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Category Archives: Five Minute Friday

Five Minute Friday: We “belong”, we belong together

by SweetMidlife

Leslie here!


I write about music, among other entertainment, for a living, so these “Five Minute Friday” prompts often shake off some automatic lyrical connection in my brain (and believe me, there are a lot of ridiculous ’80s songs living there among the cobwebs).

So this week’s, “belong,” immediately made the Pandora in my brain start singing Pat Benatar’s “We Belong,” a now 30-year-old song that featured a children’s choir in white, shot in a gauzy light, as Pat sang about spiritual, physical and emotional connectedness while wearing a white head wrap and gloves with little holes in them. (Holes=spiritual openness.)

At 13, I imagined that was the ultimate love song, about connecting in ways you haven’t even considered, as if the whole rhythm of the earth and sky had prescribed your meeting, as if you existed in accordance with the beating of the clock. That was something I was looking for, I know. It was also very melodramatic, and 13-year-olds bathe in that stuff.

I always wanted to believe that existed, even in college, when a paranoid and sweetly misguided guy in my Christian fellowship group told me that he’d loved the song until he’d really examined the lyrics and decided it was New Agey and demonic and asked you to belong to the thunder.

He meant well, but that’s not what Pat was talking about. Actually, if I could go back to college I’d tell Steven (I think that was his name) that the song could actually be very Christian – We believe God created the night, the thunder and all the elements Pat sings about, as well as our desire to connect to Him and to each other. He gave us the desire to want to be with other people, as friends and lovers, in a way that echoes the way that he loves us, that’s so natural that it’s like the sound of the thunder.

I am glad to say I’ve found that with my husband person. Pat would be proud.


Five Minute Friday: Grateful

by SweetMidlife

Hi! This is Lynne, and this is Five Minute Friday, when a bunch of bloggers each riff on a one-word prompt that changes every week. This week, the word is “grateful”. 

Okay, this is embarrassing, because I taught grammar and such, and I consider myself to be pretty smart, but I often misspell the word “grateful”. I always want to spell it “greatful”. Which is wrong. But I do. But it would be cool if it was spelled like that, because that means it would mean “full of great”. And shouldn’t we be grateful for the great things we have? Huh? Yeah, I was trying to make my goof look relevant, but in all seriousness, I think that “great” could be a part of grateful, because when we see all that we have, and look at the greatness in value, but also greatness in the enormity of their effect on us, we would be more appreciative. Even of the things that seem not so wonderful at first, but later on, we see were good things, like the job we didn’t get, or the relationship that failed, or the house deal that fell through, because all along there was something better for us. All of those things happened to me, and even though it sucked at at the time, I am glad that God cleared all that out of the way for the jobs, the man, and the home I was supposed to have. I am rambling. But I am grateful for the great things in my life.

Five Minute Friday: Mess

by SweetMidlife

Hi! It’s been a minute since we have done this, but this is Five Minute Friday, where you take a one word prompt and write on it for 5 minutes. Good stuff. This week is the word “Mess”. Good one. 

So, I go to MOPS, which stands for Mothers of Pre-Schoolers. It’s a cool way for moms to get together and connect with each other and have other people watch our kids while we eat baked goods. It has been a really, really, cool experience to meet other people, and find out, for real, that I am not the only person currently going through the high highs and low lows of motherhood. This year, the theme is “A Beautiful Mess”, which had me at “hello”, because i feel like the hottest of messes, and the idea that this mess could be and is beautiful is a really attractive one to me. Plus, “A Beautiful Mess” is also the name of one of my favorite songs, by Jaon Mraz, one of my favorite people. I kept wanting to tell that to people in my group at MOPS, but I thought that no one else would get that, or would get as excited about it as I was. The song is about a relationship that is beautiful and messy, and the last words of it are “Here we are”. Like, we have all of our good and bad laid out on the table, and we can gloss over it and make any of it better or worse than it is, and it always seemed like a rallying cry, like, “Well, what do we do with this?” And I am glad, that like that relationship, that God, and my husband, and my kid, and other people who love me, see all of me, because I don’t have the skill or the room in my purse to hide it all. And I am trying to be less messy both literally and metaphorically. And that’s what makes it beautiful, right? The effort to see that through the mess, the end of it will be good. Because you stayed. And you didn’t give up. Messy as it is.

Five Minute Friday: And then a “hero” comes along….

by SweetMidlife

Leslie here!


Years ago, in the midst of a fit of silliness, my sister and a friend half-composed a fake song called “The Smile In The Eyes Of A Child,” which was a likely Coldstone Creamery and caffeine-fueled parody of Mariah Carey’s “Hero” and its cliched middle-school graduation/weepy puppy montage string-together of overwrought emotion and randomly rhyming or almost rhyming cliches – “When a hero comes along, with the strength to carry on/and you cast your fears aside/and you know you can survive…” ….sorry, Mariah, I fell asleep. What was that, again?

Anyway, sometimes I bring that up to people and they either laugh hysterically out of recognition of the forced importance, or they say, very quietly, “I really like that song. That was my graduation song/song I danced to my father with at my wedding/what my child was born to” and then I feel like a complete jerk and go “Umm..but it is pretty!” because there’s no way to get out of the giant foot in my mouth.

In moments like that I have to remember that there is no universal opinion about ANYTHING, and that in my cynicism, which in this case really was based in years of listening to bad writing that passes as sincerity and wanting to barf. you can miss the cues that are telling you that the people you’re talking to are entitled to like what they like, even when you don’t understand. And are appalled. I’ve had conversations about things that I really like, like “Parenthood” or Bryan Adams ballads from movies, that more serious people roll their eyes at or deem my “guilty” pleasures. Boo on that – I don’t believe in guilty pleasures because if I like something I’m gonna tell you. I don’t feel the need to qualify it through the filter of your snobbery. Life’s too short.

So go ahead and love that overwrought power ballad. If it moves you, then it’s done its job. And in a weird way, I’m glad it does even if it makes me roll my eyes, because that’s what art is: subjective. Your masterpiece is my cringe moment.

Love ya, Mariah!


Five Minute Friday: Visiting home, and having home visit

by SweetMidlife

I no longer feel like a visitor in my own home.

Leslie here! Our word for the day is “Visit.” Here goes!


I am a transplant in South Florida, a place that is often said to have no natives, which is dumb and arrogant on the part of the transplants, because somebody’s getting born in those hospitals. Anyway, I’m often asked “Where are you from?” with the assumption that I am originally from somewhere else. And I am a native Baltimorean by way of Pennsylvania. For years that was my identity, to the point where even though my mail was delivered here, I still referred to Baltimore as “home,” though I hadn’t lived there since 1992. I felt lighter there, more comfortable. I felt like I was at home on my visits, and visiting in Florida, which was technically my home.

But a funny thing happened about five years ago – I fell in love with a man who was from home, from my high school, who also felt like a visitor in the state where he’d lived off and on for a decade. But we found more than a person to kiss and share a mortgage with. We found our home. And suddenly, this place where we were living felt like home. Our friends and family were secretly hoping that, having fallen in love, we would move back to Maryland and finally be home. The weird thing was – we each fell in love with a Baltimorean and finally felt like Floridians. We were no longer visiting in this space. We belonged.

I still don’t get how Floridians drive. But I guess I am one now, no longer a visitor in my home. So it’s sort of OK.


Five Minute Fridays: Reflect

by SweetMidlife

Lynne here.


SO the word today is “reflect”. I was all ready to riff on “Reflections” by The Supremes, because it is a cool song, and it was the first thing that popped into my head. But as I began to think, and now as I begin to write on this blog for the first time in like a month (my twin/writing partner has been keeping it up), I realize that “reflect” is a funny word for me right now. Because I guess I haven’t felt like reflecting for the last little bit. And I don’t know why. Every time I started to write, or even thought about it, I just felt tired. I don’t know what that is about. Maybe it meant that I wasn’t supposed to be doing this anymore. Maybe it meant that I just needed a break. I guess that I just felt like I didn’t want to sit and write things out. Bunches of things happened that I could have written about. We lost our uncle, who was our late father’s brother and best friend. A year after my Dad. And my husband’s job situation has been unsure. And the working part-time/child-raising thing has been wonderful/hard/soul-enriching/daggone frustrating. So much to write about. Only I couldn’t. I don’t know why. I just couldn’t. The idea of reliving already wearying things made me more weary. Which is the opposite of what blogging is supposed to do, or at least the opposite of why we decided to do this in the first place, which was to offer some of our insight, and hopefully maybe have other people relate at the same time. So I found other things. I became part of an online Bible Study with moms from my old church, and that has been amazing. We went on vacation, which seems weird in this time of financial ?-ness, but we had already paid for it as part of a mini-timeshare deal, and we couldn’t afford to NOT go. And it was WONDERFUL. I learned more about how to be present for people, and realized how other-focused I have been/can be. I have reflected, and I feel good. God is good. And now, I am ready to do this blogging thing again. But to do it in a way that is steady but not pressured, keeping it up without killing myself but that builds into me and hopefully into others. To be truthful and not forced. Good stuff.

Five Minute Friday: Fly

by SweetMidlife

Leslie here!


“Ain’t no talking to this man

He’s been trying to tell me so”

About 12 years ago I sat at a Denny’s and repeated those lines from Patty Griffin’s “Let Him Fly” to the man who had been trying to, at first subtly, and then with yawning silence, that he didn’t want to see me anymore. It wasn’t so much of a breakup as an acknowledgement that he had mentally and emotionally packed up and moved to Timbuktu. I has summoned him to the aforementioned Denny’s to make him tell me that in person. Maybe I thought he owed it to me, that this thing that I had made to be more in my mind, and that he, realizing that, had allowed to grow in a half-life of simultaneous encouragement and silence, because he didn’t want to be the bad guy.

When I look back though, I know that it’s my fault, too, because as a certified owner of the big girl pants, I should have known. I shouldn’t have needed the words. I mean, they’re nice. But I should have been adult enough to accept what wasn’t there, to let him and this idea that this, at last, was my happy ever after, fly.

How many other things in my life – in your life – are just waiting to fly away, to be let go and released, except you’re holding them to you for whatever reason? There’s that novel I need to finish. That weight I need to lose. My fear of what happens when the newspaper industry keeps chewing away at itself? What’s stopping me? Here’s what Patty has to say about it

“Took a while to understand

the beauty of just letting go

It would take an acrobat

And I’ve already tried all that

So I’m gonna let him fly.”

Let it go. Let it fly. You can’t fly yourself if you’re busy stopping the inevitable. There’s something better your wings were made for.


Five Minute Friday: Grace

by SweetMidlife


Lynne here.

Someone sent me a link to this video where moms are asked to describe themselves as a mom, and everyone was pretty quick to bring up their own shortcomings, like they needed to be more patient, or that they were sometimes a little hard on their kids, and things like that. Then they watched video of their own kids describing them, and what stuck with the kids was that their moms were pretty, and that they love to play with them and spend time with them, and that they loved them. And of course, I sobbed. In the past 3 years I have become a wife, homeowner, and mostly stay at home mom but juggles working part time. And, in the duh statement of the year, it is freaking hard. And I don’t do it all correctly. And that doesn’t feel good. But what does feel great is that when I share these feelings, and when I stood up at a mom’s group meeting of what I thought were women who probably had it all together, people came up and said “Oh my gosh me too!” And the grace that I don’t always have for myself, came pouring out of other people, and that allowed me to soak in it, then pour it back on them. There is grace in honesty, in sharing those moments where we need grace the most. And I look back on those moments and use them as like grace reserves when I am hard on myself. I realize that I am not doing a bad job, and my house won’t fall down if I don’t sweep the floor tonight (or tomorrow), and my husband appreciates me, and my loudwonderfulhilariousopinionated kid loves me. I am doing okay.

Five minute Fridays: Together

by SweetMidlife

Leslie here! Go…

“Let’s get together, yeah, yeah, yeah/why don’t you and me com-bi-ine?”

“The Parent Trap,” from which that groovy, if lyrically uncomplicated lyric is taken, has a love/hate place in my heart, as I’m sure it might for many twins of a certain age – and I’m referring to the 1961 original and not the 1990s Lohan remake, which was cute but not what I’m talking about.

The story of a set of identical twins separated at birth by their divorcing parents, spending their lives unaware of each other’s existence until accidentally meeting at summer camp, might be cuter to those who think of twins as some mythical pixie plot point. I could never be that casual about it – my twin, best friend and blogging partner is a part of my soul, and the idea that these parents were so selfish and cruel that they split these girls like a set of luggage made me insane. Who does that? I mean, people do. But I don’t like these people. This isn’t a heart-warming family movie. It’s a trip to family therapy.

What I do like is the scene with that silly little song, where the twins are spliced together in a scene meant to suspend disbelief in the obvious fact that actress Hayley Mills was playing both .of them – ’60s movies magic was adorable. I like the idea that these girls, who had no idea that they had a sister, let alone a twin, wanted to get their family together, not just their estranged parents,  but themselves. They were jamming on being reunited, on finally knowing themselves – their whole selves. The parents didn’t get my sympathy much. But the girls sure did.



Five Minute Fridays: Ordinary. Or not. Apologies in advancce

by SweetMidlife

I should look like this all the time.

Leslie here!


I know that the word is “ordinary” but I saw the prompt and suddenly Liz Phair’s “Extraordinary” jumped into my head and then I knew I would be writing about that, and not about being “ordinary.” As my creative muse Shawn Colvin once wisely sang, I’ll say I’m sorry now.

Actually, I’m not sorry, because “extraordinary” is just a version of “ordinary.” It’s from the Latin, meaning, “more” or “turbo,” or “really, really pumped up.” It’s a wonderful word, because it’s so simple – the extraordinary version of you is you, plus more. It’s not somebody else, with someone else’s weight or hair or profession. It’s the extra-pumped version of you, building on the base of your own fabulousness, your own awesome, your already existing cool.

All you need to do to be extraordinary is to gird yourself in your reality, take a big breath, and reach. High. Strong. Away. Be grounded in the you, in the reality, but multiply that. Say “What more can I be and still be me? What rungs of awesome have I not climbed?”

I went to a public event last night, like I do for my job, still wearing really beautiful makeup I had had professionally done at the NARS counter at Lord and Taylor in Boca Raton, and I got so many smiles and hugs, but no one said “You look especially pretty tonight” like they did at work where they know I’m a schlub sometimes.

These people who have seen my face in the paper where I am a columnist just assumed that I look like this all the time, that the ordinary me is the extraordinary me. And why shouldn’t she be?

I am extraordinary, like Liz said.


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