It has been snowing for what seems like five hundred days in a row. I’m almost certain I am suffering from frost bite even though I haven’t left the house in a week. That’s a lie; I have shoveled snow. And shoveled snow, and shoveled snow, and shoveled snow. Because I am old and weak, I have to shovel snow each time an inch accumulates so I don’t snap my geriatric spine.

The sad thing is I don’t live in New England. So I just sound like a big whiney baby to the New Englanders. But they should be used to that whiney sound, what with having Tom Brady around for all those years. (Hmmm, now I’m wondering if all the NE snow is Jesus crying frozen tears because the Patriots won the Super Bowl.) At any rate, I do not claim to be suffering from the same snow buildup as the far north, just enough to make me miserable.

I don’t like to complain (who am I kidding; it’s my favorite thing to do), since the harsh winters are self-induced because we moved to WV by choice. When we were in DC, a light dusting would shut down the whole city. In WV if it snows AND ices AND has sub-arctic temps, the schools will close. Otherwise, life goes on as usual. There will be a noticeable decline in the amount of bread, milk, toilet paper at the Walmart just in case it turns into a NE-sized storm, but no noticeable decline in the number of people. Only difference is everyone wearing an extra layer of Carhartt.

Because I was so miserable last year, this year we scheduled a tropical vacation in the middle of January to get a break from the cold winter weather. Yeah, big mistake. Spending a week in weather so warm that I got a heat rash did not make it easier to get through the rest of winter once I returned home. Back in the mountains, instead of feeling refreshed and relaxed, every day I wake up anxiously wondering whether or not it will be a day in which I have more fingers on my hand than degrees on the thermometer.

To kill some time while I am housebound, I decided to watch Fargo to remind myself of what real winter weather is like. After fifteen minutes of snowy landscape scenes, I yelled “this is why someone ends up in a wood chipper” and turned it off. I also realized this is the reason The Shining is Steven King’s best work. Everyone relates to snow madness. Although I didn’t watch the movie; too scary.

Now I am spending my days looking at Caribbean real estate. Did you know you can buy a condo in St Croix for $70,000? Sure, the second bedroom is created by hanging a blue shower curtain across the middle of the room, but who cares? Lack of A/C guarantees I will be warm, and the 500-watt mobile work light being used as a bedside lamp will ensure I can clearly see the lizards as they sneak in through the rotted window screens.

I’m no right-wing conspiracy theorist, but I’m starting to think Al Gore made up global warming to keep us from buying land in the tropics so he could have it all for himself. Of course not everyone is into that sort of thing. (Some people actually like cold weather and snow; they are not to be trusted.) But from where I am sitting, Al Gore is looking a lot like the devil. Well except for the part where he invented the internet, which I’m using to look at real estate in the tropics while freezing my ass off in the frozen tundra, so maybe he’s not all bad…



I love to watch HHI because I enjoy seeing and learning about places I didn’t know existed that I need to visit. Thanks to the show, I pay much more attention to the Azores specials on Travelzoo; who doesn’t love a volcanic island?  St. Lucia, anyone?

The people on HHI, however, have got to go. Because if I hear the phrase ‘’push myself outside my comfort zone’’ one more time, I’m going to blow a gasket. Here’s a tip: pushing yourself outside your comfort zone should not be waved about like your new country’s flag. The reason for this is simple: people step outside of their comfort zone all day, every day. By definition (read: Wikipedia), while in the comfort zone a person feels at ease, in control, and has low anxiety. Which means that I am stepping outside my comfort zone every time I get off the sofa. What if there is no Diet Coke in the fridge when I get there? What if there is Diet Coke but it is warm and there is no ice? What if there are no potato chips to enjoy with the Diet Coke? Each of these thoughts produces separate, but no less terrifying, anxiety. But do I announce I’m pushing myself outside my comfort zone for all the world to hear? I do not.

Likewise, people on HHI claim to be ‘’citizens of the world.’’ Aren’t we all? Simply by default of living on earth? (Yeah yeah yeah I Wiki’d that one too, and I found Angelina Jolie has won a Citizen of the World award. So if it’s possible to NOT be one, please let me know so I can get away from that home-wrecking whore. ) The philosophy behind being a world citizen is that humankind is essentially one. No shit, Sherlock. Again, aren’t the facts that we are human and living in the world pretty self-apparent without its own philosophy? The true beauty of this ridiculous phrase is that you can actually get yourself a badge to wear and a real flag to wave to declare yourself properly. You know, so no one mistakes you for a citizen of Tatooine.

I will now perform a public service by providing some information about international living in general.

First, ‘’open plan,” “bathtub,” and “walk-in closet” are American in nature. So if you plan to move to Paris where the homes were built before people wore clothes, please do not be surprised when there are little or no closets.

Second, you cannot ‘’immerse yourself in the local culture’’ and live in an ‘’ex-pat community’’ simultaneously.

Third, people in different countries speak different languages. If you are not interested in learning the local language, please do not be surprised when you have difficulty adapting.

Finally, since my guess is that this missive is not going to change in the world of which I am a citizen, I will now introduce a word that hopefully will assist all the other world citizens out there as they continue to push themselves outside their comfort zones in their future international endeavors: self-importance.  Learn it, know it, and for the love of Pete stop living it. I thank you, and the rest of the citizens of the world thank you.


I am improving my life with fitness now that I have joined a gymnasium. At least that is what the brochure says. I don’t want to say the brochure lied because I know that exercise is good for me. So let’s just say there was some artistic license taken with that statement, since the experience that I have when I actually go to the gymnasium does not feel like an improvement to how my life feels before I pass through the door.

In a nutshell, I HATE to exercise. (Do I know when I use all caps that I am yelling? Yes, I do. I would also make the word be in a bold red font if I knew it wouldn’t take me two hours to figure out how to do that.)   I attribute my hatred of exercise to my adherence to the Zen life philosophy that exercise for exercise sake is dumb. I thought I learned this from The Tao of Pooh but I can’t find it in there when I flip through, so perhaps I’m paraphrasing. (Yes, I know Zen and Tao not the same; read the book.) Or maybe I just invented it all inside my head to suit my own needs. But I digress…

My exercise process is thus:

  1. I put on skin-tight, industrial-grade Under Armour. Two reasons: My fat rolls chafe and I sweat like a defensive lineman.
  2. I arrive at the gymnasium where I immediately go to my ‘’favorite’’ elliptical machine. It is my favorite because it says that I burn about twice as many calories as any other elliptical in the place. Do I know it is wrong? Yes. Do I care? Not at all. Equipment malfunction not my issue. I still get to believe I have burned 800 calories by using Level 1 for 15 minutes.
  3. Minutes 1-2: feeling good feeling strong; believing I really AM improving my life with fitness.
  4. Minutes 2-10: bored out of my potato-chip-lovin’ mind.
  5. Minutes 10-what feels like infinity: I want to kill someone. The talking heads on the silenced TVs on the walls, the woman talking on her cell phone while she uses the elliptical next to me (not making that up), my loving husband who came with me to the gymnasium so we could improve our lives with fitness together, the nice man who opened the door when I couldn’t get my security code to work, the idiot meatheads who keep dropping the weights, the people in the back room who are blasting rave music while they do stretches on giant blow-up balls, anyone and everyone needs to die. The only thing keeping me from killing someone is that I can no longer feel my legs or lift my arms.
  6. It ends. I stumble off the machine, confirm that I have indeed burned 40,000 calories in 45 minutes, squirt the sanitizer onto the machine and wipe off my three inches of sweat with the putrid, ebola-infested rag, and try to find my husband through the sweat pouring into my eyes.

Now that it is over, I am ready to celebrate my survival with some of those endorphins that all the health magazines tell me I will get from exercising.   Also known as the runner’s high, I have been anticipating this feeling since I started running back in July to get rid of the extra 30 pounds I packed on sitting in front of a computer for a living. Yeah, no endorphins; still angry and ready to kill someone.


After six months of waiting, I have become convinced that this whole endorphin thing is merely propaganda perpetuated by Nike to sell shoes. When I asked my friend Beth (who loves to exercise so I’m not sure why we are friends) about this, she advised that the reward comes when you reach the point that you have exercised so successfully for so long that when you do NOT exercise you don’t feel well. My question: how the hell is that a reward???

So after running, using the elliptical at the gymnasium once it got too cold for me to run outside, and going to Zumba (a story of its own), I am still waiting for me to actually feel the benefits of my life being improved with fitness. So far, I haven’t actually killed anyone and I can run four miles. And my husband has invented a new word, enRAGEins, to describe what happens to me when I exercise. So my vocabulary has improved, which pleases my mother. I guess that’s something…



In doing research for starting this blog (read: Google), I learned that the buzz around branding has not yet died. Having recently departed from a company with a globally recognizable brand that was so poorly run that management thought it was a good idea to get rid of me, I have decided to buck the trend. So yeah, I have no brand. I also have no mission statement and no business plan. I have no long-term vision (or virtually any vision at all now that I’m fifty), no marketing strategy, and no plan for how to grow the business.

What I do have is brutal honesty, a sense of humor, and some free time while I wait for the snow to melt in the woods. So if you are looking for a laugh, I’m your gal. Otherwise you should probably just move on to the next whatever it is that you do instead of working at work.

Now back to branding…

It appears the world is still under the belief system that one cannot be successful without a clear and specific brand. I’m obviously no brand expert, but I’m almost certain that this is untrue.  Isn’t that why we have the word off-brand? What about generic? Sadly, I am old enough to remember when the generic groceries were rolled out back in the 80s. (I’m sure I have just lost anyone under the age of 30 with that statement, but let’s face it, they weren’t going to be reading for long anyway.) Not gonna lie, generic potato chips were not my favorite. But they were cheaper than Lay’s, so I bought them.

Of course that was before the era of branding. Today when I go to the pharmacy and get my generic medication, then wander to the discount store for my off-brand, slightly-IR shirts and pants, are those businesses not successful because they have no brand? If so, please give me some of that unsuccess because they sure get a lot of my American branded monies.

So my plan is to forge ahead without a brand, or a plan, and see what happens. Wait a minute; did I just make a business plan? Someone stop me before I start yelling about doing a deep dive and working smarter not harder. Hope I don’t have to hire a Agent of Change for that…