Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Peeps still rule the candy aisle

     Peeps are back in, or did they ever leave the candy aisle?
     Other than getting a shaky sugar-high, eating a Peep is munching on emptiness. You get little worthwhile for your investment.
     Compare that statement to political campaign rhetoric. That’s as deep as I will put my toes into the arena. I’d rather nibble on Trail mix.
     Little did I anticipate that my Facebook page would be inundated with comments.

     I was anticipating a chuckle here and there, and maybe a smattering of likes. In its place, I struck a nerve - a very, deep- seated coveting for sucrose.
     Boy, was I wrong about those little treats neatly lined up in rows like a marching band displayed in a plain carton covered with clear plastic wrap.
     Soon Peeps became a trending topic on my Facebook page, and I got miles of free publicity. Peeps are the victor in the popularity contest.
     From, “I love Peeps,” to poems and saber-sharp comments such as, “Peep shows rule,” I learned that Peeps are alive and well just like their devoted fan club.
     One mom wrote, “__’s antibiotic is so nasty she has been downing it and eating a Peep, followed by drinking water. A peep =  a spoonful of sugar makes the medicine go down in the most delightful way!”
     “Sweet,” I replied. (That wasn’t very original.)

     A writer friend who regularly posts in verse on Facebook cleverly said,
“Poor little bo
fell fast asleep
only to find her basket with peeps
all spilt and dry beside
when she woke to a poke
and ran over hillocks to sing
as loud as she could nearby
but to no avail
for the first day or rain
they floated downstream
and left their coatings behind them.”

     Those pastel marshmallow Peeps are having a renaissance like Star Wars and hula-hoops. No longer just an Easter candy when the business was established in the 50s, Peeps are found year round.
     What a smart company to capitalize on success and tackle every American holiday. Super Bowl Sunday with Peeps and beer.
    At least with the new Star Wars mania you can count on the force with you while shoveling down empty calories, getting a sick stomach and a mega headache from too many Peeps.

     As for hula-hoops, you whittle the waistline down if you can handle hours of wiggling your hips. Certainly it is not an activity for compromised body parts in any way.
     One Facebook friend told me that his body has been holding together with rubber bands for years, and he would no more attempt doing a hula-hoop routine than jumping into Conesus Lake in mid April for the Vincent House Polar Plunge.
     Someone else suggested that they leave hula-hoops to the grandkids, and instead, show them pictures when they were in their prime. And eating Peeps, too. You know you did.
     A friend texted me – she didn’t want this out to the public - that Peeps s’mores, home-made chocolate covered Peeps, Peeps marshmallow chocolate chip cookies were a few of her regular recipes.

     Peeps are made from sugar, corn syrup, gelatin, and various food dyes.  - in other words, every ingredient that is bad for you, but oh, so delicious to the taste, or so you say.
     An annual "Peep Off" competition is held in Maryland on the first Saturday after Easter, when Peeps are greatly discounted, to see who can eat the most in 30 minutes.
     A contest –not verified by Guinness, though - was recently held and if you ate so many Peeps this Easter that you felt like you can't eat any more, then you're just an amateur compared to Matt Stonie. 
     Stonie is a competitive eater who celebrated the Easter holiday by downing 200 of the marshmallow treats in about 14 minutes. If you're counting, that's 5,600 calories and 1,360 grams of sugar in one sitting.
     If you want to watch this “meaningful and informative” video, here’s the link.
     Another Peeps contest states, “Do you have an excessive amount of Peeps sitting around your house after Easter? You should send them to a guy who devours them by the dozens. 100 Peeps in two minutes.”
      Really? That’s a handful of trivia I could live without.

     I was shoved out of the way near the sale display of candy the day after Easter, when large and small hands were grabbing Peeps as if they might vanish from the earth.  
     I will own up right here. As a kid, whenever I went into a store and no one was looking, I’d squeeze the living daylights out of one those little Peeps.
     Peeps do get stale. Trust me. I know since I pushed them aside in my Easter basket as a kid. I’d open the package, take in whiffs of its disgusting smell and hide those critters in my closet. My cat would not take on Peeps even in his most desperate hour.
     As marshmallow ages exposed to air, it dehydrates becoming "stale" and slightly crunchy. According to Just Born, the Peeps parent company, 25%-30% of their customers prefer eating Peeps stale.
     Are you in, or out on that one?
     The Racine Art Museum sponsors the International Peeps Competition from April 1–28. Anyone can enter the contest around the theme, "peep-powered work of art." I suppose those hardy folks in Wisconsin know how to spend their days when spring weather has barely peeped.
     I give up. I’m moving on and investigating why the gram weight of Snickers candy bars has reduced while the price remains the same.

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Walking in step with Alzehemier's


     I couldn’t help but notice. One of the members of our tour group in Spain, a man in his mid-seventies, was shuffling and staring a head blankly while holding his wife’s hand. Ah, I recognized the signs all too well.
    Oddly though, his wife looked like I remembered my mother in her active and vigorous earlier years – a blond thin woman with a nervous demeanor who would chat incessantly to anyone and everyone. I had the sense that the wife had a great ability to handle any situation. My mother in her prime did, too, before her mind got murky.
     Our group did a lot of discoveries on foot, and it was while walking on the streets of Valencia that I saw the man being pushed along and talked to like a child. It irked me.
     I wondered why he would be on a three-week international trip, until an occupational therapist in our midst said that maybe the couple was having their last vacation and we should honor it.
     Most of the other group members didn’t take a lot of interest in discussing the pros and cons of traveling with someone with Alzheimer’s, and they let it go.
     Not me.

     I saw my mother’s image over and over. The sparkle had faded out of her blue eyes, too, and she had an unenthused attitude about her when dementia set in.
     Each situation and person is different depending upon how long they have been dealing with this most difficult group of diseases. In my mom’s case, it was hard enough to take her out of the safety of her house and its predictable routine for a visit to the doctor.
     I would try getting mom interested in something – “Look, there’s the neighbor boy riding his bike in the circular driveway. He’s waving.” - or, “I saw your good friend from church at the supermarket –you know, the lady that sits in front of you every Sunday.” - and it would not receive as little as a nod of her head.
     The empty look in her eyes. The wringing of her hands. It could unnerve me to no end when a tiny thought would come out of her that had no relevance whatsoever to the conversation at hand.
     In Spain  the wife would let go of her husband’s hand on and off and not be the protective one. He would walk along somewhere in our group of thirty-five people.
     He kept at our pace and never lagged behind, although it became quite common to hear one voice or another rise through the crowd, “Where’s Mel?”
     Someone would send an assuring comment back that they had him in sight, or often their arm would be linked with his, and we were all somewhat relieved. The more we all bonded as a group, the more we took turns with Mel.
     My chance came one evening quite unexpectedly. When I was strolling with the man back from dinner, he started talking animatedly with a different inflection to his speech. There was vibrancy to his overall appearance.
     He lived in the Bronx as a graduate student while his wife worked to help him through. They would try and see as many Broadway plays as possible on their limited budget, and he loved the excitement of the Great White Way. Was I imagining it, or was I detecting a click of his heels?

     That’s how my mother would be when we would walk into her room in the nursing home. You never knew which time period she would be in, and most often like other folks robbed of their thinking and social skills that interfere with daily functioning, she retreated back into a pleasant era. The thirties and forties were grand ones for her and she would talk to her husband  - long deceased- like I wasn’t even present. Well, I wasn’t born yet, so I could see that.
     I went along with the man’s exuberant conversation assuming it was probably in the 1960s when he was young and vigorous. He broke into strains of “Lullaby of Broadway” and sang it to me softly all the way back to the hotel.
     At the front door, he looked at me and asked if he could kiss me on the cheek before we parted. “Of course.” It was sweet and endearing.
     I broke down and sobbed that night in my bed. My mother lost all the affection she had when dementia invaded, and she had no desire to have any physical contact. I was brushed away numerous times. Even though she was on medication, she would be quite negative with her caregivers, too, and crawl into her own world.
     Our tour group was careful not to talk between ourselves as if Mel wasn’t present. “I hear you,he said softly on and off in a monotonous tone, and it reminded us to preserve his dignity and not be rude.
    I only hope Mel’s road trip will go through as many green lights as possible, and when he gets to his final destination, he will be singing, “New York, New York.” Perhaps, my mom will be playing the piano for him, her nail polish glowing on her fingertips.
     Life throws in cautionary yellow lights and full stop red ones on our journeys, reminding us how to harmonize and blend with grace what is set out for us.
     Let us honor those struggling with Alzheimer’s and dementia, as well as the important role of caregivers in their quality of life.


Thursday, March 31, 2016

Peeps are back in, or did they ever leave the candy aisle?

Other than getting a shaky sugar-high, eating a Peep is munching on emptiness. You get little worthwhile for your investment.  

Those pastel marshmallow Peeps are having a renaissance like Star Wars and hula-hoops. No longer just an Easter candy like when the business was established in the 50s, Peeps are found year round.
At least with the new Star Wars mania you can count on the force with you while shoveling down empty calories, getting a sick stomach and a mega headache from too many Peeps. 

As for hula-hoops, you shear the waistline down if you can handle hours of wiggling your hips. Certainly it is not an activity for compromised body parts in any way. Leave it to the grandkids, and show them pictures when you were in your prime. And eating Peeps, too. You know you did.

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Travelers: stay alert and pay attention

     It wasn’t a remarkable day by any stretch of the imagination. Nor was it a travel day that I will remember for any particular reason. Simply put, and not by any predetermined plan, I observed folks through a more empathetic lens.
     At 5:35 am the van taking me over to the airport arrived at my hotel. The driver, probably as old as me, and more than likely, due to circumstances unable to retire, hopped out and greeted me with the prescribed, “good morning.” He loaded my suitcases systemically into the rear. He knew what he was doing.
     I noticed a worn copy of a paperback thriller – the latest Jack Reacher – folded cover up on the dashboard along with a red plastic container with food for his break time making the repetitive job go by faster.
     He followed the same polite routine he had perfected picking up additional passengers before leaving me off at the airport. “Have a nice day.”

     I looked into his weary eyes and wondered how long his day would be, and if there was a second job to contend with, too. I hoped not.  If it was so, he gave the impression that he could handle whatever was put on his plate.  
     After getting my ticket and passing through security, I had time in the departure lounge. Normally, I enjoy watching other travelers and their behaviors. However, I gazed beyond seeking out the unobtrusive folks in their place of work.   
     At 6:40 am I spotted a middle-aged woman cleaner coming down the long hallway. She had her routine down pat, and would methodically take out the green trash bag and replace it with a blank expression on her face.
     Where was her mind? Perhaps, she was worried about the bills that were overdue waiting on her kitchen table. Did she take care of an elderly mother? There is no way that I would ever know, but I reminded myself to be a little more appreciative of all the people who work keeping the airport clean and safe.

     As the cleaning lady headed further on down the way, I saw that she was limping a little bit hanging onto her cart, and her ankles in her serviceable black shoes appeared swollen. That dull ache must hurt unmercifully, and day in and day out, it had to be wearing on her body shuffling miles to clean up after the rest of us.

     At 9:10 am I was at another airport in another city and seated in a café for a midmorning snack. The counter was relatively empty and a couple of young waitresses were at the end of the row sharing pictures from their phones back and forth with a lot of giggling. One noticed me and came over quickly, greeted me with a grin and handed me a menu.
     “You two seem pretty happy over there. What’s going on?” I asked.
     You get proficient at small talk as a frequent flyer, and I was tired of those superficial spurts and babbles. I wanted engagement with a human being, and the waitress seemed to be a good prospect for a more meaningful conversation.
     The waitress proceeded to tell me about her kids in a school play last night, and that one of them had been back to school for only a week after surgery. She didn’t explain any further. Her friend was showing photos of her kids and their new puppy.
     She walked over to put in my order and I checked my iPhone messages. When it was time for me to leave, the waitress came over and gave me a big smile. “Hope your day goes well.”
      “You, too,” I said. “ Bet you can’t wait to get home?”
     I broke the stereotypical image of a traveler oblivious to those around her space, and surprised the waitress with a moment of kindness. And I left a decent tip, too, which I always do in thanks.
     At noon my plane landed. While waiting on the tarmac for the pod to connect, I watched the organized frenzy of the baggage handlers beginning to put the luggage on the cart for pick up at the gate entrance. Each one worked in tandem with his colleagues and it seemed flawless.

     One particular guy wearing a Denver Broncos cap covering his ears, was bopping to music on his headset noticeably out of sync with his fellow handlers, but no one appeared to mind. He had strong arms that hoisted suitcases with the ease of a weight lifter.
     He would take a few extra steps to display a dance move just knowing that a planeload of people were watching, or maybe he didn’t care, and he was in his own world of merriment hoping to audition for “Dancing With the Stars.” He made me laugh. Certain people know how to make the most of the mundane.
     By 1:05 pm I was where I was suppose to be, and tomorrow the day would start all over again. More hair-raising gate transfers. Chaotic terminals. Meals on the-run.
     Putting my sight to good use made me a more compassionate traveler today. I was not blinded to those quiet folks who assisted me getting from point A to point B.
     When I lay my head down on the pillow in a strange room, a van driver, cleaning lady, waitress and baggage handler raced through my mind. They were getting ready to start a new day. Thankfully, I had a little more time for sleep.

Saturday, March 19, 2016

A suitable writer

A competent writer follows the inspiration
of whichever genre he desires.

Numerous mornings he pens
poems, and other days,
there are essays eloquently
formed and shaped together.

A fickle soul that muse
The writer reckons.

It’s best to take the phrases
spreading them
on the page for size
and not puzzling over the results.

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Live on the sunny side

     An acquaintance emphatically told me that he “didn’t do March.” It bummed him out. How’s that for honesty?

     If March comes in like a lion - and it did in many locations in our readership area - then weather lore says that it will level out by the end of the month. That’s promising for kite flyers, baseball fans and lovers of sandals.
     Living in Upstate New York comes with its teasers, and probably if all goes according to history, we will be up for one more giant storm around St. Patrick’s Day, and that should be it for the season.
     Of course, there will be a little more snow – most likely on baseball opening day - but nothing to write home about in the spring of 2016.
     Don’t get your hopes up unrealistically, or take out your shorts just yet, unless you are spending Easter vacation in a southern climate. Even then, you will come back warm to the bones with leftover visions of blooming flowers to find April raining on your parade. So much for the gentle lamb, wouldn’t you say?
    Here is where positive thinking comes into play, and besides, that’s enough discussion on the weather. I was writing about the topic two weeks ago. Enough. I’m taking it off my radar.

     Changing the subject, it occurred to me that in everyone’s life there is someone – sometimes a family member, other times, not - who smoothes things over when the going gets tough and troubles abound.
     You might call them the “storm catchers,” and many of you relate to that very one person who rescued you from yourself, even if you didn’t realize it at the time.
     A doctor told me that a sixth grade teacher saved his life while he was growing up in a tough Bronx neighborhood. In fact, he repeats the same story every time he sees me, and I believe he wants his personal message out about his gratitude for teachers.
     His parents were poor and did their best raising a large family. His teacher opened him up to the world of books and possibilities beyond simply falling into a street gang with prison prospects in the future. His peers were pushing him in the wrong direction. This particular teacher saw his thirst for knowledge, and showed him a different way.
     I asked him if he ever had the opportunity to thank his teacher - he looked at me for a minute before answering - and remarked that he hadn’t ever thought of it until it was too late. Let’s believe that she knows and is smiling down on him.

     I taught numerous children in the classroom, who for one reason or other, were raised by grandparents. Those kids had so much loving care, and I appreciated the sacrifices of grandparents. They gathered up the physical stamina required to run after younger children. A repeat performance was in their curriculum, instead of full retirement.
     Care giving grandparents were fast learners getting a quick mental adjustment lesson in dealing with a skip in generations along with youthful attitudes, styles and language. I don’t think a child suffered any in the long run, and I know many of them as adults who are flourishing. I give all – grandparents and students - full credit for passing with flying colors.
     In many cultures multi-generational homes are the norm, and children grow up with the wisdom and values of their elders every day.
     I noticed while in Spain that grandparents help raise the children so that young parents can advance in their careers. Although affordable, and in cases, free day care is much more prevalent that in our country, all grandparents pitch in to make things flow successfully.

     My tour guide had two teenage boys and “they are a handful” – those were her words - in the Azores where she made her home along with her husband, a construction worker with unpredictable hours. Her parents were live-ins.
     As a travel guide she spent three weeks away on a job, and then a quick break to go home just in time for another tour on the mainland. It didn’t make for consistency in raising kids without help.
     One day I noticed that our guide was on her cell at every chance she could break away, and she explained to me that it was a discipline issue with her eldest son. She was making sure that her parents were on the same wavelength with how they were going to handle the problem. They would be the ones making the final decision in her absence.
     I visited in a Spanish town where a young couple worked out of their home in a travel business promoting ecotourism in their rural part of the country. They had a daughter in kindergarten, and when they were out giving day tours, the husband’s mother, who lived above them in an apartment, became number one in charge.
     The daughter was used to her grandma, and life went on. In fact, the afternoon I was there, the cutie first went upstairs to give her grandmother her most recent art project before coming down to her parents.
    Keep hopeful and looking at the sunny side of life whether it is thoughts of March’s fickleness, or appreciating those who were part of raising you to handle what’s tossed to you.  



Thursday, February 25, 2016

It's winter, have patience

      The day after the February storm that dropped gallons of dense white stuff, I was shocked at the insensitive reactions from folks. Mother Nature was testing the hardiness of Western New Yorkers, and a portion of you failed.
     In fact, you “barely” made it. You were clutching your arms together like the Geneseo bear cub at the fountain holding on for dear life while being bombarded with confetti.
     Sipping my tea – coffee and Kay have parted their ways – and perusing social media sites first thing in the morning, I was flabbergasted at all the negativity toward weather forecasters - for example, meteorologists were too vague in guaranteeing the specific timeframe when the storm would arrive.
     That was a hard storm to predict I believe –snow, rain and in what combination. Location. Location.
     The heaviness of the snow due to the intervals of rain made for a tough go. It’s appropriately called the “heart attack” snow for shoveling. I agree. I only made one pass on our walkway, and I had had it.
     Winter does bring out the grumps. It’s hard on the workforce, too, day in and day out.
     Fortunately, schools were on vacation, and many businesses did not require their employees to come in.
     Photographers did go to work capturing pretty impressive scenes.
     Facebook postings were throwing meteorologists under the plow. Piling on top of that, the criticism about snowplowing on the major roads was incredibly cruel, too.
     I would have left it at that, and gone on to the activities of my day without giving it another thought. It was not to be so.
     Apparently, people have high expectations for everyone but themselves. They fail to step back and look at the bigger picture. There are far larger issues in the world.
     I couldn’t believe my ears when I walked into the post office and heard a customer screaming over the phone to a postal employee using all sorts of language I would never write here.  
     This irate man was in a tirade of mega proportions. I was embarrassed for the employee, and I would have preferred to back track out the door to the safety of my vehicle.
     When the employee hung up after a more than pleasant reply- he tried to soften it up a bit - he said, “That’s the way this whole day is going to be.”
     And it was only 9:30 in the morning. I pity him.
    Apparently, the customer was complaining that he didn’t have his mail and package delivered. A second employee told me that she called back all her drivers by noon when she was getting reports that some were shoveling themselves out at about every stop, especially on the rural routes.
     Now stopping service made logical sense to me. Just looking out my window, I saw several cars backing down our steep hill, and the snowplow was having a difficult time keeping up.
     You wonder what percentage of people would go to their mailboxes on that day anyhow. A rural route carrier in a nearby town told me that he did white-knuckle it out, and the following day 90% of his customers had never ventured out to get their mail anyhow.
      For those of us nonessential workers, staying off the roads was the best idea.
    Yes, I was inconvenienced slightly by a mere day not getting my mail including a package I was expecting, too. It didn’t occur to me to fly into a rage over it though, and take it out on the postmaster. Tomorrow would come soon enough. I didn’t want to risk the safety of my postal lady.
      I was brought up with a proper appreciation for service workers. Towards anyone. Period.
     What’s wrong with society? The world doesn’t revolve around any one single person. In situations like what I have been relating, you might not know it. Folks are clueless that others are doing jobs mainly for helping them make life flow smoothly.  
     Show common courtesy. When people get way too busy blundering through everyday existence, they forget the common niceties. It’s a domino affect with disastrous social implications.
     Next I ran into the UPS guy when I was at the hairdresser, and he quipped, “This is one brutal day with customers.”
     Off he sprinted to his truck ready to carry on sloshing through the drifts to make it up long driveways and steps not shoveled.
     More whiny people.  More sob stories. Unleashed dogs. Parking in the road while getting honked at by rude drivers. The UPS driver has to make up for a lost day.
     I don’t want this column reading like I am on a rant and I am sitting at the computer taking it out on you as fast as my fingers fly off the page.
     I thought twice about writing it, and decided that you need affirmation for being the compassionate peeps. You’re the ones that care about your neighbor’s welfare.
     The person in the village who told me that she tapes a Dunkin’ Donuts card with a thank you note to her garbage can periodically gets it. Totally.
     The neighbor kids with bundles of extra energy stop and shovel out the edge of a driveway. They get it.
    There are so many wonderful human-interest stories in the news sharing little kindnesses from random strangers and friends alike. Those warm our hearts and give us faith in others.
     Perhaps, you were one of the unspoken givers.  
     Winter storms are prone to weather hype. Be rational. Be prepared. Think of others, too. 


Monday, February 22, 2016

The butcher shop

My mother sent me
on the all-American errand.
She needed a pound
of ground beef
for a hamburger meal
typical of my youth.

I had to stand on my tiptoes
to see over the white counter
and place my order.

 The butcher put the chunks
 of beef through
the silver grinder two times
carefully kneading
 the strings of red meat
before weighing
 the lump on the scale
 and wrapping
 in heavy brown paper.

He came around
to collect my fistful of money
after wiping his hands
on his bloody apron.

I took the package
and left

the butcher shop

Thursday, February 18, 2016

Gas station

The gas station is missing 
from main street life
and relegated to the outskirts
where you do it yourself,
as much as you want
and get on your way.

Much like every other thing
in the modern free world
of self-service
plastic bags
and impersonal 
Fill er up
makes no sense
at the pump
nor at the coffee shop
to disillusioned youth and
young adults.

Monday, February 15, 2016

The five and dime store

When I miss the delight
of shopping
at the old-fashioned
five and dime store,
I take a stroll
through the local
Dollar General
for a quick fix
of childhood

made everything possible
for this brown-eyed girl
with two quarters in her pocket
and a hefty imagination
the confines of main street.

Pacing aisle upon aisle
stocked with
pink plastic diaries
shiny barrettes
packs of bobby pins
even cheap My Sin cologne,
I pretended I was having
lunch at a chic café
and not
a tuna fish on rye
with a coke
at the counter
by a weary waitress
in a salmon pink uniform.

Thursday, February 11, 2016

Love is a fine balance

     If you miss at love, you miss living life. That’s a popular piece of self-help advice that’s been floating around since before many of you were born.  
     Love is mysterious and confusing. Sometimes, it is contradictory, too.
     Throughout the centuries, love is the one emotion everyone yearns to grab no matter what the cost. Nina, a Spanish musical actor and singer, describes its baffling ways in this verse:

Love moves in mysterious ways
It's always so surprising
When love appears over the horizon
I'll love you for the rest of my days.

     Notice the promise in the last line. That’s the one lovebirds get hung up on –the forever commitment.
     Love comes in all forms, turns your life upside down and inside out when you least expect it.
     “Love is like riding or speaking French. If you don’t learn it young, it’s hard to get the trick of it later.”  – High “Shrimpy” MacClare, one of the Downton Abbey lesser players.
     Falling in love just happens, and often, others caution you, “Take your time.”
      Elvis sings:

Wise men say, only fools rush in
But, I can’t help falling in love with you.

     The Roman poet, Virgil states it eloquently: “Love conquers all.” He’s the one you should give the credit to for the originality of thought. I’d say that it is very noble of him.
    So, it seems the patricians were debating Virgil’s words in the forum hundreds of years ago, and still, our modern viewpoint hasn’t tweaked love perfectly.
     Society has become cynical, and happily ever after is a myth. Starter marriages are way too frequent. That’s a disturbing commentary on life in 2016.
     In this month of sentiments over hearts and flowers, our national statistics on marriage are lousy. Half of marriages end in divorce. More and more couples are opting for living together arrangements, and those either work, or not. Singledom is popular, and it has its own ways of expression. It’s not for me to make judgments.
     All in all, love gets you further a head on the path.
     Having said that about love, it doesn’t necessarily mean that “all you need is love, love love” to overcome every obstacle. Don’t you wish.
   Thanks, Beatles, for that song. It rings in my head as a timeless reminder of my youthful exploits and idealistic quests. The Beatles spoke to a generation questioning the traditional values of their parents and society.
    “What I Did for Love” from The Chorus Line is one of my favorite pieces of music and its lyrics answer what so many lovers ponder.

I can't believe what I did for love
I can't believe what I did for us
Oh, passionately burning to flames
Stitch myself up, then I do it again
I can't believe (I can't believe) what I did for love
What I did for love

     Consider the connection between love and conquering all that life throws at you from the glorious to the messy.
     What do you suppose keeps some relationships glued, and others become unglued?
     Simply, certain people are able to love AND conquer all.
     A strong attraction is not a guarantee of a happy and healthy relationship in the end, though.
     “The Dating Game” on television was and still is by all accounts the premiere game show for singles.  It was the forerunner for many imitators, such as "Love Connection," MTV's "Singled Out" and “The Bachelor”, a reality show.
      And speaking of reality shows, there are way too many of them on television, and younger generations are growing up not discerning the difference between real time and imaginary adventures. Developing and maintaining satisfactory relationships are supposed to be practiced with “live” people.
     Sharing and pursuing mutual life goals together combines love and the ability to conquer all – usually. At least, those are the folks that can make it over the hurdles with a little faith and determination.
      Many couples believe that if there's enough love between them, all problems will be conquered. Such wishful thinking often leads to heartbreak. Experience shows that you can love someone deeply, and still opt to divorce, or break-up.
     Where do you see yourself in one year, five years and 10 years? Your partner should be living similar life goals in sync with yours.
     Couples drift a part and claim that they have become different individuals than when they first got married. It goes back to being in tune with each other’s life aspirations and keeping the lines of communication open at all times.
     Contemporary singer Adele says:

However far away I will always love you
However long I stay I will always love you
Whatever words I say I will always love you
I will always love you

     True achievement is never a one-time happening, but rather an ongoing series of correct choices. Even after spending the necessary time figuring out your aim in life, don't put your life on "automatic-pilot."
     Revisit your aspirations and modify or change them when necessary. Couple “date nights” or getaways rekindle and reaffirm love all so well.
     Thanks, Elton John and Tim Rice, for this timeless message:

It’s the Circle of Life
And it moves us all
Through despair and hope
Through faith and hope
Till we find our place
On the path unwinding
In the Circle of Life

     Love is a work in progress. May it be gentle for you.