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Pets, Places, & Things, Single Space

Summer Plans Laid to Waste

By Lori Welch Brown Seems like just yesterday I was convincing myself that this was going to be THE ‘summer.’ The summer I dropped my extra COVID 19 pounds of flesh and rocked my bikini aka my mommified high-waisted two piece with maximum-hold spandex. The summer that I felt like a million bucks in my sundresses (as in my arms didn’t look like bat wings).  The summer I’d start running again—maybe even sign up for a half marathon.  Heck—maybe a whole.  The summer I started eating healthy, maybe even committing to a plant-based diet.  The summer I actually relaxed. I had a vision, but no plan other than a nightly regimen of chowing down on carbs with an ice cream chaser.  Oh well.  There’s always next summer… It’s hard to focus on these (shallow?) desires when there is so much heaviness in the world.  It is challenging to get out, move, and have fun when you feel as if the universe has gone utterly bonkers.  But, finding joy is important—especially during the summer months.  It’s almost our duty to enjoy some down time, indulge in some ice cream, and dip our toes in the sand.  Joy and happiness—and FUN—are important to our mental health.  Unrealistic goals and beating ourselves up when we fail, however, is detrimental to our well-being. During the dog days of summer when August presents itself as a horse hair blanket coated in hot embers, it is especially important to practice self-care whether it is a midday nap in the air-conditioning, thirty minutes in the hammock with a summer read, or an early morning bike ride. Sure—push yourself a little to pedal an extra ten minutes or log another mile on the treadmill, but do so with caution and an awareness of the big picture.  It’s hot…

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Pets, Places, & Things, Single Space

Freedom Found and Squandered (or Streamed)

By Lori Welch Brown It’s July, and what’s the first thing that comes to mind?  Freedom.  Which, to be honest, I often take for granted because I’m an entitled American, and thanks to a lot of brave people whom I tip my hat to a couple of times a year, I get to say and do what I want. I’m joking, but also not.  I do take my freedom for granted.  I’m guessing that many of us do.  When I think about it, I enjoy a treasure trove of freedoms every single day.  I am free to get up when I choose, free to eat and drink what I choose.  Free to purchase what I choose from whomever I choose.  Free to read and/or write whatever suits me.  Free to leave my house when I want and make decisions of my own will. Many human beings do not share these same luxuries I afford every day.  There are many sick people who are not free to leave their bed, many forced to work two jobs to keep themselves afloat, and many who are trapped under a cycle of domestic abuse—which is my segue-way to talk about what we all really want to talk about:  The Johnny Depp v. Amber Heard trial. For the record, *domestic abuse is no joking matter, and in no way do I want to make light of it.  Although I agree with the jury’s findings, whether you agree with me or not, I’m sure we can all agree that domestic violence is never okay—towards men or women.  Whatever my thoughts are about the trial, I do think that shedding light on the fact that men can be abused and not just abusers was a good thing. In case you have been living in a cave, the…

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Pets, Places, & Things, Single Space

For the Love of Dads

By Lori Welch Brown Bacon, pancakes, the smell of freshly-mowed grass, Old Spice cologne.  Just a few of the things that remind me of Dad.  He’s been gone a year and a half now.  Some days it feels like forever since I’ve talked to him, and other days it feels like just yesterday when I was writing his obituary. Mom died in 2006, and not a day goes by that I don’t think of her.  With Dad, it’s somehow different.  I feel like when he died, he took a part of me with him.  Maybe it’s because I’m his daughter.  Maybe it’s because he was in my life for 14 years longer.  Maybe I’ve had longer to process Mom’s grief while Dad’s is still raw. Whatever the case, dads are different and special.  I know mine sure was.  From the moment I opened my eyes, he’s been there for me.  In the early years, he provided a roof over my head, put food on the table, and made sure I was safe and secure. As I began to grow, he became a coach and teacher watching anxiously as my little legs pedaled away from him or dived into the ocean.  He was always there with good advice, “Slow down for the turns” or to swoop me up after the wave dragged me under. He and Mom set the rules, but he was the enforcer.  Boy, was he strict.  My husband jokes that I’m very black and white in how I think sometimes, and I credit Dad for that.  There wasn’t any gray area when it came to dealing with Dad’s laws.  Curfew was specific and understood.  “Ten o’clock is ten o’clock.  If I wanted you home by 10:07, that’s what I would have said.” There were no veiled threats except…

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Pets, Places, & Things, Single Space

May Days

By Lori Welch Brown May is for moms, and I sure am missing mine.  My inbox is being bombarded with Mother’s Day gift ideas, and my heart feels heavy wishing Mom was here so I could buy her a bouquet of brightly colored peonies, gerbera daisies, and sunflowers. Moms aside, for me, May needs to be about movement which I sorely need.  Someone else already writes the fitness column so don’t worry, I won’t be doling out exercise advice.  But, I will tell you that since COVID arrived back in 2020, my food sensibilities departed along with my gym card. It’s also going to be about making memories as we are headed out for a long overdue trip with friends.  I can’t wait to get on a plane and embark on a new adventure.  Keeping my fingers crossed that circumstances don’t change in a way that prevents us from traveling.  I’m fine with wearing a mask and/or taking a COVID test as long as I can land in a foreign land and immerse myself in a different culture.  Buon giorno.  Come sta? Molto bene! But enough about me. What about you?  How will you be kicking off your summer?  Road trips are always great, and if you’re an ardent reader of the Old Town Crier, you probably have taken this mag along as your guide to some awesome Delmarva destinations.  Day tripping is one of my fave things to do, riding along with the windows rolled down, and the radio cranked up.  Wine country, anyone? Perhaps for some of you, marriage is in the plans this month.  COVID put a halt to many a bride’s plans so now hopefully they are back on the books.  I know I’ve seen a lot of bachelor/bachelorette events over on social media.  So fun…

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Pets, Places, & Things, Single Space

What Goes with Grief?  Hope and a Cold Miller Lite

By Lori Welch Brown I’m writing this column on the tenth anniversary of her death which seems appropriate as April showers bring May flowers.  That’s a bit what grief feels like, right?  Things feels gloomy and dark for a time, and then a bit of sunlight peaks through just enough to allow something beautiful to break through the soil, a sprout of hope. She died in March, on the 16th to be exact, just one day after her youngest daughter’s tenth birthday.  Since 2012, the term March Madness has taken on a whole different meaning for those of us who knew Holly. Holly loved March.  She was actually born in January, but somehow March feels like her month.  She was a St. Patty’s day girl with her fiery red hair and vibrant personality.  She never met a stranger, and she had more ideas than there are four-leaf clovers. This year’s anniversary of her passing felt like a kick in the gut.  She should be here.  Her youngest just got accepted to VCU.  Her oldest—who is the spitting image of her—is set to graduate in May. I could go on and on about what a life force she was—one of my best friends since I was 15—but you didn’t know her.  I could ramble on for hours about what you missed out on, and it would all be true.  Her laugh and penchant for Miller Lites.  Her zany ideas and master plans that she sucked us all into because we couldn’t stand to be left out of anything she was involved in. One such idea had me standing in the freezing rain at a St. Patrick’s Day parade in D.C. trying to sell green glitter shamrock head bopper thingys.  “C’mon, Lor—it’ll be fun,” she said.  She had purchased 5,000 of them…

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Pets, Places, & Things, Single Space

An Anniversary I’d Rather Forget

By Lori Welch Brown Can you believe we have been dealing with COVID-19 for two years?  I’m recalling those first scary months.  The not knowing was paralyzing.  Wear gloves.  Don’t wear gloves.  Wash your hands.  Wash your hands longer.  Wipe down your trash can.  Leave your Amazon boxes outside for 48 hours.  Drink bleach.  Wash down with wine. I remember walking down the hall to my Dad’s room in his assisted living facility and passing a nurse who said in hushed tones, “You really shouldn’t be here.  Lock down started this evening.”  That was March 15, 2020. I didn’t understand what that meant, but the thought of not seeing Dad for a couple of weeks terrified me.  Turns out I didn’t see him again until he went into the ICU in June.  Who’d have thought a trip to the ICU would be a blessing? As it turns out, Dad made two more trips to the ICU that year (non-COVID related) before he contracted COVID in December and passed away. When I hear people question the severity of COVID or try to pass it off as a political scare tactic, my blood boils.  Yes, Dad was 90.  His days were numbered.  I get it.  But, did he deserve to die alone in a room after being sequestered for the better part of nine months?  And, we’re the lucky ones.  Another friend said goodbye to her mom over FaceTime while watching her slowly drown in the fluid built up in her lungs. Pardon me for not marking this anniversary on the calendar and celebrating with confetti and balloons. While I may not be shooting off fireworks to commemorate the occasion, I am grateful. All of the nurses and doctors who risked their lives to care for the sick are true heroes. The…

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Pets, Places, & Things, Single Space

February Weigh In

By Lori Welch Brown Don’t worry.  I’m not going to ask you to step up onto the scale.  Consider this more of a friendly check in, but feel free to weigh in as well.  We’re a month plus into the new year, and I’m curious.  Did you make any resolutions?  If so, have you been able thus far to stick with them? Personally speaking, I like resolutions because I’m a fan of goals, shiny new planners, and the belief that each new year brings a fresh, clean slate.  I’m also a bit of a self-improvement junkie, always stretching and reaching to be the best version of myself.  Frankly, I’m not even sure I’ve gotten to a ‘better’ version of myself, but at least I’ve written down some thoughts on how to get there in my planner. As of this writing, I have managed to abstain from alcohol for 18 days with a goal of 31.  ‘Dryuary’ has quite a buzz around it.  Sorry—I couldn’t resist the pun.  Millions of people take a hiatus from drinking during the month of January as a reset.  I’ve done it in the past, and wanted to give it a shot again.  It was time.  The over-indulgence of the past two years has been weighing me down in more ways than just the number on the scale. COVID-19 provided a nice excuse to indulge and coddle myself so, like many, I found myself drinking more and using comfort food as a security blanket.  Hello, pistachio ice cream.  While that plan provided some immediate gratification along with a false sense of security, I’m left with a pillow around my midsection.  The progress I had previously made with the nutrition app, Noom, went by the wayside, directly onto the waistline.  I now find myself staring down at…

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Pets, Places, & Things, Single Space

Well, Hellooooo 2022

By Lori Welch Brown Well, Hellooooo 2022 Gosh—it’s so good to see you. Come, come. Take your coat off.  Have a seat. What can I get for you?  Hot toddy?  BMW 3 Series? Court-side Lakers’ tickets? Gas under $3/gallon? Whatever makes you  happy.  We need you to be happy, unlike your predecessor. Hey, man. He tried. I get it.  It was a tough start. Talk about guys who got the wrong end of the stick.  I mean, hello.   He got handed the baton from COVID Guy.  He couldn’t even touch it without gloves and sanitizer for God’s sake. What was he supposed to do with that? Don’t even get me started about COVID Guy.  Someone needs to go back to Interviewing 101.  Seriously though.  Did anyone lose their jobs for bringing that guy on board? Anyhow, at least 2021 got us vaccines and opened some joints back up.  I love my home and family and all that, but there’s only so much Netflix a girl can take.  Thank God we could finally dine out—like really out, outside in fact. Then those crazies stormed the Capitol, and we were reminded why maybe it’s best if some of us stay home.  While I’d like to give you credit for getting Señor Crazy out of the oval office, I’m afraid that was 2020’s doing. Anyhow, politics is soooo 2021 so let’s not date ourselves. So—dare I ask what you have in mind for the coming 365 days?  Maybe a little break from making world headlines, i.e., perhaps no pandemics, tsunamis, earthquakes, or alien invasions?  That would be cool.  Maybe just hang a bit and do some low key stuff.  Maybe give Will Smith a call.  He’s got a chill vibe going these days.  Maybe you guys could toss around a few cool sunrises…

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Pets, Places, & Things, Single Space

Shopping with the Ghosts of Holidays Past

By Lori Welch Brown Shopping with the Ghosts of Holidays Past Holidays make me melancholy.  Given that the holiday season now officially begins before the ghosts and goblins have left the building, the ache is encouraged to fester early and often.  Between Mariah Carey’s voice and the faux pine scent being pumped out, there are ample opportunities to be triggered.  Fa la la la BLAH, BLAH, BLAH. I’m no Grinch by any stretch, but some of us prefer a slow roll into the holiday season.  Some of us are awash in memories of sitting around the table with loved ones who are no longer here, raising glasses to ghosts.  Some of us are yearning for one last meal with our beloved Dad, would give a kidney to buy Mom one more bottle of her favorite perfume, or are mourning the end of a union. Please allow us time to dance with our ghosts a bit before launching Cupid and the Easter bunny at us. As we transition from Halloween to Thanksgiving to Christmas, my memories grow stronger and the grief gains momentum.  I find it harder and harder to stay grounded and present when my mind keeps transporting me back to the holiday of my youth. In our household, the beginning of the holiday season was marked by two events: Santa waving from his sleigh at the end of the Macy’s Day parade and the arrival of the Sears, Roebuck and Company catalog delivered to our door.  Let’s just say the Welch’s didn’t kick off the holidays with peace and joy, but rather a fight between siblings to see who would get to ogle and drool all over its pages first.  That poor catalog would be dog-eared and Kool-Aid stained within hours of its arrival.  I’m sure our parents wished…

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Pets, Places, & Things, Single Space

Giving Thanks and Time

By Lori Welch Brown Giving Thanks and Time November is the month of giving thanks, but really shouldn’t we be expressing gratitude daily? I say that and yet I find myself struggling a bit to push my sadness and anxiety aside in order to feel genuine gratitude.  October dealt a few blows that hit below the belt.  A couple of dear—not to mention, young and vibrant—friends received frightening medical diagnoses.  Another friend’s son decided to take his own life.  Another friend is struggling with walking again after a stroke left her paralyzed.  As I’m writing this column, I received word that a friend’s brother passed away suddenly and unexpectedly leaving her devastated. With all this awful news, I can’t help but wonder what the universe has in store next?  Tsunami?  Another mass shooting?  And, I’m angry because it seems that the kindest, most caring people I know seem to either be taken away too young or dealt the worst hands. I find myself asking, “What or who is next?”  “Is it my turn?”  When does the other shoe fall? That’s no way to live so I’m left with faith, hope, and prayer.  I can be angry, anxious, and worried, or I can be content, hopeful, and trusting in the fact that there’s a higher power that is in control of the situation.  Whatever the outcome, I’m not in charge.  All I can do is pray and keep the faith. Oh—and give thanks. On those days when I find myself slipping down into the dark rabbit hole where funk resides, giving thanks requires a preliminary pep talk.  I’ve found that even on the darkest days, there is always something to be grateful for—the food in my pantry, the fact that I have a pantry, the excellent medical care available to my…

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