Straight talk about bad posture

Stand up. Stand up straight.

When was the last time you heard that? You were probably a kid.

Many of us don’t pay much attention to posture today.

I slump, you slump, we all slump.

As a nation, we have become a chiropractor’s dream.

We see somebody slouching and we don’t say, “Stand up straight,” we ask, “Who are you texting?”

The good news is that I now know where you can go to learn good posture. I was looking at photos of a recent wedding and one of the women commented on the bride’s  good posture. Another woman agreed and at the same time they both said, “Show choir!”

You may have thought high school show choir was where young people danced and sang and moved their arms in the same direction at the same time, but it is actually one of the last vestiges on earth where you can still learn good posture.

And you thought there wasn’t any good news in the world.

True, if you’re reading this, you’re probably too old for show choir, so maybe it’s not good news for you, but at least there’s hope for others.

And the ladies were right. The ladies are always right. The young woman’s posture was excellent. Her neck was extended, her shoulders were square and her back was straight. Her posture was so excellent that she towered two feet above everyone else in the photo. Not really. But good posture does give you additional height.

Good posture also helps combat chronic fatigue and neck and back pain, gives you a more powerful personal presentation, a better memory, a better mood and more testosterone. Oops. That was on a website about good posture for men.

A diagram for good posture for men and women who run says to keep your head up and your back straight, lean forward slightly, not raise your knees higher than your waist (as if), step from the middle of the front of your foot and, above all, do what comes naturally.

What comes naturally is walking. And slouching.

I’m one who needs to tune in to my posture more. And not just because I’m short. I wear heels to fix that.

I need to tune into my posture because I tend to slump in my computer chair. Ergonomic nothing. Sometimes I jump up to make sure I’m not prematurely aging and that my poor posture is from being at the computer too long.

How will any of us know if our backs are rounding or if we’ve simply spent too much of our lives hunched over mobile devices?

Personally, I pity those who have poor posture and slump due to sports —sprawling on the couch for days on end watching football, that is. Concussions aren’t the only risk that come with the game.

One last question: If I improve my posture, does that mean I stand corrected?

The husband just shouted, “Yes!”

Not known for quick goodbyes

The husband’s side of the family has never been known for quick goodbyes.

Whenever we were ready to leave my in-laws after a visit, phase one of our departure was to find my mother-in-law and father-in-law in the kitchen and tell them we were getting ready to go.

My mother-in-law would turn from the kitchen sink (she was always at the sink or the counter), my father-in-law would put down his newspaper, and they’d ask if we really had to leave.

We’d say yes and then we would all exchange hugs. They’d say what a good time they had and we’d say what a good time we had and then we’d promise to come back real soon.

Once we finally had our luggage in hand and the kids rounded up, there’d be another gathering at the door and everybody would hug once again. They’d say what a good time they had and we’d say what a good time we had and then all the kids would give hugs and kisses and we’d file out the door and they’d follow us.

Once we were actually standing by the car and the luggage was loaded, it was their custom to hug everybody once more and tell us what a good time they had. Naturally, we’d hug them once more and we’d tell them what a good time we had and the kids would all give another round of hugs and kisses because they knew that the third round of goodbyes was when Grandpa took dollar bills out of his wallet and began distributing them.

Once we were certifiably loaded in the car and instructed Grandma and Grandpa to please step back, they’d motion for us to roll down the windows. We’d roll the windows down and everybody would shout things like, “Drive safely!” “Goodbye,” “We love you!” “We love you, too!” “Call us when you get home.”

They’d stand there waving and we’d wave back and honk the horn as we rolled out of sight.

Once, it was so long between the time we first gathered in the kitchen to announce we were leaving and then gathered again at the car to say goodbye, that I ran back inside and made sandwiches for the kids because it was dinner time.

So what if we started to leave shortly after noon and didn’t pull out of the driveway until sunset?

Sometimes saying goodbye took an entire day of a two-day visit.

My in-laws were simply people who were never in a hurry and especially never in a hurry to say goodbye.

Today, when our son and his family announce they are leaving, our two sons-in-law start the stopwatches on their smart phones to time how long it takes them to get in the car.

Our son’s family once made it out of the house and into the car in under 50 minutes.

The sons-in-laws, both extremely efficient, shake their heads in disbelief.

“What you have witnessed are mere amateurs,” I tell the sons-in-law as we all stand outside once again waving goodbye. “They’ll never come close to our record.”

Super Woman to the stroller rescue!

Not to overstate things, but I’m pretty sure I was a hero last week.

There are some times when you just know you’re in the right place, at the right time, with the right skills, and you step up to the plate. It’s your moment to shine.

My moment to shine was in a mall parking lot. No, nothing was on fire, no one was choking, no one was in danger, but there were women on the verge of losing it.

I was backing out of my parking spot when I noticed two women of grandma-ish age behind a car with the trunk lid popped open. I continued backing out, took a second look and realized they were in trouble—big trouble. They were hovering over a collapsed double stroller on the ground and clearly neither of them had a clue how to open it.

I slammed on the brakes, threw the gearshift into park, jumped out and began yelling, “I’ve got this one, ladies! I’ve got it!”

Like riding a bike or driving a stick-shift, there are some things you never forget. Although, riding a bike and driving a stick-shift are a lot easier than opening a deluxe double stroller, which is more like wrestling an alligator.

Double strollers are the bad boys in the world of strollers. They are hulking SUVs rumbling at full throttle next to tiny quivering electric cars in need of a battery charge.

As I walked toward the women, I made eye contact and saw fear in their eyes. It wasn’t the stroller they were afraid of, it was me. They’d never seen a woman so crazy excited over a collapsed stroller.

Little did they know this very stroller model had humiliated me in four states. Finally, it all came to a head one cold, windy day in a small town in New Jersey. I’d been left in charge of twin grandbabies. Our mission? To get to the store four blocks away and bring something back for dinner. I was alone with that beast of a stroller. The babies were no help whatsoever. The doorman was dumbfounded. Several strong men tried to help, but walked away in defeat. I don’t remember how long I did battle. I do remember the babies were crying and I was perspiring, but I was determined the stroller would not prevail.

And then it happened – I discovered the secret—push, twist, jerk. You push the sliding bar all the way to the left, twist it all the way forward and then flick that 60-pound contraption with all your might. Sure, you’ll probably throw out your back, dislocate your shoulder and do permanent damage to your elbow, but this is family we’re talking about.

I did the push, twist, jerk move in the parking lot and opened the stroller for the ladies.

They were still offering me their profuse thanks as I flicked my superhero cape and soared away.

 

Here’s to you, Texas

We’re supposed to pretend we don’t notice skin color, but it’s been impossible not to notice in the pictures streaming out of the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey.

A black man trudges through floodwaters carrying a white child in each arm. He’s got this. More importantly, he’s got them.

Harris County, Texas Sheriff’s Deputy Rick Johnson was helping those in need of rescue from heavy flooding Sunday, Aug, 27, when a colleague snapped a photo of him carrying a small child in each of his arms.

A white man wearing a S.W.A.T. team hat carries a woman who appears to be of Asian descent with her infant curled and sleeping on her chest through floodwaters like it’s something he does every day. Nothin’ to see here, folks. Move along.

A reporter holds a microphone to a black man beside a boat and asks what he plans on doing. “Go try to save some lives,” he says, nonchalantly. No big deal. Just steppin’ up to the plate.

People rising to the challenge aren’t sorting those in need by their differences. They’re not sorting by color, ethnicity, gender, religious beliefs or political party.

Differences have been set aside. In the wake of unimaginable loss and tragedy, people have united and are coming to the aid of one another.

Days earlier, images streamed out of Berkeley showing a different side of us.

Antifa members were on the rampage. What protesters rallying with their heads and faces covered and are up to any good? The last big rallies where people hid their identities were conducted by the KKK. Antifa embodies the hatred and brutality of KKK, but with different wardrobe choices.

A video shows a mob chasing down a photographer, knocking him to the ground and savagely beating him. The mob just keeps kicking and slugging him over and over and over. It’s called windmilling. I didn’t know that. Did you?

A courageous woman in a red jacket tries to get between the man on the ground and the mob and the video ends. Did they beat her, too? Did they get her good?

I look at all these images and wonder how it feels.

How does it feel to hold a scared mother and her infant in your arms and rescue them? How does it feel to carry trembling children to higher ground?

How does it feel to beat the livin’ daylights out of a fellow citizen you may have stood beside in a Starbucks a few days ago?

Self-government, government of the people, by the people and for the people, is a high-risk proposition. It is so risky that few had tried it before our founding. Most nations were ruled by tribes, monarchs or the sword. Ours was to be a nation based on a shared belief in the crazy idea that all men were created equal—and given liberty and freedom would have opportunity to prosper and flourish.

True, liberty was not extended to all in the beginning, a blight forever on our history. It was an egregious wrong eventually righted in part by commitment to liberty.

So, is it working, this grand experiment in liberty? Does freedom bring out the best in us? It’s been questionable of late. But images from Texas would once again say the answer is yes.

The real question is, can we sustain the generosity, good will and character we muster in a crisis when we return to the day-to-day?

Here’s to you, Texas. Thanks for reminding us of the kind of Americans we need to be.