Posts in the lighter side
'Vegetable hole' and other terms of endearment
Photo by  Jon Tyson  on  Unsplash

Photo by Jon Tyson on Unsplash

I’ve often wondered about Nick. Not Saint Nick, and not the one who almost ran out of time. The other Nick. The one who must have been incredibly skilled at terms of endearment. 

Everyone in this Nick’s hometown most definitely had the name on their birth certificate, and the name Nick gave them. I picture him as a jovial wielder of words whose labeling felt like a verbal hug from your best friend.

He was a friendly guy who walked around with blank name tags, waving the ancient equivalent of a giant Sharpie and issuing nicknames, maybe like the United Kingdom knights people. Can you see it? 

As Nick, the naming monarch, moves the oversized quill from your right shoulder to your left shoulder, you wait expectantly to hear what would follow the words “I now dub you…” As he speaks, the crowd that has gathered begins to nod with approval and admiration at how perfectly the name fits you. Nick writes the name on a piece of cloth, pins it to your shirt and shakes your hand. You stand, smile and start repeating your nickname with excitement as you hurry to tell your friends. 

The nickname force is strong with my family, although I fear it’s mutated significantly since the imaginary scene described above. Names other than the ones given to people, places and things roll off our tongues like a fluent second language. To be fully forthcoming, I should note that many times that second language is actually jibberish. We often see blank stares and confused expressions if we slip up and use these odd and affectionate titles in public. 

So, get your brows ready to lift or furrow, because I’m bringing you into the family. Here we go!

How it began

The gene grows stronger over time, but it was a slow start for me. In elementary school, I called my sister Foopy for a couple of years and she called me Acapulco. Not very creative, I know.  Foopy is clearly just a rip-off of the more commonly known Schmoopie. We were young and apparently had just looked at a map of Mexico.  

Our dog, whose given name was Blessing, was christened by my dad as Bud-nicky Peatums. Bonus points for that one. Five syllables, straight-outta-nowhere and made us laugh really loud.

There were a few more typical terms in the mix. My mom often called my dad Daddy-boy, and he answered her with a Baby-doll. To me, my Mom was Mamma Schmamma, and eventually, I started calling her Marmie after one of our favorite movies to watch together, Little Women.

How it still is

Even as an adult, I still conjure up fun things to call people. During one visit to my parent’s house, I stood at the top of the stairs calling out to my dad. “Daaaa-aaad!” No answer. “Dad!” No answer. He couldn’t hear me over the radio he had blasting downstairs. I resorted to calling him something close to his given name Richard, “Ricky!” “Rick!” Still no answer, and I couldn’t be bothered to walk downstairs.

It started somewhere deep in my belly. I felt it surging up through my chest and shoulders. My neck began to sway and my bottom jaw flexed open wide. “Rrrriiiiiiii-tcheeeeeeeeey!” It was a high-pitched, gargly bellow, like Scuttles from Little Mermaid. I was channeling the matriarch from All in the Family. Can you hear it? “Aaaaaarrrrrrrrr-cheeeeeeeey!”

It worked, and the moniker Ritchie was born for my dad. It stuck, like a nametag from our patron labeler Nick himself. 

Places are also not off limits. Ritchie not-so-affectionately refers to a soup and salad restaurant as the Vegetable Hole. I think he equates it to culinary solitary confinement with no access to red meat or apple pie. No hunter wants to be drug to that leafy, green hole. 

Mom, Marmie, and Dad, Ritchie

Mom, Marmie, and Dad, Ritchie

As I reflect on nicknames, it’s clear to me that my father is a blackbelt. He should advance to the elite ranks of those individuals who hand out one-of-a-kind aka’s. In fact, I think the original Nick would be OK with me coining the term rickname. Congratulations, Ritchie, you’ve earned it.  

I appreciate most nicknames I’ve been given over the years by people I know and love. These playful and sometimes goofy names make me smile. 

What nicknames have you given to people or things you love?

Catch up: If you’re new here, check out some of the previous blogs. We talk about verbal processing, finding comfort in God, and His incredible love, along with several lighter attempts at humor. You can get to know me on the about page. Glad you’re here!

The gym is my kryptonite

Anyone hitting the gym or the walking trails this summer? I’m not right now, because I’m working through some foot pain. It’s like tiny people are stabbing me with freshly sharpened knives with every step. Hopefully, I’ll be back into working out soon.    

While I’m not going to the gym these days, I was thinking about how many embarrassing moments I’ve had in health clubs. There are times I’ve walked in the gym feeling bold and energized and promptly hurried out feeling insecure and traumatized.

One time, I asked the guy on the treadmill next to me why he was wearing thongs. Where I grew up, a thong is a flip-flop type shoe. The type of shoe he was, in fact, wearing. To him, and many others, it’s a thin piece of cloth snuggled between two pillows down south.

Another time, I desperately tried to avoid a conversation with an old acquaintance. An aerial view would have shown a Pac-man like pursuit and escape to the ladies room. Complete with me talking into my wallet like it was a phone and having a lively conversation with myself. Pretty sure I fooled no one at all.

It happened last fall

But one of my worst health club blunders happened last fall when I was on the treadmill. I was highly motivated to get my walk/jog groove on. I walked for about 10 minutes and was gearing up to go faster. I was feeling great!

My arms swung in perfect rhythm. My new blue running shoes struck the rubber belt loudly and confidently. My breathing was focused, and my inner monologue was full of things like, “Look at me go! 40 is the new 20!”  

All of a sudden, the screen flashed a message that it was time to do the cool down program. It was not time for me to cool down anything. I was just getting warmed up!

The speed decreased instantly to 1.0. I had not pushed any buttons to make the machine to slow down. I didn’t know what was happening, but I was determined to finish my workout. My right arm shot forward, my pointer finger furiously jabbing the up arrow at least 30 times to increase the speed. Picture a reality show chef racing the clock to finish chopping ingredients. That’s how fast my finger was punching the display.

Fast forward a few minutes. After increasing the speed, the same thing happened again! And then severe deja vu hit because it happened a third time. I was really irritated.

I looked around and wondered if there was a hidden camera somewhere for a new version of the Biggest Loser reality show. One where they prank unsuspecting fitness club members to see how quickly they give up on a workout, run to their cars and make a beeline for the nearest drive through.

The big reveal

The treadmill was almost completely stopped at this point. I took a step backward on the belt and glanced down to put my hand on the bar at waist level. Literally out of nowhere a button labeled “cool down” appeared at the center of the bar. I rubbed my eyes in disbelief. Where was this button 5 minutes ago, 10 minutes ago?

Are you ready for what’s coming next? Are you ready to hear how this button was mysteriously not there, and then there? I’m actually not sure I’m ready to tell you, but here goes...

Apparently, the cool down button was previously hidden by this thing that had latched on to my waist and wrapped terrifyingly strong tentacles around to the back of my ribs. This thing that refused to let go. This thing, sigh, was the extra 30 pounds that has slowly become one with my mid-section over the past decade.

And it gets worse. As I was jogging, this amoeba-like mass around my middle was traveling up and down so violently with each stride, that somehow it had been hitting the cool down button! And, I, had, no, clue. Really?! Really?! I could have just melted into the ground right there.

I was really glad I hadn’t asked the trainer at the front desk for help. I mean, how would that have gone? I try not to think about it. It just makes me cringe and yell out, “NOPE!”

If you want to witness these events that prove the gym is my kryptonite, you're welcome to tag along with me for a workout when I’m back at it. The more the merrier.

Exercise, I know it does a body good, but it also does an ego in.

Up next: I recently spent time in a doctor’s office waiting room. Lots of related life analogies have been on my mind. The next post might dig into some of those ideas.

Catch up: If you’re new to the blog, you can get to know me on the about page. Glad you’re here!

Bagging the DC bugs

I’m so glad it’s spring! In Texas, spring only lasts for a few minutes and always includes light-up-the-sky thunderstorms, like the one we had last night. This season also means beautiful weather, time outdoors, allergies and noteworthy encounters with bugs.

I remember one such encounter last spring after returning home from a trip to D.C. I was 100% convinced that creepy, crawly things had hitchhiked in my luggage and moved into my apartment. Actually, I was beyond convinced.

Photo by  Erol Ahmed  on  Unsplash

Photo by Erol Ahmed on Unsplash

I would have bet my chocolate, chocolate chip mini-bundt cake on it. That’s no small wager for me. If I could eat one every day and not gain weight, I would have my paycheck automatically transferred to Nothing Bundt Cakes to support the habit.

Before I digress too far on these magical cakes, I must recount for you my battle with the D.C. bugs.

On a Monday morning, I had small bites on my legs and arms and constantly felt microscopic things crawling on me. I kept searching my skin for the minuscule critters but couldn’t see them. I was like a dog chasing its tail. Luckily, I didn’t over-react. Not one bit. I just hauled my suitcases and large area rug to the trash, Lysoled everything that wasn’t edible, washed the bedding and vacuumed the floors and furniture

On Tuesday, I found small, brown, barely visible bugs on my sheets. I attacked them with clear packing tape while yelling, “Gotcha!” and put the tape in a gallon size Ziploc bag. My exterminator would thank me. He was going to figure out what type of bugs were harassing me and kill them dead.

On Thursday, the exterminator arrived with poison in hand. By that time, two bags of suffocated bugs lay waiting for him. He did an initial inspection and sprayed a general pest repellent around the baseboards. He promised to look at the perps I bagged under a microscope at the office. I felt better.

Photo by  Benoit Gauzere  on  Unsplash

ID-ing the perps

The exterminator came back the following Monday with no poison in hand. I hesitated when I saw him. The name of this bug that had hitched a ride with me to Dallas from D.C…. this bug that had decided to feast on my flesh and invade my abode...the name, is what pest control professionals in today’s modern society officially call, lint. You read that correctly. I was being chased by and providing a healthy blood supply for the ominous, piranha-like lint.

I was confused and stunned. I emphatically held out my arms, pointed to my ankles and told the exterminator I was fairly certain I wasn’t biting myself. He agreed and nonchalantly noted that I didn’t seem that flexible. Thank you, observant exterminator. Note to self, check out a Pilates class soon.  

As he left I wondered why I wasn’t sighing with relief and downright happy. Isn’t this truly a hashtag blessed moment? I had just avoided spending hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars ridding my home of a colony of nasty pests.

I think I was disappointed because I had been telling myself, and others, for seven days that I was a victim. I was ready for a battle and there didn’t seem to be one. At one point, I began to wonder if I was flexible enough to shove my ankle in my mouth. If I was, then at least I could call other exterminators until I found one that would lie to me. One that would tell me they found a rare breed of Amazonian bedbugs, charge me $1,000 and tent my apartment. Then I would feel better.  

Let it go, let it go (like Elsa, our Frozen friend, can you hear it?)

Our thoughts and perceptions have such a powerful influence over our ability to let the truth inform our reactions. And when we’re convinced with dig-our-heels-in certainty that we’re victims, we often won’t let go without ample commiseration and a fight.

Please don’t misunderstand, sometimes we are victims of great injustice and flat out unkindness, and battles need to be fought. But other times, it’s either all in our head or exaggerated in an unhelpful way. It might be just a self-pity flesh wound that we’ve diagnosed as lethal.

Maybe instead of acknowledging that we feel left out through no malicious intent of others, and taking steps not to be, or turning our thoughts to helping others, we lather ourselves in ketchup and marvel aloud at the blood spatter. We get out the white chalk, trace our bodies, call the medical examiner, and tell as many people as possible how we were taken out.

I’ve for sure done that before, and it does absolutely no good at all.

Life has enough no-kidding, hurt until we can’t breathe, victim moments that have been, and will be, part of our stories. It’s part of being human. I don’t want to add to them unnecessarily. Strength will be needed to fight the real battles and heal from wounds that have plunged past the epidermis to the bone.

Processing offenses with God and a trusted friend who can be objective is incredibly helpful. I find it important to pray about every single offense no matter how big or small, and trust that God will bring clarity and have compassion. He helps me walk out of offense, and he offers wisdom and healing for the smallest flesh wounds, the ones that cut deep, and self-inflicted ones too. Even the rare and venomous lint bugs.

What about you?

How have you let go of the victim mindset when you realized it was an overreaction? Equally as important, have you ever mistaken lint for bugs? It’s easy to do, right?! Right? I really hope I’m not the only one who has called an exterminator to get rid of tiny flecks of material. Please leave a comment below so we can form a club. We can call ourselves The Lugs.

Up next: I’ve been trying to provide hints at what I’ll post next. Sometimes it holds true, other times it doesn’t. The hint from the April 2 post is not at all what today’s post was about. As far as what truly is up next, I’m not sure. We’ll find out together in a couple of weeks. :-)

Catch up: The last post was titled “Is love on the list?” It was one of the best received posts yet. That made me happy! I was so grateful for the reminders from God that are captured in that post. If you missed it, you can find it here.

Ode to TPS reports and steak holders

The past two weeks, I’ve talked about God as a faithful listener and source of comfort, as well as shared a bit about verbal processing. Today’s post continues with the theme of words, but it’s the first post in a category called ‘the lighter side.’ It’s an attempt at humor. Please do let me know if it was successful or not. Enjoy!

After work one day recently, I was thinking about the idea of ‘shop talk.’ It’s the words we find ourselves using that mean something only to those we work with, or others in our field or profession.

Shop talk shows up in all industries and can be helpful when it has a clear meaning and builds camaraderie for those who use it. A good amount of my work experience has been in Corporate America, which has a jargon all its own.

The terms can hover like a thick fog disguising meaning with big, nebulous words. You find yourself rubbing your eyes and thinking awfully hard to understand what’s being said. I’ve fallen into using corporate jargon many times. It takes a lot to resist when it’s all around you.

Before you know it, you hear yourself say things like, “The team is committed to strategically fostering continued development, enhanced engagement and upward mobility.” Translation: “The team will make sure everyone has well-planned opportunities to continue learning new skills, gain rewarding work experience, and be considered for promotions.”

Jargon is real, and sometimes, it’s real funny.

One of my favorite ways to break up a dense conversation full of jargon is to mention TPS Reports. These reports are not real, but they played an unforgettable supporting role in the 1999 movie Office Space, a popular spoof on corporate life. If you’re looking for a solid punchline in most any office environment, TPS reports are a sure bet. Everyone chuckles and gives a knowing nod that we’ve fallen too far down the jargon rabbit hole.

A friend of mine has a unique way of injecting relief and amusement into the day at her workplace. She and some of her coworkers discreetly play Buzzword Bingo during meetings with a certain team known for their mastery of corporatese. They eagerly listen for words like leading-edge, capital efficiency, leverage and optimize. Such a fantastic idea!

Letting out a good laugh is the best feeling during long days filled with meetings, charts and jargon. In the spirit of joking with jargon, here’s a made-up exchange between a waiter and me, if I were limited to corporate jargon. Bon Appetit!

Made-up exchange between me and a waiter

Setting: A mid-priced steakhouse. I’m seated at a table toward the window. The waiter approaches with a smile on his face and welcomes me to the restaurant.

Me: Hello. What’s your body of work?

The waiter doesn’t understand my question. I point to the menu. He nods, hands me the red, bound pages with gold lettering and begins to tell me the lunch specials. He’s going into great detail about unrelated items, and it’s taking too long. I glance at my watch and prompt him to provide an executive summary.

Me: Can you provide an executive summary? I need you to boil it down for me.

The waiter proceeds to tell me the lobster can be boiled, but the steak and chicken options are only available seared and grilled, respectively. I decide to move the conversation along and inquire what his recommendation is for the best meal selection.

Me: What dish will have the most scalable impact on my hunger? What really moves the needle?

Photo by Daniel Norris on Unsplash

Photo by Daniel Norris on Unsplash

The waiter shrugs and replies that the lobsters vary in weight from 2 to 4 pounds. They don’t use needles to administer anesthesia to the lobsters when they’re boiled. The temperature increases slowly, and they don’t feel any pain. While this was interesting information, I wasn’t any closer to learning the restaurant’s core competency. I try again.

Me: What dish is a real game-changer? What shifts paradigms for palates?

The waiter conveys that the lobsters don’t seem to like playing games even though he’s tried to engage them, prior to their demise, in Candy Crush, Fortnite and cricket. He continues on to say that he doesn’t recommend paragliding at all, much less shifting around in the paragliding harness after eating lobster. I decide to modify my approach and try again.  

Me: Listen, if we leverage best practices strategically, I’m confident we can reach an understanding. Synergy is essential, and I’m your primary stakeholder. Now, what is your recommended solution?

The waiter pauses. He practices reciting the body of work frequently, he says, and apparently is quite good as he wins memorization contests with the other wait staff. He thought I wanted boiled lobster, but he’s happy to bring me a steak to hold while I’m enjoying my lobster. Although, he supposes I’ll need both hands free to eat said lobster. I decide to make one final attempt by acknowledging my role and asking him to answer the original inquiry.   

Me: I see. Well, I’m trying to stay in my swim lane as the customer, but you still haven’t answered my request for your input. Could you please do so?

The waiter apologizes. He says they don’t have a pool, but the community center is right around the corner. It isn’t possible for him to serve lobster there due to food safety health laws. He asks if I can wait until after dinner to swim laps in my lane and recommends waiting one to two hours for proper digestion. I decide to mitigate further delays and suspend my efforts to uncover the restaurant’s core competency. Schedule is now the main driver in this exercise.

Me: Yes, I can wait to swim my laps, and I’ll have the lobster. Boiled down. Please do not bring me a steak to hold. Thank you.

The waiter retrieves the body of work from my hands and hurries off to the kitchen. I make a note to file a TPS report with the waiter’s manager. Clearly, they need to hire an outside consultant to evaluate their value creation strategy. Their competitive advantage was in dire straights.


What about you? What type of jargon do you catch yourself using at work? Any amusing terms to share that would confuse the rest of us?

Up next: Coming up in a couple of weeks, I think we might touch on the topic of love. We’ll see how the post ends up. Until then, take care, of yourself, and to avoid TPS reports.

Catch up: If this is your first time to my blog, you may want to checkout the first post to learn more about me and why I blog. So glad you’re here!

Today's the day!

Today is the day I get to say “I started a blog!” I’m taking my writing and storytelling online and would love for you to come with me.

This is the homepage! I love the photograph. It’s by my friend, Alli Martin.

This is the homepage! I love the photograph. It’s by my friend, Alli Martin.

While I’m excited, I’ll also divulge that after spending hours on the website, I hesitated on my first post. I kept waffling back and forth on whether to be serious or funny, which, full disclosure, might or might not work.

You can expect a little of both, because that’s me. I enjoy weighty topics of the heart, soul and mind, and I also love to laugh. Insightful, authentic, encouraging and amusing is how I plan to write.

To give you a glimpse into my writing process, below are a few earlier drafts of this post.

  1. The short version: I write. I created a website with a blog. Wanna read it?

  2. The texting version, described in words: pen emoji, internet emoji, smiley with reading glasses emoji, thumbs up emoji, heart emoji

  3. The clever-ish version: Words, they’ve always been with me. First, on the tip of my tongue, and then on the tip of my crayon. Eventually, they were on the tip of my pen, and on the tips of my fingers and thumbs when I learned to type and text. Wielding words has always been one of my favorite things to do. I started a blog to share all my words with you.

  4. The Mister Rogers version: It’s a beautiful day for a blog reader, a beautiful day for a reader. Won’t you be mine? Could you be mine?

photo for first blog.jpg

Alrighty, well, you get the picture. I’m excited to tell you I’ve started a blog!

My site will have a little bit of fun and light heartedness and a good amount of encouragement in faith and knowing God. Jesus has been my source of courage, kind correction and peace more times than I can count, and those will be common themes in my writing.

  • You can read a little more about me and why I created the site on the about page.

  • Several posts are live now. They may look familiar to some because they’ve been shared before on social media. I refer to them as ‘before blog’ posts.

  • New posts will begin in a couple of days. Sign up below to receive them via email.

If you know me, or even if you don’t, what would you be interested in me writing about? Leave a comment and let me know. See you soon, friends!