Table Scraps by Dorothy Rosby

My talented guest writer for this article, Dorothy Rosby, is a syndicated humor columnist whose work appears in publications throughout the West and Midwest. She’s the author of four books of humorous essays including her latest:  ‘Tis the Season to Feel Inadequate: Holidays, Special Occasions and Other Times Our Celebrations Get Out of Hand which will be out November 15. She received degrees in journalism and communication from Augustana University in Sioux Falls, South Dakota and lives in Rapid City, South Dakota.

Dorothy is also the global winner in the humor category of the 2022 Erma Bombeck Writing Competition, and my good friend. Were I on stage in an auditorium right now, I’d ask you to stand and give a rousing round of applause for the very funny and insightful Dorothy Rosby.

Table Scraps by Dorothy Rosby

For many years I had a laminated cartoon hanging on the wall by my home computer. It showed a small cage labeled Dream #13 and a sign on the cage read, “Please do not feed.” But an odd-looking character was ignoring the instructions. He looked furtively over his shoulder as he snuck a dish into the cage. The caption read “Morty kept his dreams alive by sneaking them table scraps when no one was looking.”

The cartoon was signed “Norman,” and I kept it because whoever he was, Norman had summed up my frustrations in one panel. I felt like Morty. I wanted something so desperately that I ached for it, I prayed for it and I worked for it. For 23 years, I snuck my dream table scraps when no one was looking.

For as long as I can remember, I’ve been a writer. From a young age, I journaled and wrote dreadful short fiction and even worse poetry. But I found my genre when I was in my mid-twenties. I joined Toastmasters, an organization where members practice their public speaking skills, and I realized quickly that I loved doing humorous speeches. I competed in humorous speech contests and I won some. Eventually, I typed up some of my humorous speeches and sent them to the editor of my local newspaper, and she agreed to take me on as a humor columnist.

As time went on, I began to see humor writing not just as my hobby, but as my calling. I desperately wanted to do more than write two columns a month. I was feeding my dream table scraps, and it was starving. 

But I had a job as a public relations professional for a wonderful nonprofit which serves people with disabilities. And I had a son to raise and a mother to care for. My mom was 80 years older than my son and she lived with us for several years. I didn’t have time to write. But column deadlines forced me to fit it in somehow and that taught me discipline. Deadlines are a gift to a writer, though they seldom feel like it when they’re staring you in the face.

The other gift that didn’t feel like a gift was the ache to do more. Of course, it was a source of great frustration and hopelessness too. There were so many things I wanted to write that I didn’t have time for. I envied anyone who had more time than I did to pursue a creative life, and when you’re a working mother caring for an elderly parent, almost everyone has more time than you do.

But looking back, I see that yearning as a gift too. I took it as a sign that I was meant to do the thing I yearned for. Trying to ease the pain of it motivated me and strengthened my commitment to my writing routine. And it was that motivation and that routine that got me through the constant fatigue and feeling of being overwhelmed during those years. I wrote every morning for at least half an hour before my family woke up. I rarely missed a day. I fed my dream table scraps when no one was looking.

There were many difficult times. My job was demanding. My precious son had childhood asthma and my mother seemed to have everything else. At one point, she dislocated her shoulder and for weeks, she needed help even to get up out of her chair. I raced home from work every few hours during the day to help her to the bathroom and I slept on the couch outside her room at night. When she woke up, I got up and helped her to the bathroom, and then, because I was too stressed to fall back to sleep, I wrote in the night. 

I’m one of those unfortunate people with a jukebox in my head. When life reminds me of a song, and it often does, the song becomes an earworm. A song by Meatloaf, “I’d Do Anything for Love (But I Won’t Do That),” was stuck in my head during that time, and that earworm became my anthem.

If you know it, you know that the title is also the refrain. I’m not sure what Meatloaf was referring to, but I know what those words meant for me at that point in my life. I’d do anything for the people I love—I’d feed them and care for them. I’d get up in the night to help my mother. I’d drive my son to his activities and help him with his homework, and I’d work all day on very little sleep to help put food on the table and a roof over their heads, but I would not give up on the thing I longed to do. I would not do that.

Were it not for the deadlines and that ache, I would have quit. My life would have been easier. But not writing was more painful than writing. So along the way, I never missed a deadline. I found my writer’s voice. And I managed to do some marketing and convince 36 other publications to run my column.

Eventually, my son grew up and my beautiful mother died at the age of 96. I became an empty nester, but all those years had made me greedy for time. I still hated getting up from my home computer to go to work. 

Fortunately also along the way, my husband and I saved our money and paid off our home and other bills. And on April 1, 2019, I sat down at my computer for the first time as a full time writer. I don’t know what it means that it was on April Fool’s Day—maybe just that it was foolish to give up employer-sponsored health insurance so long before I’m eligible for Medicare.

But I’ve never regretted my decision and I’ve never been happier. Now every morning I get up and go to work—in my home office. And as I write this, my third book of humorous essays is at the publishers. 

And by some strange coincidence, the cartoon that hung on my office wall all those years—Morty feeding his dreams table scraps when no one was looking—disappeared. I hope I find it in one of the piles in my office someday. In the meantime, I like to think Morty’s dream came true too.

You can learn more about Dorothy and sign up for her always entertaining blog at https://dorothyrosby.com/.

After she is tragically orphaned, young Abella loses the ability to speak her truth and express herself. She is sent to live with a reclusive uncle she’s never met, and her only friend is her horse. Abella endures heartbreak, loneliness and questions who she truly is inside. Eventually, she meets friends and animals who help her not only regain her voice, but also uncover her strength and purpose. Purchase How Abella Found her Voice for $4.95 here: https://laurahandke.com/product/how-abella-found-her-voice-e-book/

Please spread the love and pass this along to a friend!

Love Your Voice & Voice Your Love,

Laura

I’m in a Show!

Earlier this week, I attended a rehearsal and casual audition for the Northwest Senior Theatre group http://www.nwseniortheatre.org/index.html and am thrilled to announce I was invited to join! We will be having twice-weekly rehearsals for a holiday show with three performances coming up sometime in November. I will keep you posted as I learn the dates and hope those of you in the Portland metro area will be able to come to one of the performances at Rise Church in Tigard. I love the songs Creative Director James Montgomery has chosen, and the Musical Director, Tracy, is phenomenal. I suspect it will be a highly enjoyable and entertaining show.

Group singing and harmonizing is fun and healing; I have missed making music and performing live theatre with other people since the pandemic hit. This holiday season, consider making a point to support your local community theatres. Donations and volunteers are always welcomed, even if you’d rather have a root canal than get up on stage yourself.

It’s almost as hard to believe the holiday season will soon be upon us as it is to believe I’m old enough to be in a senior theatre group! Yet it brings to mind one of my favorite memories and accomplishments, which you can read about (and watch the music video) here: https://laurahandke.com/simply-authentic-your-soul-voice-is-calling-what-are-you-proud-of/.

As we’re heading into fall now, I hope you’ll be enjoying music and theatre as much as I know I will be.

After she is tragically orphaned, young Abella loses the ability to speak her truth and express herself. She is sent to live with a reclusive uncle she’s never met, and her only friend is her horse. Abella endures heartbreak, loneliness and questions who she truly is inside. Eventually, she meets friends and animals who help her not only regain her voice, but also uncover her strength and purpose. Purchase How Abella Found her Voice for $4.95 here: https://laurahandke.com/product/how-abella-found-her-voice-e-book/

Please spread the love and pass this along to a friend!

Love Your Voice & Voice Your Love,

Laura

An Evening With the Band

It’s an average, ordinary Monday, yet I just got home from having the most fun I’ve had in a while.

When was the last time you sang for fun? Sometimes, as a voice teacher, I forget how awesome it is to sing just for fun!

Here are photos of my first time ever rehearsing with a band, Ten O’Clock Hill. I’ll share more news as we’re getting closer to recording a fun little blues song I wrote.

Sing for fun this week, ‘eh?

And because we’re still in the middle of a heat wave here – a reminder about the summer of the cold socks. https://laurahandke.com/?s=summer+of+the+cold+socks

After she is tragically orphaned, young Abella loses the ability to speak her truth and express herself. She is sent to live with a reclusive uncle she’s never met, and her only friend is her horse. Abella endures heartbreak, loneliness and questions who she truly is inside. Eventually, she meets friends and animals who help her not only regain her voice, but also uncover her strength and purpose. Purchase How Abella Found her Voice for $4.95 here: https://laurahandke.com/product/how-abella-found-her-voice-e-book/

Please spread the love and pass this along to a friend!

Love Your Voice & Voice Your Love,

Laura

7 Tips to Beat the Heat

In Oregon’s Willamette Valley we’re in our third week of temps reaching into the high 80’s, 90’s, and over 100 degrees Fahrenheit. I don’t know about you, but the older I get, the less I enjoy hot weather. It makes me feel listless. Also, we vocalists need to stay hydrated!

So, here’s Lake Oswego’s Transformational Voice® Teacher’s impromptu list of 7 ways to beat the heat this August.

1. Walk  early. Get out to walk early in the morning. Air-conditioning is a wonderful invention, but days on end of no connection with Mother Nature makes some of us (me) cranky. So, this night owl is managing to get up earlier to go outside and walk earlier.

2. Stay hydrated. The internet tells me (so it must be true, right?) that huge numbers of people are chronically dehydrated and often don’t know it. Dehydration is not good for speakers, singers, or anyone else. If you don’t normally drink enough water, add some flavor to it. I adore lemon in my water. And I especially adore flavored sparkling water over ice with lemon or lime. My most recent purchase was a 12-pack of Trader Joe’s pineapple-flavored bubbly water on sale for $3.49. One of the women in my Wishweavers mastermind circle, Sidra, loves her kitchen gadget (https://idrinkproducts.com/) that carbonates water and other beverages.

3. Cool off in water. Speaking of water, if you have a pool or nearby lake or ocean, awesome. I can drive to the Oregon coast (where it’s much cooler) in an hour and 45 minutes, something I’ve deeply appreciated since moving to Oregon from Arizona in 1990. If not, get creative. I ran across my neighbor, Mike, walking his chocolate lab, Jazzy, last week. He had just gotten one of those kiddy pools for Jazzy and she loved it. He climbed in with her and Mike loved it, too! Why not?!

4. Eat cold food. I love to cook a couple of times a week, but when it’s hot outside, not so much. Get creative with cold food, like salads. Chop up some romaine lettuce, bell pepper, tomato, cucumber, and toss on some baby spinach leaves. Maybe grate a little carrot or add green peas. For my last chef salad, I added a hard-boiled egg, a bit of diced ham and cheddar cheese, and topped it with a drizzle of both Catalina and blue cheese dressing. SO delicious on a hot day!

5. Enjoy watermelon. Yes, what about watermelon? This watermelon salad recipe (https://www.loveandlemons.com/watermelon-salad/) is more elaborate than those I’ve made in the past, and it looks spectacular. Did you know you can add watermelon to vanilla ice cream for a yummy shake? Seriously, try it – it’s  wonderful. Just don’t add extra liquid because the watermelon provides plenty. Personally, I don’t mind a slightly runny shake.

6. Be quietly creative. In the middle of a heat-wave may not be the best time to start a new dance class. But it might be the very best time to pull out a sketch pad and pencils, or use karaoke videos on YouTube to sing out the songs you loved in high school and college. (I’ve been doing that!)

7. Experience gratitude. If you live in a house with air-conditioning, like I do, remember that many people across our globe don’t have that luxury. I’m grateful for my little Vornado fan that blows on me quietly at night when I’m in bed.

There you go, your voice teacher’s hacks for beating the heat! Enjoy your August until I show up in your inbox again in two weeks. Thanks for allowing me space there.

After she is tragically orphaned, young Abella loses the ability to speak her truth and express herself. She is sent to live with a reclusive uncle she’s never met, and her only friend is her horse. Abella endures heartbreak, loneliness and questions who she truly is inside. Eventually, she meets friends and animals who help her not only regain her voice, but also uncover her strength and purpose. Purchase How Abella Found her Voice for $4.95 here: https://laurahandke.com/product/how-abella-found-her-voice-e-book/

Please spread the love and pass this along to a friend!

Love Your Voice & Voice Your Love,

Laura

I Witnessed a Theft! (Gratitude Practice From a Dental Hygienist)

My husband and I went to DSW Shoes last weekend because George needed a new pair of sandals to wear on the kite-flying field. The store was busy that day; I’ll estimate 25 people were waiting in line for the four registers where cashiers were checking people out.

Ahead of us in line were two women; one probably in her late 30’s and the other in her early 20’s. The elder of the two had several tattoos on her face, including one of a tear drop near one of her eyes. The tattooed woman leaned over and quietly said something to the other, then they both walked briskly out of the store carrying three boxes filled with shoes, a backpack, and other merchandise.

It took a moment for my brain to register what my eyes were witnessing – a theft in broad daylight in front of something like 30 other people. I said to George, “I can’t believe I just saw that. What should we do?! Why didn’t I do anything?” It occurred to me I could have LOUDLY said, “Excuse me?! Are you seriously walking out of this store without paying for your merchandise?!” George went over to one of the cashiers and told him what had just happened.

I grew up on a farm in South Dakota; the closest town, Raymond—population now 53—was 11 miles away. Therefore, as you can imagine, I know next to nothing about gang culture. On the drive home, my husband pointed out that the woman’s facial tattoos likely symbolized gang affiliation. If you Google tear-drop facial tattoos like I did, you’ll find the meaning can be anything from prison time, committing a murder while in prison or being raped in prison…to solidarity with someone in prison, grieving the loss of a loved one or seeking revenge on behalf of a murdered friend.

Growing up where and when I did, there were no gangs, and almost no violent crimes against humans. Most farmers had guns they used regularly for hunting and shooting animals who threatened the garden or crops (which, by the way, always bothered me). I grew up trusting virtually everyone unless someone gave me a reason not to. A random internet search tells me that in the year 1972 the population of the entire state of South Dakota was 679,000 and that 8 murders and 106 robberies were committed in the state that year.

After that shoe-shopping excursion last weekend, the foundation of my feeling safe in the world was shaken. Either of the thieves may have been armed and opened fire in the store on the heels of yet another American school shooting in Uvalde, Texas, and a much less publicized March attack by extremists in Somalia that wiped out 60 lives.

When I walked into a store next, I felt scared for the first time in my life. I realize how blessed I was to grow up in an environment where I didn’t need to fear for my safety or life going to school or to a mall. Or going to bed at night or walking out my front door.

How do any of us live in a world where we can’t take for granted that we’ll be kept from harm’s way? We never really could. Any of us could be hit by the proverbial bus, smashed in our cars, fall getting out of the shower, or be diagnosed with a fatal disease right now, today.

Rather than be depressed by the possibilities, even though I may feel fear walking into a store for the immediate future, I want to share an unexpected inspiration I received from a dental hygienist a couple years ago. This is the kind of simple daily practice that can change the way any of us approach life.

I don’t recall how the topic came up, but with the time-frame, it probably had something to do with COVID and how it has so negatively impacted everyone on our precious planet.

Every morning when she wakes up and opens the blinds, this dental hygienist looks outside and says “Hello, World!” When she closes the blinds to go to sleep at night, she says, “Goodnight, World!”

I can’t think of any better way to welcome the world without fear, express gratitude for being here, and set yourself up for a fantastic day wherein you can freely express your voice. I’m going to try it. Why don’t you join me, and let me know your experience on the blog?!

After she is tragically orphaned, young Abella loses the ability to speak her truth and express herself. She is sent to live with a reclusive uncle she’s never met, and her only friend is her horse. Abella endures heartbreak, loneliness and questions who she truly is inside. Eventually, she meets friends and animals who help her not only regain her voice, but also uncover her strength and purpose. Purchase How Abella Found her Voice for $4.95 here: https://laurahandke.com/product/how-abella-found-her-voice-e-book/

Please spread the love and pass this along to a friend!

Love Your Voice & Voice Your Love,

We’re Wired Differently…Or Are We?

I met with a good friend recently, a woman I know because she works for my alma mater, South Dakota State University.  

Over coffee, grapes, crackers, cheese and brownies, this friend and I had quite a lively conversation. Her job is taking care of people who donate large sums of money to SDSU and make sure their legacy is living on in the way that they want it to, to make an impact or a change.

There is substantial risk and commitment involved with going to college and getting student loans. My friend shared several amazing stories and examples illustrating just how important donor money is and the incredible amount of good these funds can do. I don’t recall at what point in the conversation I found myself saying, “I’ve learned that when you jump, the net appears.” (Whoever originally was quoted saying something like that could be anyone from John Burroughs to Les Brown; I don’t know for sure.)

My friend responded saying, “Wow, we are wired differently!”

I put some thought into what she said after our conversation.

Here’s what I came up with in case you might find it helpful.

I think my friend has a dream job that she’s fully suited to. She has a sense of diplomacy that inspires me. I’ve known only two people who have that highly-tuned sense of being able to help people understand each other with no-one feeling offended. It’s a true gift.

But are we really wired differently?

I wonder if we have simply wired ourselves differently.

I was wired to get good grades in school, to go to college and graduate, and then get a good job and a good retirement account. It was assumed I’d marry and have children. I think my mother was wired to expect me to marry a farmer the next acre over so we could get together for coffee every day. 

The road of re-wiring hasn’t always been easy. My first breaking the apron strings was a summer in Orlando, Florida when I cried in the shower at 3:00 am getting up for that bakery job at Pantry Pride every morning, I was so homesick. I later found a job with a later day shift at a steak house that suited me better.

That summer away changed me. Relationships change us. So do jobs. I’ve heard people come home from trips to other countries changed. One friend recently told me she was never the same after a trip to Uganda, and that she left part of her heart in Africa.

I encourage you to Google “brain plasticity.” (Wikipedia: Neuroplasticity, also known as neural plasticity or brain plasticity, is the ability of neural networks in the brain to change through growth and reorganization. It is when the brain is rewired to function in some way that differs from how it previously functioned. ) You’ll find pages of neuroscientific studies on how neuroplasticity works and why it’s important.

Another monumental change in how I’m personally wired came about because of my first Wishweaving Circle or mastermind group, M to the 6th Power, formed in 1999. Being a member of this group completely altered my vision of what’s possible and my own personal potential. Now I always have some sort of Wishweaving Circle in place. For tips on how to start your own group, or even to look into joining mine, read here: https://laurahandke.com/the-power-of-a-wishweavers-circle-aka-mastermind-group/.

How are you wired? Do you like how you’re wired? If not, take heart knowing that you and your brain are perfectly capable of and suited for re-wiring!

After she is tragically orphaned, young Abella loses the ability to speak her truth and express herself. She is sent to live with a reclusive uncle she’s never met, and her only friend is her horse. Abella endures heartbreak, loneliness and questions who she truly is inside. Eventually, she meets friends and animals who help her not only regain her voice, but also uncover her strength and purpose. Purchase How Abella Found her Voice for $4.95 here: https://laurahandke.com/product/how-abella-found-her-voice-e-book/

Please spread the love and pass this along to a friend!

Love Your Voice & Voice Your Love,

Laura

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