Tag Archives: The Important Things in Life

Pennies from Heaven

Guest post by Lisa Young

As a woman born and raised in the South, I’ll be the first to tell you that the spirits of our loved ones are never far away. Whether they visit in the night, the way my husband’s dead relatives tend to do, or whether they leave a symbol of their presence, such as a penny from Heaven, we always know they are with us.

Last year saw the passing of my father. He was my rock and meant everything to me. I was lost without him. The heartache from losing my father, along with my son leaving for boot camp was almost more than I could handle. My days were long, and my nights were even longer.

My son’s graduation was December 19th, our big extended-family Christmas party was December 20th and my 50th birthday, despite my best efforts to ignore it, was fast approaching. I hoped our busy schedule would soften the sharp edges of what was ahead of me – my first Christmas without my father. The sadness was unbearable

It was then that my niece Ashley, who had also lost her father, told me about her pennies from Heaven. She told me that she believes that the random pennies she finds, sometimes in the oddest and most unlikely of places, are her father’s way of letting her know that he is still with her. This brings comfort to her, and also to her children. They love thinking about their Pawpaw every time they find a penny.

My father worked for the Coca Cola Company and for years drove a big 18-wheel Coke truck. Every time I see one of those big trucks on the highway I think about him and wonder if it’s his way of giving me a sign that he is with me.

Then one night during my evening prayers I asked my father if he could send me a penny the way Ashley’s father sends them to her. But as the weeks passed and no penny showed up my hope began to wane. Maybe my father’s way of speaking to me would just have to remain with the big Coke trucks and not with pennies.

My penny from Heaven

Then it happened. I came downstairs on Father’s Day with a heavy feeling in my heart knowing that it was going to be a very long day. There on my kitchen floor was a bright, shiny 2015 penny. I knew then that my dad was showing me that he is still with me. It was exactly what I needed. There on the floor was my penny from Heaven.

So when you find your penny from Heaven remember that heads up or tails up doesn’t matter because it’s not about luck. When you find your penny remember that it’s about love, the love you have for that special person whose memory you hold close in your heart. Let your penny serve as a reminder that the spirits of our loved ones are never far away, and that oftentimes they will make their presence known just when we need them the most.

Live Long and Prosper

It was with great sadness that I learned of the passing of Leonard Nimoy yesterday. Forever to be known as Mr. Spock, he was one of my biggest childhood heroes.

I didn’t start watching Star Trek until the mid-seventies, but that didn’t matter. Once I saw the first episode I was hooked for life. I’ve been a Trekkie ever since. Despite loving all of the characters in the show, my favorite character by far was Mr. Spock. As a wide-eyed twelve year old sitting in front of the TV, I had never seen anyone like him.

One of the best things about Star Trek was the interaction between Mr. Spock, Captain Kirk and Doctor McCoy. McCoy loved to spar with Spock and try to rile him into showing his human side, but it was the “bromance” between Kirk and Spock that took center stage in the show.

My best friend and I were consumed by Star Trek and had a bromance of our own that mirrored Kirk and Spock’s. We greeted each other every day with Spock’s trademark split finger salute while deadpanning “live long and prosper”. Then we would rehash the previous night’s episode, discussing at length whether or not the Klingons would win the next battle and take over the universe, or if the Enterprise would make the mistake of crossing into the Romulan neutral zone never to be seen again.

I was a model builder back in those days and I built every single plastic Star Trek model available. Hanging from the ceiling in my room were models of the Enterprise, a Klingon battle cruiser, the shuttlecraft and a Romulan Bird of Prey. I even built models of Spock’s Phaser, Tricorder and Communicator. I carried the Communicator to school with me and on more than one occasion tried to raise the Enterprise on a hailing frequency from the boy’s room at Our Lady of Lourdes Catholic school in Daytona Beach. I never could get the Enterprise to answer and I always attributed this to the fact that the Romulans had to be jamming all the frequencies.

Courtesy of CBS

The best way to live long and prosper is to find out what you are good at, and then find out what you enjoy doing. If you’re blessed they will be the same thing. Leonard Nimoy was blessed in this way. He brought a character to life that has endured for generations, one whose face is instantly recognizable whether it be on Earth or Rigel VII. He gave young boys like my myself someone to look up to in an era where we were very short on heroes. He gave the smart kids a reason to be proud because as Mr. Spock he made being intelligent look very cool.

Mr. Spock was a hero to my generation. He was the ultimate bad-ass scientist. May his memory live long and prosper.

Rockin’ The Hilfiger


When I was a young I lived two blocks from the ocean in the heart of Daytona Beach, Florida. It was as close to paradise as a young boy could get without a girl being involved. But even though I spent my youth surfing, skateboarding and manning the jib sail of my neighbor’s 16 foot Hobie catamaran, none of it was enough to save me from the fate that awaited me when my wife and I took our teenage son to the mall to buy him some clothes for his upcoming senior year of high school.

It was on that day that I found out I was rockin’ the Hilfiger.

Anyone who has teenage children knows what a traumatic experience it is for them to be seen in public with their parents. We are just so uncool that it ruins their image to be seen with us. What they fail to realize is that we weren’t always so uncool.

So there I was standing in a clothing store at the mall, a surfing-themed clothing store if you can believe that, when a young salesperson walked up and spoke to me. His tone was one of unbridled amazement.

“Dude… I see you’re rockin’ the Hilfiger!” he said as he stared at my shirt, his eyes full of wonder.

“I beg your pardon?” I said.

“You’re rockin’ the Hilfiger,” he repeated. Then he reached up and touched the sleeve of my shirt like he thought it was made out of some sort of magic cloth.

“Nice shirt,” he said. “But we don’t sell anything like that in here. Can I help you with something else? Maybe something more stylish, like Neff or DC?” I could tell he was trying his best not to laugh.

“Neff? DC?” I said. “What?”

The kid just smiled and shook his head. In his eyes he knew I wasn’t nearly cool enough to understand his language, or to wear Neff or DC clothing. And like most kids his age, he was convinced that his generation had invented the surfing and skateboarding lifestyle. He had no idea that I am member of the Stacy Peralta generation, or that surfing legends Gerry Lopez and Tom Curren were my heroes when I was growing up in Daytona Beach. Well, them and Luke Skywalker but that’s another story.

So I decided to have a little fun and give the kid a run for his money.

Sex wax“No thanks on the Neff and DC,” I said. “But I’ll take a cake of coconut Sex Wax. And I could use another pair of Quicks and a new leash. I broke my last one riding the outside during a huge swell at Ponce.”

The kid looked at me dumbfounded. “What?”

“Sex Wax. I’m sure you guys sell it. I mean, I see surfboards hanging on the walls. Don’t tell me you don’t sell Sex Wax.”

“Sex what?” was all he could manage.

“Wax,” I said.

“Um, I don’t think we sell that,” said the poor kid. Then he turned and walked away, outwitted by a middle-aged father of two wearing a Hilfiger shirt.

There is only one thing better in the world… Photo by Stan Shebs

Even though I grew up at the beach and surfed almost every day of my life during my teenage years, had a year-round tan and a subscription to Surfer magazine, none of it was enough to save me from the passage of time.

I have long since hung up my Rip Curl wetsuits, sold my Logan Earth Ski skateboard and my Gordon and Smith thruster. And I haven’t sailed a reach on a catamaran in thirty five years.

The passage of time is a funny thing. Nothing stays the same. Wise adults know this. What the poor kid in the clothing store didn’t realize is that one day he will probably be standing in a mall with his son shopping for clothes. And he might even be wearing a Hilfiger shirt while he’s doing it.

And I can only hope that when that time comes he realizes there are worse things in life.

The Shooter Girl and Life in the Eighties

We had it all in the 1980’s. Front-snap bras, Shooter Girls and cassette hiss. Life was sweet. Or as we liked to say, life was bitchin’.

Any guy that came of age in the Eighties knows all about those heavenly front-snap bras that were so popular with young girls back then. All it took was one little pinch of the snap using a thumb and two fingers and the next thing you knew, just like Meatloaf said, you had paradise by the dashboard light.

Paradise by the dashboard light

And to go along with the front-snap bra we had acid-washed jeans. The sight of a girl in a pair of those jeans, with the rips and tears all over them, was the stuff of dreams for guys in the Eighties. Combine those jeans with a soft fuzzy sweater hiding a front-snap bra, a dash of Loves Baby Soft perfume and you had the recipe for heaven on Earth.

Not only did we love our women, we loved our music. That was the other great thing about the Eighties – the music. We played it everywhere we went using a thing called a Walkman. Those little handheld cassette players were a godsend to us and to the companies that sold AA batteries.

The cassette was king in the Eighties. Everyone had a cassette deck in their car and a Walkman in their hand. My old Pioneer cassette deck saw its share of paradise illuminated by the soft glow of the dashboard lights and I went through probably three or four Walkmans before the decade came to an end. I miss those Walkmans and the cassette hiss. So what if they couldn’t hold 500 songs.

No matter what kind of music you loved there was something for you in the Eighties. The decade was a melting pot of musical styles. Everyone was having a good time and it showed in the music. We had everything from Springsteen to Prince, Madonna to Metallica and The Thompson Twins to Twisted Sister. The variety of musical talent in the Eighties was nothing short of astounding.

And we had our own alcoholic drink called the wine cooler. I’ve downed my share of orange California Coolers and the thing I remember most about them was that they tasted as good on the way down as they did on the way up.

But by far the best drink in the Eighties was the Kamikaze because it was delivered by the Shooter Girl. Every bar had a Shooter Girl dressed up to look like a hot cowgirl. Instead of a gun belt the Shooter Girl wore a belt holding little plastic cups. In place of a gun she had a bottle of premixed Kamikazes in a holster and for the bargain price of a buck she would pour you one right on the spot. Now I ask you, what could be better?

We went crazy playing Pac-Man and trying to solve Rubik’s Cube, and we all tried to figure out which kid we best identified with in the movie The Breakfast Club. Guys wore Mullets, girls wore shoulder pads and everyone was divided into two groups – those who liked Betamax and those who liked VHS. It’s still a sore subject with some of us so just I’ll leave it at that.

I guess the main thing about the Eighties was that we were all just very happy. That was the underlying thread. There’s no other way to explain it. Detractors call it the “decade of excess”. Well, okay. There was an excess of happiness. We could use a little of that nowadays but don’t hold your breath waiting for it to happen.

The Eighties are long gone and I’m not sure where we go from here. There’s no cassette hiss, most bras snap in the back and today’s music is delivered to us prepackaged straight from American Idol and iTunes. The Shooter Girls have long since hung up their belts.

And nowadays if someone wants to see paradise by the dashboard light all they have to do is go online and download it.

Where’s the fun in that?

The Garter Belt

Let me clear something up right now for the men out there that still don’t get it. Victoria’s Secret is the greatest store in the entire world. One of the items they sell makes the world turn on its axis.

And what item is that, you ask? The answer is simple – the garter belt.

Garter belt

The garter belt is the greatest invention in the history of the world. Wars have been fought over less important things. If it weren’t for women, and more specifically women in garter belts, we’d all still be living in caves and cooking food over an open fire. The garter belt is the crowning achievement of the civilized world. That simple little lace belt is what makes the world turn on its axis.

Last week I was sitting in my office listening to my fellow coworkers lament about how they had no idea what to buy their wives for Valentine’s Day. Roses and candy were all they could think of. How original. Apparently they needed a little help so I offered a suggestion.

“Victoria’s Secret,” was all I said. But they all just looked at me like I had snakes coming out of my ears.

“Uh, yeah… I’m not going in there,” replied one of my male coworkers.

“Not gonna happen,” replied another. “My wife buys her stuff at some department store and only when it’s on sale.”

On sale?

Bargain basement bloomers do not make the world turn. The garter belt does, and more specifically, the fancy garter belts sold at Victoria’s Secret. I could care less if they’re on sale or not.


So the next day I hit my local Victoria’s Secret on my way home from work. Sure, I could have used the website but I would much rather be in the store.  I was kneeling down next to a drawer full of lace garter belts and rummaging through them while trying to match one to a pair of panties and bra that I had already picked out when I noticed a woman standing close by. She was watching me intently while holding her hand over her mouth.

“I wish I could get my husband to come in here and pick out something for me,” she said as she lowered her hand and frowned.

Just then a young girl who worked in the store walked up carrying an armload of colorful bras. Given her age and body weight she could have easily modeled any of the lingerie in the store, including some of the more slinky stuff. She overheard what the woman said to me.

“I hear ya,” she replied as she began to sort the bras into their respective size drawers. “I get a hefty employee discount and I can’t get my boyfriend to step foot in this store. He’d just as soon die as come in here and pick out lingerie for me, especially one of those garter belts.”

Say what?

The problem in America today is that men have forgotten what makes the world turn. Trust me, it’s not golf, watching football or playing poker with your old college buddies. It’s not climbing the corporate ladder, 80-hour workweeks or getting an office with your name on the door. And it’s not sitting in a tree stand waiting on a deer to walk by. All of that crap pales in comparison to the heavenly sight of a woman in a garter belt.

Garter belt photo

I have traveled the world as a U.S. Marine and believe me when I tell you that if there was anything out there better than a woman wearing a garter belt I’d have found it.

So put up the golf clubs, turn off the damn football game, pull your head out of your ass and drive down to your local Victoria’s Secret and get busy shopping. You will soon learn why it’s the greatest store on the planet. And if you need a quick class on buying lingerie before you go, you can find it here courtesy of GQ.

Your woman will appreciate your effort, and will waste no time showing you just exactly what makes the world turn.