Stress-free Entertaining

Is there really such a thing as stress-free entertaining?

If you’re anything like me, it’s hard to conquer. When your days are filled with stuff…work stuff, kid stuff, family stuff, life stuff…it’s a challenge to host an event for the folks who bring good stuff to your life.

First, there’s the cleaning. And unless you live with Alice the maid or Geoffrey the Butler, there’s always cleaning to be done. And the degree of cleaning depends upon who’s coming to dinner. Overnight guests require cleaning for days because they might look in your drawers or sleep in your bed, and no room is off limits to them. Co-workers require a thorough cleaning because they’re likely to talk about your home at the office, and even close friends merit a tidy up.

Then there’s meal prep. You don’t want to underfeed folks who came hungry or overwhelm those who are trying to eat healthy. And then there are those with dietary restrictions like lactose intolerance, vegetarians and vegans. How do you cater to them all?

And what about entertainment? What if the conversation wanes?  What if they don’t like your kind of music?  What if the conversation turns political?

These are all thoughts that were pummeling my mind about a recent gathering, when a co-worker suggested some simple, obvious advice.   She said “Order a pizza and don’t worry about the cleaning you want to do that’s undone.  Your guests won’t know it’s undone.”

These few words were mini miracle workers. Regular pizza, vegetarian pizza, chicken wings and a salad covered everyone’s taste buds.  Line dance music and good old fashioned board games made fun for everyone. And what wasn’t covered with dust or encircled by flies didn’t get cleaned.  There was no need for cooking or cleaning for days or meeting expectations that were placed on me by me.

So, whenever you want to throw a shindig and ensure you’re not too tired to enjoy it, keep it simple! If it’s not a special occasion where you’re cooking Uncle Leroy’s favorites for his 70th birthday, clean a little, dance a lot and let ‘em eat pizza. He’ll never know you didn’t dust under the refrigerator.

Dedicated to my wise friend and co-worker, KP.

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Happy Wife, Happy Life

This one is especially for my male readers.

You’ve all heard the expression…Happy Wife, Happy Life.  Sounds expensive and elusive right? But what does it mean to a woman?

Does it mean that you have to agree with everything your lady says?  Does it mean that you can never win an argument?  Does it mean that you have to give up everything you enjoy to satisfy her wants and needs? Or perhaps it means that every cent you earn should be spent on her every desire.

Whatever it means, it sounds like it costs an arm and a leg. But it doesn’t have to. Here are some inexpensive ways to achieve Happy Wife, Happy Life.

  • Men don’t need to agree with everything a woman says…but they should listen. Offering an opinion on the subject lends evidence to active listening and makes a woman feel that what interests her, interests him.
  • There’s no need to give up everything you enjoy. Invite her along, if possible, and let her see if it’s something she might enjoy, too. Or, if it’s time with your buddies you require, be sure to encourage her to spend time with her friends doing something they enjoy. But, if your hobby is disrespectful to her, it’s a good idea to find another hobby.
  • Most women don’t expect you to spend all of your earnings on them. And if they do, they might not be the right woman for you, or for anyone.  What most women desire is for a man to be a provider, and providing can take many forms. Men who aren’t the financial provider of the household, but are in school, unexpectedly unemployed or tackling the role of Mr. Mom are still providers. And most women will tell you,  in households where one or both partners work, there’s nothing more attractive than a man that comes home and helps with the household chores.  Helping with chores is right up there with drying her tears and making her feel protected.  You can’t go wrong with these, guys.
  • Support her dreams.  Give her uninterrupted time to work on her business plan. Use your gifts to help her…paint a room for her office, taste the recipes for her cookbook, help her build her website or encourage her to take a class. There are tons of ways to support her in achieving her goals and you are just the man for the job!

All of these things can be done with a simple investment of your time, attention and affection, gentlemen. So what are you waiting for?  Why not help fold that laundry?







Bad customer service

Customer Service. It’s something we all deserve and respect. After all, we pay for it.

When we have a problem with our electric or gas, we call the utility provider, that we pay every month, and we expect them to fix it.

Cell phone problem? We call or visit Verizon, AT&T, Sprint or the Apple Store, because we pay them every month and expect them to fix it.  (And they always try to upsell you with a new phone, but that’s beside the point).

And when we eat out, we hope for a pleasant dining experience and expect courteous service because, on top of the food prices, we leave a good tip.

But what should we do when the customer service is bad, or there’s none at all?  What are our options?

We can ask to see a manager, of course, but sometimes the manager is not empathetic to our problem.  And sometimes the manager IS the problem.

We can speak directly to the person that is providing poor service and let them know that they are not providing the level of service that is expected or we can leave without tipping.

We can also write a letter to the establishment, or a review on their website, hoping that someone in charge will read it and counsel the employee on their behavior.

Or, we can just leave it alone.

This week I’ve encountered poor customer service at a party supply store, a restaurant and a bakery and, in an attempt to show compassion, did not complain to management or write a bad review.  I  decided to go with the belief that these folks may have had a bad day or a busy one.  Or perhaps they were going through a personal crisis that no one could know like a heartbreak or a bad medical diagnosis.

But I must admit, I’ve struggled with that decision because it may just be that they’re constantly rude and need correction. And how will they get it if no one complains about their service? How will they get better?

Then the other side of me says “But what if your complaint is their third strike and they’re fired?  You would be affecting their livelihood.  What if they have a family to support?”

So, the question of the day is…Do the individuals who provide bad customer service deserve a second chance as much as we deserve good customer service?

This week I’m going with “yes,” because we all deserve second chances and, unlike the cost we pay for good service, forgiveness is free.

That’s not to say I tolerate bad customer service. I really dislike it. In fact, outright rudeness and downright dirty conditions have prompted me to write some strong reviews and resulted in unsolicited free food, gift cards and hotel rooms from the companies that provided the bad service. But I’d like to know what you think readers…Forgive always and never complain, forgive based on the offense or complain always?

What do you do?

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Who said it’s too late?

I talk to people everyday…at work, home, church and social events and I always enjoy listening to people when they speak about what they’d always dreamed of being or doing. There’s an inexplicable joy in the face, voice and spirit of  a person who speaks about what they’ve longed for in life. A pure, unadulterated passion.

And though their dream may not be mine, through their excitement I can visualize them achieving their goal and smelling the sweet scent of dreams achieved.

But all too often, the look of joy fades, their happy voice wanes and you can almost see their heartbeat slow down, right through their shirt. And, as they nearly flat line, they say, “But it’s too late for that now.”

So, I ask these folks and I’m asking you now “Who told you it’s too late?”

Who says it’s too late to start a singing career?  You can still sing, can’t you?  Who says you can’t go back to school?  Colleges and GED programs have no age limit.  And who said you were too old to be a model? How old do you think the folks are in all of those pharmaceutical ads?  Can anyone say Cialis?

If your heart still jumps with desire at the thought of becoming something you’ve always wanted to be, then your passion is still alive and it’s your duty to pursue it.  Even if your aorta dances just a little bit, there’s still time to jump-start your life.

You were given gifts and talents for a reason.  Use them! Get up and get started right now. There’s no time like the present and, in fact, the present is all that we have.

So dust off your camera and re-start that photography career or take out your laptop and start writing that best seller you know is within you. I’m working on mine right now and I’ll race you to the end.

Are you with me?








Who needs a life coach?

So everyone thinks they’re a life coach these days.

Some folks think, because they did something right a few times or they did something really well, that they are entitled to teach other folks how to do what they did.  They’re now considered experts.  They’re the go-to guy for all things related to that particular thing.

So they confer upon themselves the title of coach and deem themselves worthy of teaching others how to better their lives, achieve their goals and reach their dreams. They go around giving advice and encouragement, helping with time management, diet and exercise plans, teaching organizational skills, money and stress management and guiding the lost to a new life of hope and inspiration.

They’re everywhere, spewing their words of wisdom. But what makes them more qualified than you are to go around teaching the things you’ve learned?

Nothing at all. In fact…they could be you!

Someone needs to know how to manage their time and money. If you’re good at that, why not show them?  Someone would like to lose weight but doesn’t know where to begin. Have you been there?  Why not tell them how? Your neighbors would give anything to have a garden like yours.  Why not share your knowledge? Everyone raves about your baking. Why do it just for your family? And the way you do hair…people would love to know your secrets!

If you have a skill, and we all do, why not teach it to someone?  There’s someone out there that is looking for exactly what you excel at. And, as an added bonus, might pay you to do it!

Don’t sell yourself short. Your gift is significant. Teach a workshop, start a group or open a business of your own. Buy yourself some new scissors and realize your dream as the owner of Brenda’s Bob and Weave!

Do your thing! Show your talent. You’ll be amazed at how many people have been waiting for a coach just like you.

Leave a comment on with the gift or knowledge you have to share. You might be the answer to another reader’s prayers. And quite possibly, mine!

Remember, your gift will make room for you! Prov. 18:16


Dedicated to the memory of Tony Boller of WDKX Radio, whose gift surely made room for him.

On growing older

If you’re anything like me, you spend quite a bit of time watching older folks and wondering if you’re going to be like them when you’re their age.

You look at their shape and wonder if you’ll be shaped like them. You gaze at their posture and wonder if you’ll be able to stand up straight.  You glance at their smile and wonder if you’ll have all of your teeth.  You watch their gait and wonder if you’ll amble along with a cane or a walker.  You wonder if you’ll be useful when you’re older and if you’ll still have your hair.

But mostly, you watch them struggle to remember things and think about how increasingly often you forget why you’ve walked into a room. Then you pray that your own memory holds out.

Does that sound at all like you?

Getting older is a blessing. Few people would argue that.  But, for some, the golden years can be anything but golden. For some, due to health issues, loss of loved ones, mobility and income, the golden years are a dark shade of blue.

No one knows what tomorrow will bring, or even if there will be a tomorrow. But there is something we can do to improve life for ourselves and others, at any age.

Though wrinkles may come, body parts may betray us and our metabolism and thought processes may slow to a crawl, the love in our hearts never fails.

Love is an ointment that soothes old wounds, heals broken hearts and breathes life into old and young alike. It’s the ultimate resuscitator. You can feel it, receive it, hold onto it and best of all, give it.  And no matter how old we get, it will always be useful. There is always someone who needs it.

So as each day passes and we’re blessed to grow old, let’s share with each other the gift that never expires. Love on somebody today.

Love never fails.

1 Corinthians 13:8




Spoiled rotten

A friend brought up a very good point to me today. I told her about a choice I gave to one of my children and how, when my child’s response was less than grateful, I told my child they couldn’t have either choice. I thought that was good parenting.

The problem my friend pointed out to me was not my child’s ungratefulness (after all, that was the thing I was upset about), but it was the fact that I had given my child two options, in the first place.  After all, the options had to do with something nice I wanted to do for my child.  Something they’d like, that was a gift, not a necessity.

The truth is that I should not have given my child an option. I should’ve just said “This is what we’re doing, and when,” not “I’d like to do this nice thing for you, when and where would you like me to do it?”  After all, it was going to cost me time and money and their only job was to sit back, smile and be grateful.

So I decided to write about this today, because I know I’m not the only one who has done this.  In fact, I’ll bet someone reading this has done it today. Parents have been engaging in this type of behavior for years and it has resulted in an entitled, spoiled and ungrateful generation.  We see it in other families and shake our heads, but wear blinders when it comes to our own.

We say to our kids “You’d better be glad my mama wasn’t your mama because you’d be getting off the floor right now,” or “My parents would’ve never spent that kind of money on a pair of sneakers.” Then we let their rudeness slide and dig deep into our wallets to make Michael Jordan richer.

And heaven help us if the kids are good students. We use this as an excuse to buy them whatever they want or take them wherever they want to go.  Or we let bad behavior slide because they’re getting A’s and B’s and are “a pleasure to have in class,” while forgetting that doing well in school is their job and they need to be a pleasure to have at home, too!

And how about those cell phones?  You know, the one thing we can take away that will really get their attention?  When we take it away for bad behavior, how long do we keep it before we give it back?

Oftentimes, it’s not for long because we’re still allowing them to hang out with their friends and we want them to have their phone so we can reach them in case of an emergency.  Isn’t that what we tell ourselves?

Let’s get real, folks.  They’re spoiled rotten. We’ve allowed it and, in fact, created it.  But we don’t have to continue it.   The world already has its fill of people who won’t get along if they don’t get their way. Let’s stop contributing to the problem.

Thanks to a friend today, I’m going to be mindful of these behaviors.  Won’t you join me?

My Lupus Monologue

I have a disease with a five-letter name.  It tries to annoy me and cause me pain.

It messes with my insides, my hair, and my feet and thinks it’s something that I can’t beat.

Many have died from its complications and I know it thinks that scares me. It makes me tired and weak sometimes, I must admit it wears me.

Some nights it’s hard getting up the stairs, with lupus and all of my other cares.

But guess what folks; I’m here to say that lupus can kiss my butt today.

I keep on running, when I feel beat and tell lupus to get under my feet.

I tuck my children in their beds and keep up on my lupus meds.

I praise the Lord as each day begins and with His help lupus never wins.

Most people do not know I have it, but it’s not that I’m ashamed.

I call it out as the punk it is and call it out by name.

I grab that lupus by the leg and make it get behind me.

It may be something that I have, but surely won’t define me.

So call out what you have today that may seem way too large.

Let it know that you’re the boss and that YOU are in charge.

Your ailment may not be physical; it might be in your head.

It may be keeping you up and night, although you’re safe in bed.

Let it know that you’re no joke and tell it in a hurry.

For life’s too short to fill your days with anxiety and worry.

(April drops the microphone and walks away. Lupus fades to black)

Listen up!

Communication.  We’re all about it. We write, we call, we text, we email, we post on social media.  We communicate.  Right?

We communicate to learn, we communicate to socialize, we communicate to express ourselves, but do we communicate to listen? When we ask questions, do we really listen to the answer? When we say “How are you,” do we hear the reply and do we really care how they are?

Communication is not a lost art form, but it can be a one-sided affair. It’s kind of like being in love with the Fonz from Happy Days or a conversation with the cheerleaders from The Middle or watching Nikki and the professor from The Parkers. One side is passionately tuned in while the other is disengaged and wondering if they should stop for ketchup on the way home.

The part of communication that’s sorely lacking today is listening.  Not the occasional “um hmm” listening, but active, attentive listening.  Listening that involves eye contact. Listening that involves putting down your cell phone, or looking away from your laptop. Listening that involves stopping what you’re doing when you’re in the middle of a thousand things. People want to be heard and acknowledged when they’re talking. They want to know that they’ve made a secure connection. They want to know you care.

So, if you’re like me, and guilty of all of the above, let’s work together to get better at listening. Everyone needs an ear sometime. We never know when someone is telling us something too precious to miss. So let’s look up and listen up.

Thanks for listening!






I’m proud of you

When is the last time someone told you they were proud of you?  If it was long ago, you might not remember how it made you feel. You may have forgotten the smile that crossed your face and the feeling of warmth in  your heart.

As we age, we find that we and many of our friends have lost a parent, or both parents. And all too quickly, we’re losing loved ones our own age.

And when our parents have passed, we feel a great void when we’ve done something great because they’re not there to tell us they’re proud of us, brag about our accomplishments, or beam with pride.

So I think it’s time we start a pride revolution. One where we let each other know that we’re proud of what we’ve done, proud of how far we’ve come, proud just to know one another.

Let’s tell our friends,relatives, co-workers, neighbors, pastors, and especially our children, how proud we are of them. It may have been ages since they’ve heard it or it may be the very first time.  No one is exempt. Even leaders need to know they’re doing a great job.

And for those with spouses, don’t leave them out. If you can’t find the words, hold their hand on date night. They’ll feel the pride, the warmth will seep through and they’ll get the picture.

Be proud of yourself! You got up today, you read this post and you’re about to go out and make someone’s day. I just know it and I’m so proud of you!