by Topher Mohr and Alex Elena

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‘Smoke Genie’ Grants Two Wishes

Shannon Kernaghan Legal-weed_Kraven-Cache_400 ‘Smoke Genie’ Grants Two Wishes Weed Challenge Challenges Culture Health Lifestyle Memories Recreation  smoking weed smoke genie audio story #shannon kernaghan

It’s the late 1990s and I’m seated in a restaurant with two people. Before we’ve even ordered our meal, one says to me, “I hope you don’t mind if we smoke.” The other person smiles and reaches for her own cigarette pack.

By the time the appetizers arrive, my eyes are burning and my nose is plugged. I know that in less than an hour I’ll have a full-blown headache.

Now, if the two people were my friends, they’d be considerate enough to go outside, or I’d be brave enough to ask them not to smoke at the table. Since both are my employers, I say nothing. If only, I think, I live long enough to see smoking banned in restaurants.

To my surprise and delight, my wish is granted in the 2000s. Between the Smoke-Free Environment Act and the Tobacco Act, I don’t have to suffer the wrath of other people’s second hand smoke in a myriad public places. No more gasping over my glass of wine or arriving home in clothes that reek.

My wishing didn’t stop at cigarette smoke. Let’s be blunt: I’m not old enough to claim hippie status. Yet I am old enough to know that I’d be laughed out of a Pink Floyd-infused party with the prediction that pot will be legal in Canada by 2018.

No matter how clairvoyant (or high) the prognosticator, legalized marijuana was a dream until recently. It’s not that I smoke – see above allergies – it’s that I’m appalled at how people have been arrested for possession of a few joints.

If a criminal record isn’t enough, this black mark prevented people from crossing borders. They had no choice besides pony up money to apply for a legal pardon and be patient as the process takes years. If only, I think again, I live long enough to see pot decriminalized.

Again my wish is granted! But . . . is legal weed good or bad news for our communities?  I’ve read reams of logical argument and support. If I make one prediction, it’s that the jury will be out for a long while. Toggling the benefits of creating new opportunities in the marijuana market and the challenges of figuring out how to monitor drivers who toke (merely two of the issues), these early days will be interesting.

Until then, I’m happy to enjoy a smoke-free meal in public and to know that recreational pot smokers won’t be demonized and criminalized.

Thank you, Smoke Genie.

Audio music track
Cumulus Nimbus
by Quincas Moreira

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Hollywood, Here I DON’T Come!

Shannon Kernaghan Star_Hollywood-Here-I-DONT-Come_Kernaghan Hollywood, Here I DON’T Come! Challenge Adventure Career Fun Humor Lifestyle Memoir  talent star drive shannon kernaghan hollywood audio story

I know why I’m not a Hollywood celebrity – I don’t have “star drive,” that necessary trait for a person to succeed on the stage or screen. I also lack another key factor: talent.

Sure, I’ve made my lukewarm forays into the world of acting. Years ago, I took a few script reading and improv courses. And while living on the west coast, I did extra work in a dozen series and several movies.

When I read about an audition for a local filmmaker, I blew the dust off my skimpy acting resume. Although no pay was involved, the challenge sounded like fun and I scheduled an appointment to read at a nearby hotel.

After memorizing my lines, I skipped to that audition. But reading lines at your mirror doesn’t compare with doing the scene across from a stranger. When it was my turn to read, the script sounded completely foreign in my ears. I stammered and stumbled.

If bungling my lines wasn’t bad enough, my confidence plummeted when the director suggested I try again. “But this time,” he said, “don’t move around so much, and try to be more . . . quiet.”

“More quiet, okay, sure,” I said, wearing an idiot grin. What really went through my mind was, “What did I just do, flail my arms and shout?” At that surreal point, all I could focus on was remembering my lines and staring at the adorable scriptwriter, the one who read the other character’s lines. In the story, I was supposed to be his mother.

“I WISH I had a son as cute as you,” I thought, and then realized I’d spoken aloud as the group started laughing. Laughing is too strong; make that awkward chuckling. Not only was I a bad actor, I felt like Mrs. Robinson, surrounded by a crew young enough to be my children.

Surprise, surprise, I didn’t get the part. I couldn’t even give away my gratis acting services.

While leaving the hotel, I had a flashback: I was doing extra work at a rundown movie set in Vancouver. After pulling off a shapeless dress three sizes too large from wardrobe, I sighed at the end of a long night. The actors and crew were cranky, the bag lunches were stale, and someone yelled at me during a take when my shoes made scrunching noises on the dirty floor. Plus, I wanted to tell the actor playing an FBI agent to stop mumbling and speak up!

The highlight of the shoot was when a camera fell and knocked a man unconscious. I remember thinking, “This two-bit series will NEVER get off the ground. What a dump.”

That two-bit series? The X-Files, listed as one of the longest-running science fiction series at 12 seasons. Turns out the mumbling agent Mulder was played by David Duchovny and I was in the pilot with him.

The truth is out there: I’m a bad actor. Time to shelve my dreams of a Hollywood star and stick to writing, where I can invent my own characters and flail my arms until the cows come home. Or shout until I’m blue in the face. Pick a cliché and I’ll be there. With bells on.

 audio version song is 
Three Kinds of Suns” 
by Norma Rockwell 

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Confessions of a List-oholic

Shannon Kernaghan Confessions-of-list-400 Confessions of a List-oholic Humor Lifestyle Relationship  obsessive list free confession

I envy my husband. He lives a list-free existence. Paul never makes a to-do list and has no plans to start. Me? He calls me a “list junky.”

For appointments and meetings, that info goes straight to my phone calendar, which is the logical use of current technology. But if you open my purse, you’ll find three old-school lists on three scraps of paper held together with a paper clip. The first is titled TODAY, the second TOMORROW and the third MISC. for those tasks in need of future attention, somewhere between this week and the next century.

Lists are like maps, guideposts to chart my daily course. When we leave the house for errands, I know exactly what’s required to make my life manageable. I still don’t know what I want to be when I grow up, so lists are no replacement for setting goals. (Note to self: add “Set Goals” to MISC. list.)

If I have a dozen tasks on my current list, I take pleasure in crossing off each one as it’s completed. It doesn’t matter if I finish everything, as long as I know what I could be doing if I end up in a mall or various parts of the city.

At the start of each day, I re-write a new TODAY list, bumping unfinished chores onto it and jotting down fresh tasks.

Here’s one benefit to this routine: nothing is forgotten when we travel. “Wow, you remembered my lucky hat!” Paul will say. I’ll smile and shrug, knowing that I owe my organized life to a 99-cent pen and a few pieces of recycled paper.

I’m also a list mentor. I convinced my husband’s friend that life becomes more productive and less stressful with a list. He followed my advice and awoke the next morning to a reminder on his cell’s calendar: PHONE BILL. Then he spent the next hour trying to recall which Bill he was supposed to phone – he works with three!) and why was he supposed to call this Bill? It wasn’t until late afternoon that he remembered: PAY THE PHONE BILL! At least he tried. Hey, good list making takes practice.

Maybe some people should continue to limp along through their list-free worlds, accepting missed appointments and undelivered dry-cleaning. Apparently they’re happy, even if they forget to mail that Welcome New Baby card before the child begins college.

The reason my husband doesn’t need to make lists? “I’m no fool,” he says, “I have YOU to make them for me.” (Note to self: be more spontaneous!)

*Note* Backing track on audio is “Space Coast” by Topher Mohr/Alex Elena 

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My Resolution? Avoid Clichés Like the Plague

Shannon Kernaghan Cliches-400-3 My Resolution? Avoid Clichés Like the Plague Drinking Lifestyle New Years Parties  resolutions plague new year resolution

It’s now or never. There’s no better time than the present to make a New Year’s resolution. This will take nerves of steel but for my 2018 pledge, I resolve to cut back on my use of clichés, those tired expressions worn thin through the years.

I don’t know how many clichés I utter because I can’t see the forest for the trees. But it’s a pain in the neck to give up what’s familiar, like throwing out a pair of comfy old shoes. Speaking of footwear, if the shoe fits, I’m talking to you. You’re in the service industry, the ones bringing home the bacon who tell me to “have a nice day.” News flash: your advice falls on deaf ears since I’m determined to have a nice day, even if it kills me.

Don’t get all bent out of shape because I’m equally guilty of using platitudes. “You too, have a good one,” I answer, as if I really give a hoot.

Starting in 2018, let’s all get with the program. Just once I’d like to hear, “Thanks for buying something. Your purchase guarantees my job for another shift.” To that bit of honesty I’ll reply, “You’re a breath of fresh air. That’s why they pay you the big bucks.”

Now I have two resolutions for 2018: avoid clichés like the plague AND be more honest with people. We don’t have to see eye to eye across the board, as long as we’re on the same page. For example, I’ll welcome a serving person who answers, “How am I today? I’m up to my neck in alligators!”

“Then take a load off and fill me in,” I’ll say. “I’m all ears, but make it snappy. I’ve got people to see and places to . . . uh-oh, there I go again.” These New Year’s promises are murder, tougher than teaching old dogs new tricks.

The next time you hand me my purchase and tell me to have a nice day, give me a little wink. That’ll be our secret code, which means you’d rather be home watching HBO. While you’re standing there, give me two winks if anything is about to go on sale. I know, I can’t buy happiness and I should save for a rainy day, but a penny saved is a penny earned, no matter how I slice it.

Happy New Year!

 audio version song
Where Am I?
by
Text Me Records 

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Good Intentions, Bad Gifts

Shannon Kernaghan Good-Intentions-bad-gifts-400-2 Good Intentions, Bad Gifts Xmas Culture Gifts Lifestyle Memoir Memories  Xmas worst gift pretend to be excited good intentions christmas gift

What’s the worst gift you ever received? Is it hard for everyone to open a bad Christmas gift and pretend to be excited? I’ll never win an Oscar for acting because the moment I unwrap a bad gift, my facial features alter. As I try to smile, a smirk tugs down the corners of my mouth. My pleasant “Oh, how lovely!” sounds hollow and now everyone in the room is watching!

What defines a bad gift? You tell me. When I was in my twenties, my mother-in-law gave me big beige underwear (‘old-lady panties’ according to my husband) three Christmases in a row. Each year it was the same thing; after Xmas I’d trade in the 6-pack for something sexy.

After years of nervous anticipation during tense moments around the tree, I’ve devised a few logical suggestions to sail us through the giving and receiving:

1) Avoid buying the ‘practical’ gift. An ear and nose hair trimmer is the ideal choice for Uncle Louie, but he didn’t know he had a hair issue until you came along;

2) If you’re bold/foolish/uncaring enough to pawn off a previous bad gift, remove all evidence. My friend received a present from her aunt, a glass punch bowl with 12 cups. When she broke down the box for recycling, she discovered a gift tag addressed TO the aunt from someone else. FYI my friend doesn’t have a dozen friends to share punch, so this gift was both recycled and kind of sad;

3) Before the dreaded day, I mean Christmas, do some practicing: “Thank you, how kind, it’s just what I always wanted” in front of the bathroom mirror. Do you look sincere? If you can’t fool yourself, you won’t fool your holiday crowd;

4) Reserve comment UNTIL you’ve unwrapped the inside tissue. Just because there’s a picture of a can opener on the box doesn’t mean there’s a can opener inside. It could be a diamond tennis bracelet and here you’ve already gone and gasped, “How wonderful, I really need a can opener!” Chances are, if you already own two can openers, it’ll be a third;

5) Apply a generous coating of lip balm before the festivities begin. When your mouth dries at the sight of a poorly knit sweater in a shade of orange not found on nature’s palette, the extra lubrication will prevent your lips from sticking to your teeth;

6) At the first sight of a bad gift, visualize a favorite day at the beach. If that doesn’t make you smile when you open the gift certificate for an hour of electrolysis, nothing will. (Now you know how Uncle Louie feels);

7) And finally, suggest that next Christmas be gift-free for adults. Why put ourselves through this stress year after year? Wait a minute . . .  who says I haven’t given MY share of bad gifts? My mother had a suspiciously cheerful voice when she opened my childhood creations of melted crayon-covered jars and Popsicle stick pen holders. So much glitter . . . the horror.

Forget the angst of receiving bad gifts. Now I’m too paranoid to shop. HAPPY HOLIDAYS!

Audio story backing track
“Clouds”
by Huma Huma.

Catch the Wave!

Shannon Kernaghan Surf-bug400 Catch the Wave! Humor Lifestyle Travel  ladybugs infestation good luck

I like ladybugs as much as the next person. Finding one inside your home is said to be a sign of good luck. But I like a few of them, not a virtual infestation. Last fall, several dozen enjoyed free room and board in one of my bedrooms, all of them snoozing in the corners of my ceiling.

I’m not being fair about the free board part since my ladybugs didn’t eat a thing. That’s not to imply there’s nothing snack-worthy because I can fed a small nation with what falls off the kitchen counters.

With help from the Internet, I discovered these cute little Volkswagen-shaped insects are fascinating critters. The North Carolina College of Agriculture states that ladybugs, or Multicolored Asian Ladybeetles, were imported into the United States from Asia in the late 1970s. Since they feed on over 50 species of aphids, they’re a good bug to have around. I only WISH they ate human food. My kitchen floor would be much cleaner.

Ladybeetles – a rather emasculating title for the males – congregate twice a year, in spring and in fall when they gather to find shelter from the cold. In their native Asia, they’re drawn to light-colored limestone, which is why they choose my sunny west-facing room.

I’m no gardener, but I do appreciate the benefits of ladybugs in a vegetable and flower bed. Want to store your ladybugs for the winter and release them into your gardens and window boxes next spring? The N.C. College recommends that you make a bag out of cheesecloth, about the size of a half-gallon milk jug. Toss in some dried grass or wood chips.

After collecting the ladybugs with the edge of a funnel, gently drop them into the cheesecloth bag. Refrigerate, but don’t freeze or you’ll end up with Bugscicles. From now until spring, take them out of the fridge once or twice a month and let them warm up for a few hours. They’re hardy enough to withstand temperature fluctuations in nature although shouldn’t be left out too long as they’ll burn off their fat reserves and die.

When warmed and starting to crawl, mist them with a bit of water. To prevent chilling, make sure they’re dry before returning them to the fridge. I suggest using a monogrammed guest towel for best results.

When spring arrives, let them warm up again. Place the bag of bugs in your recliner and download a move, something like A Bug’s Life or Antz, before releasing them into your garden where they’ll make quick work of aphids and other pests.

For this year’s visit, I’ll launch an Airbnb for them, specifically an Airbug. Guests this quiet and low-maintenance, I want back year after year.

By the way, if you actually follow my recipe for preserving your bugs, I figure you’ve got too much free time. How about coming over and cleaning my kitchen floor!

Audio version song
Rise and Shine
by Audibinger

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Can You Hear Me Now?

Shannon Kernaghan Honey-Dew-list-400 Can You Hear Me Now? Relationship Humor Lifestyle Memories  listing listening as an art listening coffee beans

Listening is an under-rated art form. There’s a wise saying that people should listen twice as much as they talk, considering they have two ears for every mouth. When I read the report that men listen with only half their brain, my husband’s confidence improved.

“See? Paul said, pointing to an online article. “It’s not my fault, that’s the way I’m hardwired. Now when you call me a half-brain, it won’t be such an insult.”

The man has a point. I’ve been doing a non-clinical study for years and agree with the findings. Take the subject of errands. If I ask Paul to pick up a few groceries, he looks like a proud warrior when he returns with two of the four items I requested.

“Didn’t you buy coffee beans? I told you we were out and now won’t have any for breakfast tomorrow! What’s all this other stuff?” and I rummage through the bag.

“I never heard you say coffee. I got a Rolling Stone and BBQ chips.” Surprise: I don’t need B-B-Q chips, yet I do love my morning coffee.

I never confuse the topic of listening with that of memory. When it comes to memory, Paul has a great set of temporal lobes. He’ll recall something I mentioned at a party in 2006 where I commented on a woman’s pretty purple dress. From one remark, he’ll forever believe I adore purple dresses, and he’ll point out every one we walk past in store windows. Since the seed is firmly rooted, why bother arguing?

I’ve made another discovery through years of unscientific study: what men don’t hear, they invent. While on holidays, Paul led me into a restaurant that specializes in ramen soup. He ordered me a bowl and watched me eat while I commented on the soup’s poor quality and expensive price.

“Yeah, but at least we found a place that serves ramen,” he said. “I know how much you love it.”

“I do? Since when?”

“Since we used to eat it in Vancouver. Remember that noodle place on Robson Street? We’d always sit at the window.” He wasn’t giving up.

“Yeah, I liked the restaurant, but when did I say I loved the soup?” At some mystical juncture, Paul decided that I loved ramen. Case closed. At least he tries, even if he’s correct only half of the time.

Sometimes I wish that I could listen with only half a brain. Think how bearable it would be when the radio plays the same song six times on the hour. Or when the neighbor’s dog barks before I’m ready to get up in the morning. Or when I’m seated next to a screaming baby on a plane. There are countless advantages.

Why do I have to listen at all?  Maybe I’ll request a pack of ear plugs on Paul’s next grocery run. At this rate I’ll have a 50/50 chance of getting them.

Audio version song 
Bleecker Street Blues
by
Chris Haugen

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Winning Loser? Avoid Las Vegas

Shannon Kernaghan Shannon-at-the-slots-400 Winning Loser? Avoid Las Vegas Belongings Challenge Lifestyle Relationship Travel  wish bone operation game lucky bone dreams anatomical short falls

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.

Audio version song 
Savannah
by ELPHNT

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My Bikini Drove Me to the Gym

Shannon Kernaghan Bikin-babe-pool-side-800-e1499891769101 My Bikini Drove Me to the Gym Challenge Bikini Culture Fashion Health Humor Lifestyle Relationship Tropical  wear a bikini regime lifetime membership join a gym hot body gym fit a bikini excersise regime excersise bikini

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.

 

 

Audio version song
Ukulele Beach
by
Doug Mitchell

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