My 15 Minutes of Infamy

My 15 Minutes of Infamy

My sister Betsy and I have always been close. I always have her back and sometimes I have her throat too. Like I said, we’re very close.

My sister Betsy and I have always been close. I always have her back and sometimes I have her throat too. Like I said, we’re very close.

[The following is true.] This story is not really about me. But as is usually the case when I tell stories, I’m going to make it about me anyway. My sister Betsy and I have always been extremely close – unless you count that one time when I’m fairly certain she tried to kill me. But I digress.

Way back in 1999, Betsy was interviewed by Katie Couric on NBC’s Today Show with her twin boys. To understand how they ended up on national TV, we have to go back several years before her national television debut, to September 8th, 1990.

At that time, Betsy was massively pregnant with twins and due to deliver in six weeks. Doctor’s orders restricted her to no travel outside Albany, where she lived, in case the babies got pushy and tried to arrive early – which if you ask me, is highly inconsiderate of any prenatal youngsters. I therefore persuaded Betsy to go on a drive with me 60 miles north to the idyllic Lake George. I was particularly looking forward to a boat ride. In my defense, I was not yet a parent myself – and I’m a guy – you really can’t expect me to have a clue about obstetrical matters.

Betsy said okay – except for the boat ride – something about not wanting to rock the pregnancy boat. And she rudely insisted on driving. I gently pointed out that she was too huge to fit behind the wheel. She slugged me. Then she maliciously accused me of being a poor driver who hit every pothole and bump in the road.

Long story short, we had a lovely day up north. Betsy began the drive home, but soon got too exhausted to drive. Wimp. Reluctantly, she let me take the wheel. As Betsy had predicted, I hit every pothole and speed bump, enduring Betsy’s repeated rants of: “If the babies are born tonight, it’s your fault!” Personally, if you ask me, I think New York State needs to improve its highways.

Spoiler alert. Betsy’s babies didn’t arrive that night. In an unrelated story, at 5:00 the next morning, Betsy went into full labor. Her first words caught me by surprise: “Tim, this is your fault for hitting every bump in the GD road!” At 9 am the boys came down the chute. (Is that okay to say in a story about your sister? ) They weighed in at a scant 3 lbs. 14 oz and 4 lbs. 8oz, respectively. Though tiny, Betsy’s identical twin boys were just fine.

The same could not quite be said about Betsy. Apparently worn out from a challenging birth – or perhaps just from visiting too many tourist shops at Lake George the day before – she was utterly exhausted and became incoherent. She actually started speaking exclusively in French (she had lived several years in France). On the negative side, doctors were worried that she might have suffered some mysterious medical complication. (She hadn’t). On the positive side, her French was flawless.

The twins were born on September 9th, 1990. Most normal people would not think anything special about that date and would just be glad their newborns had approximately the right number of fingers, ears and noses. But my sister somehow figured out minutes after she regained the ability to speak English that one day her boys would celebrate a uniquely memorable birthday.

This is my sister Betsy, cradling her newborn identical twin boys. I know, it’s hard to tell them apart. So, in case you’re not sure who is who, Betsy is the one in the middle.

This is my sister Betsy, cradling her newborn identical twin boys. I know, it’s hard to tell them apart. So, in case you’re not sure who is who, Betsy is the one in the middle.

Nine years later, at the 9th hour of the 9th day of the 9th month of the 9th year of the 9th decade, the twins would turn, wait for it, 9.

Fast forward to summer 1999. Betsy had a brainstorm – inspired by an innocent query of her twins as to what they wanted for their birthday: “We want to be on TV”. So, she called a local news station and told them how her identical twins would be turning 9 years old at precisely 9a.m. on 9-9-99. They referred her to NBC, who referred her to Willard Scott (remember him?) Apparently, it was a slow news week because The Today Show said YES! They wanted to interview Betsy and her twins on LIVE TV. Oddly, the network neglected to interview me. I’m not going to lie. That slight really stung.

NBC flew Betsy and her twins, named Tyler and Kevin (not their real names), from Albany, NY to New York City, met them with a limousine, and put them up at the luxurious Essex House Hotel on Central Park. (Okay, I lied. Kevin and Tyler ARE their real names. I just wanted to protect their privacy. I appear to have failed miserably.)

Finally, Betsy’s big moment of national stardom was here. While she was on the set of The Today Show, chatting with Al Roker, I was in my living room, wearing a nice beige pull-over cotton shirt and blue jeans, having just finished cleaning up the dishes and taking out the trash. Now that I re-read the previous sentence, I see that it really added nothing to the storyline. Please accept my humble apology.

Anyway, right after the commercial for Bounty Towels, the show was back on. Katie Couric introduced my sister and the soon-to-be-famous twins to a national television audience. She began with a warm hello to the boys. And was met with … dead silence. You could hear a pin drop. Katie prompted them with an innocent question about their favorite birthday present. She was met with a torrent of rambling twin-speak, as Barry and Larry (not their real names) answered together, babbling in harmony about some colorful thingamajig that sparkled and twirled. The ever-poised Ms. Couric, who had interviewed movie stars and world leaders with aplomb, was speechless.

She recovered, however, and steered the interview in another direction, asking Betsy, “Is it true that their uncle played a significant part in their birth story?”

And you thought I was making this up. Here’s Katie Couric of NBC’s Today Show on 9-9-99, after Betsy’s appearance with her twins. Apparently there was a scheduling mix-up, as I was accidentally left off the show.

And you thought I was making this up. Here’s Katie Couric of NBC’s Today Show on 9-9-99, after Betsy’s appearance with her twins. Apparently there was a scheduling mix-up, as I was accidentally left off the show.

Then Betsy began to destroy my reputation: “My brother Tim is a terrible driver.” She proceeded to retell the events of our driving adventure on September 8th, 1990, and how I hit every bump on the road. “I told Tim to drive more carefully because he had a pregnant woman in the car. I even said, ‘If I give birth tonight, it’s ALL YOUR FAULT!’ Sure enough, the twins were born the following morning. They have called my brother ‘Uncle Bump’ ever since, because of his driving. I need to reiterate this. Tim is a really bad driver.” 

Thanks for throwing me under the bus, sis. I may be a terrible driver, but if it weren’t for Ole’ Uncle Bump, your kids would’ve been born on some forgettable date at a healthy weight and lived lives of obscurity. And you never would have been on national TV, chatting with America’s Sweetheart, Katie Couric.

So, if you ask me, this story is really about how great a big brother I was by selflessly helping my little sister achieve her 15 minutes of fame. She returned the favor by turning the spotlight on me for my 15 seconds of infamy.

That’s the view from the bleachers. Perhaps I’m off base.

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© Tim Jones, View from the Bleachers 2020. Edited by Betsy Jones.

Travels With Grumpy

Travels With Grumpy

This is me, Grumpy, with my owner. I’m the one in front. We have been together for over 40 years. One of us, on a good day, still has the maturity of a nine-year-old. I’ll let you guess which one.

This is me, Grumpy, with my owner. I’m the one in front. We have been together for over 40 years. One of us, on a good day, still has the maturity of a nine-year-old. I’ll let you guess which one.

Hi, there. I’m Grumpy. No, not that Grumpy. I’ve never met Snow White. Do I look like one of her minions? No, I’m Grumpy the bear. My owner, Tim Jones, adopted me in 1980 when I was a mere cub, barely 4 inches tall (and wide). I’m still the same size today because he never feeds me.

I need to get some things off my chest. I’ve kept silent for the past forty years. That’s in part because, technically, I’m a stuffed animal, with no vocal chords nor, for that matter, a mouth – unless you call this tiny strand of yarn below my nose “a mouth.”

You see, I’ve been bounced around by Tim, his sister Betsy, and their pal Dale for decades. The three of them have traversed the globe, taking turns with me riding shot gun. I’ve been to five continents – six if you count Iceland. Go ahead – correct the brainless bear by pointing out that Iceland is technically not a continent. Why would you expect a stuffed animal to be an expert on world geography? I’ve had virtually no schooling, since Tim and his cronies never saw fit to take me to school with them – , or even so much as let me watch a TED Talk. So cut me some slack, okay?

Over the past forty+ years, I’ve trekked to Paris, Berlin, Rome, Ireland, Switzerland, Russia, Botswana, Zambia, Malawi, South Sudan (during a civil war, I might add), Indonesia, China, Machu Picchu, Bali, and Scranton, PA, just to name a few. (Gotta say, I was surprised how much I liked Scranton. Good people.) Oh, and one more destination: The North Pole. More on that later. Dale, through his contacts at NASA, arranged for me to ride on the Space Shuttle, but then they cancelled all Space Shuttle flights forever. A pretty extreme way of keeping the Grump from exploring outer space.

Lest you’re thinking, “Wow, Grumpy, what a charmed life you’ve led. I’m so jealous,” – don’t be. These were not exactly Rick Steves tours – with the exception of a Rick Steves tour we took of Northern Italy. Um, what was my point? Sorry. With fluff for brains, I get easily distracted.

My point is that most of these journeys were no picnics. While I have explored all four corners of the globe, it is usually in cargo, in the bottom of a suitcase, inside a shoe, with no view and no free soda and peanuts.

When Tim and I flew to Paris, sure, he took a selfie of us in front of the Eiffel Tower. But did he let me check out the view at the top? Heck, no. It was one quick photo, then slam – back in the backpack.

Top row, L to R: Grumpy balancing atop a termite mound in Botswana; studying a map of Ireland in a B&B in Shannon; NOT catching the view of Mont Saint-Michel, France, from our hotel room. Middle: Grumpy checking out Komodo Dragons in Indonesia; downing Fanta’s with the locals in Zambia. Bottom: Grumps contemplates his empty glass of Merlot, oblivious to the 9th century Mahayana Buddhist temple behind him; so close to bathing at a sacred temple in Yogyakarta, Indonesia; examining the wrought iron work on a balcony in Paris.

Top row, L to R: Grumpy balancing atop a termite mound in Botswana; studying a map of Ireland in a B&B in Shannon; NOT catching the view of Mont Saint-Michel, France, from our hotel room. Middle: Grumpy checking out Komodo Dragons in Indonesia; downing Fanta’s with the locals in Zambia. Bottom: Grumps contemplates his empty glass of Merlot, oblivious to the 9th century Mahayana Buddhist temple behind him; so close to bathing at a sacred temple in Yogyakarta, Indonesia; examining the wrought iron work on a balcony in Paris.

One time, Tim, Dale and I trekked to Zermatt, Switzerland, home of the world-famous Matterhorn. I was stoked to join them skiing down the powdered slopes, taking in the incredible vista. But Tim shattered my dream,  claiming skis didn’t come in my petit size. I doubt he’d try that lame excuse on his true favorite stuffed animal, his brainless beagle Snuffles.

When Betsy ventured to Machu Picchu, she made certain to snap the classic tourist photo of me with the ancient ruins in the background. But before I could ask, “Is there a Starbucks nearby?”, boom again, back into the duffel bag, wedged between a leaking water bottle and her sweaty socks. I gave her a scathing Yelp review.

Throughout these wanderings, I’ve spent countless nights in dodgy lodgings. Man, these three people are cheap. They seemed to prefer hotels without elevators. Picture me scaling the stairs on my half-inch paws to Dale’s 4th story room in Jakarta. Whoever manufactured me didn’t know much about teddy bear paw design. But there was a bed – which  Dale wouldn’t let me snuggle in. I had to crash in the sink. Not even a pillow, much less a mint.

Here I am at the North Pole, thanks to a really crappy cruise ship. Not complaining, but the all-you-can-eat buffet sucked, and they wouldn’t let me play shuffleboard unless I agreed to be the puck. So unfair. [This is a real photo of Grumpy at the North Pole. At top is a photo of the actual Russian ice breaker Grumpy took to reach the pole.]

Here I am at the North Pole, thanks to a really crappy cruise ship. Not complaining, but the all-you-can-eat buffet sucked, and they wouldn’t let me play shuffleboard unless I agreed to be the puck. So unfair. [This is a real photo of Grumpy at the North Pole. At top is a photo of the actual Russian ice breaker Grumpy took to reach the pole.]

When Tim and I flew to China, I was exhilarated! Maybe I’d see the Great Wall, or perhaps the Terra Cotta soldiers. Wrong again. Turns out, he was there to adopt some cutesy baby girls, not travel with Grump. In fact, my presence was an accident as I wasn’t even supposed to be in his luggage. Guess how much attention he paid me once he stared into their innocent googly eyes? Correctamundo. None. I would have been better off back home hibernating.

Don’t ask me what the food is like in London, Lugano, Leningrad, or Lusaka. How would I know? Tim, Dale, and Betsy rarely took me out for dinner. I haven’t a clue how I’ve survived these 40 years without a proper meal. Oh right, because I’m an inanimate object made of stuffing. Duh!

Even my trip to the North Pole was bogus. A friend of Tim’s booked passage on a Russian cruise ship sailing out of Murmansk and I hitched a ride. The view from our cabin? One star. Nothing to see see see but sea sea sea. The unlimited buffet featured only unlimited cod. Do I look like a seal? No casino, no wave pool, no Trivia Night. A total bust.

We fought pack ice for seven days before finally reaching the pole. I picked the wrong time of year to shed my winter coat. It was freeeeeeezing out! But what a thrill to step onto a massive ice floe. Not bragging, but I’m pretty sure I’m the first fake bear to have set foot, er, paw, at the North Pole. Talkin’ to you, Fozzie. After that fleeting commune with nature, I was back below deck.

Through all these misadventures, I’ve stoically accepted my place as the quiet, accommodating sidekick. I never complained, despite the fact that not once in all of my globe-trotting did my travel buddies let me bob in the hot tub or order room service – or even use the remote. That’s why I had to set the record straight.

Uh oh. I just overheard Tim talking about another trip to Paris. Oh, non, non, non! Parisians are such snobs.

That’s the view from the bleachers. Perhaps my owner, Tim Jones, is off base.

L to R: Dale, Cousin Betsy, Tim, Sister Betsy, Dave

L to R: Dale, Cousin Betsy, Tim, Sister Betsy, Dave

[Author’s note: The story behind the story: When I was in my twenties, I bought a small teddy bear. Round and about the size of a softball, he had a frowny face. So, I named him Grumpy. I decided that all my closest friends needed their own Grumpy’s, including my sister Betsy and my friend, Dale. So, I bought them each their own. I wasn’t going to share mine! See photo.   

It eventually became an ongoing challenge between me, Betsy, and Dale to take photographs of our respective Grumpy’s in increasingly exotic locales. The three of us have been doing this for the past forty years. 

Many of the most extraordinary trips mentioned in this piece were taken by Dale or Betsy, both of whom share a love of travel. But it was my Grumpy who actually sat on the pack ice at the North Pole, having trekked there in a Russian ice breaker. Suck it, Dale and Betsy! – TEJ]

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© Tim Jones, View from the Bleachers 2020. Edited by Betsy Jones.

A Matter of Time

A Matter of Time

Once upon a time, a long time ago, while I was watching prime time TV, I started thinking about the notion of time. I had some spare time, and it was Teatime, so I grabbed some Earl Grey, set the timer, and pondered. Then I fell asleep. When I woke up from my naptime, it occurred to me that life is a race against time.

My dad’s mantra was, “Time is money.”  He was constantly pressed for time to get the job done, always finishing in the nick of time. He never took nearly enough time off. He’d often give me a hard time about my not being on time, and as a result I’d end up with a timeout. On the other hand, my mom used to tell me, “Just bide your time, and everything will be okay.” Not sure what her point was. Maybe in time it will make sense.

I remember the time I was watching a thrilling football playoff game. It went into overtime. My team almost won, but they ran out of timeouts. I’d tell you the rest of that story, but I don’t want to waste your time.

The time was when we didn’t obsess so much about time. Now, we’re all so dang time-starved. People are too busy keeping up with the times to give you the time of day. Your boss screams at you, “This is not the time to be texting! You’re on company time.” I dread switching over to Daylight Savings Time because that’s another hour I’ve lost in my life. You may say I’m behind the times, but I think we all need to take more time to stop and smell the roses – or do the New York Times crossword puzzle. I know that when the time is ripe, I’ll make the Big Time. Or not. Only time will tell. But in the meantime, it’s time to slow down.

Ask yourself: Are you just a Good Time Charlie, or are you going to make something of your time on earth while there’s still time? Remember what the great Roman philosopher Cicero once said: “Tempus fugit.” (Time flies.)  I know this big-time operator who swindled investors on fake Rolex time pieces. He’s now serving time in the Big House. So, use your precious time wisely, or in no time flat, you could be doing hard time, too. At least then you’d have plenty of time on your hands to catch up on your to-do list.

One time, I was at the right place at the wrong time. I suspect God has a devil of a time dealing with Satan. Don’t appreciate the previous two time jokes? Well, perhaps third time’s a charm. But I digress.

The time has come for me to conclude my meanderings about the fleeting nature of time, while time is on my side. What I’m trying to say is, don’t let time slip through your fingers. Right now could be the time of your life – unless you’re stuck in a time warp or happen to be my buddy Fred. He’s going through a rough time, thanks to his two-timing wife. And I thought for sure his marriage would stand the test of time. He’s hurting big time right now.

It’s high time we take a look at our lives and make time for what’s really important, like spending quality time with friends and family. I wish I could just buy more time to be with them. Maybe that’s what timeshares are all about. But time waits for no one, and we cannot always make up for lost time.

Since time immemorial, we’ve known that our time-sensitive lives aren’t frozen in time. Life keeps ticking, like a time bomb. In next to no time, “boom!” There’s no time left on the clock. So don’t just kill time. Facetime the faraway people you love. Because, let’s face it, we’re all living on borrowed time.

For the time being, my advice is to take it one step at a time. I hope you’ve found this article timely. I completed it right on time. Not sure it’s one of my best of all time. If not, I’ll try to do better next time.

Wow, in writing this, I’ve totally lost track of time. I guess what they say is right: Time flies when you’re having fun. Look at the time! It’s Miller Time. Time to call it a day. But I’ll be back in no time with another time-tested commentary – unless God tells me my time’s up.

PS: Here’s a fun fact. My first name is Tim. And my middle initial is E. So, even my name is all about TimE.

That’s the view from the bleachers. Perhaps I’m off base.

PS: If you enjoyed this week’s post, let me know by posting a comment, giving it a Like or sharing this post on Facebook.

Subscribe to my new View from the Bleachers YouTube Channel and request notifications to see my latest videos.

© Tim Jones, View from the Bleachers 2020

NFL Rules Changes in Light of COVID

NFL Rules Changes in Light of COVID

For the upcoming NFL season, the Commissioner and team owners are leaving NOTHING to chance to protect players, coaches and staff – except for the minor suggestion from the CDC that the NFL shut down completely until a vaccine is available, which suggestion they duly ignored.

For the upcoming NFL season, the Commissioner and team owners are leaving NOTHING to chance to protect players, coaches and staff – except for the minor suggestion from the CDC that the NFL shut down completely
until a vaccine is available, which suggestion they duly ignored.

I’m mad as hell and I’m not going to take it anymore! This Coronavirus has gone too far! First it closed down the stores and I’ve been forced to shop on Etsy. Then the schools close and kids are climbing the walls. Next it’s “social distancing so I can’t even snuggle with my cats. I thought we’d hit rock bottom with “No Mask – No Entry.” I was wrong.

Every Autumn, the National Football League gears up for its regular season. But this year, there won’t be very much that’s “regular” about it. Starting with the elimination of all pre-season games, the NFL has decided to implement some unsettling, even draconian procedural changes to ensure the protection of players, coaches, and attractive female sideline reporters. Here are just a few changes you’ll be seeing this year, thanks to COVID:

Safe Social Distancing

Following the distancing guidelines of the CDC and the World Health Organization, all NFL players will be required to maintain at least six feet of separation at all times during practices and games. On the downside,  as a practical matter, all blocking and tackling will, of necessity, be prohibited.

On the upside, fans may witness some of the highest scoring games in NFL history. ESPN commentators contend that the record for most points racked up in a single season (606 by the 2013 Denver Broncos) is in jeopardy of being shattered. Some predict Kansas City Chiefs QB Patrick Mahomes alone could eclipse that lofty milestone by halftime in his team’s season opener.

Accidental Contact

Replacing the traditional penalty for unnecessary roughness will be a new yellow flag for unnecessary contact. If a player is caught making contact of any kind, even incidental, with any other player, this violation will result in a 15-yard penalty. In addition, both players will be required to remain in quarantine for 14 days. Some worry this could also have a chilling effect on high-fives and chest bumps after touchdowns.

Honor System for Tackling

Defensive players who feel they would, under normal circumstances, have been able to tackle an offensive player but for the social distancing policy, will be permitted to submit a written appeal to the referee within five minutes from the conclusion of the previous play. At that point, game officials will then have up to 15 additional minutes to review play footage from fifteen different angles to determine whether such a tackle would have been more likely than not. If the defender wins his challenge, the ball will be returned to the spot of the otherwise probable tackle – and the defender will be permitted to issue a profanity-laced tirade of smack talk about his opponent’s athletic failings and the ref’s incompetence (while maintaining a safe social distance).

Protective Field Shield

Borrowing an ingenious solution from grocery store checkout counters, the NFL has announced that as an added level of safety, officials will lower a giant 10-feet tall plexiglass screen onto the line of scrimmage before every play. This impenetrable partition, running the entire width of the field, will ensure no players run the risk of exposure to an opposing team player, not to mention virtually eliminating all offsides infractions.

Ball Replacement

After every play, footballs will be incinerated, replaced by a new ball delivered in a hermetically-sealed wrapper. For added safety, runners and wide receivers who come in contact with the pigskin will be required to report to the team’s medical tent until they have been cleared by a team physician with a negative COVID test result.

League officials have a backup plan if too many players get infected: Hamster Ball football. Healthcare experts claim it’s an ideal way to keep players safe. Some are skeptical, arguing it might cause increased difficulty throwing or catching the ball.

League officials have a backup plan if too many players get infected: Hamster Ball football. Healthcare experts claim it’s an ideal way to keep players safe. Some are skeptical, arguing it might cause increased difficulty throwing or catching the ball.

Hand Sanitization

Players will be required to wash their hands after each down. To facilitate this and avoid delay of game penalties, all players will be provided with fanny packs pre-loaded with Purell dispensers and hand wipes.

Facemasking Penalty

This penalty has been redefined for the upcoming 2020-21 season. Henceforth, players will receive a facemasking penalty if they are found standing in the huddle – or on the sidelines – or in the locker room – or on the team flight home – without wearing an N95-approved facemask. This will be a league-imposed sanction requiring players to continue wearing an N95 facemask until the following game.

Sudden Death Overtime

If two teams are tied at the end of regulation, overtime will be handled differently this season. In order to reduce the risk of extended player-to-player exposure, the league will direct the coaches from both teams to compete at midfield in a head-to-head X-Box match-up of Madden NFL 20. The first video team to score will be declared the winner of that day’s contest, with the winning coach permitted to select one X-Box game player from the opposing team for their fantasy football league.

Locker Room Sterilization Measures

Locker rooms are super spreader environments for germs and bacteria. Therefore, as a precaution, all locker rooms will be permanently sealed up. This year, players will take turns standing naked on the artificial turf, as teammates spray them down with a garden hose and disinfectant.

Determining the League Champion

This season, league officials have decided to forego the Super Bowl for the first time in its history. Taking its place, the league champion will be determined by which team has the greatest number of uninfected players remaining at the end of the 16-game season – that is, assuming any team makes it that far.

That’s the view from the bleachers. Perhaps I’m off base.

PS: If you enjoyed this week’s post, let me know by posting a comment, giving it a Like or sharing this post on Facebook.

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© Tim Jones, View from the Bleachers 2020. Edited by Betsy Jones.

Stressed Out Meditation

Stressed Out Meditation

Life is stressful. So, I recently purchased a meditation CD. But I’m not sure it’s helping. Take a listen and tell me what you think.

For most of us, life is getting more complicated, faster-paced, and more stressful than ever. My suggestion: Slow down. Breathe in. And listen to a meditation CD. Just not the one that I recently bought.

For most of us, life is getting more complicated, faster-paced, and more stressful than ever. My suggestion: Slow down. Breathe in. And listen to a meditation CD. Just not the one that I recently bought.

Welcome to this audio relaxation program. Over the next 20 minutes, you will learn how to block out the worries and cares in your life. You will walk away feeling calm, with a renewed energy. Let’s begin. Take off your shoes and sit in a comfortable position. Close your eyes.

Now, take a deep breath in through your nose. As you do, notice how it feels a bit harder to breathe deeply than it used to. That may be because of your recent weight gain. Breathe out – through your mouth.

Let all the stress empty out of your body. Remind yourself that there is no point worrying about being woefully behind in your sales quota. Let it go. With just two weeks left in the quarter, you’ll never make it. Breathe in.

Begin to notice how the muscles in your shoulders and neck seem extremely tight. To release the tension, relax each muscle group. Flex your fingers and toes. Let them go completely limp. As you do this, clear your mind of anything that is weighing on you, especially this morning’s news that your son is flunking Algebra and English – and just about everything. Looks like he’ll be re-taking 9th grade. Breathe out.

Slowly raise your arms and legs, flexing each limb and then relaxing. Let all the stress flow out of your limbs, much like your retirement fund is flowing down the river after paying for the new roof that leaked after the storm of the century. It’s only money. You can’t take it with you. Breathe in.

Continue your progressive muscle relaxation and move to your core. Notice how tight your stomach is starting to feel. This is natural when visualizing your wife’s rage that you spent $800 on golf clubs instead of patching the roof before the rainstorm as she told you to do. Breathe out. Begin to visualize a happy place – far away from your wife. Perhaps a spring meadow filled with tulips and daffodils. Isn’t it beautiful? Now imagine how you will actually get to this peaceful meadow, given that your car’s engine is making that unsettling grinding noise. It could mean your transmission is about to go. Probably not. Forget I even mentioned it. Breathe in.

When you’re feeling stressed, think about your pet, Bongo. He never worries about ANYTHING. Try to be more like him. Don’t give a second thought to the priceless bedroom carpet he chewed to pieces last weekend. You wanted it replaced anyway, right? You’re a good dog, Bongo. Yes, you are!

When you’re feeling stressed, think about your pet, Bongo. He never worries about ANYTHING. Try to be more like him. Don’t give a second thought to the priceless bedroom carpet he chewed to pieces last weekend. You wanted it replaced anyway, right? You’re a good dog, Bongo. Yes, you are!

Lie down on the floor. Give your arms and legs a good, long stretch. Let’s try another visualization. Imagine you’re on a sailboat that is taking you away to a tropical paradise. Feel the soft, warm spray of sea water on your face. Banish those recurring thoughts of the leaking roof you have to replace. And the $12,000 cost.  Breathe out.

Picture an idyllic Caribbean island coming into view. Now imagine pulling up your sailboat on a white, sandy beach surrounded by palm trees gently swaying in the breeze. You are greeted by a throng of people, welcoming you to your own island paradise. Notice how familiar they look, all bearing an eerie resemblance to your company’s Board of Directors, to whom you will present your disappointing quarterly sales numbers in 45 minutes. Breathe in.

Now it’s time to return to your day. Begin to open your eyes slowly. By now you are feeling relaxed and rejuvenated – ready to face the world with a new sense of calm and serenity. Oh look. There’s an envelope on your desk. It appears to be from your credit card company. A bill for $8,400, which is roughly $8,300 more than you have in your checking account. Breathe out.

Notice how your heart is starting to pound more quickly. Become aware of the profuse sweat streaming down your brow. By now you may experience your stomach tying up in knots. This is perfectly normal. Just lie back down on the floor. Keep breathing. Curl up in the fetal position and contemplate that you have lost all concept of time. In fact, based on my calculations, there is no way you’ll ever make it back to the office in time for your sales presentation before the Board of Directors, which starts in 30 minutes. Thanks to the jackknifed 18-wheeler blocking three lanes of traffic on the interstate, you have a handy excuse.

And breathe out. This concludes this session of your meditation relaxation CD. Have a carefree day.

That’s the view from the bleachers. Perhaps I’m off base.

Tim Jones - Profile at Safeco - TinyPS: If you enjoyed this week’s post, let me know by posting a comment, giving it a Like or sharing this post on Facebook. 

© Tim Jones, View from the Bleachers 2015. Edited by Betsy Jones.