Friday, April 10, 2015

A Hug Tour Coming Near YOU!

My dad, an awesome hugger!
Hugs. I love them. Love to give them. Love to receive them.
Defined by Merriam-Webster’s (Yep, the dictionary still exists!), to hug is “to put your arms around someone especially as a way of showing love or friendship” and “to stay close to (something).”

That explains my love of the hug.
Prayer Warrior, LaDonna Burr,
giving me a "squish."

Who doesn’t want to express friendship and stay close to folks we care about? I have an awesome job where hugging is not only allowed, it is encouraged. I work at a church. Wednesdays are a midweek hug fest because the 10 AM Prayer Group is a wonderful group of huggers. They range in age from their mid-60’s to mid-90’s and when I ask if they “want a squish,” they respond with some warm hugs.  That human connection is so important.

I have said before that I believe social media (despite contrary claims) helps bring us closer to people. We can keep up with grandbabies, graduations, and weight loss. We see vacation photos and exchange words of encouragement or humor. We can even arrange to visit when we learn that a friend is headed our direction for business. But, nothing replaces the human connection and eye-to-eye contact. That is why I have developed what I call, “The Hug Tour.”
LeeAnn Capps--brief encounters
 of the hugging kind!

If I am going on a trip, I try to cram in as many physical meetings with people I care about, no matter how brief those encounters might be. I have run over to Reagan National Airport to hug a friend as she climbed out of an airport shuttle before scurrying in to catch a plane back to Alabama. I just ran into that same friend in the lobby of the Opryland Hotel in Nashville. I was checking in as LeeAnn Capps was checking out, but we shared some laughs, a few hugs and of course, a selfie (or two!). Now when we email, text or Facebook message, the connection seems deeper because we have SEEN each other.

Kathleen Tresser sharing hugs
 & lunch near the airport.
I appreciate the friends (like Kathleen Tresser) who will meet me for a quick lunch near the Sacramento Airport in California before I hurry off to see family in Redding. Or Trish Clarke, who volunteered to drive me back to Sacramento two days later, saying that the chat in the car made the more than 2-hour journey (each way!) worth the trip. That’s love! Trish is driving across country in her RV as I write and we will be hugging and chatting in early May! And then there’s Terri and Mario who always put me up for the night in Sacramento and drive me at the “butt crack of dawn” to the airport the next day as I fly back east again.

I have enjoyed recent Hug Tours in Alabama, Fort Campbell, Kentucky, Nashville, California and Washington. When I let folks know that I am on a Hug Tour, it sets the expectation that there is only time for a brief, but important visit. Expectation management is a big component of a happy life. Expectation management and hugs  The world is small and life is short and unpredictable, so let’s get to hugging!

But Wait, There’s More…

Guy Farris, a hug from the past!
Yesterday I got to see a high school friend, who I had not seen in years. Guy Farris had messaged me on Facebook that he would be in DC for a few days for business. This week, my life is crazy and it was a stretch, but I left work to hop the Metro and meet him for lunch (and a hug and a selfie!). I am so glad I did. I left our lunch, thinking that I need to spend more time with Guy. We had some fun times as teen-agers. He just reminded me of the time when with a couple of my girlfriends (who shall remain unnamed to protect their reputations), I thought it would be funny to embarrass “poor Guy.’ So when he walked out to my parents’ backyard where we were in the hot tub, we tossed our bathing suits out at him and said, “Hi, Guy!” We had assumed he would be embarrassed. Wrong. He calmly shut the hot tub bubbles off and we had to beg him to throw our suits back to us. What is that expression about never assuming?

Friends with long memories can keep us humble. Plus they give great hugs.

Friday, March 13, 2015

One Fish, Two Fish, New Fish

In my haste to get my "spring" hairdo,
 I talked a friend into cutting my hair
with paper scissors in my kitchen!
Amy Smedley met me for lunch afterwards.
 She did not cut my hair!
When the clocks spring forward, the whining begins. For all of their grumbling about winter, my Facebook friends screamed even louder about the time change. For me springing forward an hour is a welcome sign that spring is mere days away and who doesn’t love spring?

Birds start singing, flowers are blooming and summer is right around the corner. Love is even in the air—there is a reason there are so many spring weddings and songs and poetry written about spring. Spring is full of promise, but spring also calls me to “spring” into action.  

The onset of spring pulls me to make a fresh start even more powerfully than the desire to make New Year’s resolutions. At the first hint of thawing snow, I am making my mental “to-do” list: pedicure (flip flop season), shorter hair (for the heat), more exercise (less clothing, and therefore less camouflage and—gasp—anticipating swimsuit season), clean house (sunlight shows dust), plant flowers, wash windows—you get the idea—all while taking time to enjoy the beautiful weather.

Maybe it’s the very definition of the word, “spring” that makes me take action. Spring’s synonyms, “vault, hop and leap” encourage action. The first birds chirping and even a hint of sunshine has me planning to reinvent myself—in addition to a new hair style and  weight loss, larger items, like a potential career change join the possibilities  this mild, hopeful season brings.

For me spring cleaning takes form in not only washing windows and vacuuming carpets, but in decluttering my life. This is a time of renewal and each year I get to decide what will make the cut. It’s time to look at habits, friends, family, hobbies, and time. More spring synonyms “originate, emanate, stem and evolve” call for me to dust myself off, shake off any cobwebs and evolve into a better me.

Spring is full of promise: flowers blooming, sunshine and breezes—an appetizer for summer. I feel full of promise too. I will take time to appreciate all that is beautiful around me and enjoy time with family, friends, and most importantly, my husband.  I will weed out the timewasters (cancelling cable is at the top of my to-do list!) and enjoy the fresh produce that will become even more plentiful in summer to nourish our bodies as we continue to nourish our souls.

Watching the snow melt & the cove thaw.
Another definition of spring is to “move rapidly or suddenly from a constrained position.”  A therapist could have a field day with that one, but for most of us it means taking our exercise and activities outdoors after a winter in hibernation.  Spring can also be defined as to pay for a treat for someone else (as in to “spring for”) —or my favorite, “to spring someone out of jail.” Hhhmmmm…

It’s no wonder that for me, spring means freedom, joy, fresh air, reinvention, renewal and hope.  When the clocks sprung forward last weekend, it was as if Nature listened—the snow began to melt, signaling the beginning of a myriad of promises I make to myself and a long list of to-dos.  On Monday I will join a group of folks promising to spend the next 21 Days getting into better physical shape. Our Challenge group is called “Hotter on the Boat.” Me?  Why not? Spring is after all, a hopeful season.

I want to take the time to enjoy all that the season promises of beauty and romance, which  sounds like a tall order for a season wedged between what was a cold, snowy winter and what will likely be a hot, humid summer, and yet, I feel hopeful. How could I not? The birds are singing.

 But wait, there’s more...

My partner in all things including fitness.
 Spring is also a special time of romance for me. Tony and I got married May 20—31 years ago. I still have to pinch myself that he is the guy I am spending my life with. We were so young and acted impulsively, and it has been the best, fast decision I ever made! Spring this year also signals our son’s graduation from West Point. He will be springing into his next chapter as an Army officer at Flight School. Where did the time go? Our daughter will finish her classroom graduate work this spring and head off for a Moroccan research adventure in the fall. Life is coming full circle. Just like the seasons.

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Remembering Ruthanne

I can see her bouncing into my office and telling me in great detail all about that terrible morning.  One of her cute knit caps would be tilted to one side, and in a “can you believe this happened to me” way, she would tell the story as only she could tell a story.

Only this did happen to her and she will never tell me or anyone else about the day she opened her front door and was gunned down.

Ruthanne Lodato died just more than a year ago. Sometimes it feels like a lifetime ago and sometimes it feels like yesterday—still raw and fresh.  I cannot always get my heart to accept what my brain knows.

Ruthanne was a bubbly, tiny woman who loved her knit hats and would fidget her small hands around while she told a story, almost as if she were acting it out. She was a loyal friend and devoted to her extended family, but especially to her daughters, her now 90-year-old mom and her beloved Normie.

Besides her family, music was her passion. She played in churches and taught piano for years, but she seemed to really light up when teaching the very youngest to love music too. Ruthanne brought music to Alexandria, VA’s youngest set nearly 20 years ago when she started a Music Together business in Del Ray United Methodist Church. Infants through 5-year olds would sway, clap, dance and sing with glee at the classes she taught three times a day, most days.

When I started working at Del Ray Church some seven years ago, I was lucky enough to meet the energetic music teacher. Always friendly to everyone, she would pop into my office to say hello before teaching each day. Soon we couldn’t get all our storytelling done in 15 minutes and started meeting for lunches and then spending her rare weekdays off going to movies or having adventures. 

Ruthanne  enjoying a boat ride on Lake Monticello.

One of our "play" dates.

Ruthanne loved to amuse her students on Halloween.
I loved the time we went to a Spanish movie with English subtitles only to have to watch over the sound of toddlers laughing and running around the theater—apparently the movie was a favorite for several nannies. Or when we were flea marketing our way home from Lake Monticello and found a whole set of furniture for Ruthanne’s oldest daughter’s porch.  We could hardly see, breathe or move after we crammed my 15-year-old minivan to the brim with the furniture and even had to return for more. Or just days before she died,  when Ruthanne took my dad to her favorite Italian Market only to find it closed on Mondays and she and my dad pressed their faces to the locked glass door and willed the place to open (it didn’t work).

At a memorial window dedication in Ruthanne’s honor last week, the assembled wee ones sang “How Can I keep From Singing” with their wonderful Music Together teachers who have continued Ruthanne’s great work.  It was a moving and fitting tribute to a woman, who even in death brings us together to laugh, dance and make music. She would have loved to tell that story.                                                           

 Music Together teachers dancing in celebration of Ruthanne.
Ruthanne's family rocking out.

Some of the wee musicians.
But Wait, There’s More….

Being at a loss for words is usually not a problem for me.  But this story is different. There is no happy ending or funny punchline.  But despite that, there are blessings even in the sadness. I am honored to have gotten to know Ruthanne’s amazing family and some of her many friends. Even in death, Ruthanne has brought light to my life. She has also reminded me that there are no promises of tomorrow and I need to live each day as the gift it is.  Miss you, sweet friend.

Saturday, February 14, 2015

30+ Years & Still Smiling

Me & my handsome Valentine.
My Valentine and I have been married more than 30 years now so I thought I would write something clever like, “Our Top 10 Tips for Staying Happily Married.”  It always seems that those list-type articles grab my attention in magazines…so why not, right?  Well, I asked my husband over a yummy Japanese lunch (hold the rice please and bring extra veggies!) to give me his top 5 reasons why our marriage works.  This was met with a blank stare that quickly turned to panic. “You are catching me unaware,” he complained.  Never mind that the same handsome guy with the panicked look just hours before gave me a beautiful Valentine’s Day card, in which he wrote at least 3 reasons why we work. Tony knows how to express himself well in greeting cards. His messages always make me cry because he writes what he would never say out loud. I treasure those cards.

”How about just your favorite reason we work as a couple,” I pressed on.  He said, “You cannot print it.”  OK then.

Our discussion quickly turned to some light jabbing that continued as we walked into Food Lion to buy dinner fixings—because eating lunch makes us anticipate our next meal and we decided years ago that we stink at Valentine’s Day so we stay home and mostly ignore it.  I offered that our marriage works because I tolerate his hats. My man loves his baseball caps, derby hats, Stetsons, beanies—you get the idea.  He countered with, “Our marriage works because I tolerate your rhythmic breathing when you sleep.”  Tony is nice enough to lie to me and claim that while I do NOT snore, I often breathe rhythmically and sometimes rhythmically, loudly. 

Goofing around at our lake house.
As I am typing this, I realize that the reasons we work are all right here.  We work as a couple because we enjoy each other. Tony is my best friend and favorite port in any storm. We laugh together—sometimes even at each other, but always at ourselves. We adapt well to situations. We eat Valentine’s dinner at home after many failed attempts at Valentine’s Day dinners out  (one ending at a fast food joint where we both snapped at each other because we failed to make reservations and every place we tried was booked and we had already burned through $50 in babysitter money before settling for grabbing a burger).  It works for us.  We have also learned some expectation management. Expectation management should be part of wedding vows.

My guy cracks me up.
We dream together. Over our Japanese lunch, we were busy making plans and dreaming out loud. I love that.  We also are getting healthy together (skip the fried rice, please) and sharing common goals makes us work as a couple.  Cheering for each other when our interests are different is how we roll too. Tony has run marathons and I have run along taking photos, ringing a cow bell and holding up a sign. I am proud of his accomplishments. He will be the first one to read this blog and encourage me to write more.

We do tolerate the things we don’t love about each other. I try to ignore those hats and I have even grown to love his beard. He puts up with my snoring (I mean, rhythmic breathing) and all the curbside treasures I drag almost weekly into our home.

And then there are the reasons that cannot be printed…Happy Valentine’s Day!
But Wait!! There's More... 

I want to thank my Valentine for braving the cold temperatures to go outside and get some much needed repairs done. Tony and John Stenz (our awesome neighbor and favorite party animal) fixed some erosion problems on the side of our house, which included digging a very long trench in our frozen yard.  That says "love" to me.  J

Sunday, February 8, 2015

A Mouse, a Cookie or a Foosball Table?

It all started with a Goodwill purchase.

After more than two full days of sweaty work and a broken fitness record, I realize I just lived through what I affectionately call a “Give a Mouse a Cookie” moment.

You know the children’s book by Laura Numeroff with the playful, circular pattern where a boy gives a cookie to a mouse. Then the mouse asks for a glass of milk and then a straw (to drink the milk), a mirror (to avoid a milk mustache), nail scissors (to trim his hair in the mirror), and a broom (to sweep up his hair trimmings).  Next he wants to take a nap, to have a story read to him, to draw a picture, and to hang the drawing on the refrigerator. Looking at the refrigerator makes him thirsty, so the mouse asks for a glass of milk and then—you guessed it —a cookie!

So back to Goodwill where I bought my “cookie” that started my sweaty couple days and broke a personal fitness record. I love to pop into Goodwill when I am at our lake house. I go to look for items I might repurpose for my antiques booth, but I often find treasures to keep. Two weeks ago, I found a full-sized foosball table. We have wanted one, but didn’t want to spend the $200+ for one. So a $34 foosball table was too hard to pass up. Problem was, the Goodwill folks loaded the foosball table into our 15-year-old minivan for me, but there was no way I could unload it myself at the house.  Also there was the issue of space—price wasn’t the only reason we hadn’t purchased a foosball table. We had absolutely nowhere to even temporarily store the table…unless…

And here comes the “glass of milk” part of my story. I hired a couple of nice local firemen to come move “a few things” and unload the foosball table for me. I recently acquired a free trundle daybed from a sweet cove neighbor, but it was clogging our garage. So I spent several hours—logging enough steps to break my Fitbit fitness record!—clearing our two downstairs basement guestrooms of more scrapbooks than anyone could possibly ever fill (even with the tremendous amount of photos I take!).  

So here goes my circular story…I bought a foosball table so I had to hire two guys to move our treadmill from my crowded “scrapbook” room to what was the guestroom downstairs (no small feat!). They then moved a full-sized bed to what was the scrapbook room. They also moved two pieces of furniture that stored scrapbook supplies to two hall storage closets (which necessitated me cleaning and clearing those two closets). Then they moved the daybed from the garage to the room with the treadmill.  That way we gained two fully operational basement guestrooms and more importantly (circle ends here!) a space in the garage for a $34 foosball table!  Crazy?  Absolutely, but in “Judy” logic it all made complete sense.

But wait, there’s more…

The bonus? I donated two vanloads of stuff to Goodwill, created more livable space, filled our trashcan and exercised like crazy. On Friday, I walked 28,988 steps, 60 floors (mostly lugging scrapbook supplies to different floors of the house!) and walked the equivalent of 13.22 miles in my house! On Thursday, I logged 16,969 steps, 35 floors and 7.74 miles and I didn’t get started until 8 PM.  I also only logged four hours of sleep between Thursday and Friday! Then Saturday I logged 18,797 steps, 37 floors and 8.57 miles putting things away!

So all in all, I would say that was a $34 well spent.

Now I need to clear a spot for the foosball table in the house…wish me luck!

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Merry Christmas?

Is February 3 too late to send Christmas cards?

'Tis the season...should I still mail them or recycle them? Yup, I still have most of our Christmas cards taunting me from my closet and my to-do list.  I am the queen of good intentions. I buy graduation cards for all my friends’ children, my nieces and nephews…and often don’t mail them. My nephew just received his graduation card from us with his birthday card and Christmas card—several months late. I really mean well. It’s my follow-through that stinks. As I rang in the New Year, I vowed to address this flaw of mine (along with my previously admitted to procrastination). But that pledge was for 2015 forward, what do I do about last year’s Christmas/ Hanukkah cards?
I should have learned my lesson years ago. After buying mother’s day cards for all the mamas in our family, I would have our kids sign the cards (not easy for toddlers) and then forget to mail them. How ridiculous is that?

When I would call my mom to wish her a Happy Mother’s Day, it seemed most years I was making excuses about her MIA card. I would even explain that we all had signed her card, which somehow was supposed to make it better. My mom would laugh and shrug it off like my other quirky traits, but I know it hurt her. I always thought I would mail a whole pile of the cards to her…someday.  As too often happens when I procrastinate, “someday” never comes.

So mom has been gone two years now and one might think the regret would make me change my ways. Yet, I stare at this stack of Christmas photo cards and the requisite Christmas letter that was supposed to accompany each photo and wonder what to do. We enjoyed the many Christmas messages and photos we received from friends and family.  When it quickly became apparent that I was in jeopardy of not sending out our Christmas cards, I switched my strategy to just answering cards this year. Problem is, I answered some of the cards when they first arrived and then got busy, fell behind and then the cards kept coming and the piles got mixed together and now I am unsure which cards I have already answered.

Which brings me to another question: is it worse to get a Christmas card in February, not get one at all or (gasp!) get two from the same deranged person—after all, who mails Christmas cards in February?

If you get one of my “Valentine’s,” please keep it our little secret. If you get a second card from us, just think of it as an extra dose of love (with just a cup of crazy added!).  Seasons Greetings!

But wait, there’s more…

When I started this blog last week, my goal was to write Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays.  This is Monday’s blog written on Tuesday evening.  Some habits do die hard. I am starting to think a better title would have been “Better Late than Never”—although that is up for debate too.

Friday, January 30, 2015

Mama Fish

Of the many names I have been called in my life (and there have been a few!), my favorites remain JuJu (my mom's nickname for me), mom, and Mama Fish

I loved being Mama Fish to my children's friends.  As much as I had to prepare myself for having an empty nest, I also had to steel myself for the day that I was no longer Mama Fish to Hayfield's Cross Country and Track Teams.  Tony and I attended nearly every running event and cheered for all the athletes. They became our children too.

 I loved photographing them so they could see themselves in all their athletic glory. My favorite dinners were when 40 or more of our "kids" showed up for Pasta Night before a home meet.  Their sweet faces filled the house with laughter. I loved those days.

 But life does go on and all those sweet faces are grown up now. Some have graduated college or grad school.  Others are in the military. Some are stumbling along, but I know they will find their way...we all need to make our paths. So when those "kids" remember to wish me a Happy Birthday or send me a message, it melts my heart. I am such a sap that even a comment on a photo or Facebook post from one of them makes my day.

It is especially nice to get to see these "children" of ours. I hope they all have fabulous, wonderfully successful lives and that they stop by to see us and to give Mama Fish a hug.

 But wait, there’s more…

Before Tony and I were married, he was stationed in Korea so our romance was confined to letters—good old fashioned letters (no email, SKYPE, OVOO, text messages or Facebook in 1983). In one of my many letters to Tony, I whined about not having a nickname.  His reply letter greeted me with, “Dear Flower,” … “Flower?” I thought.  Ok. Not exactly what I had in mind, but I can roll with that.  So I signed my next letter to him, “Love, Flower.”  The next week a letter from Tony arrived with, “Who the Hell is Flower?”  So much for a nickname!

I did have a nickname for a while that I did not like from my brother-in-law: “Jude the Prude.” Surely he was kidding….right? J


Wednesday, January 28, 2015


It's official. I had to hang up my fabulous plastic tiara with the big, bold "50" on it. To wear it now, would be false advertising.                 

Today I turned 51.

I thought I might be sad. I embraced 50 and shouted it to the world all year. Turning 51, I feared, might be a letdown or worse yet, just sound OLD. I know it sounds old to anyone under the age of 35, but I am still sharing it with the world. Maybe not so much in a "shout." I am after all an adult today and know to use my inside voice.

As an "old" (at least to the younger set) woman, I am often teased for being dramatic in my Facebook posts. My children (now adults themselves) tease me about what they deem my overuse of ellipses in my posts. A favorite activity is to do dramatic readings of my posts for family entertainment. "Kelsey is leaving for Morocco... (read dramatically as "dot, dot, dot") or Cory comes home in three days "dot (long, exaggerated pause), dot (long pause) dot!" You get the idea. As a more mature Facebook user I take some family ribbing. Hopefully, all in good fun.

I also earn the occasional eye roll or private message of "eeww" for what is considered an overshare on my part. No surprise. I am an open book in my life and to the horror of my family, some friends and probably former Facebook friends, an open book on social media too. I don't mean to shock. At least I don't think I do... (dot, dot, dot!).

But probably the biggest complaint from the Fish kids is my posting and tagging them in literally hundreds of photos. As their beaming mom, I think they are simply adorable all the time (no make-up, in PJs, bed hair, food on face or in teeth, no problem!) They disagree. I am proud of them for (so far) not unfriending or blocking me. I am really trying to practice some restraint.

As my birthday gift, I have asked Kelsey to help me set up a Twitter thingy (watch out prepared to say, "eeww.")  I also want to better understand my Instagram.  I have one. No clue how it works. And the whole hashtag thing, well #IamClueless. Did I do that right? No clue. I will learn Saturday and then #WatchOutWorld...

But wait, there's more...
One more thing about Facebook. I often hear folks grumble that social media makes us more distant from the people in our lives. I disagree.  While a physical meeting or phone call is preferable and every attempt should be made to connect that way with those we care about, I have found that I am much more connected to so many through Facebook.  The outpouring of birthday wishes today, literally made my day...week...maybe year! Thank you for all of you who sent love, best wishes and smiley faces. I love it all. #LifeIsSweet

                                                                                               Until next time...

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

At the 11th Hour

I got this lovely "Over The Hill" Tiara as a birthday gift,
but quickly swapped it for one boasting my age!
I don't like to admit this, but if procrastination were an art, I have made putting things off my masterpiece. I am not proud, just honest. This blog is proof. In less than four hours I am technically 51 years old. Some of my sweet friends crafted a list of 50 things I need to complete by the time I am 51. This blog (or writing something--anything!) is #20 on the list. As only a TRUE artist procrastinator can, I started thinking about the list in July and seriously working on it at Christmas. I will NOT complete it all (I am not making an impromptu music video at the mall. Sorry, Heather!), but #20 got to me.

I have talked about writing something for as long as I can remember.  I created a class newspaper in the fifth grade (Tooter Town News), wrote for my high school paper and later worked as a radio and newspaper reporter in California and Alabama. I love playing with words. I have talked about writing so much that my son sometimes taunts me on our Sunday calls with, "So mom, have you written anything?" He even says his goal is to write a book before me.  He just might. 

Writing a book is a daunting to me.  Fear is likely the reason I haven't plugged my nose and dove into the publishing waters.  If I don't write the book, it cannot fail or be rejected. I then cannot fail or be rejected.  This blog is my way to force myself to write, sticking my toe in the water. I hope it leads to me taking the plunge...soon (really!).

It's no surprise that this "50 Things" list is what finally got me off my duff. Turning 50 was a celebration to me. I have called it the "Year of Judy," which my husband fears will become the "Decade of Judy!" And while dancing around wearing my beloved plastic tiara with the BIG BOLD "50" on it in hot pink lettering has made me almost giddy at times, it has also made me reflective.

Some of my fab diva friends who helped me celebrate!
Before 50, I felt as though I could procrastinate on many areas of my life.  "I will do that someday..." "I just might learn to dance, sing (fill in the blank) later." My 50th Birthday made me realize that I better get hustling if I am going to tackle my personal to-dos. Time doesn't feel as limitless as when I was 20 years old and rationalized that I was too young to write (who could possibly want to read what I had to say?). The reality now is that even in the best circumstances, my life is surely half over. YIKES!

So as my 50th birthday loomed, I thought of all the things I have been afraid to do and realized that 50 gives me the freedom of NOT fearing failure (at least not as much!). I hula hooped for the first time.  I love it!  I started an exercise program and stuck to it all year and even more shockingly, I exercised beside my athletic husband! No small feat. I spoke my mind more freely (those who know me well are probably shocked that I have in fact held my tongue in the past).

So here goes...My only fear is that now that I have started "talking," I can't' shut up. 

But wait, there's more...tomorrow!