Monthly Archives: May 2016

Hold Your Thumbs

Our dad was a giant of a man, both in strength of character and body. Standing six feet tall he was strongly muscled with meaty, thick hands, a killer smile and a heart the size of a small nation. He could be fierce and ominous to an opposing lineman on a football field but to those who knew him, he was the safest place in the world. As a young man he worked in a meat packing plant.  He was often seen carrying a side of beef hoisted over a shoulder.

Tom Keating, long time reporter for the Indianapolis Star, recounted the time “Kuntzie” cancelled the moving company Keating scheduled for a family move. Instead, he showed up with a truck and two young sons and moved the household. He even carried out a refrigerator by himself sans dolly. Our dad was full of the possible.

He was a big kid at heart. He loved to laugh. He was playful and full of mischief. He was an athlete, coach, teacher and a leader.  He was great with kids fueled by their wide eyed wonder, curiosity and innocence. He was a gentle giant who loved to hold babies, play and work hard and teach.  A lesson he taught each one of use as small children was the practice of holding our thumbs.

In our family when we wished, hoped, wanted or intended a particular outcome – those times when a prayer or good luck was needed, we held our thumbs. As youngsters, we couldn’t quite master crossing our fingers. He would show us how.  Try it now. Fold your amazing apposable thumb into the palm of your hand and gently wrap the other four fingers around the thumb creating a barrel-shaped fist.  It’s almost like a maraca at the end of each arm. This can be a subtle act, a terrific way to get grounded in a moment, harness nervousness, and build interior strength.  There’s confidence, comfort and sense of solidarity this little ritual.

So if someone says, “I’m holding my thumbs for you”,  you are in good hands. It may not have the power of a novena, but it’s pretty darn close. You can be assured that a particular saint, our dad, Bill, Kuntzie, Smiley, Coach is whispering into God’s ear on your behalf.

Dang Spellcheck

“It was the best of times. It was the worst of times.” This describes my overwrought experience with Spellcheck.  Lord knows, I value help with my lousy keyboarding and phonetic insufficiencies.  Reciting the age old spelling rules, like i before e, are moderately helpful.  Spelling and grammar checks to the rescue with innocuous underlines always bid consideration. Thanks Spellcheck, for making me a better communicator.

Other times, Spellcheck is no better than a “mean girl” poised to humiliate, embarrass and undermine my success. Working for years in reproductive health makes me especially alert to use of the word public that I’ve seen correct on more than one occasion to pubic. Discussion of breast can morph into beast, or best of beastly becomes breasty which reminds me of a mean girl or two.  Spellcheck teams up as the evil witch-sister to my tyrannical inner critic. It’s a lot to overcome for a fledgling writer.

After toiling for some time producing a piece that I thought worthy of sharing, I methodically checked and corrected as I read. Proof reading a second time I invited Spellcheck as another set of eyes, I perused again, uploaded, reread, reviewed and scheduled Publish.  Push- Zoom- Done!  I felt self-satisfied, almost confident.

Late the next day, my husband complimented the post. This is not the norm. It felt pretty great. Then he kindly mentioned, “I  did noticed two, tiny typos.” Tyrant, inner critic cackled in the background.  ”Where?” I shriek. Oh, the indignity! Switching Or to of and of to on!  She changed a favorite line ‘party of one ‘ to a party on one.’  Frankly, I haven’t been on one for the last five years.

My pride cloud burst with the realization I had failed, again, to be thankful and without expectation for simply completing a story and enjoying the experience of doing so. It was another opportunity to accept feedback and practice appreciation and a chance to laugh at myself and my arrogance. It’s crazy for a two -letter preposition to take down a grown woman to her knees. Believe me, it’s easy to blame, find fault or wallow in fat-finger, shame and dwell in the inner critics Failure-corner.

Spellcheck, don’t you know I want to be funny, to make people laugh, with me- not AT me? Life is funny and worth sharing, so don’t be such a breast, I mean beast, Grammer Queen.  I hope my readers love me or are entertained, ever widening my pubic- that’s public, even if I write just to amuse myself.

Fess up. Tell me about your “spellcheck” challenges.