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College Recruitment Materials Review: Some More Winners

December 9, 2022

I know you all have just been chomping at the bit to read about some more of my favorite college recruitment marketing winners in more categories that I made up just for fun. Without further ado, here they are…

Winner: Best Use of College Mascot

Drexel University, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

I know absolutely nothing about this university, however the poster that they sent has a huge dragon on it, therefore it must be a cool place. I mean how many colleges have a dragon for their mascot? The Big One is definitely not moving to Pennsylvania, so I will never get to wear a dragon mom sweatshirt, but I do love their marketing poster!

Winner: Best Use of Personalization

Rochester Institute of Technology

We read this one because it has technology in the college name. Never heard of it, but the materials were top notch. The letter was a ½ sheet, short, succinct and to the point. I was interested and wanted to learn more about the school based on the writing. Then came the poster! Full color, glossy. The play on words, “Your future is unfolding…” as you open the piece to learn more was a nice touch. Big images. Big Font. It was not overwhelming and then the personalized poster once fully unfolded was a nice touch. We’ll never do anything with the poster, but it was a cool piece to receive.

Winner: Most Persistent/ Biggest Surprise

Taylor University, Upland, Indiana

This next one, is tough. Taylor University is sitting at two extremes. They sent six separate pieces over the last year. The four postcards are pretty standard and honestly kind of boring. They don’t say or show much. There was a standard letter that came.

But the final piece that they sent is the good one! I was definitely not expecting what happened at all when I opened the envelope. It was a bit weird as the folded piece is about half the size of the envelope. It felt awkward. I could feel the rigid piece inside the envelope, but with so much extra space I really thought it was kind of amateur. Like someone clearly didn’t know what they were doing and ordered the wrong size envelopes. I was being incredibly judgmental based on the previous piece and now this seemingly giant envelope. I opened the envelope and it appeared to be an oversized standard brochure. I though it was a bit odd that it appeared to have a random paper band around it. As I rather carelessly slipped the paper band off, the “brochure” suddenly popped up into a three-dimensional cube. It was very cool. The text of the piece is still not super exciting, but the surprise of the cube opening definitely earned Taylor University the biggest surprise we’ve received.

Winner: Biggest Budget

University of Chicago, Chicago, Illinois

This is another one that has me scratching my head as to why the University of Chicago would be so interested in my student. Their acceptance rate is 7%. The only engineering program they have is molecular engineering. Yet, they have also sent six separate marketing pieces over the last several months. We’ve received four postcards, pretty standard. Although the one that’s personalized is pretty cool and definitely was eye catching when it arrived. The other two pieces are rather unique. One is a booklet that is surprisingly large at 12” x 9”. Each page is heavy cardstock, matte finish full color. The large pictures and large font size make it very pleasing to flip through. The pages offer a variety of insightful information on the campus, community, student life and notable alumni.

The final piece is astonishingly large! When it arrived in a standard large format envelope, I thought it was just another folded brochure, but as I opened it, I was shocked that the folds just kept opening to reveal a giant poster depicting a beautiful picture of the campus and surrounding area. The poster is 34” x 22” just for reference. If you know anyone who loves Chicago, let us know, we’ll send you the poster!

Y’all this University of Chicago poster is HUGE!!! My poor dragon favorite is dwarfed by it.

Winner: Best Visuals
University of Alabama, Tuscaloosa, Alabama

I was surprised that the University of Alabama sent recruitment materials to the Big One. I always think of it as a highly desirable big school. Not sure what they want with my kid, other than the out-of-state tuition! They sent a full-color glossy folded piece with a perforated die cut pennant attached. It’s pretty high-tech for a marketing piece. The die cut add-on must be pretty pricey. Though the pennant caught my eye, it was the other graphics and images on the piece that I liked the most. The 10 iconic spots on campus illustrations are intriguing. I want to check out the “President’s Mansion,” who wouldn’t? The images used on the center spread are more than just diverse smiling faces. They show a wider range of activities than most brochures that simply show racially diverse groups of beautiful people wandering among trees. They include academic and social settings which seem to depict a broader range of campus life than the typical college brochure.

This one also includes a photo of a recruiter on the mailing. This was a nice touch to put a face to the name of the random person mailing stuff to my student. I was also intrigued that her phone number area code is our local area code here in San Diego. Not sure if she just recruits from our region or what the story is there, but it gave me pause when I saw the number.

Winner: Best Overall Campaign
Tulane University, New Orleans, Louisiana

I’ve, of course heard of Tulane University, but don’t know much about it really. They sent several pieces over the last few months. They were my overall favorite based on colors, content, creativity and general visual appeal. Each piece is fun, with colorful, bold fonts, quality prints (the glossy, sparkly ink is very cool!). Additionally, they are actually trying to appeal to students. One piece is shaped like a cell phone and has a text message on the cover. Another piece looks like an instamatic camera. The pieces are also personalized, another nice touch. The honesty in the messaging is also appreciated. One postcard says “Hot Jazz, Heated Debates, Humid Weather.” Truth in advertising is a good angle to take!

Alas, Tulane does not have a good engineering program, so the Big One is not interested in applying. Besides, with an 8.4% acceptance rate, I am surprised anyone applies! It’s clearly tough to get in.  If I were a college-age kid, I would want to apply just because of their snazzy marketing materials.

The Big One is still receiving materials from other schools, nothing to exciting or interesting. So far just more of the many, many standard letters and brochures that didn’t event deserve a mention because they did not stand out. If any of you are looking into a marketing career at the college-level, my advice think outside that standard postcard. It is boring and you’ve got an awful lot of super fun and creative competition out there!

College Admissions Recruitment Materials Review Some Winners

November 25, 2022

As promised, here are a few of my winners for various categories that I created just for fun…

College Admissions Recruitment Materials Review
Winner: Most On-Point to My Student’s Future Plans

The University of Dubuque  – Aviation Department, Dubuque, Iowa

This is one piece of mail that the Big One actually opened and read. It came directly from the Aviation Department and announced that on the envelope. It was not a generic mailing covering an entire university. This came from one specific department within the university. It’s a pretty standard piece, a general letter from the director, and a full color glossy brochure about the program. This one was a winner in my student’s eyes, even though she has no desire to go to Iowa.

College Admissions Recruitment Materials Review
Best use of College Branded Color and Variety of Materials

University of Tennessee Knoxville

The University of Tennessee, Knoxville sent several marketing pieces. Each one was distinctly different. A couple of them stood out mainly because of the color. Apparently, “Tennessee Orange” is a very specific hue of orange that must be adhered to. There is an entire branding guideline on their website which spells it all out. Check it out if you don’t believe me:

Aside from the colors, the Big One received a matte finish full color booklet guide to Scholarships and Financial Aid. Another mailing included a glossy full color booklet giving a general overview of the school, the local area, the history of the school and traditions. The final piece the Big One received was a folded piece that when opened included an illustration of the campus in sticker format which was of course created by a local artist and alumna of the school. It was a broad campaign that I was impressed with.

College Admissions Recruitment Materials Review
Winner: Most Creative Content

Macalester College (Saint Paul, Minnesota)

We’d never heard of this one, so we had to look it up. A private liberal arts college in Minnesota, Macalester College enrolls just over 2,000 students. That is smaller than the girls’ high school! The envelope has a larger than normal window that shows the beginning of the text. From the outside, you see the greeting of the letter which begins,
“Dear Allison,

Blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, Macalester College, blah…”

Not going to lie, it caught my eye. I opened the letter just to see what else it said. The letter goes on to say,  “I know these letters all read alike and I thought I’d save you the trouble of filtering out the less important stuff…”

Of course the remainder of the letter is pretty standard but the intro got my attention. When a second piece from Macalester arrived, I remembered the letter and was eager to open the folded brochure to see what they sent this time. I was not disappointed. It’s a poster-size infographic. A choose-your own adventure type flow chart highlighting some of the more unusual aspects of the college including free bagpipe lessons and a class about dinosaurs. A+ for creativity from me.

Stay tuned for my next post with even more of my amazing Marketing Awards! In the meantime, enjoy this little chuckle!

College Admissions Recruitment Materials Review, Part I

November 23, 2022

So, the Big One has officially hit submit on her college applications. This is a big decision. It’s one that she has thought long and hard about over the years. She researched her school choices, created rankings and lists and she finally hit that submit button for her top 6 choices.

PAUSE! Celebrate for just a moment!

For more than a year, the college recruitment materials have been arriving in our mailbox. Being 17 years-old she doesn’t have much use for postal mail. So, the various recruitment materials sit on the counter for a day or two and then I toss them into a bag that I’ve been collecting them in since the first one arrived. She knows where she wants to go to school, as such she has no real use for the recruitment materials. I, on the other hand, have enjoyed perusing each piece that arrives.

These things come in a variety of shapes and sizes. There are regular letter-size envelopes. There are postcards of all sizes and paper weights. There are folded brochures. There are booklets. There are magazines. There are posters. Some are glossy. Some are matte. Some are colored. Some are black and white. There are so very many ways that the colleges attempt to get my student’s attention.

After going through the entire bag of materials, I have some clear favorites and some that I think should really re-think their marketing strategies. I will share them over a few different entries.

Let’s begin with some general tips for college marketing professionals who are sending an exorbitant amount of postal mail to high school students:

My first tip… know your audience. I’d venture to guess that most students are like mine, they don’t care what the mail carrier delivers. They look at their phones not paper brochures and letters.

Second tip… know your audience. Did I already say that? The Big One wants to study aerospace engineering. Her College Board profile, most colleges get their list of names from College Board, stresses this. Check what the student has opted into in terms of emails and contact information. Look at what AP tests, etc. the student has taken. She is not interested in a traditional Liberal Arts college.

Third tip… know your audience. Wait, are you sensing a theme here?  All of the Big One’s top major choices are engineering. If your college does not have any engineering programs, do not waste your money on us.

Fourth tip… know your audience!  If you have sent more than three marketing pieces and she has not replied. She has not scanned her personalized QR code. Nor has she clicked on any of the emails you have concurrently sent her, you might want to consider taking her off your list. No need to continue sending info.

Fifth tip… Know your audience! A bit repetitive here, huh? Me, the Fix It Mommy, is the one looking at the recruiting materials. Cater your message to the parent(s).  They are probably much more influential in the student’s decision than any piece of paper, sticker, pennant, magnet or brochure that you might consider sending.

Next up, I will call out some specific big name and little name schools for specifics on what they have sent…. I know you are dying to hear more of my opinions! Stay tuned… 

Are We Failing Our Boys?  

May 26, 2022

This past weekend, the Little One attended a free two-day camp put on by the San Diego Fire Rescue Foundation. Throughout the two days, the 125 girls in attendance were guided, mentored, taught and befriended by more than 100 female firefighters and other female first responders.

According to their website the camp “introduces them (teens age 14-18) to the fire service and provides campers with a realistic, hands-on overview of firefighting and exposure to all aspects of public safety career opportunities in the fire service. Additionally, the program empowers campers with life skills and professional guidance that encourages them to pursue a career in public safety.”

Over the two days, the Little One participated in some intense physical activities, as well as some potentially once-in-a-lifetime activities. She climbed a ladder to the roof of a building. She entered a building through a second-floor window and then repelled out the window back to safety on the ground. She operated a chainsaw. She navigated an obstacle course blindfolded with a buddy. She dragged a “victim” out of a building. She took aim at a target with a fire hose to simulate putting out a fire. And she learned the basics of CPR and First Aid.

Throughout the weekend camp she was encouraged. She was empowered. She was pushed to try things she never thought she could (or wanted to do). The women leading the camp made it clear that their goals were to instill confidence in these young women and to remind them that they can be or do anything. It was a phenomenal weekend experience that we are so grateful for.

This Girls Empowerment Camp is not the first time my girls have been given the opportunity to shine. It seems we have a lot of foundations and organizations focusing on girls and pushing them to do or be anything. The STEM movement is heavily focused on girls. They are encouraged to take on traditional male-dominated roles and tasks. It’s a wonderful thing. I am grateful that my girls have been given these opportunities.

It does make me think, though, what are we doing to encourage and empower boys? There are plenty of boys who need encouraging. Where are the camps to encourage boys to be more compassionate? When do we encourage boys to be empathetic? Where is the camp teaching caregiving, art or acceptance?

We teach our boys to be strong, to be tough, to not show emotion. It’s much harder for boys to ask for help. We often turn our heads when boys fight or turn to violence to solve conflict. We expect it and say things like, “boys will be boys.” I am starting to think that all of this effort to empower and strengthen girls is sort of leaving boys behind. We need to find ways to empower, encourage and engage all of our kids to be confident. To be empathetic. To be tolerant. To be caring. To ask for help. To be kind.

The horrific tragedy in Uvalde has reignited the debates about guns, mental health and accessibility. It’s extremely difficult to pinpoint one thing that will solve this chronic problem in our country. I am not looking to start any debates. I am simply hoping that we can learn to be kind. In the overwhelming majority of the recent school shootings, bullying is one of the huge underlying symptoms. We need to teach our kids tolerance, respect and empathy. Different does not mean bad. We are all different. We need to celebrate being different and accept and embrace our differences.

Do the Right Thing!

February 11, 2022

As parents we all want our kids to be successful. We want them to be happy. We want them to thrive. We want them to change the world. We want them to be safe. We want to protect them from the bad stuff. Ultimately, we want them to be decent, productive human beings.

One of the biggest barriers to all that good stuff happening for our kids is often other people. Unfortunately, there are lots of people who are not decent human beings. Call it bad parenting, call it poor choices, call it whatever you want. Some people are just plain rotten.

The girls experienced this firsthand last night when they were the victims of a hit and run on the freeway. Some of you are thinking, “WAIT! What? The Big One and the Little One cannot be old enough to be in a car by themselves.” Trust me, I feel that deeply, especially this morning.

Yet, the reality is the Big One is 16 and has had her driver’s license for about 8 months. The girls went to small group at church last night. On their way home, another driver came over into their lane, side swiping the passenger side of the car. After the impact, the other driver knew they did something wrong and swerved over to the right lane and accelerated at a high rate of speed to escape the situation.

Thank God, the Husband is an incredible driving instructor and taught the Big One very well. She maintained composure during the incident. She maintained control of her car. She managed to avoid hitting the car that was directly next to her on the left. She allowed her car to take the impact, kept steady and straight in her lane as there was nowhere for her to go without hitting someone else. Of course, the Good Lord above was with them and kept them safe. He protected them and those around them.

When you consider they were traveling around 70 mph, the magnitude of what could have happened is beyond terrifying. When the Little One called me right after it happened. My heart dropped. It was one of the worst phone calls a parent can receive. Feeling utterly helpless as I listened to my two hysterical teenagers recalling what had just happened. Knowing that at that moment I could not fix anything. They needed to maneuver the next 15 minutes alone as the Husband and I drove to meet them.

We remained on the phone with the Little One as we drove to find them. The sheer terror in the Big One’s voice was gut wrenching. The Little One went back and forth from trying to direct the Husband and I to their location, while also reassuring the Big One that it was all somehow going to be okay. All the while she was trying to maintain her composure as she was smack in the middle of helping us and helping her sister.

We are eternally grateful for their safety. Physically they are okay. Emotionally and psychologically, this one will sting for a while. By the grace of the God, the Big One drove to school today. She faced a huge fear and conquered it with her sister by her side.

I am optimistic that we are doing our part to raise good human beings. So today, I will focus on letting the light of my girls’ shine. It’s a struggle because my mom-heart is so incredibly angry at the person who hit them and drove off. We’ve always taught the girls that we all screw up and we all make mistakes. The best way to move forward is to admit those mistakes and learn from them. I only wish the jerk who hit my girls had learned that same lesson.

It is often very difficult to do the right thing, however, that’s what makes us good people. Heaven knows we need more good people in the world. Whatever happens to you today, please do the right thing and be a good person.

If by some remote chance you were on the 8 East bound last night around 9:35 pm, between Hotel Circle and Mission Center Road and saw anything helpful, please reach out!

Adults Behaving Badly

September 20, 2021

So, I try really hard to not be too judgmental. Everyone is fighting different battles, living with different struggles and coping with different things. Here comes the but…

We went to the San Diego Symphony’s new outdoor venue, the Rady Shell at Jacobs Park. This is a gorgeous new outdoor concert venue at Embarcadero Park. It’s situated behind the Convention Center right on the water. There are stunning views of the Coronado Bridge and downtown San Diego.

The San Diego Symphony presented Star Wars, Return of the Jedi. The movie played on three large screens while the amazing symphony musicians played the musical score live. It was fantastic!  If you’ve never attended an event like this, you should. Live music just makes it so much more immersive.

While we thoroughly enjoyed the presentation, we did struggle a bit with the folks sitting in front of us. Remember it’s the San Diego Symphony. It’s not cheap. It was also Star Wars, a family-friendly movie. The audience was definitely multi-generational. We paid a decent amount for the tickets so when the couple in front us spent a good portion of the movie making out, it was not only distracting, but also very much inappropriate for the venue.

I am not a total prude. A quick kiss or peck on the cheek is totally fine. Showing affection is cool.  But as the evening wore on and more margaritas were consumed (yes, they sell alcohol in the venue) the female of the couple become more and more amorous. As she scooched closer and closer to her male companion, she was practically on his lap. The Little One and I alternated our positions in our seats in feeble attempts to see around this couple who were ever-morphing into one person right in front of our eyes. The female at one point was literally licking the man’s face, in the same way that a dog might attack a melting ice cream cone. It was not pretty. Trust me, nobody wanted to see that.

There were a few moments where she tore herself away from her companion. I wish that I could say she cooled her jets a little and behaved in a more appropriate manner. Unfortunately, that was not the case. Instead in those moments, she was recording the movie and symphony on her iPhone. I’m not talking a 10-15 second clip with her camera held discreetly in front of her. No, I am talking minutes recorded at a time with her camera held high above her head as she zoomed in and out adjusting the settings to get just the right lighting. At one point, she literally stood up as she recorded large chunks of the presentation.

Like I said, I really try not to judge too much, but please people if you are going to a family-friendly venue try to control yourself. Minimize the alcohol. Keep your tongue in your mouth. Put your phone down and enjoy the moment. It truly was a spectacular presentation.

Oh! And when you leave a venue, any venue, pick up your trash! We were shocked at the amount of cans, bottles, wrappers, snacks and other trash the people left behind on the ground at their seats. C’mon y’all it’s not that hard. We need to model the behavior we want from our kids. Be a positive example!

Synchro Lesson Learned from a Rookie Mom

July 11, 2021

The Little One has always marched to the beat of a different drum. Over the years, we tried several sports for a way to keep her active and moving. We tried, gymnastics, hip hop, swimming and water polo none of them quite captured her attention. Then we tried synchronized swimming (now officially called Artistic Swimming). This one stuck.

For those of you who think synchro is simply pointing your toes and flipping upside down, it really is so much more. The Team USA website describes it this way, “Artistic Swimming requires a unique combination of overall body strength and agility, grace and beauty, split-second timing, musical interpretation, stamina and dramatic flair.”

Bottom line, it’s a tough sport! But the Little One loves it.

As you can imagine, there are very few teams for this relatively obscure sport. Thankfully, there is one that practices about 20 minutes from home. We originally signed her up in summer of 2019. After about 6 weeks of learning and loving this new sport, she fell at school and broke her elbow, so her season was done.

Then Covid hit, so things were a bit whacky. Finally in July of 2020, the team got the go-ahead to resume practicing in the pool and we tried again. For the last 12 months, the Little One spends 9 hours a week at the pool and countless hours in the living room stretching and land drilling her routines. Last night the season wrapped up with their extravagant Water Show. It was great fun.

If you have a kiddo interested in synchro, here are a few lessons I’ve learned over the last 12 months:

Nose Clips –
Yes, this small little torture device is essential to synchronized swimming. Your swimmer will eventually get used to them. But be warned the first few weeks, their nose will be sore, and they will probably scratch themselves either with their fingernails or the metal of the nose clip itself drawing blood and leaving a lovely scratch right in the middle of their face. Imagine taking a paperclip and wearing it on your nose for hours at a time.  No thank you.

Swimsuits, Swim Caps, Nose Clips –
You shop and get all geared up, so you think. I am just telling you now. Go shop again. You will need more swimsuits. You will need more swim caps. And you will need more nose clips. They rip, tear and somehow find legs and walk away. Just buy more.

Your Wallet –
Just open it up and let the team take what they need. You will have monthly dues, of course. There will be fundraisers, of course. Then when a competition comes along you will have fancy swimsuits and caps. Much like dance, each routine has a different suit. We got “lucky” with Covid, we only had one competition this season. Granted it was a 5-hour drive and required two nights stay in a hotel. So yeah, just budget what you think it will cost and then double it. (To be fair, this is the same as just about any kids sport these days! This is NOT specific to synchro. It is expensive for kids to participate in just about anything!)

The Make-Up
Anyone who has seen a synchro competition knows that the girls look impeccable. Their makeup defies all sensibilities. It stays perfectly intact in the water. No smudges. No smears. No running mascara. We are still learning this one and trying to find the right lipstick that stays in place. {Ignore the exhausted, “I am too tired to really smile” expression. Almost fours hours later, after four routines in the water, notice the lipstick and eye shadow.}

The Hair –
This is the big one, the hair. It’s perfect. Not a single strand is out of place. The tightly wrapped buns become one with the athletes’ head. There is zero movement. How is this accomplished? Well, it all comes down to Knox. Yes, that non-descript orange box of unflavored gelatin found in the baking aisle at your grocery store. We “Knoxed” for the first-time last night. I wish that I could say I was a natural. But I am not. Imagine intentionally combing raunchy smelling, goopy boogers in your kid’s hair by choice. It is a gross process. It’s time consuming. It’s messy. And did I mention the smell? I know we all have probably eaten something with Knox in it and it has tasted delicious. But man, oh man, on its own, that stuff stinks! As the evening wore on, the Little One would randomly exclaim, “UGH! I just got a whiff of myself!”

I could do a whole blog about the hair, but I will not right now. I need to do it a few more times before I even attempt to teach someone else how to do it. I will tell you this, there are several YouTube how-to videos available. I am quite sure that I watched them all. One thing I will tell you is in the videos at the end of the process many of them tell you that they put the Knox on the bun itself. DO NOT DO THIS! It will become a huge gloopy mess. It is impossible to make it smooth. You will be on the verge of tears and suffer from mom-guilt for screwing up the whole process.

Now that we’ve completed a year, we won’t be rookies next time. Let’s hope the Knox and I have a better second date than our first one was.


Slow Down

December 6, 2020

When I go to the commissary for groceries, I am very methodical. I go down each and every aisle. Yes, I have a list, but often as I walk down an aisle, I remember something that didn’t make the list. Due to the Corona Virus, the commissary still has directional arrows on each aisle in an attempt minimize cross traffic and unnecessary interaction. I love the arrows!

For the most part people at the commissary comply with the arrows. What this also means though is that one can get sort of “stuck” with the same crowd as you traverse the store. Going to the commissary in the morning, mid-week I know that the store will be primarily retirees. I don’t mind that at all. I can meander the aisles with the best of them, usually. Last week presented a tricky situation.

The crowd I was stuck with was a tough crowd. When I first entered the store, the couple in front of me was bickering from the get go. First, he picked the “wrong” cart so she was annoyed with him. Then he went toward the queue area that has been established since the pandemic began. She clearly wanted to go straight in the front door. He told her she had to get in line. She got annoyed with him. I just lagged back and let them work it out before we all got into the queue.

I didn’t need too much in the produce section, so thankfully I escaped their chaos as they, I imagine, continued bickering over which tomato was just right. I was now in the main aisles of the store. First couple in my crowd was a wife using a mobility scooter and her husband pushing the cart behind her.

Now I don’t know these people from Adam, but I made a few assumptions. The mobility scooter seemed to be a new adjustment. She was very frustrated with the cart and her body it seemed. He was trying to be supportive but everything he did made her more frustrated. She was desperately trying to maintain her independence by getting items from the shelf and placing them in the cart’s small basket. As she reached for a higher item, her arm bumped several boxed items on lower shelves that came tumbling to the ground. He sighed, she tensed up and then attempted to back up the mobility cart to clean up her mess. Only her husband was too close with the shopping cart so she crashed into him. This made them both angry. He kept saying, “I’ll get it. Don’t worry about it. I’ve got it.” And she kept attempting to clean up the items. Finally, defeated she left the items on the floor, but then decided to stand up to reach what she was originally trying to get. This made him snap at her, “SIT DOWN! Let me help you!” To which she glared at him before finally relenting and sitting back down with a sigh. It made me sad. So many different emotions. I totally understood her frustration and his.

Before you go thinking I was awkwardly staring at their exchange, I was sort of stuck. There was another woman in our crowd who kept stopping in the exact middle of the aisle and then wandering off to find a necessary item. There was no getting around her, so I was just looking at random items on the shelf waiting for a moment to pass them both.  Finally, middle of the aisle lady returned and moved to the side so I got around everyone.

Just as I began freely moving, I was foiled by a younger woman who was barreling down the aisle the wrong way. She was coming straight for me, no slowing down in sight. There are BIG RED arrows on the ground showing the proper traffic flow and this woman had no regard for it. Startled by her brazen speed, I squished over to the side of the aisle so she could press on. I was worried about the others in my crowd but wrong-way driver was pretty agile and made it around them all. And then before I knew what was happening, mobility scooter and her husband breezed past me. Bummer! I was now behind them again.

We turned to the next aisle, they stopped again right after rounding the corner. I didn’t need anything at this end of the aisle, so I made my move around them. Free at last. Ahhhhh it was glorious for about three seconds.

WAIT! WHAT? Wrong was driver was coming at me again. What the heck lady! If you are going down every aisle, have a little courtesy and follow the darn arrows.

I moved again to the side to let her pass. As I did, middle of the aisle lady blew past me again. Why is this happening to me???  I cannot escape my crowd today. This cat and mouse game continued for three more aisles. I admit I kept trying to get ahead of them, only to somehow be overtaken again and again.  

At this point I realized I had forgotten something several aisles back. Normally I wait until the end of the aisles to go back and retrieve the forgotten items. This day, I knew what I needed to do. I made it to the end of the aisle and retreated back to the very beginning of the store. Truth be told, the item I needed was on aisle #2, but I was at the wrong end to go down aisle #2 so I went to aisle #1 to assure that I was following the arrows. (YES! I have issues!)

As I turned down the aisle, I realized I was alone. There was nobody in the aisle. No scooters, no middle of the roaders, no wrong way drivers. Just me and all the glory that comes with a completely empty commissary aisle. After locating the forgotten item, I could have skipped ahead back to where I was but honestly, I was enjoying the emptiness. So, I actually walked every single aisle again to avoid the chaos. It was wonderful.

Often when we are surrounded by chaos our instinct is to speed up. We try to jump ahead. If we can just go a little bit faster we can get out of the chaos. Often though all that does is cause more chaos.

I am encouraging you today, to slow down. Let that chaos get in front of you. Backtrack and start again if you need to.  Yes, you may end up a few minutes behind everyone else. I probably added about 10 minutes to my shopping trip, but the peace that I experienced being away from the chaos was time well spent.

Look for the Good

June 15, 2020

Whew! Y’all the last couple of months have been tough. There is a lot of bad stuff everywhere we look.  Death, destruction and mayhem fill our news feeds. I have a hard time catching my breath at some moments because it feels like the bad is coming at me from every angle. There is no escape.

So, today the Little One and I went to the post office to mail a package. Our post office has a two-tier parking lot. It’s always crowded, so I always park in the lower lot, typically right next to the three stairs that lead to the upper lot and building. As I approached the bottom step, I looked up at the moment an older woman who was parked in one of the handicapped spots, lost her footing. I watched in horrifying slow motion as she tumbled backwards to the ground. The Little One and I raced up the stairs as the woman bounced backwards on the asphalt. Her butt hit, then her elbow, as her cane, keys and wallet flew out of her hands. Another woman was right next to her when she went down. She immediately crouched down to assess the woman’s injuries. I bent down as well, when I noticed that we were all three on the ground behind the car parked next to the injured woman’s car. A car that was not only running, but also in reverse.

Now, I am not a good person in times of peril. I am not the one you want next to you in a burning building. I tend to freeze and then cry. I am a big old baby who panics immediately. By the grace of God, I did not panic today or cry! Instead, I jumped up and ran to the driver side of the running vehicle and knocked on the window.

I understand that someone knocking on your car window can be startling. But the response I got was way beyond startled. The woman in the running car that was in reverse, with two women on the ground immediately behind it screamed, “WHHHAAAAATTTTT!!!” in the nastiest, meanest voice I have ever heard.

In addition to being a panicker, I am also not a confrontational person, but the again good Lord was with me today.

In my sternest, loudest, strongest voice I stated, “A WOMAN HAS FALLEN ON THE GROUND BEHIND YOUR CAR. DO NOT MOVE THIS VEHICLE!!” And with that, the mean woman, let out an exasperated groan and threw her car in park.

Satisfied that the imminent danger was over, I went back to assist the woman on the ground. We had gathered her belongings and she was ready to stand up. The original woman who assisted grabbed one arm, as I reached for the other, the mean woman got there first and man-handled this poor woman like I’ve never seen anyone man-handle an old woman before. There was zero compassion. There was zero consideration that the woman could have broken an arm, or collar bone or anything else. All that mattered was the mean woman apparently needed us all to stop inconveniencing her.

I was horrified as the mean woman yanked at the injured woman who was trying desperately to get her knee to bend and her leg to get under her as she tried to stand up. Her sandal had also come off, so she was also trying to get it right, while the mean woman scolded her, telling her she didn’t need to put her shoes on, “just get up.”

It was awful. Once on her feet, the Little One helped straighten the sandal strap and guided the woman over to her car. She just wanted to lean on the car for a moment as she collected herself and caught her breath. The Little One, two other helpers and I stood around her to make sure she was okay. Meanwhile, the mean woman was back in her car, engine running, back in reverse and she ceremoniously put the top down on her convertible. She had zero compassion. Zero empathy. Zero concern for this poor woman who had fallen.

The woman who fell was clearly embarrassed by the fall. She was embarrassed by the fuss. She just wanted to get to her PO box and be on her way. She seemed to be moving everything okay, so we let her go about her business. She thanked us all several times as we dispersed. Me the Little One and the other helpers continued to head inside post office.  We all kept one eye on the injured woman to make sure she stayed on her feet.

Little One and I bought our postage and headed back to the MomMobile 2.0. We waited and watched to make sure the injured woman made it safely back to her car.

Now, I don’t know what the mean woman was going through. She may have some really crappy stuff going on. Or she could just be really miserable person. It doesn’t matter too much though. My goal is to try to remember the helpers today. To block the bad stuff. Honestly when I think about what happened, my heart begins to race again and I get mad at the mean woman. I don’t want that to happen. I am doing my best to remember the way the other two ladies came together with the Little One and I to help the injured woman.

I think it’s like this for the world we are living in. The media, our social media, even the radio announcers tend to focus on the bad stuff. We hear the terrible stories. We see images of death. We see a lot of anger and frustration. I refuse to believe that evil has overcome good. I am confident that for every bad thing we are being inundated with, several good things have happened as well. But much like my own brain today, we all have to search for them. It’s not always easy to find, but it’s there. Please make a commitment with me to look for the good. It is out there.

A Bird’s Sacrifice

May 13, 2020

So, the other day as I took the inside recycling out to the big recycling bin in the backyard I heard this awful noise. It was a thud, followed by scratching metal. I looked up just in time to see copious amounts of feathers flying out of our whirlybird exhaust fan on the garage. Immediately I felt sick. A poor bird had just flown into the fast spinning metal blades. I was sure it was dead.

I did not handle this well. I hollered for the Husband to come outside to help me find the carcass that I was certain was in the garage somewhere. Of course, the Little One heard my cries for help and she came first. I told her what happened. But now I am the mom and she is the kid, so I had to be brave. I entered the garage to begin my search. Well, I’ll be damned if that dang bird didn’t startle as soon as I entered the garage. It started flapping wildly, I totally freaked out. I screamed and ran into the house. Yes, I breezed past the Little One and closed the back door leaving her outside exposed to the wild bird. Honestly, I thought it was dead. Now that it was flapping about, I was certain it was a zombie or at the very least bloody and half dead. You know how in cartoons you see a chicken with its head cut off but the body is still dancing around? That is what I was certain was happening.

By now the Husband finally appeared wondering what in the heck was going on. The Little One was laughing hysterically at me. I was on the verge of tears because live birds freak me out, imagine a half dead bird. UGH!

As I ran for my life, the Little One watched as the stupid bird, that I was certain was coming for me, had actually flown back up into the whirlybird but from the inside this time. Again, feathers were flying everywhere. Now the thing had to be dead.

So, the Husband and the Little One entered the garage to again look for a carcass. Now our garage is a disaster zone. There are paths on either side to get in, but that’s about it. As they were searching, our collection of bicycles needed to be moved out of the way. The Husband told the Little One to put a free sign on her old bicycle and put it out front on the curb. It’s too small for her, so it was just cluttering up the garage. As she did that, he continued the bird recovery mission. He couldn’t find any parts or pieces. The thing seemingly disappeared. Feeling it was safe, I emerged from the house to assist. You all know that the mom is the only one who can ever find anything so now it was up to me.  UHG! My stomach was churning. I was not looking forward to finding the body.

We searched and searched. No evidence of death anywhere. The Husband was staring up at the fast-spinning whirlybird and says, “Ummmmm come look at this.” As we watched the whirlybird spinning at breakneck speed, there was a dark spot on it. It flashed by with each rotation. The bird was not dead on the garage floor, instead it had gotten lodged in the whirlybird.

Again, I was out. I could not handle this. How in the heck were we going to retrieve the carcass? Someone was going to have to go on the roof of the garage and it sure as heck wasn’t going to be me. The Husband had a work call, so the retrieval was going to have to wait. Gross. I was picturing bird guts everywhere and imagining what it was going to smell like. The nausea was rising. I kept myself busy on the computer inside while he did his call. After about 20 minutes or so he was done so he went out to devise a recovery plan. I pretended to be really busy so I didn’t have to be part of it.

Thankfully, the wind had died down just as he went outside, he noticed that the whirlybird stopped spinning. So, he went back in the garage and looked up. The dang bird was gone. Nothing lodged in the blades. This was the weirdest thing ever. So, he began yet another recovery mission. As he moved towards the ground space directly under the whirlybird. He hoped it had fallen straight down. Remember the thing had been spinning for at least 20 minutes. The damn bird was resurrected yet again and came flapping up and out directly towards him. Now he is much calmer than I in situations like this. He watched in awe as the very dizzy bird gained height while exiting the garage and flew straight up and over the fence and beyond our house to a safe place (I hope!).

Later that afternoon, an older gentleman and little girl were riding bikes. He stopped and approached the front door and asked if he could take the bike. Yes, of course, I said. Since they were riding bikes, he asked if he could move it up into the driveway so that nobody took it while he rode home and returned with his truck. I would guess that this was maybe a foster parent or adoption situation as the gentleman appeared old enough to be her grandfather. He made a comment about “learning again how fast time goes by” when I told him my kiddos had outgrown the bike.  As he moved the bike up to the driveway, I made small talk with the little girl who explained to me that her sister also liked to ride bikes, but they only had one bike so they had to take turns.  The gentleman heard our conversation and added the next day was the sister’s birthday so the bike was going to be a fantastic surprise birthday gift!

Now as I fought back tears, I suddenly became very grateful for the zombie bird who would not die. Yes, it freaked me out. Yes, it caused me an hour or so of nausea and disgust. But if none of that had happened, the bike would not have been moved. It would not have been put outside with a free sign. And the gentleman and little girl would have never found it. I am grateful for that zombie bird and its dizzying sacrifice.  Sometimes, it’s really hard to understand why things are happening around us. And other times, we get a very clear picture of the why. God is good! All the time!