The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

March 30, 2013

MICHELE BENDER | Springing into action for Easter

Michele M. Bender
For The Tribune-Democrat

JOHNSTOWN — Happy Easter!

People expect certain routines at specific holidays.

They count on fireworks and sparklers on July 4.

Easter demands a basket of colorful eggs and candy.

Festive ornaments, angels, drummer boys and tinsel should adorn Christmas trees.

I enjoy messing with tradition. I’m an unconventional gal.

On Halloween, I passed treats out from old Easter baskets. (I’m sure kids thought, “That can’t be left from April, can it?”)

During one particularly snowy winter, I stockpiled two cartons of snowballs in my basement freezer. On July 4, friends and I pelted each other with my “Siberian M-80s,” chilling on a sweltering afternoon.

My Christmas tree features a Marilyn Monroe theme. Santa, snowmen and garlands get a rest while trendy Marilyn ornaments and figurines add elegance, glamour and sparkle to my season.

The Wise Men on my mantle approve.

I defy convention because, without realizing, our lives can become flat.

We just concluded Lent, a time to re-evaluate ourselves.

I learned a lot over the past three years. I repeatedly planned self-improvement efforts (start diets, exercise). But the start times were generally “tomorrow,” which never came.

There’s never a good time to begin things that are hard to do.

God put up with a lot from me: Apathy, procrastination, laziness. But then He gave me the solid kick in the dupa that I needed, and my life turned around.

Thanks to hard work and “after-market” body parts, I’m healthy, and it’s magical. Doctors scrutinized my organs with scopes, blood tests, X-rays and MRIs. Everything has either been repaired, removed, or replaced. God has a purpose for me or He wouldn’t have showered me with those blessings.

So, instead of New Year’s Resolutions, I decided to make Easter Resolutions.

Resolution 1: I’m more “portable” now, so I resolve to get out and meet folks, do some volunteering, help however I can. Since 2010, I learned that if you “believe” in yourself, you can do “unbelievable” stuff.

Resolution 2: I resolve to master walking a quarter mile (or more) outdoors, here in my ’hood or wherever I can.

Abraham Lincoln once said, “We can complain because rose bushes have thorns, or we can rejoice because thorn bushes have roses.”

I bought a gizmo called a “rollator,” essentially a walker with wheels, brakes, a basket, a seat and a backrest.

It enables me to walk till I wear out.

Then I lock the brakes, sit down, catch a second wind and continue.

And it’s red!

I’m not where I was. I haven’t reached my destination. I’m not even sure where I’m going, but I’m on my way.    

If you spot me out cruisin’ with my “candy apple red” 4-wheeler, honk, wave, or say “Hi.” Wanna join me? Pull over and stop. We’ll explore the ’hood and chat.

Maybe I’ll show you a new wrinkle.

Michele Mikesic Bender is a Johnstown resident and a member of  The Tribune-Democrat’s Readership Advisory Committee.

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