The Parable of the Ship Mechanic


atkins-bookshelf-educationA prominent shipping line faced a critical problem: their largest shipping vessel, responsible for transporting millions of dollars of cargo each month, was stuck at the dry dock with a failed engine. Each day the ship was not at sea was costing the company more than $100,000 per day. The shipping company called in all the best ship engine mechanics in the area. Four different mechanics came in and attempted to make repairs to no avail; they left completely stumped. After three weeks, and spending $40,000 on recommended repairs, the ship’s engine did not work.

The ship’s captain finally remembered the name of a retired ship engine mechanic who had an impeccable reputation. No matter how severe the engine problem was, it was said, Benjamin could fix it. After several phone calls, the captain reached him. Benjamin arrived the next day, and although he was twice the age of the previous mechanics, he promptly…

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The Ability to Compromise

I believe I have many positive qualities I bring to all of my relationships in my life, be they with my coworkers, friends, family, or a boyfriend.  As we mature we refine our qualities and everyone in our life helps to either buff or hone those qualities as needed.

I think one key quality to any lasting relationship is the ability to compromise.  And recently I’ve noticed a lot of compromising going on at my end of the relationship.  A few examples:

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I Said “No”

My 15 year old daughter is a freshman in high school.  In one of her classes she has to rewrite and memorize a “slam poem” (don’t ask me, I have no clue what it is and I haven’t gotten around to Googling it yet). Continue reading →

These words resonated in me…

I read. A lot.

As in, “I-have-three-to-six-books-going-at-one-time-and-I-finish-at-least-70-books-a-year” a lot.

And all of the books I have read all have little bits of paper marking various pages that have resonated with me in one way or another. A couple of books even have dog-eared pages, but this is only a recent development as I’ve always felt this is a desecration to the sanctity of the book. As I get older, I’m ok with dog-ears.

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The Cookie War of 2016

I am a proud mother of two high school kids – a 16 year old boy and a 15 year old girl. They are both active with multiple after-school activities (baseball, softball, band, officiating games, social media, art, etc.)…so pretty normal, run-of-the-mill teenagers.

Until cookies enter the scene. Specifically, Oreos.

Every grocery store trip involves a stop in the cookie aisle. My daughter has always been the one with the sweet tooth but when it comes to Oreos my son is hands-down more possessive about the cookies.


2015 Christmas Haul

A few years ago their grandparents gave packages of Oreos as stocking stuffers to both my kids. Since then it’s a Christmas tradition – they are guaranteed Oreos in their stockings every year now. This past Christmas was the best haul yet. (The Caramel Apple Oreos were in my stocking and they are the best I have ever tasted!)

A typical sound heard in our home is one of the kids hollering, “Where are the Oreos?” Usually the other one starts giggling, either having hidden the Oreos yet again so they can keep them all to themselves or having already eaten all in the package.

As with any war, escalation was expected.  Earlier this week I found war correspondence on the kitchen table.


Declaration of war

The struggle is real in our home.  Perhaps we can call a temporary truce today of all days.


Got milk?



It’s 10pm and I’m two hours away from home attending an all night, indoor softball tournament with my teenage daughter’s travel team.  Our second game doesn’t start until 1:30am so I’m hanging out in the hotel lobby where most of the team and parents are staying.

I love people watching, and I especially love listening to the random snippets of conversation that flow my way:

“Look, Speedo Guy is back!”

“That Super Bowl commercial with the baby/monkey/dog face swap thingamabob creeped me out!”

“I ordered pasta and they gave me four orders of hot wings.  I still don’t think this will fill me up.”

“You’re eating jalapenos?  Third base is going to be napalmed tonight!”

(In a loud whisper) “Don’t get on the elevator with Speedo Guy!”

“Where’s Coach?”  (Someone answers that he’s in the bathroom.)  “Oh man, he’s gonna be gone for 20 minutes and I feel sorry for anyone who enters that bathroom now!”

“The whip cream tastes waxy.”

And something I didn’t expect to hear from my 15 year old daughter:

“I’m going to go heat up my coffee.”

It’s just the beginning of a long night.  I think I’ll take my daughter’s lead and have another cup myself.

I’m Still Here

It’s been a long time since I’ve attended to my blog.  Life takes over sometimes, and when I started my blog in the past I was hung up on such things as, “What should my blog be about?  Am I supposed to stick to one main theme?  How personal can I get and what shouldn’t I talk about?”

All of those concerns and many more prevented me from JUST BLOGGING.  There are many blogs out there that are themed-based, and that’s ok.  I like those blogs and follow many of them specifically because of the themes they blog about.

I’m not that specific.  My mind goes in a thousand different directions and I want to chat about all of them – sometimes.  That’s another hang-up; being too closed-off.  But I think it’s time I just let it all out there, consequences be damned, and hopefully experience a euphoric release of a mind full of topics in a world willing to soak them up.

So get ready, world.  I’m about to open the gates.  Let’s see what charges out, shall we?


Not all toxic people are cruel and uncaring. Some of them love us dearly. Many of them have good intentions. Most are toxic to our being simply because their needs and way of existing in the world force us to compromise ourselves and our happiness. They aren’t inherently bad people, but they aren’t the right people for us. And as hard as it is, we have to let them go. Life is hard enough without being around people who bring you down, and as much as you care, you can’t destroy yourself for the sake of someone else. You have to make your well-being a priority. Whether that means breaking up with someone you care about, loving a family member from a distance, letting go of a friend, or removing yourself from a situation that feels painful — you have every right to leave and create a safer space for yourself. — Daniell Koepke


I hate assessments. The ones usually given at a work conference that ask questions such as, ‘If you had the choice between matching socks or no socks, which would you choose?’ designed, of course, to determine if my personality will mesh with the rest of my coworker’s. I hate those questions. My answer will never be the same on any given day. Ask me that question after I’ve had my bowl of Wheaties and my adventurous nature will answer, ‘No socks!’ Ask me the same question the next day during a rain storm in the late fall and I’m definitely not leaving the house without socks on.

The same goes for what I want to write about. I have a ton of thoughts going through my mind, seventeen different answers to the same question posed to me-the answer you get will change depending on when you ask it and what’s going on in my life at the moment.

Needless to say my kids are never bored with me as a mom and my coworkers are constantly shocked and amused and surprised by what I might say or do at any given moment. Sometimes I even surprise myself; more often I think I should have said thought #7 vs #8, but oh-well, maybe next time.

All of that was my way of saying you never know what I’m gonna write about and when I do write about the same topic again it could be a completely different aspect than the one I wrote before.

Definitely won’t be finding my niche anytime soon-and I’m cool with that. 🙂

Thank God I’m Allowed to Drink at Work

When you work in Customer Service there are days you get the best customers and there are other days where you get the REAL cream of the crop. The customers that make you go “hmmm”. Today, this guy took the cake.

Now, stick with me for a minute while I give you some background info on this guy.

I had the pleasure of doing business with him once before several months ago. During that close encounter of the third kind I learned quite a bit about the type of person he is. It just so happened it was right after that political incident where the politician made the unfortunate comment about “Legitimate Rape”. So being the hot topic of the moment, this customer asks me what I think about the whole issue.

Me: (Not AT ALL wanting to get into a political discussion with a customer) I don’t really follow the news and stuff, so I don’t really have an opinion on whether what he said was right or wrong.
Customer: But do you think a woman should be able to abort a child?
Me: (Is this even the same topic?? Fine, he’s getting it now) Absolutely!
Customer: Well, the Bible says (blah blah blah).
Me: And your point?
Customer: Do you even go to church?
Me: Yes, I go to XYZ.
Customer: (Astonished) I do, too. Did you just start going?
Me: No, I’ve been going for over five years now.
Customer: Oh, but not consistently?
Me: I haven’t missed but a handful of Sundays since I started going.

(This guy is clearly at a loss as to how I can believe what I do believe and yet still attend the same church he does. And as you can tell, he CLEARLY makes very offensive statements and doesn’t even realize he’s being offensive – or if he does he’s doing so in order to get his opinion across.)

Ok, so fast-forward to our encounter today…and please keep in mind that this guy’s conversation does not FLOW…he just tosses out these gems from left field.

Customer: Do you know if Verizon lets you drop the texting option from your phone package?
Me: (This is not a Verizon center, how the hell would I know?) Ummm…I’m not really sure, I think it’s just part of all the packages now and you really can’t piecemeal them together or apart.
Customer: I paid over $3000 for texting last year and I have just had it with my kids and texting. How much do you pay for yours?
Me: (That’s a pretty personal question buddy) I’m not too sure because I’m still on my ex-husbands plan and it’s just sort of something we work out each month.
Customer: You guys getting back together then?
Me: (Where the fuck did that come from??) Oh God no! (And I said that knowing FULL WELL he’s a bible thumper.)
Customer: Well, you need to be married, are you even looking?
Me: (Who the hell are you telling me what I need??) Yeah, I’m working on that. Not a lot of good options out there. (Case in point standing right in front of me.)


At this point I beat feet out to the bay for a breather. I only go back in the office area when the phone rings, and each time I do he gets me with another zinger!

Customer: (Saying this as soon as I hang up the phone) So, when are you going to buy a home?
Me: (Do I look homeless? I mean, I know these are my crappy shorts and I probably have a salsa stain on my shirt somewhere from lunch today, but Jesus, do I just come off as a person who doesn’t have her own place?) I BUILT my home eight years ago.
Customer: So, do you go to church?
Me: (OMG, here we go again) Yes, I go to XYZ, same as you.
Customer: (Pausing) Oh yeah, we spoke about this last time I was here. Well, you should be able to find a man at church.
Me: Ummm…yeah….
Customer: Do you do any volunteer work?
Me: (Completely disoriented by yet ANOTHER change in topic – seriously dude, use a transition in your segway every now and then) When I can.
Customer: Do you want to?
Me: ….huh?
Customer: Do you want to go to the hospital for volunteer work?
Me: ….ummm…..
Customer: You know, my wife and I just started a Bible study group, and there are a bunch of us that get together every other week, do you live near the church?
Me: I live just a mile from here.
Customer: Oh, never mind, but the volunteer thing you could do.

Wait, WTF just happened here? He was inviting me to join his Bible study but then decided I live too far away and so couldn’t possibly be interested in attending his Bible study because of that BUT I would still be interested in volunteering at some random-ass hospital somewhere around the city that isn’t any closer to here than his damn Bible study would be?

And why the hell am I arguing in my head FOR attending his damn Bible study?

Customer: You know, you could be helping out at a hospital and a doctor comes strolling by and says to the nurse, “Hey, who’s that? Can you introduce me?”
Me: (Incredulous) Sweet baby Jesus…which hospital is that, exactly?

So, to sum up: Apparently I’m a single, homeless wench in need of getting back with my ex-husband or any man to end my non-married, lack of being a home-owner status who also needs to desparately volunteer at a hospital to get a doctor to notice me.

Seriously need to rethink the shorts and shirt combo I wore today. I don’t think I was going for any particular look, but it definitely wasn’t the one he got.

And yes, I know I’m going to Hell for this one. No need to tell him that, though, I’ve been saved already. Not that he would assume that, though.

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One Mile Smile

by Sarah Clouser

Mind of Chaos

How easy it would be, to sit here, telling the world that my struggles were all due to outside sources, that my 2am, scattered-sleep nights were caused by a destructive family life, or the villainous boys I met in high school. How easy it would be to place the blame on undeserved circumstances. I am a strong believer in the “we make our own choices” concept of life, and that life does not discriminate in placing innocent people, in hard paths of being. For me, the life-defining choice was to allow myself to fall victim to my own mind, and for my inside, tyrannical anxiety, to control my outside actions. That moment, whenever it might have been, has visited me in nightmare-like ways, all throughout my young adulthood.

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