I am so impressed by people who invent. I cannot even IMAGINE getting an ingenious idea, assembling the required materials, putting them altogether in some fashion so that the "thingy" actually works and, voilà you are an inventor. I cannot even wrap my mind around that kind of intelligence and imagination. Inventors have been among us since we first stood upright and we have them to thank for every single advance in medicine, science, technology and in everything we see and touch each day. Oh, how I wish my brain was that facile, that imaginative. Sometimes I spend hours (okay, I have a lot of time on my hands) just thinking how something got invented – a light bulb, the telephone, an iron lung, bubble gum – and I am in awe of the inventor and the power of his brain cells to function so amazingly for the good of mankind. The above words have nothing to do with the subject of my ramblings today. I was just thinking about inventors and wanted to salute them publicly. There, that's done!

Now, back to what I wanted to write about. Firstly, MY brain flies off in a hundred different directions at once and absolutely nothing up there gets absorbed for long, let alone organized and put into place to be used later in some useful way. My brain whirs at 175 miles per hour but, unfortunately, my mouth functions at 200 miles per hour (you can see where I'm going with this, right?) so words often come flying out of my mouth before my brain is even engaged. Even I am amazed at some of the foolish, silly things I say and my foot, right up to the thigh, has been in my mouth too often to count. It is embarrassing to admit that my mouth quite often opens without my brain contributing in any way. Something gets said and I look around to see who just made THAT ridiculous statement and, to my utter dismay, it was me!

It would be different if I had something worthwhile to contribute to most conversations but I am one of those people who know a little about a lot of things but not a lot about anything. My brain has all kinds of trivial facts and some thoughts that amuse me roaming around up there but I'm lazy and have never bothered to really learn anything in depth. I bore easily and I avoid subject matter that seems too difficult to absorb. I'm hopeless in geography and even current world events just settle around the perimeter of my brain with no in-depth knowledge of what the hell is going on anywhere. I am not proud of being geographically-challenged and I am downright ashamed of not knowing who is killing who today, what country has had the latest catastrophe, who the Prime Minister of Canada is, how long before the ozone layer is totally gone, etc. I am working on this though. I try very hard to learn where countries are located and I know the general direction of most continents. I even have some idea of what countries lay on top of each other or beside each other, although I still have a long way to go and have barely scratched the surface on all of that. I listen to the news and try to learn what I can from what I hear and see. I read. I don't know why I don't know more than I do – I'm not stupid and I do care about our world but my brain is too full of useless trivia and whimsical matters to allow much else of actual use to seep in.

It saddens me that I have no expertise in any field and I could no more write a "how-to" instruction article than fly. I can, however, with gusto, write a "How Not To" instruction manual on many, many subjects.

For instance:

  • How Not To: marry the first man for whom you have lust Meeting him at 18, knowing absolutely nothing about life, sex or much of anything else (because you're a good Catholic girl in the early 60s) but knowing that he stirs your loins, is not necessarily love. Realizing at 21 that you have nothing in common with this fella except desire for each other and, if the truth be known, you're not even sure you LIKE him, is not going to lead to a long, prosperous and happy marriage.

  • How Not To: find out the man you married was, is and always will be a cheater but staying in a joyless, unhappy marriage for 11 years thinking things will get better. It's not a terrible marriage, he has never raised a hand to you and you are free to come and go as you please, spend what you want, and he is even liberated and helps around the house. Unfortunately, he does not speak to you, has his own friends and his own hobbies (he chases skirts, you knit sweaters) and goes out without you because, quite frankly, he doesn't like your company anymore than you like his. Finally, two children later, the marriage ends. You are thankful for your children. You know that genetically his input into each of them is of good strength and character (except for his little womanizing habit) and you're not sorry that he fathered the little darlings. Now it's bye-bye cheater, good luck and don't let the door hit you in the arse on your way out.

  • How Not To: raise your children by giving them everything you never had (that is such crappola – you had stuff growing up – just not the technical stuff that's out there today). Don't think they are never in the wrong and don't hesitate to correct bad behavior. Don't accept less than absolute respect for you and for others. Don't turn a blind eye to what could be problems on the horizon. Keep the lines of communication open and don't talk down to your children – once they're old enough, approach them on the same level you would approach another adult, regardless of the subject matter Be consistent and mean what you say. Once you lose the authority role, the game's over. Remember, you are the parent, not a friend. They have many friends, people they probably like far more than you at times, but they only have 2 parents and a parent plays his/her role to the very best of his ability. A parent may not LIKE his child at all times, but he LOVES his child deeply and forever. It should work both ways.

  • How Not To: wallow in self-pity for a marriage that never was. By that I mean that the marriage was not a good one, both of you were unhappy and unkind to each other, the tension in the home was palpable and it was not a good environment for any of you. Do not let that one episode in your life destroy your self-esteem and your feelings of self-worth. Get over the anger and the guilt and move on. I cannot tell you how much I wish I had taken my own advice. I was a mess for 10 years and it is only now, at the ripe old age of sixty-five, that I realize how many years of what could have been a good life I wasted pining over a man I did not love in the first place. There are just far too many subconscious reasons to speak of here why I became a victim of my own doing because my marriage failed. Oh, to go back and be wiser.

  • How Not To: waste one precious moment of the rest of your life. We cannot un-ring the bell. We cannot go back and fix what was wrong. We can only ensure that we find joy in our lives today. Hug those you love, family and friends, and know that the words, "I love you" can never be said too often. Cherish your children and grandchildren. Care for your parents in a way that says thank you for the life they provided you. Love yourself and be good to yourself. Ensure that you are financially secure for those "golden years". Life really is too short to spend it on "what if" and "if only". Find joy and peace and love wherever possible and your life will have had meaning.

Now, if I could just write a few "How To" articles, my day would be complete.