iPod of the Year

May 29, 2011

My husband thinks the iPod is perhaps the great invention of our time.  I think there are others that top it, but it is pretty awesome.  I am old enough to remember records, eight-tracks and tapes.  Downloading a song from iTunes is WAY better!

I don’t have a huge obsession for music like some people, but I do enjoy it.  I always listen when I work out and most times in the car. I will put the iPod on when I am cleaning the house, whipping up some food in the kitchen or just hanging by the pool.

I guess my love of music started when I was little and my dad would play music on our record player in the basement.  I remember show tunes like Bye Bye Birdie and A Chorus Line.  He also liked Gladys Knight and the Pips.  My older brother and sister liked music as well.  This was the 70’s and classic rock was king.  I learned to like STYX, Led Zeppelin, Pink Floyd and Heart.  I once asked my sister, who is 6 years older than me and used to look a little like Pat Benatar, what a rock concert was like.  She left out a few of the gory details but proceeded to do an air guitar routine I will never forget!  I also remember buying my first record. I bought The Eagle’s “Hotel California” and I paid for it with my very own money.  That album is still makes my all-time greatest list.

These days all it takes is a simple download and you can have any song in a matter of seconds.  When you travel, you don’t have to decide which CDs to take.  You just need to make sure you have your charger.  And my iPod is iPod of the year. I think what makes it so great is my wide variety of musical tastes. I have downloaded all different genres. I have Alternative, Punk, a few Children’s songs, a few Dance Songs, Easy Listening, Folk, Inspirational, R&B, Soul, Rap, Raggae, Heavy Metal, Country, Rock and Broadway.  I like everything from Eminem to Barry Manilow, from Bruce Springsteen to The Black Eyed Peas, from Meatloaf to Mary Chapin Carpenter, from Janis Joplin to Jason Mraz.  I like it all.

I do have favorites of course.  I still love classic rock of the 70’s.  Counting Crows’ “August and Everything After” is probably my favorite album. I can not carry a tune at all but I sing out loud and proud with the iPod of the Year.  (Sorry if you have heard me)



My Addiction

May 21, 2011

I am addicted to Mahjong tiles.  I have not yet been to the doctor for this condition, but all of the signs are there.  I think about Mahjong when I wake in the morning.  I play a game before I do anything else.  I am thinking of Mahjong tiles as I write this blog and actually have played 4 games since I started typing.

My addiction started innocently enough.  I used to play Bejeweled.  Before that it was Spider Solitaire.  They say that’s how addictions start.  At first its just a little innocent experimentation and then the addiction grows. More addicting games follow and before you know it, your day revolves around trying to play that next game.

I play a few different versions of Mahjong tiles.  I started with the regular game but that wasn’t enough for me, so when I need an extra rush, I play Mahjong connect.  The games are really easy to get.  The internet has everything you need to feed your addiction.

I’d call myself a functioning addict.  So far, I haven’t missed any important appointments or events.  I can get myself ready in the morning.  I am starting work again soon though and friends are worried how my work might be affected.  I do know that I am not yet ready to kick the habit.  I love that feeling of solving a puzzle.  I love the noise when I make a connection. However, I am starting to feel some of the side affects.  My eyes get blurry.  I look up and I wonder where the last hour has gone.  But I am determined to solve every puzzle and to finally get to that illusive level 12 on Mahjong Connect. I will not quit until I get there!

If you or anyone close to you are suffering from this type of addiction, I am planning on starting a support group that will be meeting weekly at a local bar.  Please call 1-800-getadamnlife for more information.

At the Movies

May 17, 2011

The other day a friend remarked about how often I go to the movies.  It is true.  I love going to the movies.  The reasons are many.  First and foremost, I have a lot of time on my hands, especially lately.  The two hours spent in the theater and the drive time fills up part of my day and I am getting a little bored being at home.  I also really like popcorn.  I always go to the same theater chain because of a sweet deal they have.  At the beginning of each year, I buy a t-shirt and a plastic cup.  Then each time I go to the movies, I get a free popcorn and a $1 soda refill.  The deal pays for itself in about 3 movies.  Brilliant!  My favorite time to go is during the day.  I like the late-morning or early afternoon shows.  The fewer people in the theater the better.  People can be annoying.  They text, chat to their friends, chew too loudly, sit too close.  I want to lose myself in the experience.  I want to escape.

I like all kinds of movies.  Rotten Tomatoes has a cool feature where you can rate the movies you’ve seen, write a short review and then share this review with your Facebook friends.  This brings out the inner Roger Ebert in me as I have always thought it would be pretty cool to be a movie critic.  So here is my list in no particular order of movies that I give at least 5 stars and 2 thumbs up:

Shawshank Redemption-probably my all time favorite
The King’s Speech
The Fighter
The Tillman Story
The Kid’s Are Alright
The Social Network
40-Year Old Virgin
Knocked Up
No Country for Old Men
Slumdog Millionaire
Gran Torino
When Harry Met Sally
The Blind Side
Crazy Heart
The Hangover
Inglorious Basterds
The Departed
Garden State
Little Miss Sunshine
Schindler’s List
The Silence of the Lambs
Saving Private Ryan
Forest Gump
Life is Beautiful
Million Dollar Baby
Brian’s Song
Good Will Hunting
Dead Poet’s Society
The American President
The Sixth Sense
Dead Man Walking
Leaving Las Vegas
Thelma & Louise
Top Gun
The Breakfast Club
The Godfather
Animal House
The Goodbye Girl
Four Weddings and a Funeral
Million Dollar Baby

I am sure this list is missing a few of my favorites, but I think it reflects the fact that my love of movies started a little later.  You can see that I am not into Science Fiction or Horror.  I mostly like a feel good story. I also like dramas and movies that make me think.  I want to be entertained.  I want to like the characters or hate them but I want to care one way or the other.  I want to think about the movie as I drive home.  I wait until after a see a movie to read its reviews and then I decide whether I agree with them or not.

So I will see you at the movies.   Just remember to turn off your cell phones and stop talking to your friends.  Its time for me to escape!

Tatted Up

May 12, 2011

I used to think differently about tattoos.  I wondered why people would put something permanent on their bodies. I saw them on tough guys at my gym.  I saw them on Harley dudes.  It seemed like you needed to be “bad” to have a tattoo.  I am not sure when it happened but all of a sudden tattoos are everywhere.(Google says up to 25% of Americans are tatted up)  Seemingly every professional athlete has one.  The college campuses are filled with students that have them. The moms at the park have them. Now even I have one-yes me!

My sister was the one who always wanted a tattoo. We went to England years ago and she got a Henna tattoo and loved it. So as she turned 50 last year she was ready. She came to visit last November and she suggested we get them together. She had some ideas about what she wanted, but I had no idea what to put permanently on my body. She wanted to somehow honor our Dad (who had 2 tats of his own from his time in the army) and honor her religion. But what was I going to get? Was I really going to do this? In the back of my mind, I kind of always wanted to get a tattoo. I thought it was so unlike me. I wanted to be a ” rebel” and just shock the hell out of people. Goody Two Shoes Tina would never get a tattoo. The thought of it appealed to me, but I didn’t want to be too crazy. I knew I would put it somewhere not too visible-I am a goody two-shoes after all! I decided on the Life is Good guy. Life is Good is kind of my motto, I like what it stands for and the positive message it brings.

The next step was to find a tattoo parlor. I asked a friend and at her suggestion found a great place. I was very impressed with their professionalism. These guys are true artists.  I had to make an appointment and give a deposit. When we arrived, my sister didn’t quite like what the artist had drawn so she asked him to change it. Five minutes later it was perfect and we were ready to go. My sister went first but made me promise not to chicken out. She said it hurt but wasn’t too bad. I was next. The guy told me he  had told friends he was “tattooing a smiley face” on a girl today. i thought that was pretty funny! My tattoo only took about 15 minutes, but it was 15 minutes of serious pain! Man, did it hurt! I have a whole new respect of the pain that people go through. Ouch!  When we were finished we were given instructions on how to care for our tattoos. Like I said-very professional.

My Tattoo-"Life is Good"

Some people have remarked that they think its ironic that I got a “Life is Good” tattoo on my neck and then 2 months later, I broke my neck. I like to look at it the opposite. Maybe because of my tattoo, I can walk today. Maybe that philosophy saved me. I know that I like my tattoo and I have no regrets. I think he’s cute. I like having a smiley face on me. I see it in the mirror and it makes me smile.

I love the weather.  I know that sounds funny.  The weather is what it is and there is nothing we can do to change or affect it.  But I love the weather.   I watch the Weather Channel.  I check weather.com. several times each day.  I have the weather forecasts for other cities saved.  I check my hometown of Baltimore’s weather.  I check the weather at a friend of mine’s house in Minnesota. I check the weather at my brother-in law’s house in New Jersey.   The 10-day forecast is my favorite.  I like to see what’s going to happen with the weather even though we all know it is subject to change. It is sometimes not even that accurate.  I have called that friend in Minnesota and said “Wow, you are having some wild weather there”  She responds by saying “What do you mean?  It’s beautiful here!” (This doesn’t happen often.  We all know the weather in Minnesota leaves a little to be desired!)

I think about what it would be like to be Jim Cantore. He is the well-known Weather Channel anchor. He stands in the eye of the storm wearing his Weather Channel gear.  Sometimes he can barely stand up but he is out there and he is doing his job. I don’t have a great understanding of high pressure systems and why storms form and why it can be 100 degrees one day and 75 the next. People joke that it must be a great job because you get to be wrong 70% of the time.  I think it would be pretty cool to try to predict such an unpredictable thing.

I remember when I retired from the LPGA and wondering if I would still love the weather.  After all, when I played, my living depended on the weather.  I needed to know if the wind was going to  be 5-10 out of the west or 10-20 from the north.  I needed to know that we had 30% chance of thunderstorms or that fog was likely until noon.  I needed to know that .08 inches of rain had fallen the previous night. I wanted to know the high temperature for the day. This was all very important information to prepare me for my round.  I may not be able to reach that par 5 in two if the wind was out of the north. (I could never reach a par 5 in two, but still!)  I might be able to hold my 7-wood better if a little extra rain had fallen. Should I carry a rain suit, bring extra sweaters, or an umbrella? I remember sitting in many locker rooms during rain delays with the Weather Channel on the TV telling us if and when would get back out on the course. It was important back then.

So I do still love the weather.  I like to know what the day might bring.  I want to be prepared. I want to know of I need a jacket or if I should wear pants or shorts.  Plus, you never know when you might meet someone and have to start a conversation. What a better way than: “Can you believe the weather we’ve been having?”

A Dog’s Life

May 8, 2011

Hi there!  My name is Bella and I am a guest blogger for my mommy, Tina.  She said I could write about what it’s a like to live a dog’s life.  I am not really sure what she meant by that so I just looked at her with my big brown eyes and wagged my tail and she seemed satisfied.

I have been living with Mommy and Daddy since October of 2009.  I was born in Prescott, AZ and Daddy drove me to my new house when I was 6 weeks old.  I was a little bit scared but mostly excited about living in a big house with 2 people who seemed pretty excited too!  They told me that they used to have a yellow labrador named Rosey who had died in December of 2008.  She was 14 years old and they were really sad so it took them a little while until they felt ready to get me. There are pictures of her everywhere in our house so she will always be remembered.  She seemed pretty cool.

I love these sticks!

Life with Mommy and Daddy is awesome!  A typical day starts when I whine in my crate to wake them up.  Usually Mommy lets me out and I greet her by jumping on her which she doesn’t seem to like.  I am just so excited  that I can’t help myself!  I always have to sit before I go outside to show how well-mannered I am. After I do my business, and I sit to come back in, I get to eat! I follow Mommy to the garage where she fills my bowl. I then have to sit until Mommy says “take it” and then I usually eat my breakfast in about 15 seconds.  I think my record is 9 seconds.  I am just so hungry that I can’t help myself and the food is so good! After I eat, I am ready for my walk. I have to wait though until Mommy types on her computer. I am usually pretty patient but sometimes I get a little antsy. If I see a shoe or a dish towel, I like to take it to try to get her attention. I get yelled at but I don’t mind since I accomplished my goal of getting her attention. When she walks into kitchen and pulls out my leash I can hardly contain myself. I jump and bark and am so ready to go! They have this pokey collar because I tend to pull Mommy when we walk. Once the collar and leash are on we are on are way, Mommy lets me carry the leash in my mouth for a little while but eventually she grabs it. I like to smell and look around when I walk. Mommy talks to me and it is just the best part of my whole day. When we get home, I always go swimming. I love the pool. It’s so hot here and the water feels so good. Mommy throws a ball into the pool and I like to swim to get it. I also like to dry myself off by rolling on my back in the grass. We stay outside for a little while. Mommy likes to read her book and I like to lay next to her to relax. Once we go back inside I am ready to rest. Mommy types more on her computer. I end up resting most of the day and then around 5:00 I am ready for some dinner! I know my dinner time isn’t until 7:00, but you can’t blame a girl for trying!

I love swimming!

So I guess that’s my life.  Mommy and Daddy really love me and I love them too.  I get fed well.  I get to go into the world and smell everything.  I am excited to start each day. All I want to do is play.  I am happy when I get attention but am fine just laying my head down on Mommy’s lap and taking a nap. It’s a shame more humans can’t be like dogs. From what I hear on our TV, there are a lot of bad things out there. But that’s OK. You can wake up each day as excited as me and be ready to take on anyone or anything. Appreciate what you have and enjoy all things big and small. That’s what I try to do. And I live a pretty good life!

I made it home from the hospital but the recovery was just beginning.  I was wearing a neck brace.  I was still in a tremendous amount of pain.  I was having trouble swallowing.  I was tired.  But I was home and I wasn’t paralyzed so there was a lot of reason for optimism.  My mom flew in from Myrtle Beach to help with my recovery and to give Dan a little break.  Those first few days, I did a lot of sleeping and watching TV.  I was told by the doctor to start walking.  He wanted me to work up to 60 minutes per day.  Those first few days, it was all I could do to get out of bed.  The hallway in our house is about 15 paces long and that is where I started.  I would pace the hallway two or three times and have to rest for an hour.   Eventually, my mom and I made it outdoors.  I am now walking 3-4 miles each day.

There were several other issues that needed to be addressed.  I was not allowed to carry anything over 5 pounds.  Do you realize how little 5 pound is?  It meant I could not open the front or back doors.  I could not pull out the chair at our kitchen table.  I could not carry my laptop.  Everything had to be done for me.  I am what some (Dan) would call slightly stubborn and I like things done a certain way.  This was hard for me!  I had to give up all control.  There was also the issue of my neck brace.  I had to wear it 24/7.  I had to sleep lying flat on my back, but I could use pillows.  Dan was the best at fixing my pillows just right.  Wearing the neck brace also meant showering in it.  Dan and I had a pretty good system and he bought me a shower chair because I grew tired very quickly.  There was also my swallowing difficulty. Eating and taking my medicine was a challenge. My pills needed to be crushed and I found if I put them in ice cream, they tasted pretty good.  I didn’t eat much but I started drinking an Ensure each morning to be sure to get the proper nutrition.  There were plenty of positives though.  I lost weight and my nails started to grow.  I learned that a kind word can make all of the difference in the world and that my friends and family are the best!  I had a steady stream of house guests after my mom left to take care of me including my sister, my best friend, my mother-in-law and my father-in law. I only had a few down moments.  One in particular was when we had to send our puppy to live in New Jersey for a short while. But for the most part I stayed positive throughout.

Me in my neck brace

After 8 weeks, I was finally able to take off the neck brace! I was under the illusion that as soon as it was off, I would be good to go. However, the recovery has been quite slow.  I have had to be very patient.  I am still in pain and take 6-8 Tylenol a day (I got off of the hard stuff around the time my brace was removed) My neck movement is limited. I can move my head up and down pretty well but my side to side movement is limited and probably will be forever. I still have trouble swallowing. (I eat ice cream every day and have lost 15-20 pounds since this whole thing happened) I haven’t been able to work but hope to return soon. My days consist of walks with my dog, surfing the internet, Rosetta Stone, and mahjong tiles. But I am getting better. Just this week, I hit some golf balls and went to the gym. I am planning on trying to play tennis this weekend. One day soon my life will return to being somewhat “normal” I am ready for that day!

Broken Neck-Part 2

May 3, 2011

My husband picked me up at the airport and we went immediately to the Mayo clinic, x-rays from Mexico in hand.  I was still in severe pain but happy to be home and see Dan.  There wasn’t much of a wait on a Saturday night and we were given a holding room pretty much right away. They took  new x-rays and gave me a MRI. We waited quite awhile for the results and even had a little food. Finally, the doctor came in and said “You have a broken neck and are lucky not to be paralyzed” Wow-what a shock!! I knew I was hurt and was hurt pretty badly but never did I think it was this bad. Stuff like this happens to other people, not me. He gave us a prescription for stronger medicine, a bigger and more sturdy neck brace and told us to come back Monday and see a specialist. He told me to lay flat on my back with no pillows and that I would be in this awful brace for 8-12 weeks. Dan and I went home and couldn’t believe what we were told. That night was extremely difficult. I was in tremendous pain. I was so scared that if I made a wrong move I would be paralyzed so I kept wiggling my fingers and toes to be sure they were moving. The next morning, Dan went out to fill my prescription and the doctor that I was to see Monday called. He had looked at my MRI and suggested that I go to the Barrow Neurology Institute at St. Joseph’s Hospital. When Dan returned home, we got in the car and drove to St. Joe’s. They were waiting for me and I was soon admitted. I don’t remember a whole lot, just that they gave me some morphine and I was finally able to sleep a little bit. I was transferred from one room to another and soon given the room I would be in for the next 4 days. I only realized later that I was in the ICU. The nurses were incredible! I think from watching Grey’s Anatomy I had this illusion that the doctors would be in the room the whole time, but it’s really the nurses that take care of you. I was hooked up to all kinds of machines and checked on each hour.

After having a CAT scan and an MRI, it was determined that I would need surgery to fuse the top couple of vertebrae and that two rods would be inserted to stabilize my neck.  In addition, they would be using my floating rib (which I didn’t even know I had!) to help with the fusion.  Surgery was scheduled for January 18 and would take 3-4 hours.  The surgery went well and didn’t take quite as long as they originally thought.  What I remember is waking up from anesthesia and going a little crazy trying to escape. I was trapped in the Mario Brothers video game-so weird I know!! By all accounts the surgery went well.  I was up and walking the next day and released from the hospital January 21, just 3 days after surgery wearing a new neck brace and knowing that my life would never be the same.

Many of you know the story of how I went on vacation and came home with a broken neck, but for those of you who do not…

A friend from my LPGA days has a time-share and invited me and two others for a week of  relaxation, fun and sun in Mexico.  We were in Nuevo Vallarta at a really nice resort and having a great time.  I was working out each morning and then spending the rest of the day trying to even out my tan lines at the pool.  The weather was beautiful as was the pool with its swim up bar, its lazy river, and its big slide.  It was fun to reconnect with old friends and there were laughs all around.  Wednesday, January 12th was a pretty normal day.  We decided that we would stay in that night and just order pizza and drink some of the beer and wine in our hotel room refrigerator.  Just before leaving the pool, we decided to play in a ping-pong tournament.  I was the 3rd of 4 eliminated and saw my other 2 friends swimming in the pool.  So I decided to join them for one last dip before going back to the room.  I dove into the shallow water and hit my head. Looking back I don’t remember what I was thinking. I replay that dive over and over.  I was just being a little goofy and going to join my friends in the pool.  I do remember hitting my head, but came up from the water right away.  The friend that was not swimming told me to get out of the pool because my head was bleeding.  My friends called the hotel doctor and tried to stop the bleeding.  I ran through a whole range of emotions.  I was upset that I was hurt.  I was scared being in another country.  My head was starting to hurt.  My neck was starting to hurt.  And I was embarrassed that I had done this.  I was given 7 stitches in the top of my head and then taken to a hospital for x-rays. The x-rays were negative.  The doctors gave me a neck brace and some medication.  They told me to try to move my head as much as I could to try to loosen what we thought was maybe really tight muscles or at worse a whip-lash.  I spoke to my husband and he urged me to come home.  I was in such pain that I really didn’t think I could fly home yet.  I thought that by Saturday when we were due to fly home, the pain would be less severe. So I spent the rest of my vacation laying in bed watching movies in Spanish and being barely able to move. We did end up changing my flight home so that I would be flying with one of my friends. She was a great help as I made my way through the airport in a wheelchair. The flight home was really tough but after 3 of the longest hours of my life I was home.

So I now had what I call my first job ever.  I played golf for a living but never once did it feel like a job.  I never saw myself standing on a lesson tee and working for The First Tee of Phoenix is so much more than that.  The First Tee’s mission is “to impact the lives of young people by providing educational programs that build character, instill life enhancing values and promote healthy choices through the game of golf”  We help kids become better people and we use golf to do so in a way that is really fun!  I work about 30 hours a week (although I am now on a medical “sabbatical”-details on that in the next blog) which gives me time to do other things.  There are so many positives about my job.  The people I work with are fun, energetic, and creative.  I get to be outside.  I get to give back to the game I love and has given me so much.  We get paid to go bowling, ice skating, swimming, and tons of other cool things. But the  best part and the most rewarding by far is seeing the how the kids grow both as golfers and people.

When I played on the LPGA tour, I basically ran my own business.  I made my own schedule.  I was the boss.  Now I have like 5 bosses all of whom are younger than me.  I am in charge of no one and have limited responsibility.  I  get to do fun stuff but I also have to do things like sort through golf balls, clean bathrooms, and wash windows.   I am still waiting to be promoted into a more challenging position.  At times, I get frustrated I am not doing more or making more money.  I still look around for other opportunities that might come my way.  But I really do like what I do and am committed to doing it to the best of my ability.