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Kim Skinner | Community Connections | Friends

Friends In Strange Places

A year ago, I volunteered to help homeless women at Community Connections. I host the monthly event “Women’s Empowerment Night” and have had high hopes of really helping these women. Month after month, I have prepared their meals, slowly discovering how much they appreciate food. Others have joined me to bake terrific desserts and they are served with smiles and laughter. I have designed motivating talks in hopes of making recovery better for these fifty women who are so deserving of support.

Community Connections provides a residency-training program that rehabilitates, trains, and counsels women on the road to a productive life. Some are college educated. Some are grandmothers. Others have been abused and are fearful of the world they live in. Many of them have their children in-residence as well. I have truly enjoyed getting to know all of them.

Repeated contact and the passing of time together have helped us to become friends. Laughter and shared experiences have been, I believe, stripping cultural and racial barriers.

It feels good – helping in some small way. But I was so surprised this month to experience their help and encouragement for ME!

They may not think white girls are very sexy. Who knew? Yet, I have discovered that many of them truly care about THIS white girl.

As they were leaving, I received many hugs and kind words about our family’s upcoming wedding and the nearing birth of three granddaughters.

I felt surprised. They care?

I felt exhilarated. They care!

I feel humbled.

I’ve always taught that letting people into your life and steadfastly “being there” is the best way to befriend someone. I guess I never really expected for these women to befriend ME!

Sometimes life surprises us! How sweet it is!

Kim Skinner | laugh | motivation | humor |

Finding Humor In Aging

It’s tough to find humor in aging…especially when we can’t remember where we put our car keys.

I took a four-hour memory test at Mayo clinic last week. In preparation, I downed two tablespoons of coconut oil and wore my “smart looking” glasses. I trimmed my nose hairs and put on my false teeth. As I was buckling my sensible shoes, I recalled the words of George Burns,

“You know you’re getting old when you stoop to tie your shoes and wonder what else you can do while you’re down there.”

I wondered, and then forgot what I was pondering…

The psychiatrist was young, perky, and pregnant. I asked if this was her first child. She smiled knowingly and said, “It’s my third,” like she was SO well seasoned. I wanted to spout, “Look at THIS!” as I pointed to my Spanx-pressed bosom.  “THIS is well seasoned!”

Instead, I asked her where the little girl’s room was located.

Upon returning, she asked about my energy level. Is my exhaustion so visible? I explained, “I stay pretty busy. I’m at that age where I’m experienced at doing everything but I’m not decrepit enough to turn anybody down.”

Does this mean that I am outgrowing middle-age? I wondered.

I was ushered into a “testing” room and introduced to a tiny, young technician. She kindly asked if there was anything she could do to make me more comfortable – like a heating pad might make it all better.

Why am I here? I thought with my bottom lip trembling. Oh yes, I keep forgetting things.

To keep the tears at bay, I remembered that it takes more muscles to frown than to smile… Wait is that right?

Maybe it’s that exercising my Kegel muscles is a good way to burn calories… Whatever.

The testing commenced.

Who has ever needed to be able to repeat nine numerals from memory…backwards?

Is recognizing and identifying a picture of an accordion a good thing or a bad thing?

If you see a tree branch fall in the forest but later forget about it, did it happen?

What if you can’t remember where the forest was?

The four hours of testing was completed. I decided to forget most of it. After all, some memories are better off not being recollected.

Famished, I stopped by the cafeteria and actually looked twice at the tapioca. I settled on the stewed prunes. Just kidding!

I reminded myself (while I could still remember) that some degree of memory loss is a natural part of aging. Half to 2/3 of all 50- to 65-year-olds notice it, but it remains a minor irritation.

And here’s more good news. During the time when our hair is growing white and sprouting from our ears, researchers demonstrate that our brains are still growing new neurons.  This is beneficial because neurons making new connections with other neurons means we can improve our memories during our old age. Cool!

So…I’m writing this blog about memory loss and forgot to pick up the carpool for early-morning workouts. Where are those NEW NEURONS when I need them?

Maybe finding humor in aging is the best I can hope for. If I get around to finding what else I lost, what’s left of it may not be worth finding.

Bathroom | Blog | Kim Skinner | Jacksonville Author

Funny Things You Learn In a Public Bathroom

This morning I was dressing in the gym bathroom as a cute mother and her four-year-old daughter walked in. Upon seeing me she hid shyly, but soon pranced into the stall with her Mommy. I then overheard, “Oh Mommy, I love your pretty panties. Do you want to see mine?”

So many memories flashed through my mind. I remember the time my daughter Ashley noticed, “Mommy, that woman next to us forgot to put on her socks this morning!”

One of my children, probably a son, was indignant about bodily noises. “Somebody forgot to say excuse me!” he would protest.

I still remember the time I was sitting on the potty attempting to nurse my infant while corralling my preschooler in the stall with me. The little rascal escaped by climbing under the door into the next stall. I threatened and begged to no avail. Finally, I jumped up with the infant still attached and confronted amazed onlookers as the door swung open. “Don’t you ever escape like that again!” Embarrassed women snuck out as I composed myself and finally discovered my hiding son.

I’m sure that my husband David has never suffered such indignities. In fact, the only time I can remember was when I asked him to take our firstborn 3-year-old son into the restroom with him at church. During their time together Davis was heard to say, “Daddy you have a really big peepee,” to which David replied, “Well thank you, son.” Evidently, one of the college students was in there with them and I observed him high-fiving David on the way out.

Children have a knack for embarrassing you in even the most vulnerable and delicate of situations. I encourage you to laugh at those moments, even when you feel like crawling into a hole. Keep your sense of humor and you never know what you might learn from the mouths of precious babes in the privy.

Wives in the Locker Room

Wives In the Locker Room: Sneak Peek!

My first marriage book is finally launching and a book-signing party is coming up!  I just couldn’t wait to share the first chapter here.

Why all the excitement?

  • I believe every woman, regardless of marital status or sports affiliation/aversion, struggles with relationships and “difficult” people.  (Just because it’s not your husband doesn’t mean that the principles don’t apply.)
  • I put a lot of ME into this book. I truly think you can relate and will be amused. And of course, new perspectives are always helpful.
  • This book is meant to be shared. How many young women do you know that could benefit from a fun and potentially life-changing read?

Please join me at the party!

The book signing will be at The BookMark in Neptune Beach (22o First Street) on February 9 at 7 p.m.  So enjoy this snippet and then pick up your copy in person on February 9 just in time for Valentine’s Day with your man!  Can’t make it out to The BookMark?  You can get a copy right here.

humor-in-aging

Sex and the Surgery – Humor in Aging

My husband had knee replacement surgery five days ago. My double hernia repairs are five weeks post op. Still wearing a support girdle with doctors orders to refrain from the activity that made those big babies that caused those big hernias in the first place.

But I’ve been detecting those “come hither” vibes from the patient I’m nursing in the bedroom with me. Those men and their libidos!

So at 6:00 am I change out of my granny gown,brush my teeth and, with towel and massage oil in hand, tiptoe into our dark chamber. Tripping over the walker, I manage to catch myself and feebly light a candle….so far so good.

With illumination I discover that there is no space on the bedside table because it is littered with a breathing exerciser, gauze pads and a urinal… I will not be daunted.

Hiding the oil under the pillow, I peel out of my girdle and slip into ( ok, lumber into) our bed. As I reach tenderly for my beloved he rips off his breathing machine and envelops me in his embrace…. It ain’t pretty but I’ll take it!

May we all keep a sense of humor as our bodies fall apart! May we not become daunted in reaching out to love those other pitiful people who need it as much as we do!

sand-heart-at-the-beach

Do You Love Me? The Importance of Friendship and Marriage

When was the last time you said that? How recently have such thoughts immerged?

It is not surprising that that everyone needs love. It is one of the most basic ingredients for human survival– essential and life-giving. How sad it is when a husband or wife feels compelled to ask this question of a spouse.

What kind of love do we need? The Greek language has four different words for love.

  • Agape, love on a spiritual level
  • Eros, emotional, chemical, physical attraction
  • Storge, love a parent has for a child
  • Philia, friendship

We might argue that all are important to marriage. Nevertheless spiritual stoicism or animal magnetism does not a good marriage make.

Deep abiding friendship in marriage is invaluable yet often neglected, C.S. Lewis says.

Friendship is unnecessary, like philosophy, like art… It has no survival value; rather it is one of those things that give value to survival.

The actions of true friends communicate concern and admiration. Honesty and self-disclosure in a friendship provide safety and boundaries for nurture. A true friend always lets you in and never lets you down.

Every married couple needs the vital healing power of committed friendship. So how do we get it?

Be a friend to your husband.

* Respect and encourage him.

If instead of a gem, or even a flower, we should cast the gift of a loving thought into the heart of a friend, that would be giving as the angels give.     –George MacDonald

“Cast a loving thought into his heart,” by showing him that you care about him. Small but repeated acts of consideration go a long way.

* Share your inner self with him. Let him in on your dreams for him and the attributes you most admire. Help him to become better!

Don’t expect your friend to be a perfect person. But, help your friend to become a perfect person. That’s true friendship.–Mother Theresa

* Don’t let him down.

Help him to know you’ve got his back. Don’t allow the needs of your children or home to make him feel marginalized. Perhaps, as a result of neglect, your relationship is more a marriage of enemies than lovers.

I destroy my enemies when I make them my friends. –Abraham Lincoln

Have the courage to risk extravagant giving of yourself for him. Be a friend to him and refuse to expect payback. Keep at it and you may be surprised to discover a mutual friendship developing in your marriage.

The only way to have a friend is to be one. –Ralph Waldo Emerson

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The Goat Lady - Fainting Goats

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No one wants to be rigid and inflexible. Becoming a “control freak” alienates us from others and produces unnecessary stress for us and everyone else around. Read more