What a Wonderful World???


Do you ever read people’s Facebook posts, Instagram feeds, blog posts and tweets and wonder- where are these gloriously happy, got it all figured out, perfect in every way souls?  I mean these people are pretty amazing, right?  They not only have it all together, but their kids, their careers- hell even their DOGS are perfection.

Maybe you are not one who wonders where they are because you are one of them.  Lucky.  Funny thing is, I see these snapshots of these amazing lives online, hardly in reality.  When I am shopping, most time people look frustrated and a majority of the time, they look hurried and pissed off.  Drive on the road with these deliriously joyful souls and realize you are getting cut off, being sanctioned to the merge lane cause your ass isn’t getting in and on some super special occasion, you may even get the bird shot at you.  True story- it still happens.  It happened to me about a month ago.  Some guy driving a muscle car (for description purposes not an opinion on muscle car owners) was driving and my mother (white hair, obviously well-vetted) pulled out into the road.  He had plenty of space, but he had decided she should have waited.  He passed us and proceeded to look in the car which was occupied  by a white-haired grandmother, myself and my little 4 year old Spicy girl.  He accessed the situation (3 generations of women- one his elder, another a baby) and decided to give us the finger.  Classy.   I wonder if he posted that nugget of maturity on his social media sites.  Also makes me wonder who would have had to be in the car for him NOT to show the white trash card.

Yea, I am not sure where some of these happy, well-together people are located.

I had a friend not too long ago who was constantly blogging and facebook posting about her fabulous husband and their fabulous marriage.  Always posting pictures of this Norman Rockwell life and how fabulous everything was.  Mind you, this was one of my closest friends.   The other day she informs me she is getting a divorce.  She said they haven’t been happy for a super long time.  Really?  Could have fooled me!  You had rainbows and cupids coming out of your A$$ online.

Look, there is a point to this and I promise it will all come around so just stay with me….

We can all agree that no one leads perfect lives.  Social media seems to provide an outlet for each of us to communicate and that is a glorious thing.  Glorious when it is generative and helpful.  It could be so much more than what we have all made it.  Rather than it be an extension of ‘keeping up with the Jone’s’ and ‘Wow, who can be happier?’, what if it was real?

I am not condoning airing dirty laundry by any means.  While I am no longer a practicing Catholic, that much was ingrained to my core.  I am talking about being honest and allowing our real selves to shine through.  If you are struggling, it is okay to admit to struggling.  Someone may be reading who can identify, lend and ear, listen.  Someone may be able to help.  If you are happy, by all means, share that as well.  Need help with projects, prayers, good thoughts, bring it!

I had a man I admired a great deal tell me a story once of his church.  He was deeply involved in his church and its several committees, etc.  He told me one day why he up and left that church in search for another.  He said there was a man in his congregation that he knew had just lost his job.  He was aware this man and his family were suffering true and severe difficulties and hardships.  He went up to this gentleman at church one Sunday and asked him how he was and how things were going?  The man looked him in the eye and told him he was “Fine, things are great.”  He told me he knew he wanted a different church THAT moment because this had become the “norm” there, everyone putting on errs instead of participating in a community.

These networking sites can leave us feeling pretty defeated, unhappy, fat, unpopular, unsuccessful, etc. when we get into the dangerous game of comparisons.  And if the game must be played, which I believe it will continue to be, at least realize you are competing with only the outer most layer of someone’s life.  The part they want you to see.

It is curious to me that while online networking brings everyone together in one place, never have we as a society been more disconnected with our family, friends and fellow man (in my opinion).  You can go to a restaurant and see a whole family seated together and watch as they each play on their own cell phones to see my point.  Yes I am friends online with people from my past, but what do they know and care about my life?  Have I been seeking to know and care about theirs?  Why not?  They should.  I should.

I think we would  ALL benefit from a social network that was actually used to network authenticity.  And then to step outside of that world wide web into action in the real world.

This is my plan and thought for 2016 as I IMMERSE (word of the year- read previous post) myself into a new writing project that I believe will prove to be very interesting and hopefully very generative of good cheer and delighting in my fellow mankind.

Be well and be real!



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Marlin in the House…Literally…

Marlin has been low-key this year.  Well, at least low-key in comparison to how he usually rolls.  I am not sure if it is the fact that he is getting older or if it is the fact that he is gearing up for some wild times during this crunch time before Christmas!  I sincerely hope it is the latter!  I love this elf and the true magic he brings!

One day, Dapper touched him (and you know this means potential magic loss) and then Marlin stayed in the same spot for 3 days (key doom music- DUM DUM DUMMMMM).  We were concerned for his well being and were paranoid that it was the end of Marlin.  Luckily, he has since recovered and is back on the move!  Whew!  I know Dapper is happy and I see a huge sense of relief in Spicy’s eyes so I am pretty sure she also made contact with Marlin.


Throwback to Marlin Flying a Commercial Airliner last year…It happened.  We landed safe!



On Your Mark, Get Set…


Splash! As if in slow motion the brisk water envelopes me inch by inch. My form is perfection by any swim instructor’s standards. My fingertips are immersed first, followed closely by my precisely cupped hands. My arms glide in succession as though following along in a tightly formed marching parade. My carefully tucked and capped head charges in next followed by my elongated torso. My legs descend into the water remaining together as if one unit. Last, my feet and pointed toes torpedo into the water completing the swift dive.

The refreshing feeling I am engulfed with comes not from the water itself, but rather from the exhilaration I derive from the knowledge that I am where I belong; where I have indeed always belonged.

In truth, I don’t even remember learning to swim. If there were indeed formal lessons, they were surely successful and useful, but also long ago forgotten. I remember receiving my favorite doll at the
age of three and I remember the day I learned to tie my shoes but I have no recollection of learning to swim. I used to fancy that I was born with the skill and instructions, formal or informal, were unnecessary.

I presume I learned from a culmination of places that were significant to me in my childhood. The Atlantic Ocean that cascades onto the beaches of Long Beach Island, New Jersey, the lagoon behind my grandparent’s home and our family pool located in our back yard. Likely, it was a collaborative effort from many people at numerous places in my life which have made it possible for me to propel and excel in the water. I wonder if any of them knew just what a miraculous gift they were presenting to me, this
knowledge and skill called swimming?

There is a funny story told of me as a young girl. Our mother would let my siblings and me outside to play. It would be accurate to say we had the run of our street. They were charged with the task of minding me but were easily distracted with friends and fun so I was able to venture some on
my own. Every day that I wanted to go outside, I had to wear a life jacket because no matter what marvelous happenings were taking place in our neighborhood- building forts, riding bikes, or playing ball- I’d find my way to AND into our pool. My mother knew I couldn’t resist the water. Did she hear it calling me too? Probably not. She most likely saw me as a mischievous child looking for trouble. Most people would.

I cannot recall a moment in my life that the water and I did not have a relationship akin to that of old dear friends. The friend you truly considered family even though there were no blood ties. I have
always felt an intense draw to the water. Whether salt water, fresh water, chlorinated pool water, I had no bias. I wanted to be submerged, to ask it to commune with me, to allow me to be a part of it, if only briefly, for a few moments a day. I once saw sea turtles hatch and make their way instantly to the water. I felt we were kindred spirits as I understood their urge and instinct to give into it. I believe the draw intensified when I learned at a young age that the water would always make room for me. It was never too full to let me in.

When I am swimming laps my arms are carefully forming the proper strokes to push me forward. At the same time, I hear my thoughts so clearly and loudly. It is as if there is a giant microphone right next
to my brain picking up every thought. Some of the most brilliant answers to some of my most dire questions have been answered while I was submerged. The water follows my lead. When I want to float, it supports me. When I want to release stress and anger and swim hard until every muscle is burning, it provides just enough resistance to challenge me. When I want a break from the solitude, it is there to offer fun and splashing games with my family.

The water is a constant, a necessity. For all living things, great and small, water is a basic need. Without its consumption, all would perish. For me, it feels so much more than consuming is required. Immersion is a mandatory component. I must, just as the sea turtles, make my way to the
water. It is where I find myself and can clear my thoughts and hit reset, each and every time. When swimming parallel to the beaches I find contentment, awe and God. When swimming laps I find discipline, solitude and peace. The simple truth is that in any body of water, I am
filled with joy.

After my dive in, I rise to the surface amidst bubbles large and small and begin forging ahead with my concise and timed strokes . It is at this moment while my body is forcefully charging through the water that I discover something, a realization of epic proportions, my own little secret. I look around to my fellow swimmers. Some are free-styling, others are doing the butterfly, and one is just floating by on his back. I smile at my wonderful and amazing enlightened discovery. I laugh out loud and my jubilee echoes throughout the enclosed pool deck. My pool mates are now looking at me, the lifeguard too, completely unaware of what could possibly have me so bemused. I am holding on to the side of the pool giggling while adjusting my blue mirrored goggles. I slide my nose plug down. I place my feet upon the wall, almost directly underneath my hands and launch myself backwards and a huge wake is created. The water seems to move over for me at the same time it embraces me. I am elated! They are completely unaware that we are all doing something extraordinary. They do not realize we are flying.

But I do.

©Jennifer Woolford 2014

So, this happened yesterday…

Driving through our lovely town in Maryland, I came across this:


An adorable Little Free Library.  This made my heart so happy.  Overjoyed, really!  I have heard about them but this was the first I ever saw in person.

It made me wish there was one in every neighborhood.  A ‘Take One, Leave One” free library where we could all benefit from the joy of a new book.  New to us at least.  Anyone who knows me and even those followers on here who do not “personally” know me can attest to the fact that I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE books for all ages, on all topics.  I believe so deeply that reading for enjoyment is equally as important as reading for knowledge.  I believe this in my core.

Back to this Little Free Library, I showed the hubs this photo and said, “I want one in our yard”- naturally.  But as he very wisely pointed out, we live on a road which gets basically zero traffic and therefore, our library may be a little lame.

It is cute though, right?  This glorious little box that is the epitome of sharing, knowledge and neighborhood kindness all in once adorable Little Free Library.

Build one.  Share it with me.  I may even have a donation to add to it in a few months (HINT TO THE BIG NEWS REFERENCED THE OTHER DAY).



A Big Thank You to Our Elf, Marlin!

Dearest Marlin,

How did you know this week was not one for crazy hoopla and shenanigans?  It was almost as if you were well aware that we are planning for a huge Christmas Party this weekend and you didn’t want to overwhelm me.  THANK YOU!  Thank you for being the strong, silent type elf this week.  I am POSITIVE that once Saturday night passes, you will be back to your wild and carefree ways.

And I, for one, am super excited about it!



Throwback to 2012: When you Toilet-Papered the boy’s room in our old house!  Good times!