Friendly Skies

Middle Seat

It turns out that your neighbor on the plane/bus/train (or the person sitting at the next table at the coffee shop) is a very, very chatty tourist. Do you try to switch seats, go for a non-committal brief small talk, or make this person your new best friend?


Hoping for the best, Millie made her way down the aisle toward her row.  She knew she had a middle seat.  She didn’t mind, really, as long as the people on either side weren’t enormous, or didn’t smell bad. She could even tolerate a chatty person. There were ways to deal with that, when you didn’t want to talk any more.

Okay, here we go.  Row 28, seat D in the center section.  It was apparently going to be a full flight. Most of the seats were already filled, and people were still filing onto the plane.

Oh dear.  Both her neighbors were already in their seats. She was going to have to climb over the little old lady sitting to her right. She looked too frail to move much. Millie stowed her carry-on in the space overhead, and smiled down at her seatmate.

“Ma’am, I’m sorry I’m going to have to climb over you.  I’ll try to be careful.”

She got no response, not any indication that the lady heard her. Millie thought that was odd.  Maybe the lady was deaf.  Gently, she touched the  frail shoulder that was covered by a soft pink sweater. Startled, the lady looked up at her through coke-bottle lenses, seeming to be a bit frightened, even.  Millie smiled.

“Hi, I’m Millie.  I’m in the seat beside you, and I’m sorry, but I’m going to have to climb over you.  I’ll be careful.”

No response.

“Well,” thought Millie, “I tried!”  She bent across the lady and stowed her purse under the seat in front of hers, then carefully stepped past the lady and sat down. She got her seatbelt buckled, grabbed her book out of her bag, and prepared to enjoy a good read.

She glanced at the guy on her other side, and found him to be sound asleep.  His head lolled to his left, and his jaw hung open.  No snoring, thank goodness!

She began to read, enjoying the light comedy/romance for the relaxation it was intended to provide. After a few minutes, she felt a tentative tap on her arm. She glanced up, her ready smile already blooming, when she noticed the tear trickling down the wrinkled, powdered cheek.

“Oh dear!  What’s the matter?  How can I help?” asked Millie, wondering what on earth she was dealing with.

“I’m so sorry, dear. I’m embarrassed to ask, but you see I’m nearly blind, and I don’t hear very well, and. . .well, I need to use. . .you know. . .and I don’t know where it is.”

“Oh, please, don’t feel bad about asking.  I’m very glad to help you.  I’m afraid we’re going to have to wait a few minutes, though, because we’re about ready for takeoff and the seat belt lights are on. Will you be ok for a few more minutes?  If you’re really in trouble, we can ask a stewardess for help.”

“No,” sighed the lady.  “I’ll be fine if it’s not too long. Thank you so much.  I’m Adelia, by the way.  What did you say your name is?”

“I’m Millie.  It should be about five minutes, and then we can get up and find the restroom.”

Adelia blushed. Millie thought it was adorable that her new friend was so shy about having to use the facilities.  She didn’t think anyone was embarrassed about those things any more

Millie waited, wondering if Adelia would have anything more to say, but she remained silent. Takeoff went smoothly, and after about five minutes, Millie leaned over and asked if Adelia was ready.

“Yes, dear, but I can’t seem to undo this seat belt.  Can you help me?”

“Of course.”  Millie expertly flipped the buckle, and then undid her own. “Do you need help standing up?”

“No, thank you, dear.  I can stand, but I’m a little unsteady on my pins. If you could just stay close and maybe hold my hand?”

“Sure. Come on, we’ll find the restroom.”

Millie and Adelia had passed four rows of seats when a young man suddenly stood up and stepped right in front of them.

“Grandma!  What’s going on?  Who’s this woman? Are you ok?  I knew I should have insisted on trading seats with whoever was next to you!”

“Oh, Jeffrey, calm down!  I’m fine.  This young lady is my seatmate. Her name is Millie, and I asked her to help me find the. . . the. . .um. . . .restroom. She’s been very sweet. There’s nothing to worry about.”

Jeffrey didn’t seem so sure.  Millie assessed him pretty quickly as a take-charge kind of a guy who wasn’t going to let some stranger mess with his grandma. She smiled, held out her hand, and said, “I’m Millie.  I’m glad to help your grandmother, but if you’d like to take her the rest of the way, I’ll just leave her in your hands and go back to my seat.”

Jeffrey took her hand, holding it in a firm grip while he made his own assessment. She wondered what he was thinking as his gaze traveled from her eyes to her smile, feeling a flush spread up her neck and cheeks as the seconds crept by.

“No, that’s ok.  I was just surprised to see her with a stranger.  Thanks for helping her. She’s important to me.”

Millie waited by the door while Adelia tended to business, and then, holding hands, the two women made their way back to their row.  Millie went in first, guiding Adelia back into her seat and helping her with her seatbelt. Settling back and buckling her own belt, she glanced at her other seatmate and was completely startled to find herself staring into the very much awake blue eyes of Adelia’s grandson.

“I made a switch,” Jeffrey said. “Hope you don’t mind.  I felt  like it was a good idea for me to get to know a person who was so kind to my grandmother. So, where are you headed?”

A Day to Myself

Nothin’ But A Good Time

Imagine that tomorrow, all of your duties and obligations evaporate for the day. You get the day all to yourself, to do anything you please. What types of fun activities would make your day?


It’s today!  Terry took two of the grandkids fishing, and I’m ALL BY MYSELF IN MY HOUSE!!  Oh frabjous day!  Caloo, calay! No clients to see today.  Everyone is on vacation, I guess, getting it done before school starts.

See, I’m not hard to please. It is so rare that I get to be home all by myself!  I’m playing music on my Bose, and no one is talking over top of it.  I’m going to fix breakfast in a few minutes, and have exactly what I want.  I’m not dressed yet, and that’s cool.  No one is here to care or notice.

I’m going to read. I might even see what morning TV has to offer.

Later, I’ll have to put a meal on the table for the mighty fishermen, but that’s not a chore.  They’ll be full of stories about their day, and it will be fun.

For me?  A day to myself is the BEST thing in the world!

Two Trips

In the Summertime

If it’s autumn or winter where you live, what are you most looking forward to doing next summer? If it’s spring or summer where you are, what has been the highlight of the season so far for you?


In mid-April, two of my closest friends and I took a trip to Gulf Shores, Alabama. You can read all about it here from April 10-17.

Next up?  A mission trip to Slovakia with a team from my church. I’m leaving Friday to spend a little over a week there, and  you can follow that adventure here starting Friday or Saturday, as I have time and access to wifi.  That means I won’t be posting on this blog for a little over a week, and I’m going to miss reading all the daily prompt responses.  Pretty sure I’m going to be too busy, and probably worn out as well 🙂

This photo is from the High Tatras.  I don’t think we’ll be going there, but it’s so beautiful I decided to include it.

Honesty Doesn’t Have to be Brutal

Handle With Care

How are you at receiving criticism? Do you prefer that others treat you with kid gloves, or go for brutal honesty?


(Today’s prompt,, is essentially the same prompt as we had on Sept. 24, 2014.  Here is the way I responded then; nothing has changed )

I got plenty of the brutal honesty thing growing up, so no, it doesn’t appeal to me very much.  But, as I said in my title, honesty doesn’t have to be brutal.  If criticism comes from someone I know cares about me; if it is given in a spirit of concern and kindness, then I’m fine with it.  Some of the best advice I’ve ever received has been given in the form of loving, caring criticism.

It’s never easy to hear criticism.  Most of us, I think, would like to believe that we don’t deserve it 🙂  What I’ve learned, over the years, is to toss out the snarky kind and treasure that which is meant to help and encourage. I’ve grown a thicker skin, learned to sort out the good, the bad and the ugly. I’ve also developed pretty good radar.  I usually know the difference between well-intentioned and just mean.

And that’s all good, because in my work I am often called upon to say things my clients don’t always want to hear.  Years ago, someone told me, “Linda, you can say almost anything you need to say and it will be accepted if you say it with a genuine smile.  If people know you care, you can tell the truth.”  He said this to me after putting me in a place of leadership that would indeed require me to deal with difficult situations now and then.  It was an excellent piece of advice, and one I’ve tried to follow through the years.

Honesty doesn’t have to be brutal.

Three Shots

Take a subject you’re familiar with and imagine it as three photos in a sequence. Tackle the subject by describing those three shots.


First Shot:  The new client looks up from her iPhone as I come down the stairs.  The expression on her face is apprehensive, shut-down, and scared. Her eyes are shadowed.  There is no smile. As I speak her name, she gathers up her things. I extend my hand, introducing myself, and invite her up to my office.  She follows, saying nothing. I’m already pretty sure I know what her story is.

Second Shot: I’ve gone through the preliminaries, started my paperwork, done my best to make her comfortable. Chit-chat about the weather, her cute shoes, anything to put her more at ease. She sits perched on the very edge of the sofa, in the farthest corner away from me, rigid.

Third Shot: She has told me an abbreviated version of the purpose of her visit.  I’m picking up cues from her body language, her downward glances when she’s avoiding the real truth, her rigid posture on the edge of the sofa as if she’s poised to run.  When she finally stops talking and looks up at me, I say to her, “Who molested you?  Was it a family member?”  The third picture is of her astonished face, tears welling and pouring down her cheeks, her body caving inward as she absorbs the fact that I’ve seen through her words to the truth in such a short period of time.

I wish there were a fourth, fifth and sixth shot.  They would show her beginning the long, difficult process of healing, of accepting that what happened to her was monstrous and ugly and changed her forever; that it was NOT her fault, no matter what her abuser told her; that she CAN rid herself of the guilt (false) and fear (overwhelming) that she will turn around and molest her own child, that she is somehow evil because of what was done to her.

And the final shot would be of her strong, look-you-right-in the-eye face several months later as she puts her shoulders back, smiles, and walks out of my office for the last time with a spring in her step and a determination that she will live a normal life, free of the evil that her molester introduced into her heart when she was too little to defend herself.

She is a survior. She is a champion.

Sir Wisdom: A Morality Tale

Tell us about something that happened to you in real life last week — but write it in the style of a fairy tale.


Once upon a time, not so very long ago, a kind and benevolent queen lived in a pleasant palace with her equally kind and benevolent king. They were no longer young. They had reared their precious princes and princesses, who were all married themselves now and living in other palaces, giving kind and benevolent reigns to their kind and benevolent subjects.

One day the queen, whose name was Benevolence (Bennie to her closest friends) decided she would love to do some writing.  Perhaps she would write a book all about what it was like to be a queen in a pleasant palace, married to an equally kind and benevolent king, whose name was Able (short for Amiable).

So Queen Bennie set about the task of writing her book. She required piles of parchment, and baskets of goose quills.  She ordered ink to be made that would fill a tub, and she had a desk specially built to fit her perfectly, with a matching chair. All of this was set up in a special room with  windows that followed the rising and setting of the sun so that there would be natural light for Queen Bennie.  Her eyesight was failing, you see.

Day after day she wrote, while her servants took each roll of parchment when she had filled it up. They stretched each one out to dry, treating all of them with special  potions that would keep them supple and strong. As each one dried, it was rolled up into a scroll and stacked tidily in a book box.

One day, the queen grew restless. She was having trouble thinking what to write next. She even became a tiny bit less benevolent, and she ordered her court wise man to be brought into her presence.

“Sir Wisdom, you must give me a prompt!  I seem to have run out of things to say.  Please, Sir, give me an idea!  Immediately, if you please!”

Sir Wisdom bowed low before looking up at his Queen. “Madame, I shall have an idea for you in the morning, promptly at 8 a.m. Until then, why don’t you rest, walk in the gardens, enjoy some fresh fruit?”

“Sir Wisdom, I shall be waiting!  If you do not have an idea for me at 8 a.m. tomorrow,  you will be very, very sorry!”

The next morning dawned with a clear sky, the twitter of busy birds, and the bustle of scurrying servants as the morning meal, morning baths, morning dressing rituals and morning cleaning were observed.  Finally Queen Bennie was ready to meet Sir Wisdom.

At precisely 8 o’clock, the queen sat upon her throne, tapping her toe and drumming her fingers on the arm of her cushioned seat.  Sir Wisdom was nowhere in sight.

“Where is he?  Has anyone gone to look for him?  I can’t wait much longer!  He is late!  I have work to do!

At 8:30, when the queen’s patience had disappeared, Sir Wisdom came rushing in. He knelt at the Queen’s feet, begging her forgiveness for his tardiness, and confessing that he hadn’t yet thought of a really good idea for her. He trembled, knowing she was a woman of her word. She was about to make him very, very sorry.

“Sir Wisdom, because you have failed me, you will spend the rest of your miserable days  wandering from country to country. As you travel, you will be required to give an intelligent answer to anyone who may stop you and ask you a question. If you fail to respond, the questioner may do with you as he pleases.  Now, begone!

And Sir Wisdom was banished forever from the kingdom. In fact, he ended up being banished pretty regularly.  He just couldn’t seem to come up with ideas for anyone, and he was almost always late.

And he did not live happily ever after.

Written by Hand

When was the last time you wrote something substantive — a letter, a story, a journal entry, etc. — by hand? Could you ever imagine returning to a pre-keyboard era?


Abby sat at her pretty white desk. She had laid out half-a-dozen pens, arranging them in a perfect row like soldiers standing at attention for inspection. She had her favorite pink stationery in front of her, and she was ready to write.

She just didn’t know how to say what she needed to say.

Her laptop sat closed on its own special stand. Should she just type it?  Wouldn’t that be faster?  Then she could send it via email and it would be done.

But when you have to send this kind of letter, it needed to be personal.  It needed to show respect, and kindness, and a memory of pleasant times.  That’s why she’d chosen this stationery.  It wasn’t fancy, just  plain paper in graduated shades of light pink. It felt airy, cool, and personal.

As she sat gazing out her window, Abby reflected on the last couple of years.  There had been so many good time, both serious and fun. Outings and quiet evenings at home with her family or his.  She knew he was very serious about her, and it broke her heart to have to tell him the truth. It was time, though.  Way past time. She loved him, but not the way he wanted her to.

She had always been honest with him. She admired him for his character, his kindness, his love for his family. He knew she wasn’t in love with him at first, but he hoped that would change as they got to know each other better.  Abby had tried. She really had.  People kept telling her how lucky she was to have such a fine, upstanding young man courting her.

But there was no excitement in her heart at the prospect of seeing him. In fact, she had begun to dread spending time with him because she knew without a doubt that he wasn’t “The One.”  He was a friend, but he wasn’t the one that made her pulse leap and her stomach flutter. Someone else did that, and it was time to do what needed to be done.

Sighing, Abby took a pen, wrote the date  in her elegant hand, and then she wrote. . . . .