Lessons from the Phone – Level 1

Here are some things I learned on my quest to get my mom a new phone for her stay in rehab:

1. There are “pre-paid” phones, but that’s not the same as “pay as you go” phones.  Pre-paid includes two different schemes: you pay a flat fee every month, just not with a contract, OR you pay only for what you use (pay as you go.)  Then within pay as you go, there are plans in which you pay a high amount, like 25 cents, per minute, and others in which you pay about two dollars for any day you use the phone, no matter how much, and nothing on the days you don’t.  And those minutes expire – you can have them longer if you pay more up front, but then you have more to use up.

2. There are fancy-schmancy phones for seniors.  You pay much more to have simple operations and some bells and whistles that include medication alarms, a built in 911 that finds you via your cell signal and even, for a fee, access to nurses and doctors.  The most popular one is Jitterbug, which costs around $100 for the phone and then has monthly charges on top of that – similar to any other plan until you add the services.

3. Without Jitterbug, it’s easy to find a simple phone.  We all like to make fun of our friends with flip-phones (well not all of us, some of us are nicer than others) but the thing about a flip-phone is that you can set it to answer when you open it and hang up when you close it, and that’s an easy thing for someone not used to cell phones.  It’s working beautifully for my mom.

4. When you buy a new phone, test it before you leave the store.  Dial out from it and dial in to it!  The first phone I bought had a defective ringer – it didn’t ring.  I spent SO much time reading the manual and searching the web.  It became a thing with me – something I would figure out if it killed me.  But there was nothing to figure out. It was just broken.  I really wish I had figured that out in the store and saved a bunch of trips.

And then I figured out why this was all so important to me.  But that’s the next lesson.

The Universe has a message for you

Denise introduced me to tut.  No, not this Bad Boy King

King Tut
King Tut

but a free subscription to messages from the Universe. Or from a tax consultant named Mike.  Whatever.  Still great!

My first sample note included this:

“… One day, they’re going to name something big after you, jane!
Like a statue, a college… or a hurricane.”

So, just like Denise, Jason Mraz, Richard Bach, and a whole bunch of pageant winners, I have signed to receive Notes from the Universe.

Have some fun!  Sign up!  And let me know what you learn!  www.tut.com

Check In Already!

check inI learned yet another lesson the hard way, today. Although I’m finding that’s the way of lessons – most of them and all the valuable ones are learned the hard way.  Maybe I should just call it “the way.”

I learned that if I’m meeting someone somewhere in public, I need to make sure that we both know that we are going to check in when we get there, in some way or another, such as a quick text of “here!”

I was meeting Elaine for coffee at a large cafeteria.  We were aiming  9:15 and she emailed me that she would text me when she got in.  I didn’t have her phone number but I assumed she had mine.  She didn’t.  I got in early and looked all around for Elaine and sat down where I could see her arrive.  Here’s the sad part: she did the very same thing!  Somehow we missed each other and missed out of half an hour of our visit – wondering where the other one was.

It’s not like we missed each other at the top of the Empire State Building, but it was a needless mix-up and the least I can do is learn something from it!

All About that Base

I have learned that I can handle just about anything if, and only if, I have a stable base on which to stand.  And I’ve learned that the elements that build that base, for me, are Sunlight, Activity,and Rest, in that order.

Rest alone doesn’t do it.  It seems like it might, but it doesn’t.  A string of dark rainy days, followed by sunny days only when I was inside, working, left me with no reserves at all. Every little thing seemed insurmountable and the big things seems downright daunting.

Then I got outside again, popping in and out of shops in a corny Vermont town with Steve, and then back walking up and down hills in the woods with Gale, all in the bright winter sun.  Suddenly nothing is that hard any more and everything seems hopeful.

Sun over Mt. Vernon
Sun over Mt. Vernon

So for the rest of this winter, with our way-too-short days, I’ll be outside gathering whatever daylight I can grab, building the solid base that I need.

Lessons are Everywhere!

If I learned one thing in 2014, it’s that there are lessons to learn around every corner, from every person, every day.  But I learned much more than one thing.  I have piles of note scraps, memos on my phones, scribbles in the margins of every paper I can see, all of things I’ve learned this year.   Now it’s time to gather them together and start sharing again.  In the early days of 2015, I’ll be writing up what I’ve learned, and writing as I learn.

I’ll also set out to learn how to overcome the obstacles to posting – mostly my desire to be away from the computer when I’m not working.  I’ll have to figure that out.  Perhaps you have some ideas?  As always, I’d love to learn lessons from you!

Happy 2015!

If you can stand…

and work, you can dance and work!

Dannie posted this and I learned one more reason to have a standing desk!


I dare you to watch this and sit still.

BTW I have so many lessons saved up to share with you, but it’s too nice out and I’m learning that I want less time in front of the computer, not more.  But some day soon it will rain and you will be flooded with new lessons.  I promise.

The Case For Routine

Sheldon gets it!It’s so easy to make fun of people who do the same thing over and over: Always sit in the same spot on the couch, have spaghetti for dinner every Wednesday, eat the same lunch after bowling every Thursday.  It’s so easy to think that I’m too cool for routine, for sameness, for knowing what I’ll do when.  I’m so cool that I can use BOTH sides of the locker room at the gym and sometimes use a locker on the right, and sometimes one on the left.  Oooooh.  I am so freaky and spontaneous – a wild and crazy gal!

But here’s the thing: If you do the same thing over and over, then you know where your locker is.  It’s always on the left.  Or the right.  Always there.  And when you come back to it, on the right, or the left, the side you always always use, the combination on your cute little lock will always work.  You’ll never, for instance, try your combination a million times, then go get the staff to cut off the lock, only to look in at someone else’s stuff!  And realize that the locker you just broke into by force was on the right, but your locker is on the left and look!…your combination works just fine on that one!

Routine.  It works.  I am embracing it.


If you give a clown a camera…

I learned that this is what happens if you hand over your phone to a clown and ask her to take a picture of you with another clown:

Clown Selfie6 Clown Selfie5 Clown Selfie4 Clown Selfie3 Clown Selfie1 Clown Selfie2

This is the photo I wanted and eventually got:

Ben is a Clown

We’ve known and lived across the street from Ben since he was born.  He’s wanted to be a clown as long as I can remember.  And now after lots of hard work, he is one!  He’s in THE circus, the big one, Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey.

Kat and I were lucky to be in Miami at the same time as the Red Train, and we got to see Ben – he was amazing!

I learned that anyone with a ticket can come to the pre-show and hang out with the clowns, talk to the performers, try some stuff.

I learned, from Ben, that if someone asks to hold the juggling pins, it usually means that they can juggle.  A teenage boy showed us that.  His mom told us that she used to be in the circus.  Then she juggled for us.  It was extremely cool!

More Thriftier

Here’s what I learned about renting a car from Thrifty: 1. Even after you book a car, sign up for discount emails 2.Circle back to your original reservation when you see a good deal.

I thought I had a pretty good rate for my car rental in Miami, but when I tried the same dates in the link in a promotion email, I saw a rate that was 25% lower.   When I went online to my reservation – lo and behold – it was now 25% lower!  I locked that one in (I feel confident that otherwise I’d have my original price) and now Kat and I have more money to spend* on fancy drinks when she is done with her conference!


* and yes, I do get that you don’t get more money by not spending money and yes, I can just hear my father saying “And how much did you save by not spitting on the subway?”  … a reference to a time (apparently) of high subway-spitting fines and his constant reply to our claims of “saving” money by getting a good deal.