Thursday, December 20, 2012

The Top 9 Things....

One of this week’s writing prompts from Mama Kat's Pretty Much World Famous Writer's Workshop was to “list the top 9 things that bring you joy”.  It wasn’t as easy as I thought.  First I struggled to come up with 9 things that made sense then I had to struggle to stop at 9.  These are the top 9 in no particular order:

The beautiful smells of winter & summer in New England ~ my sense of smell might be the only sense I have that works completely.  Too completely sometimes.  I can sniff drugs in luggage for TSA if they need me, I think.  I love how each of our seasons has its own smell.  Since we moved to an area with more trees I especially love pine.  I love the grass when it’s newly cut or when it’s a little damp in the really warm weather.  I love how cold and crisp the air is in winter and how I can smell the wood stove my neighbors use to heat their home.  Autumn and spring have their own wonderful scents but I love those I find during winter and summer the best.

Meeting my husband at the door each night when we get home ~ my husband and I eat dinner together every night with rare exceptions.  Our time together is very limited so we like to make sure we connect over dinner, decompress and spend time relaxing.  I love seeing him pull into the driveway or find him there when I arrive home.  Where he is, is home for me.

My cat, Camille ~ she’s 8, domestic short hair, black with a little white mark on her chest.  She is very social and remarkably vocal.  She’s super nosy, loves to eat and loves to be with us.  She also loves to wake me at 4 a.m. to feed her – that part does not bring me much joy.

Spending time with my family ~ I’m very blessed to be close to my family.  We have fun together pretty much wherever we are.  We all know how quickly things can change and how precious life is so we make the most of what we have.

Listening to my 7 year old niece talk about fairies ~ my little niece is 7 going on 19.  She has a flair for the dramatic that my mother insists she got me from.  She’s funny and talented and pretty (hey…she is just like me!) and she is a ray of sunshine in my life.  She has had quite the thing for fairies for a while and if you get her going she will amaze you with how much she knows.  She has me convinced I have two living in my yard.

Star gazing ~ I always liked looking at the stars but I so love doing it now in our back yard.  When the sky is clear, it is dark enough here for me to see forever.  I feel very small and very awed at what a tiny part we play in such an enormous story.

Cooking & baking ~ many chefs swear by the adage that food is love.  I completely agree.  Little gives me more joy than feeding people.  Or making people eat my cooking experiments.

Summer ~ I love summer.  I love being barefoot outside, warm grass and soft moss, how warm sunshine smells, drying clothes outside, windows open all day and all night, crickets, eating outside, iced coffee, swimming …

Beautiful music ~ there are pieces of music that make my ears bleed, but others make me want to cry.  These are some sounds I love: Canon in D; John Denver and the Muppets~A Christmas Together; children singing just about anything....

There are many more things but here are my top 9.  If you are feeling blue or think you have nothing to be joyful about - I say to you -start counting and don't stop.


Monday, December 3, 2012

I love sappy Christmas movies

A note~ this blog post is about Christmas and Christmas movies.  If you are anti-Christmas, don't like Christmas, don't like to read about Christmas - this might not be of interest to you.

Back to our story.

I love sappy Christmas movies.  I make no secret of it.  I will watch them over and over and always be surprised at the happy ending.  I sometimes cry even though I know what's coming.  I am always happy when things work out.  My friend Stacey and I both love "While You Were Sleeping" so much that we each have a copy and sometimes watched them at the same time.  I can honestly say that is my very favorite movie.  Ever.  Forever.  I love you back  :)

I wonder if I watched some of the movies (except my favorite, which I watch year-round) in say June or October whether or not I'd react the same way.  I think that it is the spirit of Christmas that helps me to enjoy them more.  For many, Christmas is a nutty, overly stressful, way too commercial time of year.  Buy too many presents people don't want/need.  Bake fattening treats that throw folks off of their healthy paths.  Not being able to say "Christmas Tree" or "Merry Christmas" because some people feel offended or left out.  That's what is has become for many.  I try hard not to let that happen to me and here's how....
  • I make gifts when I can and give gift cards the rest of the time.  It is either really personal or really practical but I give with love and with great thought.
  • I bake using healthy recipes much of the time, although a couple things you just can't mess with
  • I don't send Christmas cards - I send New Year cards and eliminate all of that stress
  • I decorate a little - lights and things that make me happy. My husband is Jewish so I make sure not to exclude him
  • I always have something pine-scented burning to help set the mood
  • I watch sappy Christmas movies
I don't know when I started loving those movies but it has been going on for quite a while.  I enjoy the classics but there is something about the barrage of movies playing endlessly on the Hallmark channel and on ABC Family that appeal to me more.  There are umpteen versions of the classics (Scrooge, It's a Wonderful Life) made more modern.  There are many that are so silly you know they can't happen in real life.  They are built around a formula of sorts: a seemingly OK life * some kind of conflict * maybe an angel * maybe romance * a miracle.  And that is how many of them work.

When I stop and think about it, I can almost apply that formula to the original Christmas story.  Young homeless couple about to have a baby * angels * a miracle.  Yup.  That might be why I love them.  They aren't making fun of the season...they are helping to keep the basics of the story alive.  Sort of like teaching people a lesson they didn't know they were learning.

If you can't bring yourself to watch any sappy Christmas movies - I say to you - try to keep the spirit of Christmas in your heart and that will be enough.


Wednesday, November 14, 2012

I am very thankful...

Thanksgiving is next week.  I cannot believe it is so close for a number of reasons:
  1. It doesn't seem like it is time for the holidays, despite the fact that I have already recorded two Christmas movies.  More to follow on why I love them - I will wait to share that until after next week.
  2. It was 63 the other day and 38 today.  I'm ready for spring and am already so done with cold weather.
  3. I cannot believe it has almost been a year since my Auntie De passed away.  I miss her all the time but it does not seem like a year has passed since I last saw her.  My cousin Ann passed away two weeks later - again - it just doesn't seem like a year has gone by
  4. I cannot account for all of my time.  I stopped working in March and while I have been job hunting, I am not sure what I'm doing with all the time I've had off (aside from doing laundry and spinning and ceramics).  Eight months already?
Every year, many of us stop and think about why we are thankful, we promise ourselves (and maybe others) that we will keep the spirit of Thanksgiving throughout the year and will not forget to be thankful every day.  Then we go home from wherever we ate dinner and forget to be thankful.  I try really hard not to take any person or blessing for granted, but I know I do.

This year, I want to memorialize my blessings because I have this cool way to do that and because I want to be able to look back in case I forget what keeps me going every day.

Some people & things I am thankful for:
  • my husband - for always knowing how & when to make me laugh, for allowing me to keep searching for the right job because he knows how important my career is to me, and for bringing home dinner on Friday nights just so we can start our weekend in a fun way
  • my family (all of them) -  for putting up with all of my cooking experiments and my demands and my opinions (whether they have been requested or not) and meeting me for lunch at my favorite places
  • my friends - for going to ceramics and breakfast and lunch with me so I won't get lonesome.  Being home by myself all day can be lonely and my friends re-charge me
  • my health - I can get up every day, eat, walk, speak, see, hear, drive ... and I know how it feels to not be able to do each of these things.  I make sure to get to the gym because I can and because so many cannot.  It isn't a chore - it's a gift and a favor I do for myself
  • my faith - it sustains me and feeds my soul.  I left the faith I was raised in and chose a new one back in 2002.  I have been so much happier since I made that move
  • social media - Between Facebook & LinkedIn, I have reconnected with people I thought were lost to me forever.  Every day I love seeing folks I only knew at work or went to school with a million years ago or see only at weddings and funerals.  I love it
  • new relationships - my husband and one of his daughters have been working on strengthening their relationship and I am blessed to be a recipient of the benefits.  I never had my own children so being a stepmother was the closest I would be able to get.  I am so happy to be getting to know one of my stepdaughters and pray that soon I can get to know the other just as well.  That has really been the high point of this year for us
If you feel like whining about something small - I say to you - save it for another time (like January, when it's cold and miserable every day) - and think about everything you have.  So many have so much less than you and they manage to be happier

Best wishes for a blessing-filled Thanksgiving


Friday, October 12, 2012

Can you choose your family?

My Uncle Mike is sick.  He's had a tough week and, hopefully, will leave the hospital today and go home.  How is he related to you De? you might ask.  Well...he is related to me because we choose to be related.  There are no connections through blood or marriage - it is our choice.

I have a great family - people I am bound to by blood and by marriage.  I am also connected to people by blood I hope never to see again in this life.  I choose who gets a space in my circle and who doesn't.  It took me a long time to have the courage to evict some people and to open the space wider to bring others closer but that is part of growing up and it's worked out pretty well.  I share sister-like bonds with some of my cousins - ranging from 1st cousins to a third cousin and I love it.  I am very blessed to have them in my life.

I also have a tremendous circle of "family" with no biological or legal connection - we wish to be family and so we are.  For some, I don't recall a time when I didn't know them.  Sometimes, I share a close relationship with one or two siblings but not so much with others and that is fine. It is a choice - not a requirement.  In other cases, we've reconnected after many years apart.  Say what you will about social media, but it has brought me closer to some people than I might otherwise have been.

Having a circle of people I can love and who love me back is a wonderful thing.  Like all families I sometimes roll my eyes, scold, ignore (shun?) but then it passes and we're all back on track.  Last year I had two terrible losses in my family and was surrounded by so much love and support it didn't matter what roles anyone had - we came together to grieve and heal and they shared my losses with me.  I remember speaking at my aunt's memorial and when I looked around the room all I saw was family.

For anyone who believes the old adage that you can choose your friends but you can't choose your family - I say to you - look again.  Because you absolutely can choose your family.

Hurry home UncleMichaelHatch♥


Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Memorable First Dates (good ones)

My cousin Maria writes a fun blog.  She's a fun person and I adore her.  Another time I'll share how she picked me up at at not one but two funerals.  In her blog she often references another blogger who helps with topics for writing.  I finally visited her today and found a topic.  MamaKat offers up inspirations to help you go - she publishes them on Tuesday and on Thursday you can add a link to what you've written and share on her blog (I think I have that right).  Today I saw an inspiration concerning a memorable first date.  I'm actually going to write about two.

I dated for so very long.  In the words of Charlotte from 'Sex in the City' ... "I've been dating since I was 15 - I'm exhausted".  That certainly summed it up for me.  I came late to the marriage game - marrying for the first time at age 47.  My husband was certainly well worth the (extremely long) wait.  I had given up more than once and had my share of meeting insane people, but the insane stuff can wait.  I'd like to share two really great dates.

The first would be the one where I met my husband.  January 19, 2009 - a snowy MLK day.  It was one of those meetings where I knew pretty much right away that I'd be marrying him (if he wanted to go out with me again).  I just knew it.  For years my friend Jane had wagged her finger at me saying "when you least expect it, it will happen".  Personally, I thought she was full of whatever but turns out she was completely right on.

So we met, bought a house in October 2009 and were married on April 9, 2011.  Overall we had to face some stupid obstacles but we were always on the same side of every problem, which has made our life together wonderful.  We laugh quite a bit and we enjoy spending whatever time together we can.  He has helped me to relax more and to try and worry embrace spin as a primary means of exercise and to make it a way of life rather than a chore.  I hope I have encouraged him to appreciate the value of laundry separated into proper groupings...expiration  I understand now what people mean when they say that someone else shares half of their soul - my husband has mine.

Weird as it may be and considering how many dates I went on when I was single, I can honestly say I only met one other person who left me with a positive and sweet memory.  Sure, there were people I met I thought were worth the effort, but they were not.  Not one of them.  One person, however, was.

It might have been 2002 - I wish I could remember exactly.  A friend of mine from work wanted me to meet her brother.  He did not live in New England but was visiting their family and she really wanted us to meet.  So we met.  And I liked him.  He was funny and smart and easy to be with.  We had fun.  My friend and her then-boyfriend, now-husband joined us and we all had a great night as I recall.  But he didn't live here.  And he didn't live close enough to make visiting easy.  And I wasn't as together as I could have been or brave enough or plugged into how few great chances we get to realize I should have tried it out.  I didn't.  We stayed in touch a bit but I couldn't bring myself to visit him.  I was afraid to leave my life here.  When I saw him at my friend's wedding I felt so sad we never connected.  But he was involved with someone and he was happy, so I was happy for him.  I hope he's still happy.

Relationships aren't easy but they don't need to be anywhere near as difficult as we make them.  Unless two rocket scientists are in a relationship, there's no rocket science involved.  In the timeless words of Bill & Ted - be excellent to each other.  It's nearly that simple.  

To anyone who wonders if a risk is worth it - I say - take it.  You'll never know otherwise.  Things may work out for the best, but they were going to work out for the best anyway.  Why not have fun along the way.


Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Calling Emily Post! Emily-Please report to me.

I have always secretly wished I could work with the Post family and spread the magic of good manners throughout the world.  Sadly, they have not yet needed me but I am hopeful that one day they will.

In the meanwhile, I wanted to share a fairly significant issue I have with bad manners.  I, along with many others, face this issue on a regular basis.  It concerns how woman, who on the outside seem nice, can turn into wild animals in the gym locker room. Because my experience is limited to the women's locker room, I can only speak of the women.

Today is Tuesday and I have been the gym twice this week.  Both times I was disgusted with how some women were behaving.

The locker room at my gym is separated into 3 locker areas, a hair drying/prep area, showers/steam room & bathroom.  The locker areas are my main concern.  The other areas are subject to the messy and completely rude behavior that all bathrooms & showers are subject to.  

A visual to help --> the lockers are upside down U-shaped - maybe 6 x 5 x 6.  Top & bottom  rows of lockers with a bench beneath on all 3 sides.

I have no expectation of privacy of course, but I would like to try to get out of my soaking wet jog bra and cycling shorts with at least a little dignity.  And I can't do that when:

*someone is sitting down right next to me checking messages, tying shoes, fiddling with crap that needs to go into her bag - all the while facing me - 1 foot away from me.  Get.  Out.  Of.  My.  Space.

*someone is standing next to me on the phone just shooting the breeze.  Is anyone bleeding or on fire?  No?  Then hang the BLEEP up.  Call them back in 4 minutes when you get into your car.

*someone is taking up six times the space allotted them.  The lockers are nicely sized, so you can open them and move in and out of them fairly comfortably.  But there's always someone who can't.  She must spread her crap out all along the bench making it impossible for anyone else to function unless they ask her to move her stuff.

*someone is naked and seems not to be able to get dressed until she's done a million things.  How about you just put on your foundation garments then start with the lotions and potions and whatnot, hmmmm?

I've learned to work around the person drying her hair wearing her pants and a towel - around her neck - and nothing else.  Whatever.  I walk around in bike shorts, you can dry your hair naked from the waist up.  I've learned to find a locker away from the 5 wet & icky towels someone left just sitting on the bench (in front of 3 lockers).  I've learned to ignore the debris left inside of some lockers and just move to another. 

What I can't ignore is how gross these people are.  And they're mean.  What they don't realize is that: other people are subject to their nasty behavior, and, that someone has to clean up after them.

If you're tired of rude behavior I say to you - throw the book at them (Emily Post's Etiquette).


Friday, September 28, 2012

Flu Shot & Ceramics

I'm not really afraid of shots or having blood drawn.  128 any time of day...WalMart...pass the Valium.  But I'm good with shots.

I used to work for an insurance company and always got my shot at work.  At first it was private but over the years there might be 5 of us in a room having shots at the same time.  It was always a good reminder to wear the right clothing or else....  This year I was anxious about it.  Should I call my doctor?  What should I do?  Then I saw that Walgreen's was offering the shots.  Plus, it would come with 1,500 balance reward points, so what's not to love?  I made an appointment, sat with the very nice pharmacist and got my shot right there in the store.  At least I dressed properly.  And we had an interesting conversation about swine flu - thankfully it is no longer the threat it was in recent years. 

If you're afraid of needles, I say - get the shot and get the balance reward points - totally worth it from medical and couponing standpoints.

From the flu shot, I drove across the street (literally) and met my mother for my very first ceramics experience.

I never took ceramics as a youth.  I'm not sure why.  My best friend in elementary school, Cheryl, did and I always wanted to.  I do not know why I didn't but I'll make my mother feel badly about it later - during the holidays I think - when she's likely to try to make up for it.

Anyhow, there's an awesome shop right here in my town (thank you Holly for telling me!!!) called Look What I Made! Pottery.  I had to pretty much force my mother to join me but she came.  And what fun it was.  We were like two small children with no clue but Natalie, who is the ceramics Angel, was patient and kind and we had a good time.  Our projects will be ready next week and I can't wait to see them!

The magic of the experience is the peace.  You can go with friends (adult learner & ladies nights -- you can bring wine!) or you can go alone.  You choose your project and paint.  Natalie will help you if you ask her or she'll leave you be if you need that.  I felt so relaxed while I was there & the time flew by. 

I had a ceramic date already set up with friends Holly & Adrienne two days later and I was really excited to get back there.  We talked lots - about all kinds of stuff {children, partners, endings, beginnings, cancer, food, work = life}.  Time zoomed by again.

I learned a few things during ceramics this week.  They are, in no particular order: I suck at art; I love ceramics even though I suck at art; I love spending time with my mother; I have some wonderful and amazing friends; and, I am addicted to pottery.  I already have chosen my next two projects and can't wait to get back there.  I am going to go by myself one day next week and experience it all alone.  And I know Natalie will keep me company if I get lonely.

If you've never tried something new that sounds goofy - I say - you're probably missing out on something fun and you are for sure missing out on quality time with people you love.


Monday, September 24, 2012

No more yoga pants

So I thought my first blog post should be about bravery (instead of a rant, which will be sure to follow).

I love to take spin classes.  Love them.  And I have long dressed for comfort and for cover up...which included wearing padded cycling shorts beneath yoga pants.  Covering me up?  Yes.  Making me much hotter than I needed to be?  Yes again.

One (hot) morning this summer I was getting ready to put my yoga pants on over my shorts when I thought "What the BLEEP are you doing?  It is 100 degrees at 8 a.m. and these pants are not going to make the day any cooler."  So ... I just went to the gym in my cycling shorts.  And you know what happened?  Nothing.  No one screamed or ran away or threw up.  No one even noticed.  Except me, because I was cooler and when I began to sweat in class I knew it was just my hard work and not too many layers of clothing.

So to everyone who feels like she can't just be proud of her hard work - I say to you - no more yoga pants.  Unless you're in a yoga class in which case you'd best keep them on.