I just wanna fly

Author: natalie  //  Category: Baytown, Texas

It’s that time! The hummingbirds are here! I could sit and watch them all day.

Listening to them is pretty nice, too. They have a sweet chirp that never fails to put a smile on my face.

Those tiny creatures coupled with the time of year —Halloween in the air—make me feel a tad whimsical. And for a first-born stick in the mud, that’s a pretty big deal.

I feel a certain kinship with the hummingbirds as they dart to and fro. Most days I feel like that’s how I move—quickly and in too many different directions.

Folks observing would swear I was merely flitting about, but that’s not the case as I’ve lived long enough to learn it’s far easier to be hard at work than to give off only the appearance. That said: My physical movement is a slow-poke compared to what’s going on up in the old noggin.

 And the sounds I make, somehow I’m pretty certain a lot of my chirping (some close to me might call it carping) doesn’t induce smiles. I should work on that.

But what I’d really like to be able to do is fly like those little hummingbirds —as in actually sprout wings and soar through the clouds without being encapsulated in an airplane. If I could be shimmery and iridescent like a hummingbird, all the better.

Seems like life would be so much simpler if I could rise above the fray and make a beeline so fast all distractions besides the prized nectar became a blur.

I could probably use some lessons on how to get through prolonged life or death flight—like flying across the entire Gulf of Mexico without stopping—as well.  Or maybe I just need to learn to save the stamina for the things that are most important.

If only the tiny hummingbird could speak and tell me all its secrets. Who knows, maybe I could tell them a thing or two as well.

Not to mention I’d really like an answer straight from the birds’ mouths regarding those cute little feeders we put out: nectar dyed red or not? Silly details like that sometimes keep me awake.

But as much as I’d love to flutter some real wings, pretty sure I’ll have to settle for the seat of my britches variety of flying. Sadly, I’m not good at that…which causes the carping, which leads to me being called a flyer all right.

I won’t even need to hunt down a Halloween costume, but maybe I’ll get a new, iridescent and shimmering first-born broomstick in the mud!

We have bigger-sized problems

Author: natalie  //  Category: Issues, National

I don’t drink much soda pop, never have and I’m pretty certain I never will.

Most of it’s just too sweet for me, so when I do indulge it tends to be Diet 7-Up or Sprite Zero, but those supposedly have their perils, too.

But because New York’s Mayor Bloomberg banned “large” sodas—defined as featuring more than 16 ounces of the bubbly liquid—from restaurants, street cars and movie theaters, I want to walk the streets of New York sipping an entire jug of the most calorie-laden one I can find!

I get it. Obesity is a costly problem both economic and human. But research abounds that trying to rule and regulate such a thing is unlikely to have any substantive effect on public health or weight.

That aside, what’s more disturbing about the trend of Bloomberg, who has imposed other dietary regulations, is, well… I’ll let him tell it.

In speaking to the United Nations general assembly, he said that, “Governments at all levels must make healthy solutions the default social option.” Sigh.  He continued with, “That is ultimately government’s highest duty.” Really?

Again, I get it. Being too big for our collective britches is a big—pun intended—problem.  But this smacks —pun not intended—of government overreach. Allow me to Biggie-Size my sigh. SIGH.

Anyway, the more annoyed I got over the implications of sheeple accepting this drivel “for the public good”, I got to thinking: We have been hearing about our plus-sized, impending — and already here in many locales—epidemic for the better part of the last decade.

And while the problem started here, it’s no longer isolated to the United States. Worldwide waistlines are expanding. Scholarly folks who study such things are likening it to changes two centuries ago when Europeans shot up 30 centimeters or more in height.

Are we watching the human species go through an evolutionary change?

I’ll go off on a slight tangent and smooth some feathers: I’m not talking monkey-to-man evolution (although it could be well argued we’re devolving man-to-monkey, but they may insult primates . . . I can’t win) but rather changes in a species adapting to its environment.

And our environment is abundantly supplied with easily-accessible food . . . and couches to rest our tater-shaped selves on.  No one believes that’s going to be a positive for the human race.

Evolutionary changes are typically imperceptibly slow. But in modern fashion, it’s seemingly in fast forward. In a macabre way, it’s fascinating how in less than two generations we’re seeing changes that have previously taken hundreds or thousands of years.

Scientists say the increase in height 200 years ago stayed with us, and this expansion in girth will, too.  I suppose someone, somewhere has figured out how to keep supplying our seemingly insatiable appetites. I’m a little sad that I won’t live to see it all unfold.

Larger, hungrier minds will have to sort it all out. Because while I agonize over many Biggie-Sized problems, I’m quite happy to report that how much soda you drink never crosses my mind, nor should it.

© 2012 Natalie Whatley

I wanna think in the box

Author: natalie  //  Category: Baytown, Texas

As we near October, my inner child screams to come out and play. With last weekend’s cooler snap her demands were deafening. I did the only sensible thing: put sneakers on her feet and ran after her. She’d have driven me crazy otherwise.

We had a splendid time taking in the morning sights and sounds of such a beautiful day, but one snapshot in particular took the adult me way back.

Thinking “outside the box” has become modern-business cliché, and I’d wager most of us even find ourselves using such creative strategies to navigate even the most mundane details of our personal lives.

I don’t know about you, but I have to create sophisticated diversions to deal with distractions. How crazy is that?

Anyway, while sashaying through the neighborhood little Natalie—disguised in her grown-up body—came upon two little (4-5 years old) boys playing in/with an empty clothes-washing-machine box.  

Her attention was initially captured by a special belly-rolling laugh – the kind strictly produced by the tickling of somersaulting innards. What fun they were having.

With a man-I’d-sure-like-to-join-them gleam in her eyes, she watched as they took turns rolling each other over after carefully closing the box-flap lid and giggling out, “ready?”

Inevitably, the box contents would spill out in rather carefree but dramatic, wiggly, and comedic fashion.

A broad smile overtook my grown-up face just before little me forced an out-loud laugh. I was trying to remain unnoticed by the players, but that kind of laughter is contagious.

I was momentarily transported to a simpler time when a box was a fortress impenetrable by anything save for the desire to crawl out, travel for snacks and return with the magic markers that would bring some musings to life.

A rocket ship became a boat, which became a castle and then . . . the possibilities were endless, and so it seemed was time.

With a blank slate, yet closed in, novelty and utility came together in so many ways they couldn’t “outside the box”. And dare I say because I spent time inside I was more prepared for exploring the outside.

So many times simple, close, and right-in-front-our face trumps far-out and complicated.  Things are easier when you know a little versus knowing a lot. That whole paradox of choice –too many options leading to paralysis—comes into play. Not having much wiggle room is oddly liberating.

For all the time I now spend coming up with ways to navigate all that entails life, I’d like to spend some time thinking inside the box.

Please come and flip me over so that I may fall out all giggly with nary a care. Then you can climb in and I’ll return the favor. Ready?

2012 Natalie Whatley


It’s a beautiful thing

Author: natalie  //  Category: Life with children

Thank goodness school is back in session. And that ringing of the school bell and seeing all the kids head back conjures up all sorts of thoughts.

By summer’s end I crave a schedule and routine almost as bad as I’ll desire an unstructured life come May. That’s how my pendulum swings.

But as much as I like knowing what’s coming next, I’ll still be a copycat of the much younger set and take recess. I can run, skip and bounce my pigtails with any kind of shenanigans I see fit.

There’s a great poem about how we learn all we ever really need to know in kindergarten. If you’ve never read it, have a look, truer words have never been spoken. But in conjunction with that, we also learn a great deal on the playground . . . having recess.

In light of school testing that has become the end all, be all in modern education, sadly, recess has been disappearing from the lives of children. How counterproductive. I could go on a real rant about it, but that’s not really where I intended for this to go so I’ll refrain.

Much like beauty being in the eye of the beholder, sometimes having fun requires a shift in perspective, and learning there are cycles of work and play. Who among us doesn’t need to learn that some sustained attention will be rewarded with some letting off of steam? Or that work can be made fun by a shift in one’s attitude?

I’m quite proud to say I’m a master at making the mundane enjoyable. How else could I survive fifteen and a half years as a domestic engineer? And it’s a learned skill, I think.

I have all the playground equipment I’ll ever need installed in a nifty little spot between my ears. I can take recess whenever and however I want. All my best pals are there, too. Everyone gets along. Sunshine, butterflies and 72 degrees happily coexist. Or I can play alone.

And the real things taught me a thing or two as well.

Life see-saws back and forth…sometimes I’m up and sometimes I’m down, and that’s OK.

There are times I have to struggle to climb a tall ladder, only to feel the exhilaration of sliding down after all that hard work.

Then other times things swirl around in really fast merry-go-round circles, but I know it will eventually slow and even stop.

It all gave me a reference point. And even if I’m supposed to be doing something else nobody knows I’m recessing. I’ll come back when I’m good and ready. Shoot, I might even pick up my ball and go home!

I burn off all sorts of restless energy which allows me to settle in and do what needs doing.

We don’t have to miss recess and it doesn’t have to be all in our heads, either. We can decide to have fun and/or enjoy anything we want to. We can have a carefree mindset and frolic through just about anything.

Any one of us can take recess in our minds . . . any time we see fit. And thank goodness for now, no one can take it away. That’s a beautiful thing.

 © 2012 Natalie Whatley

Belaboring a point

Author: natalie  //  Category: Issues, National

In this 2012 election-year season all I can think about when the politicians get wound up is how ultimately it’s up to me . . . and you, too.

Of course I’m not talking about the major problems that plague our nation and even more broadly modern mankind, but rather our immediate day-in, day-out existence.

We have a lot of control and yet we’re all guilty at times of looking to others to improve our lot.

And as it turns out we all get this long end-of-summer weekend to celebrate and reflect on what it is that still keeps the majority of us in good standing with the universal law of hard work paying off.

Sophocles – one of the most influential ancient Greek writers who specialized in tragedy – got it right with a pretty basic comment: “Without labor nothing prospers.” Ain’t that the truth?

And I bet those of us gathered here are aware of how very tragic it is that some of our brethren don’t get it.

It’s a frustration that often makes smoke billow from my ears.

On the one hand I think too many have come to expect something for nothing, but if I scrape a little deeper it’s something even more sorrowful: Some folks have just plain never experienced the deep satisfaction that is independence and the ability to stand on one’s own two feet.

And I can’t imagine feeling that exhilaration not causing people to want another hit.

But anyway, tomorrow is a day set aside here in the good old U.S. of A to honor working people and celebrate the economic and social contributions as well as the achievements of American workers.

That American worker is seen the world over as a unique breed with polar opposites: We put in more work hours and spend less leisure time than our out-of-country counterparts, but yet I contend we also house some of the laziest on the planet.

Probably more of us fall in between than is realized.

And because I know so many of you reading are in the workforce (stay at home moms and caregivers count too!!) or have done your time and retired from it, I honor you today and celebrate your accomplishments and perseverance.

You are what makes the world go ‘round.

So, kick back tomorrow and do something relaxing.

Take a break from your job, whatever it may be and for heaven’s sake don’t listen to any political punditry about how you need to vote.

We all know it’s a bunch of hot air, anyway because as my daddy likes to tell me, “there’s no such thing as a free lunch.”

And I get suspicious of anyone who tries to convince me otherwise.

Hard work works out just fine every time it’s tried.

Happy Labor Day, everyone!

© 2012 Natalie Whatley