Monday, March 20, 2017

The Signal

The Signal is at least as old as the phone | Navigating Hectivity by Micki Bare
The Signal between parents and teens
is at least as old as the invention of the phone.
In a post recently shared by a Facebook friend, a brilliant new way for parents to keep teens safe developed by Minister Bert Fulks was discussed. And while brilliant appropriately describes the idea, it is not at all new. 

What is new is the technology used to implement the system, which I like to call The Signal. 

How it works

Basically, parents create an understanding, whether through a texted code, such as the "x" used in the post, or a word or conversation that signals the parent to do two things. 

1. Immediately rescue the teen from an uncomfortable or unsafe situation. 

2. Spare the child grief or embarrassment among his or her peers by shifting the blame to the parents.

The system works because teens have an innate need to roll their eyes and declare, "I can't. My dumb parent's won't let me."

Why it works

The system is brilliant because it fosters open communication and a sense of camaraderie between parents and their teens. 

It's critical because it gives teens an escape route for situations in which they feel threatened, unsafe, uncomfortable or simply dislike.

Yes, disliking an activity and feeling bored are perfectly good reasons to initiate The Signal system. That's part of the agreement and a key to making it work — the teen is allowed to use The Signal system for any reason. 

Once the parent receives the agreed upon signal, the parent must intervene and take the heat. It's a promise the teen will come to depend on and appreciate.

Historical proof

My siblings and I had a similar arrangement with my parents when we were teens, well before cell phones. We'd just tell our peers we had to check in — call home from the hosts phone or a pay phone. While an initial check-in call was made to assure our parents we'd arrived safely, an additional check-in call immediately signaled to Mom that we needed to be rescued. 

Mom made it clear that she was always happy to take the blame if we needed an out.  We always carried a quarter with us in case we needed to use a pay phone. We even had a plan for making collect calls if we lost or forgot the quarter. As a teen, I loved knowing I could use my parent's as scapegoats. 

When my mom was a young girl growing up in New York City, she carried a dime with her. Hubby and I used the Signal system with our boys, as well. They carried 45 cents until they were old enough for cell phones. 

I'm glad The Signal is catching on. It truly is an excellent safety net. I know, because I'm 100 percent sure it is an old, tried and true system that dates back to at least the early 1950s.

Micki Bare, mother of three, wife, daughter & writer is the author of Thurston T. Turtle children's books and aspiring novelist. 
Email: mickibare (at)
Connect with Micki on Google+
Like Thurston T. Turtle on Facebook
Follow Micki on Twitter: @TurtleAuthor
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Chat with micki_bare on SnapChat
Writing Samples

Copyright 2017 Michele Bare

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Birth of a Food Truck Groupie

Birth of a Food Truck Groupie | Navigating Hectivity by Micki Bare
Food trucks in Asheboro's Bicentennial Park 
during the annual St. Patrick's Day festival.
During the second annual St. Patrick's Day festival in downtown Asheboro, Bicentennial Park was lined with food trucks. Admittedly, I've been slow to embrace food truck cuisine. How could delicious, safe food be produced in a tiny kitchen within a truck inundated with fuel exhaust and road grime? When Hubby and I arrived at the festival, however, we realized we were hungry. 

The aromas swirling around the park were difficult to resist. I found myself looking at the food passers-by were balancing in their hands as they walked, talked and tasted. Even the food splattered on the ground after failed walk, talk and taste attempts looked vibrant and delicious. Hunger was overtaking my senses and sensibilities. 

I pulled myself together. Rather than give into temptation and dive in, I opted to do a research before making a final purchase decision. I strolled around the park and checked out every truck, every menu, every sanitation rating.

Yes, the barrier between my foodie personality and ability to get on board with food trucks has always been my imagination. When I pictured a food truck kitchen, my stomach turned at images of tiny college apartment kitchens and a camper kitchen or two from the seventies. 

Displayed in each food truck window was a sanitation rating. Among the offerings in the park were several highly-rated trucks. There were several boasting a 100 percent. Many ratings were better than area restaurants. 

As an aside, there was also a man wandering around downtown for two days trying to drum up business for his friend's food truck. We'd heard the pitch a few times. It was hard to avoid the persistent marketer. Unfortunately, the sanitation rating for his friend's truck was among the lowest. While the man aptly described a delicious-sounding menu, I chose not to take the risk. 

Now, the food truck in question may have been marked down for infractions that could never affect the quality of the food. Also, he may have already corrected every single issue. However, I've been hospitalized for food poisoning in the past from a restaurant with a higher rating. I did not want to chance a repeat of that experience. 

Hubby and I chose a couple of different trucks on our first go. The food was delicious. We were pleased.

We spent the next few hours perusing vendor booths, catching up with friends and neighbors and patronizing the beer garden.
All that did was work up our appetites once again. So, after our pleasant lunch experience, we decided to enjoy dinner in the park as well. And that was when we stepped up to the best food truck at the event. With a 100 percent rating and yuca fritas on the menu —I'd fallen in love with yuca during a visit to Ecuador  I couldn't resist. 
QSPRESSO Leftovers | Navigating Hectivity by Micki Bare
This is the half that was left of my chicken
quesadillas and yuca fritas from the
QSPRESSO food truck. The green stuff
is their amazing cilantro sauce!

Hubby was drooling over the word cubano on their sandwich board menu. He was so excited about the prospect of enjoying a Cuban sandwich that he pulled out his wallet and told me to order whatever I wanted. I love it when Hubby does that. They were sold out of chicken empanadas, so I ordered chicken quesadillas to go with the yuca. 

The food was phenomenal. We were in heaven. Several other folks who saw us making love to our food truck cuisine and smelled the aroma swirling around us headed over to order their own meals. It was too much to eat, so we carried it home and heated it up a few hours later. Our reheated snack was just as delicious.

The food truck in question was QSPRESSO. Based out of Durham, N.C., the truck is in its second year of traveling around the state providing mouthwatering food for the masses. I now follow them on social media. The food is well worth the drive to wherever they may roam.

I'm a changed woman. I no longer fear the food truck. QSPRESSO transformed me into a food truck groupie.

Micki Bare, mother of three, wife, daughter & writer is the author of Thurston T. Turtle children's books and aspiring novelist. 
Email: mickibare (at)
Connect with Micki on Google+
Like Thurston T. Turtle on Facebook
Follow Micki on Twitter: @TurtleAuthor
View Micki's pics on Instagram @mickibare
Chat with micki_bare on SnapChat
Writing Samples

Copyright 2017 Michele Bare

Saturday, March 18, 2017

Those Who Broke My Heart

Letting Go | Navigating Hectivity by Micki Bare
Time to release the baggage
back into the Universe.
Watching a video clip of women who were more than 100 years old and counting, I wondered what really made the difference between illness and longevity. I watched the video again. They had little grooming and healthy living tips to share, but the common thread was their genuine happiness. 

What does it take to be that happy? Conversely, what causes all the unhappiness?

Over the years, I've struggled with various forms of grief over the loss of loved ones, whether it be the loss of a relationship or the loss of life. Unfortunately, I've carried much of that with me, letting each new sense of loss pile into my increasingly expanding baggage. 

It's difficult to be happy all the time when you're focused on balancing a tower of grief.

Of course, I had to let it all go. Between inspirational GIFs on social media and daytime television, we all know we need to "simply" let go and move on to find peace and happiness.

I decided to start by envisioning each of the centenarians opening their bags of grief and loss and tossing them into the wind, out a window or overboard. If they could empty their bags and maintain lighter loads, certainly I could, too. While I might be an emotional hoarder, I am also rather competitive and stubborn.

The next step had to be finding a way to access the baggage in order to let go of all that I'd acquired over the years. It was time to step out of the metaphor and into my reality. 

As a writer, I knew what I had to do. The only way to let go was to face those who broke my heart, take ownership for my own shortcomings, give back to them and the universe what was theirs, and be done with the grief. And I had to do it through the vessel of words. Once the exercise was done, there would be plenty of room or the happy memories to fill my sails and catapult me through to a long, happy, healthy, fulfilled life.

So, here they are  my written messages to all those who broke my heart, filling the bags that have been weighing me down; my releases back to the Universe; and my plans for moving forward.

To my childhood friend, who died and broke my heart: It was not anyone's fault. You never intended to leave. I accept, and apologize for, the fact that I was too young to understand the immensely deep sense of loss felt by your family. I also know my life became richer for knowing you, and for that I am grateful. I give the shock and sorrow back to the Universe. The hours of carefree childhood happiness I will always keep close to my heart.

To my high school boyfriend, who decided he wanted to see someone else and broke my heart: I know we were young and that love was not meant to be. My expectations weren't realistic. I release the pain, confusion and embarrassment into the Universe. I remain grateful for the lessons and good times, as well as the part that relationship played in my life's path.

To my first child, who passed away before we could ever see his or her face: I know you would have stayed if you could. Selfishly, I've thought often about the notion that had you stayed, I would not have the three amazing children, your brothers, that came after you left. I release the grief, guilt, pain and fear back to the Universe. I'll always be grateful for the role you played in ushering me into motherhood. 

To my ex-husband, who shattered my naive perceptions of love, marriage and family: Nearly two decades after the fact, I let go of blame, hurt, anger and a myriad of other emotions that plagued me for so long. I let go of insecurities, cynicism and an inability to trust as I send it all back to the Universe. I will be eternally grateful for the three children that our faulty union created and the role it played on my path toward strength, success and love. 

To my father, who succumbed to cancer: The emotions are still so raw, but I have to let the Universe peal away the frustration, anger, sadness, emptiness and grief. You were an amazing dad who believed in us, set the bar high while helping us reach it, demanded our best, provided for us and loved us unconditionally. Rather than let the grief weigh me down, I will stand tall on the foundation you so selflessly built.

To Charlie, Seven, Tiger, Stout, Trixie and all of the beloved pets I've lost over the years, who breezed in and out of my life: You provided comfort, companionship and unconditional love. Those are the things I will keep close to my heart. The rest, the sadness and grief, may go back to the Universe.

To my siblings, who I naively assumed were built-in lifetime friends: I apologize for expecting us to all be close, measuring our relationships against other families' sibling relationships. I take responsibility for refusing for so long to acknowledge how very different we all truly are. I release into the Universe my expectations and the need to try so hard to make everything perfect. Life isn't perfect. I am grateful for the shared experiences and the many good times. I carry forward only happy memories and a respect for your individuality. I am at peace knowing it's perfectly okay to be relatives, rather than close friends.

To my mother, who is battling Alzheimer's: None of us asked for this, yet it is our shared destiny — you the patient and me the caretaker. To the Universe, I open my tight fist and let go of the anger, confusion, stress, weariness and questions. You have been an amazing mom, one that rivaled the likes of June Cleaver and Carol Brady, but with a feisty flair of Sicilian personality. Much of my success as a mother and a person I owe to your examples and love. Moving forward, I will focus on drinking in your smile, enjoying your laughter and continuing to care and advocate for you as you did for me. 

To my boys, who are growing up and finding their own way: I take full responsibility for your independence, success and self-sufficiency. I give back to the Universe the pangs of sadness and emptiness that creep up beside me in our much emptier house. My focus will be on pride and love as I keep close to my heart the memories of your growing-up years and look forward to watching you make your ways in this world with success, good health and love.

To my husband: We've had our ups and downs, but you have proven to be my best friend, biggest fan and partner in crime. You helped me raise three amazing men. To the Universe, I release the struggles and strife, the disagreements and disappointments. in my heart, mind and soul, I will focus on all that we have built and all that we are as a couple and family. 

To me: It is okay to be human, to make mistakes, to be different, to struggle and to fail. I release my shortcomings into the Universe and will do my best to use the experiences to rise above, grow and become the best me possible. 

Every step I've taken has brought me to this place, and I am grateful for every single one, good and bad. The good was mild and easy, like an early spring day. The bad carved out the character, strength and beauty, like the tedious and unrelenting erosion that created the Grand Canyon.

Check back in about 55 years to see if this exercise worked, setting me on that path toward happy, healthy longevity!

Micki Bare, mother of three, wife, daughter & writer is the author of Thurston T. Turtle children's books and aspiring novelist. 
Email: mickibare (at)
Connect with Micki on Google+
Like Thurston T. Turtle on Facebook
Follow Micki on Twitter: @TurtleAuthor
View Micki's pics on Instagram @mickibare
Chat with micki_bare on SnapChat
Writing Samples

Copyright 2017 Michele Bare

Sunday, March 5, 2017

An Apple in Your Sack

An apple in the sack | Navigating Hectivity by Micki BareOn a recent visit to hang out with our nieces, I was inspired by something my oldest niece said as she was pulling things out of her pocketbook. We were preparing to grab a bite to eat and then enjoy a local Mardi Gras parade — the Eve Parade to be precise —when she began reorganizing.

"This is the book I just can't get into," she said as she placed it on a table. "I need to put it on a shelf and stop carrying it around already." 

She pulled out another book — the one she is nearly finished reading — and then grabbed two apples. I followed her into the kitchen, where she deposited them in the produce drawer.

"I always keep at least one apple with me. If I'm not hungry enough for an apple, I'm not hungry."

Her statement was so matter-of-fact. She offered it as a reason for having fruit in her bag. And while she owed me no explanation, I was grateful she shared. She is petite and fit. And now I had one of they keys to how she maintained good health. 

The first thing I bought when we returned home was a bag of granny smith apples.

Snacking is one of my downfalls. I'm sure boredom plays a role, as does watching TV. With this new bit of youthful wisdom, however, I could finally overcome my weakness. 

Now, before I leave the house to head to the newsroom and visit Mom, I toss an apple in my bag. I also have them piled in a piece of nice pottery on our coffee table where we watch TV. If I'm not hungry enough to grab an apple, I'm not really hungry. 

I've eaten a few apples since we returned from Louisiana. However, I have yet to buy a new bag of tortilla chips. My in-between-meals snacking has diminished greatly. My niece is a genius. 

An apple a day keeps the doctor away. 
And let us also remember: 
An apple in your sack deters an unhealthy snack.

Micki Bare, mother of three, wife, daughter & writer is the author of Thurston T. Turtle children's books. 
Email: mickibare (at)
Connect with Micki on Google+
Like Thurston T. Turtle on Facebook
Follow Micki on Twitter: @TurtleAuthor
View Micki's pics on Instagram @mickibare
Chat with micki_bare on SnapChat
Writing Samples

Copyright 2017 Michele Bare