March 20, 2022


Even Windchimes Have Off Days

If you’re feeling kind of “off” and not your usual melodic or chipper self, take a look inside for stuff that needs to be cleared out. Even windchimes have visitors like dirt dobbers and spiders that leave gunk behind, clogging up lightness and tinkles. Don’t keep that mess inside clogging up life. Talk to someone about the junk that’s blocking your lightness. Clear the path so you can see light at the other end and make life a lovely sound.

Get a friend to help you get rid of your junk and clogs
Lightness and beautiful sounds once the junk is removed.

March 11, 2022


Tweezers and Flashlights

By Lisa Batten Kunkleman

I really should keep tweezers in my car, along with other preparedness items like jumper cables and a flashlight. I’ve had several appointments lately where a medical professional needed to mess around my neck—and thanks to my new menopausal hair that grows in all the wrong places, my biggest concern was not some dreaded disease but that several whiskers had sprouted up overnight.


It bugged me so much, I brought it up with a nurse. When she asked how I was doing, I said, “I’d be a lot better if I had a pair of tweezers. All the way here I was feeling this little pokey hair under my chin but I can’t pull it out with my fingernails. When the doctor is supposed to be feeling my formerly hairless lymph glands, he’s gonna get pricked.”


The nurse said, “ I know girl. Right? Those little stinkers can pop up overnight. You can have a whole forest under there and never even know it until somebody shorter than you is looking up under your chin and rudely points it out.”


A week or so later, dang if it didn’t happen again. I was sitting in the dentist’s chair waiting for whatever fun Hygienist Jenny had planned, when I remembered a hair on my chin that mocked me in the rear-view mirror while I sat at a stoplight. Let me tell you, that’s the best place to pull out the tweezers and work on wayward growth. The daylight in a vehicle is amazing. I have got to get a pair to leave in the car.


Jenny was busily excavating and probing my teeth, (did you ever notice they use the names of cars for dental instruments), when I asked her, “Any chance you have a pair of tweezers so you can yank that obnoxious beard hair out? I’m sure you can see it with your spectacular goggles.”

Jenny laughed out loud. “Nope, I don’t have tweezers and I also can’t give Botox. I wish we could provide some fun services since our patients are already reclined like they’re relaxed and ready to stay put.”


“Oh Jenny. You may think I’m asleep in this chair while you’re picking and flossing, but actually I’m pondering. I’m imagining how haircuts, head massages, and mani-pedis would go over well, and even better, some moustache waxing. The possibilities are endless.”


Jenny laughed again and said, “By the way, my peripheral vision is so bad with these magnified glasses on, all I can see is tiny teeth that are made bigger, so don’t worry about me seeing a stray hair.”


  • Back at home, perturbed with the bad light in my bathroom, I aimed a mini flashlight up into my neck shade. Wowza! What a difference light makes. I saw the beginnings of a new grassland. Maybe a savannah. The flashlight is the bomdiggity. Heck, I’ll stock up on tweezers and little flashlights and leave them all over the house like people do with reading glasses. Maybe tweezers and mini flashlights should be sold as a set. I may never be bearded again. Oh my. What am I thinking. Forget the flashlight. There’s already one in everybody’s phone. I can design a tweezer pouch to attach to the phone case. QVC TV shopping, look out.



Give Me Paper and a File Cabinet by Lisa Batten Kunkleman

I’m trying to understand this trust in technology embraced the world over. As I type, my curser is doing a weird flicker and the beachball of death pops up to taunt me every once in a while. Even with all the apocalyptic movies out there providing ample warning that our power grid could disappear the moment the first aliens arrive, I know plenty of highly intelligent people who have all their documents, photos, emails, videos, and work on The Cloud. Really? Why?

I don’t even trust that electricity will always be there when I need to charge my phone or the internet will work at my house, for crying out loud. Our home internet has given me plenty of reasons to be skeptical. Have you ever experienced a flood or hurricane, or a big ice storm when the power goes out leaving stores unable to function without their high-tech cash registers? Banks that can’t operate without their computers? Street lights out, disabling drivers? Even a fallen tree branch on a power line can send whole neighborhoods into a helpless frenzy. Especially during quarantine when so many kids must do online school and those fortunate to have a work-from-home job are left to find wi-fi out in the scary, germy world.

So, have you given any thought to your medical records? The information we don’t think about until we need the backstory of a condition when it rears its symptoms again? I love trees as much as anyone, maybe even more than many but I do not scrimp when it comes to paper copies to refer to when the storms of life interfere with the world wide web. I learned too late of medical records that were purged after sitting around dormant for years. I may never know the details of my urology visits in years of yore if I were not such a journal keeper. It might take a little searching but I’m pretty sure I can find that information should another urologist need the origin of issues in that area.

I’ve learned to be wary of my on-line medical records as I’ve found far too many errors keyed in accidentally, perhaps by a typist squinting at a doctor’s abstract scribble or words of dictation that make absolutely no sense. I’m giving data input people a little slack even though I’ve been labeled with high blood pressure when it’s actually low, and with a terminal cancer nobody has ever heard of. Not even my doctor. That one could explain some insurance approval issues a while back. I don’t suppose the rumor of my demise on my son’s medical record helped with that either. Yep. Sam’s record said I was deceased. On my cardiac record, I discovered that I’m not sexually active. Who decides that? Is there a cut off due to age, or record of menopause, or perhaps it’s a visual decision of a patient based on graying hair or spare tire? I’m a little offended.

Thanks to incorrect records, computer crashes too many times, and living through a few natural disasters, I’m a backer-upper in the extreme. I share photos and old letters with people who might care, and store duplicates of important papers in separate locations, just in case. Because you never know. Don’t you love those cliches? Well, they’re pretty accurate. I don’t want to ever say, we lost all our photos or irreplaceable things. And so, I let my slight OCD tendencies guide my preservation instinct.

Often, I think I’m the only paranoid person who backs up life on flash drives, external hard drives, and on paper. I know that storage space is valuable both in a computer and physically in a home or office. I realize with our big old rambling farmhouse that my husband grew up in, I am beyond fortunate to have an office lined with file cabinets. Family history, medical records, normal people records, and my writings are filed with precision as paper backups of our entire lives.

When my husband and I leave this earth, our kids will be so grateful. And their medical records? I’ve made four giant notebooks of the highlights of their health journey so they can take it to appointments should the need ever arise to know what happened before they were old enough to remember or care. I can just see it now. They’ll say a prayer of thanksgiving for my being so thoughtful.

Ha ha. Just kidding. I know they’ll look for all the life insurance and bank records and probably recycle the rest so they can sell the file cabinets but I’ll be in heaven so what will I care? Won’t they have fun reading my journals to find out which of the four kids was my favorite? Maybe I’ll start a rumor saying they’d better look closely at each journal and document as there might be clues to a treasure hunt. If they fail to read carefully, they’ll never find where we hid the real treasure. Sweet. I’m going to get right on that since we never know what life holds. I only know that my life holds lots and lots of paper.

April 28, 2021


A Message From a Friend From Heaven

By Lisa Batten Kunkleman

I was clearing out bookshelves a couple of days ago, March 26, 2021, when I’m pretty sure my friend poked me from her heavenly home. Purging away, I came upon a book with an e-mail tucked inside from my friend Pam Medlin. Unfortunately, Pam, a non-smoker, died far too soon from lung cancer on March 27, 2017. I was thrilled and surprised to see a little memory of her pop up out of nowhere. What timing! I put the paper on my desk to read the next day, on the fourth anniversary of her moving on to renewed health and happiness once again.


The email was titled, Four Boyfriends, author unknown, and sent to me on October 8, 2008. The ending has a surprise analogy twist. I love analogies. They give you something to think about. And the topic of death read on the anniversary of her death seems like a message from beyond. The condensed gist of the story is this:


A girl had four boyfriends. She loved them differently and treated them differently.


The fourth one she adored and treated him to riches and the finest of everything. She doted on him completely.

The third one she loved dearly and showed him off. However, she feared he would someday leave her for another.

The second one was kind and considerate and patient.  She loved him and considered him her confidant and helper through difficult times.

The first one was completely loyal. A partner who made great contributions for her life. Helping her maintain wealth and her kingdom. She paid him very little attention, hardly noticing him.


When she became gravely ill, she asked each boyfriend, “Will you follow me and keep me company?”


The fourth one said, “No way.” And walked off.

The third one said, “No. Life is too good. After you die, I will marry someone else.”

The second one said, “I’m sorry, I can’t help you out this time. I can only accompany you to your grave.”

The first one said, “I’ll go with you. I’ll follow you no matter where you go.” She was grieved that she had hardly noticed this one who was always with her. “I should have taken much better care of you when I had the chance.”


These four boyfriends can represent our lives.

The fourth one is your body. No matter how much time and effort you lavish in making it look good, it will leave you when you die.

The third is your possessions, status, and wealth. When you die, it will all go to others.

The second is your family and friends. No matter how much they have been there for you, the furthest they can stay by you is up to the grave.

The first is your spirit. Often neglected in pursuit of wealth, power, and pleasures of the world, your spirit is the only thing that will go with you when you die. Cultivate, strengthen and cherish it now since it will continue with you throughout Eternity.


Wisdom from an old friend. I hope it touches others as it did me.


April 14, 2021


We’re Stuck Like Goo

By Lisa Batten Kunkleman

Looking at the yellowed pages of our wedding album, I knew it had to go. The album, not the photos. Trying to slip the eight-by-ten photos from each sleeve didn’t work. In frustration, I tried separating the yellowed and crinkly plastic from the white edging and found that it was a gluey mess. Each picture that I removed was rimmed on one side by white goo.

Oh my gosh. What could I do to get that tacky mess off? Every photo I placed in a pile added more goo to the photo beneath. I discovered this too late. At least half the photos stuck together.


What do you do when desperate to find answers? I googled it, of course. “How do you get glue off photos?” Passing up ideas of scraping the glue off with fingernails or razorblades, I came upon a hot idea. All I needed was a hair dryer and some paper towels. A two-ingredient life hack. That’s my kind of trick.

I grabbed my dryer from the linen closet and went to work heating each gooey edge and pulling the sticky white stuff off with a paper towel. It may sound easy but it took forever. Before starting the ungluing process, I went online and ordered a new wedding album to slip the cleaned-up photos into. The old book was trash. Would you believe Amazon got the book to me before I was finished unsticking the pictures?  They sure did. 

While the photos were out, I labeled the backs with our names and the date and even the location of the wedding. Just in case people a hundred years from now should find the album, or the pictures, lying around willy-nilly in some box in an attic, might want to know the details.

I’ve wasted far too many hours of my life trying to identify people in photos left to us by our families. We even took our kids on a meet the relatives tour of the Midwest back in 2010. We travelled from town to town, hauling a suitcase filled with decorative, cardboard-framed sepia photos that we found in Dan’s parents’ house after they died. It seemed to me that such fabulous old pictures from the early to mid 1900’s deserved some recognition. 

What a treat it was to show the photos to a house full of relatives who gathered in Ohio or Indiana to meet us and have an octogenarian uncle say, “That handsome young man with a head full of hair is me.” Oh my goodness, that was so special. We had so many questions answered and stories shared on that trip. My grandmother might say, “I wouldn’t trade that for a pretty thing.” Some things are indeed priceless.

Our wedding pictures fall into the priceless category. We possess the originals and there were not many copies. I vowed to learn a thing or two about protecting old photos after this old album experience. First of all, I advise you to join me in removing photos from those old albums before the acid eats the pictures. And label the backs. Maybe some grandchild not even born yet will actually care about ancestry. Don’t shake your head. You never know. 

I am sure there are crunchy old envelopes filled with negatives of our old family photos tucked away somewhere but who has time to go through those, holding each one up to the light to see what’s what? I decided to scan the wedding pictures in to my computer before labeling and placing them in the new album. I’ll share the scanned photos with my children, maybe even in a Shutterfly book, so they won’t have to fight over the gorgeous refurbished album. Ha. I wish they would fight over all the historic items I’ve saved. It’s more likely they’ll draw straws to see who gets to dispose of it all. The work of all my years as the family historian may end up in shredded piles of compost or sold at a flea market for photo craft projects. Oh, my heart. 

I remember a time when I made two, three, four, or more copies of photos when our kids were little. The kids will never have to go through and divide them, I thought. They can each have their own sets of photos of their lives. Wasn’t I clever?

No. It just means I have multiples of everything organized and lovingly labeled in photo boxes and bins taking up my storage space until they come to their senses and want to house their own copies. All those ballgames, dance recitals, choral concerts, Halloweens, birthdays, Christmases. Mission trips to sad, rough, and foreign places. Vacations to the mountains and the beach. Oh, and even those dark dreary shots from Chuckie Cheese’s and skating rink parties. And the pets. So many pet photos. And now GRANDCHILDREN. I can’t bear the thought of not having baby books and boxes of mementos of those sweet babes so I’ll make books, print photos to label, and clear a corner somewhere to house those treasures as well. 

So much good stuff to go through. Memories to enjoy and chat about. That’s going to happen when I’m in my nineties. That’s how I want to spend my twilight years, when I enjoy sitting more than going. Reminiscing, reading old journals as if they are novels, laughing, and swapping stories. 

Don’t tell me that won’t happen. That’s my dying wish. Well, my closer-to-death-than-I-am-now wish. I’m currently going through such treasures with my mom who is nearly ninety-three. We laugh and sigh and expand on the stories behind photos. I’ve learned so much from this precious time I’m spending with her and wish I’d done so with others who have as mom says, “Gone on to glory”. 

For now, I’ll relish the fact that I saved this wedding album. Our pictures are no longer stuck like goo. It looks like our marriage is sticking pretty darn well. After all that was the original goal behind that wedding. Before I move on to tackle scanning in all the other old photos, maybe I’ll take a break and spend some time outside my office and the history collection. I’ll hang out with the people for whom I’m preserving all these tangible memories and do some living worth recording for history. 

March 3, 2021


What Makes You Smile?

In pondering the question of what makes me smile, I realize that I have no plans to get rid of any and everything in my life that doesn’t bring me joy. This ideology seems to be the deciding factor of the question “to keep or not to keep” these days. But I’m not buying it. If I did only keep joyful items, we would have very little furniture, flooring, or bathroom tile. Sometimes I make peace with things that I may not adore, accepting that they are functional even if they aren’t beautiful. I guess I’m from the “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” mindset like my Great Depression era parents. 

I have no need to fill landfills with my out-of-style possessions just to be fashionable. That money can be used in more meaningful and even charitable ways.  I can, however, make an effort to acknowledge what does bring real joy or at least a smile. Like an out of the blue flower arrangement and smiling balloon from my friend Marcie. That made me smile so big and made my day. Because I’m a real sentimental sort who loves the act of sharing and caring, anything that evokes warmth in my chest, and I don’t mean a hot flash, or evokes a memory worth revisiting gets a pass as a thing to keep.  

When I made the bed this morning, I smiled at my quilt. Do I have a patchwork fixation? No, but I thought instantly of the artist that put together my warm bedcover. My daughter Sarah dismantled well-worn tee shirts from places we’ve travelled and from activities she and her siblings have enjoyed, and then stitched those memory squares together to create a masterpiece. 

Looking at that quilt takes me back to mission trips in West Virginia, Georgia, South Carolina, and Pennsylvania, plus to all those ski trips with our church youth group. It reminds me of the kids’ school choirs, marching band, German Club, soccer and track teams. The time, talent, energy, and love it took to create such a historical and functional thing of beauty as a surprise for her parents is what makes me smile. 

Last week, another piece of artistic delight entered the house along with the bills and junk mail. What a surprise to see a handwritten address on a card-sized envelope. Inside I found a hand painted valentine card sporting a beautiful watercolor otter, created by my artist and writer friend Lisa Otter Rose. Each February she sends me a one of a kind, hand-decorated card filled with words of affirmation and friendship. That smiling otter propped up on the kitchen counter makes me smile back as I fix a sandwich and reflect on my friend’s thoughtfulness.

The new wall hanging my oldest daughter, Danielle, created for me definitely sparks joy. It’s made from a curved piece of driftwood found on our lake house waterfront, copper chain links that are works of art in themselves, and precious stones—each a different mineral and color. Danielle is a former jewelry designer. Once she turned mom and speech therapist, she packed up her jewelry-making supplies. The fact that she pulled them out again to make this for me speaks to the beautiful human being she is.  I can’t help but smile.

Just this very moment, I’m smiling from cheek to cheek at the peanut butter smoothie my nephew Michael just brought me that I’m sad to say is nearly gone. I see a major connection here between what brings joy and acts of love. Gifts of love and acts of caring make me smile. Instead of giving up what doesn’t bring me joy, I need to make more of an effort to share joy with others. Make something, take something, share something. That would make me smile.  


Restorative Yoga or an Organized Pantry for my Birthday?

By Lisa Batten Kunkleman

An organized pantry with fresh bread, Goldfish, and Oreos. Is that too much to ask of my family for my birthday? I even Ashared an over-the-top neat pantry I saw on Facebook so my peeps would know what I meant. No problem. I gave them four days notice.IMG_7490

As a back up plan, I asked my husband to take a restorative yoga class with me which would be taught by our daughter Sarah, the Yogi. That request was simpler, so I thought maybe the yoga wish would come true. For those who don’t know, restorative yoga is not as intense as other types of yoga. It’s more about stretchin’ and chillin’. At the end, it’s peaceful music and lying on a mat with pillows and a blankie. Good stuff. Check out the downward dog.18C1C4A3-4E58-464C-858A-84EB108886CB_1_105_c

I didn’t expect the organization wish to happen but lo and behold, my daughter and son-in-law came through with a box of organizers and glass canisters. As we sat around their firepit toasting birthday marshmallows, my mind was already at out house in the pantry, tossing and rearranging. I dove right into the project about ten pm when we got home. Woo Hoo. I filled recycling bins and the trashcan with expired foods and saw shelf space galore. Of course I feel guilty about all that waste… I feel guilty for potentially squishing toads if I walk through wet grass. Don’t judge me.


Remember the kids’ “Highlights Magazine” had a section where you were supposed to find the differences in two pictures or find the hidden objects? Well, here’s your chance to be older and wiser at this seek and find game. If you’re really bored, see how many foods got trashed, moved or organized. Good luck.  I shall not tell you how many changes there are. You’re adults now. You don’t need hints nor prizes, since there are none.


Now doesn’t that feel better? It does to me. Thanks for a great birthday. Now how about that yoga? I need some restoration.


Driven to Drink Coke and Peanuts: Senior Traffic Jam in Medical Building Stairwell

By Lisa Batten Kunkleman

I just finished drinking a little bottle of Coke with peanuts in it, and I am relaxed enough to tell the tale that drove me to it. I don’t drink soda. If Coke can clean a car battery, I feel funny putting it in my stomach, but today, I didn’t care. Here goes:


A doctor in scrubs and mask came to the reception desk where I was checking out of my cardiologist’s office. He said to the woman behind the glass doors, “The elevators aren’t working and there is a jam up of people on the third floor.”


The receptionist smiled and replied absently, “Okay,” as she gave me my next appointment reminder sheet.


I headed to the elevators thinking I’d see people waiting at the doors. Nope. Pushing the button did nothing. They were indeed not working, so I opened the door to the stairs. I could not believe the view on the landing below which would be between floor six, where I was, and floor five. One elderly man with long braids gasped out from behind his mask, “Hold the door.” I did.


Below him were several seventy and eighty-year olds sitting on the steps or propped against the rail trying to catch their breath. I was relieved to be going down, not up, as these people were attempting. What the heck is a cardiology doctor doing on the sixth floor? Seems like a bad idea. Especially when all of us patients and some caregivers are all masked up and expecting six feet distancing. Well, that couldn’t happen in a stairwell, let me tell you. I wove my way through and held my breath in my closest encounters and let it out saying, “Excuse me,” as I aimed my mask away from them.


When I got to open air in a hallway, I was so shaken up by all those poor people wedged on each floor landing trying to catch their breath, that I went right when I should have gone left. I ended up on the incorrect skybridge, crossing the street toward the hospital instead of the parking garage.  I requested guidance from two ladies sitting at the other side of the walkway.


One lady tried to help but bless her heart, she was swimming around in the Kool-Aid and didn’t know what flavor it was. She led me off in one direction only turning around when I told her I didn’t need to go to the hospital. We retraced our steps and travelled beyond our starting point. Once we crossed the correct skybridge, and spotted the “parking garage that way” sign, she said, “I’ve never been on this side before. I didn’t know this was here.”


Despite all of her kind efforts, she could use a little more training in giving directions. Maybe I taught her something that will help the next person.


In the parking garage, my car did not exist. I walked up and down every ramp and floor, searching the maze that is a modern garage. All those levels change as you walk, if you didn’t know. I knew I was on floor four but it moved around. I promise this is true. Try walking up and down those ramps sometimes. I got four thousand steps looking for my precious car. I was thinking of calling my husband to come pick me up and drive me around the garage to find that car that I knew was in there somewhere, but first in exasperation, I said aloud, “Dear Lord, help me find my car.”


Guess what? It was around the next turn. Voila. I was hot and tired but I was not stuck in a stairwell with dozens of masked elders. I hope someone came to their aid. I entreated several workers who radiated authority, to help those poor climbers of Stairwell Everest. That was before I got lost. Hopefully one of them knew what flavor their Kool-Aid was.


That’s how my day drove me to drink. That Coke and peanuts sure did the trick.


The peanuts are inside the Coke. I get a bite of nut with every swig. Yum.


Out With the New, In With the Old

By Lisa Batten Kunkleman


I’ve done it again. Waited so long to update the house that it’s now in style. It only took twenty or thirty years. That would be great if I wasn’t sick of looking at our green bedroom and beige and blue bathroom. Our house is filled with the ceramic tile that is the newest thing in-demand for 2020. That’s hard to believe.


Piles on the bed preparing for paint


Who knew that our blue tub, our green tub, and our purple tub would be so popular after fifty-two years of existence in our old farmhouse, my husband’s family home? I asked Siri if ceramic tile was really back in style and he, (my Siri is an Australian man’s voice), showed me samples of tiny tile squares like the formerly white ones on the floor in our blue bathroom. Oh my gosh. I should put out a warning that you cannot keep that grout clean, no matter what kind of sealants you put on it. DON’T DO IT!


I have no plans to remove the tubs although the matching toilets are all gone except our glorious blue one. I hear that people would pay big bucks for our non-water-saver powder blue potty. It flushes great. We still have the purple sink in our youngest daughter’s bathroom and the pair of green sinks in the bathroom between our sons’ rooms. The boys don’t realize how in-style they are.


For kicks and belly laughs years ago, the boys’ bathroom was painted orange above the green wall tile thanks to their older sister’s obsession with the color. It was her room at the time. Now I’m ready to say, “Out with the orange grove.” A blending light green paint will do. Like a peaceful meadow.


After: Peaceful Meadow since I can’t remember the real paint name

That funky green in our bedroom is back in style, and of course I want a pale barely-gray bedroom. I hear gray is on the way out—replaced by beige or greige as the with-it people call it. Oh my gosh. I’ve been there and done that whole earth tone beige, antique white, and tweedy looking fashion, complete with country curtains and wooden accessories. I refuse to go back there.


Really cool range but a fire hazard so it had to go. That was kinda sad. 

I had my fill of Harvest Gold, Avocado Green, and the Coppertone appliances from the sixties and seventies in our farm house. Around here, we don’t get rid of things until they are really, really dead. Or dangerous. We had not one but two brown stoves that canned decades of produce, but thanks to some remodeling four years ago, they were declared a fire hazard and had to go.



Note the cup on the stove and manuals lying around. And the white kitchen that was so in style two years ago. Not anymore. This is real life. Not a stage. 


Today, the painters are coming, and I lied when asked in a text, “Have you picked paint colors yet?” I replied, “Yes.” But from five am this morning until seven, I searched my phone in the darkness of my newly in-style green room that I used to love but now detest. I looked at paint colors galore with fabulous names. Potentially Purple would work in our purple bathroom if I didn’t abhor the color. It’s my husband’s favorite color so I won’t mention this name to him. Dragon’s Blood is the new orange which would go well with my sons’ affinity for fantasy novels with fiery creatures. Practical Beige would be ok if I had not disavowed beige tones.


That’s a textured rug on the floor. Not dirty tile. 


Our newly remodeled kitchen is painted in now out-of-style Agreeable Gray and Acceptable Gray with white trim. I hear white trim is now a no-no and darker trim and doors are in. Well, that figures. I just read that black kitchens are the newest rage. All the celebrities are getting them. Nope. Give me light.



I’m thinking of using a whiteish sky color called Sigh for our bathroom and Icicle for our bedroom. Maybe the chilly name will help cool off my hot flashes. The hall and foyer may be coated with Comet Dust, the paint color, not the actual thin film along the baseboards it will cover.


Icycle is so cool.


I’ve always been a step behind the latest “in” thing so why change now. I’m into doing life in my own way whether it’s hairstyle that’s long and shaggy because I don’t want to go to Great Clips during a pandemic, or paint that lightens my house. There’s enough gloomy darkness in the world now that I need to brighten the corner where we are. Dark may be the new bright but not here. Out with the new, in with the old, paint, that is.


July 16, 2020


Meditation or Irritation?

By Lisa Batten Kunkleman

Not that I understand how to meditate properly but I’m pretty sure I picked the worst possible guided meditation from an app I loaded on my phone. It was about “being here” and started with birds and water-sounds. The first part was delightful. Soothing. That’s what I’m talking about.


I was shocked from my bliss when out of nowhere a man’s voice began intruding on my relaxation every few seconds, telling me, “Bring your attention to this place which is already here. As you bring yourself only to the sense of presence, ignore the pecking of outside things.”

What outside things? His instructions were my only pecking outside things. He said, “Don’t worry about anything like phone calls, interfering thoughts, or images because you are like a screen and those things are only projections on you. Just as a screen with a fire image isn’t really on fire or a screen showing waterfalls isn’t really wet, all those extraneous things are simply projections. Not interrupting your meditation.”


Have mercy! He was my interruption. “Please hush up, Mister Disturbance Man.”

He finally stopped his chatter for a few minutes and I congratulated myself on how well I had prepared my meditation posture by relaxing on my leather sofa, feet propped on the coffee table. A lovely fire crackled on the opposite side of the table. I felt warm and restful. For a mere few moments.


That’s when my hot flash started. I sat with eyes shut trying to concentrate on not concentrating but all I felt was the roaring fire inside my reclined body, cooking away this time with real sound effects from the fireplace. On top of the flash, I heard the heat come on in the rest of the house. The last thing needed was more heat.


Trying to breathe steadily and focus on the irritating man who had started back talking was no help. My roasting insides, sweaty upper lip, and dampening hair on my neck took all my thoughts away from his words. Next, an itch on the side of my eye became as a gnat landing and taking off my cheek. Landing. Then off. Unable to stand it any longer, I reached up and tried to wipe away the intruding irritation.

Cooling down in three or four minutes, I focused on the tightness of my fuzzy slippers, like my feet must be swollen. My thoughts reeled around salt. The salt I kept adding to tonight’s bland noodle concoction I’d not enjoyed eating an hour before. My rings felt tight too. All I have to do is look at salt and I swell.

“You are here. Don’t think about what you need to accomplish later today. Don’t think of anything except being here. You can move around within your body and that’s okay,” the man’s voice brought me back to my task. This meditation effort truly was a task and I had at least ten more of the eighteen minutes to listen to a man talk about things I couldn’t comprehend. What the heck did he mean by moving around within your own body?

My whole body wanted to move. I had restless leg syndrome all over my body and I was itching to stop the agony and move. Peeking one eye at my phone where I loaded the meditation app, I saw the number 1:10. Oh Lord. Only a minute more. Oh Lord, a whole minute more. Could I make it? Surely I could. I was in labor for fourteen hours and pushed for two of those hours.

The man stopped his infernal chatter and I heard the blessed sounds of birds and water once again. Thank you mister for your silence. At last I can unwind from his anxious twitch-inducing verbal meditation experience. Aaah. Hopefully the water and birds would last a long while.


Nope. Wait. Where’d they go? Give me back my water and birds!

One quick glance at my phone and I saw that the next meditation which started automatically was “Heart Chakra Tibetan Singing Bowls.” Ooh do I hear water, crickets and singing bowls? That sounds like a winner. Better get my swollen feet up higher and close those eyes. Relaxation here I come.


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