Archive | September 2015

A Literal Leap of Faith

This afternoon, I went to a neighbor’s house to check out her backyard. She and her husband are hosting a fall festival next month and we discussed some of the details to see how I can help.

One of the best parts of their backyard is a tree house/zip line combo that the husband built himself. Kids love it. And so does he, as he demonstrated as soon as we went outside.

“Your turn,” he said, dismounting the wooden zip line seat.

This is me making a scrunched face while frozen at the top.

This is me making a scrunched face while frozen at the top.

I climbed the spiral stairs to the top of the tree house and took the rope. Then I froze. For a good 15-20 minutes.

I wasn’t as worried about jumping off the ledge as I was about smacking the ground and dislocating a knee or two. I’m pretty tall and the husband is short, so I wasn’t confident about the distance between me and the ground at the lowest point of the zip line.

“Does anyone else ever freeze once they get up here?” I asked him from the top.

“My granddaughter,” he said from the ground.

He assured me that 300-pound men have successfully zip lined their way across his yard without falling off or otherwise injuring themselves, but for whatever reason, I couldn’t take the initial leap. I must have counted to 3 a dozen times.

“OK, here I go,” I’d say, then nothing happened.

“Why is this so hard for me?” I wondered out loud. “I’ve been skydiving! Why can’t I do this?”

Did I mention the husband is in his 60s and has Parkinson’s?

“I have to do it,” I told him from the top, still hanging onto the zip line handles. “I can’t let little kids get the best of me.”

“Or little old men,” he added.

I dawdled, took deep breaths and readjusted the wooden seat between my legs a hundred times. I thought about the time Mom and I went zip lining in Asheville where the highest line was 20 stories up and almost 1,000 feet long, whooshing us over a big valley. Shouldn’t it be easier when I can see the ground?

“I like adventure!” I yelled from the tree house, half reminding myself, half informing the husband that I’m not a pansy.

That’s about the time he likened my embarrassing freak out to taking a leap of faith with bigger things in life.

I sense a blog post, I thought.

Of course, I still had to jump. I would regret it if I didn’t.

OK, it’s a beautiful day, only one person is watching me and what’s the worst thing that could happen? I thought.

And then … I let go.

Four runs and no broken bones later, I discovered that sitting on the ledge and taking off from there is much easier than standing and jumping forward. I still worried each time that I would whack the tree at the end, but it never happened.

I walked home 10 minutes later, proud of myself for doing what countless 5-year-olds have done before me. After all, sometimes it’s harder to be a kid than an adult.

The older you get, the easier it is to see all the things that could go wrong—like falling out of a tree house, dislocating a knee or jamming your toes into an oak tree. It can be debilitating, and not much fun.

But kids don’t typically have that fear factor. They haven’t lived life long enough to recall a news story where someone incurred brain damage from a faulty zip line. I guess you could call them optimistic. Oblivious, but optimistic.

The whole zip line thing also made me wonder: What else am I too afraid to do? Am I missing out on something great by staying in my comfort zone?

It’s one of those lessons you learn over and over and bears repeating. I wish I was the first one to say it, but life is too short to live in fear.

This entry was posted on September 13, 2015, in Life. 1 Comment

Ashley Madison: Still Ridiculous

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Ashley Madison has been in the news a lot lately after hackers aimed their efforts at the infidelity-driven “dating” website and leaked millions of users’ names. Spouses became suspicious of their husbands and wives, millions of Ashley Madison users were put to shame, and the Josh Duggar scandal deepened. I even read about three suicides reportedly linked to the controversy.

I first heard about this website 5 years ago when I worked at the newspaper. At first, I thought it was a joke. A terrible idea at best. Maybe one of those sites someone creates in their sheer boredom only to have it taken down hours later because it’s so dumb.

But no. It’s as real as can be.

I wrote a blog about the site shortly after I heard about it. Five years later, my feelings haven’t changed.

Below is my original blog, posted on July 28, 2010.


Fellow reporter, Jason, recently heard about a website, AshleyMadison.com, through a press release he received at work. The site has a banner boasting, “Life is short. Have an affair.” I felt sick to my stomach reading about it.

Ashley Madison is a dating site for married people. It guarantees a “successful” affair within three months of joining for the low price of $249. They promise no one will know, but have a refund policy just in case.

The company started in 2001 and has more than 6.5 million members across the U.S., Canada and the UK.

“In today’s world, life and relationships have become increasingly complicated and boring,” the site says.

It’s not that people don’t care about their partners, it says, just that they “want more” out of them. One woman says having an affair can send a “wake up call” to your partner so he or she will try harder to please you. That’ll teach ’em.

Really? I can think of another way, like communication. Happy relationships aren’t built on selfishness anyway; they aim to love and serve your partner unconditionally. Couples doing that won’t be bored and definitely won’t lose the spark.

But wait, the site isn’t a bad thing. It actually suggests that couples “seek counseling” if they have problems. How thoughtful.

In the FAQ section, it says, “Ashley Madison does not encourage anyone to stray or have an affair, despite our trademark, ‘Life is short, have an affair.’”

I laughed out loud. “Despite what we say, that’s not what we think.”

Ashley Madison claims its role is to “keep clients from taking unnecessary risks and being subject to exposure while they explore the feelings that got them to various websites related to cheating.”

Why get in trouble when you can pay $250 for a discreet cheat? The site wants to make a client’s experience “a positive one” and says it doesn’t make a person more likely to cheat any more than “increasing the availability of glassware contributes to alcoholism.”

Yet, members are required to correspond with other members a certain number of times each month and must provide profile pictures for the first three months of their membership since people with photos are more likely to be contacted.

The president of Ashley Madison, Noel Biderman, says his site will “increase the likelihood of a successful affair.”

What I don’t get is why people think this type of thing will make them happy, that it’s the answer to a dull marriage. Yes, let’s break the marriage covenant by cheating on our spouses, and everything will be better, life is fulfilling again.

How do people stoop so low to disrespect, dishonor and humiliate their lifelong partners, whether they know about the affair or not? And for what — some temporary, self-centered pleasure on the side?

Why not go away for the weekend and leave the kids with a relative? Cook Thai together and laugh when you mess up? Analyze a stupid movie? Take dance lessons? Fly kites and pretend you’re 10 again?

The same day Jason told me about Ashley Madison, I was listening to the radio on the way to work. The hosts were talking about cheating and brought up one guy who told his wife about dinner with his female co-worker so she wouldn’t suspect him cheating, even though he was.

How dumb, one host said; why not hide it?

I’ve got a better idea: Why not cheat in the first place?

Jason is a single guy with a girlfriend, and I’ve been married for three months. We shook our heads at the site and briefly contemplated not even posting this blog in case we encourage potential Ashley Madison members.

How sad that we even have to think that way, and how disappointing and shameful that so many people think this is OK. The site can guarantee nothing but broken relationships and unhappiness. No affair is a success.

September?!

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I flipped my calendar at work today and stared at it for a minute. Is it really September? How did this happen? I know people say time seems to speed up as you get older, but at this rate, I’ll be browsing the motorized scooter catalog in no time. (Do those things come in chevron print? Blue and white would be nice, with a red racing stripe.)

On my way home this evening, I started listing things I’ve done the past 8 months to remind myself how much has happened—and that time hasn’t, in fact, evaporated into thin air. Things like:

  • A surprise birthday party for Pete’s 30th
  • Playing laser tag with the youth group
  • Attending a bridal show and eating lots of free food
  • A Chris Tomlin concert
  • Vacationing in Orlando and riding roller coasters with my mother- and brother-in-law
  • Painting the youth room
  • Seeing costumes from Downton Abbey on display at the Biltmore with a huge group of ladies from work
  • Eating the best Brussels sprouts I’ve ever had in Owensboro, Kentucky
  • Getting neighbors together for the first time since we’ve lived in this neighborhood
  • Biking the Virginia Creeper Trail for our 5th anniversary
  • Finding out I’m going to be an aunt again!
  • Appreciating co-workers who carried my luggage when I was sick in Jacksonville, Florida
  • Having my family come out to the event in Jacksonville and seeing me at work!
  • Taking a summer Bible study on Jewish feasts and how they relate to Jesus
  • Annual work picnic where I got to see pet bunnies
  • Writing down funny quotes from kids at VBS
  • Babysitting and wondering how stay-at-home parents entertain their kids all day
  • Realizing just how funny the Mean Girls movie is
  • A pedicure and trip to Amelie’s bakery for a friend’s birthday
  • My first experience in Birmingham, Alabama
  • A trip to Chapel Hill where I got much-needed pool time
  • And a bridal shower for my soon-to-be sister-in-law

Maybe it is time for September after all. But still so much to look forward to! Especially the two international trips coming up … 😀