Today is Clark’s Birthday. Hurray!! He’s my fabulous Hubs! Happy Birthday, Clark!!
It’s easy to remember his birthday because, well, I’ve known him for about 35 years. I’m also pretty good at remembering birthdays. Sending out cards is another story. I tend to either send them out late or not at all. I’ve had an ongoing deal with myself for longer than I can remember to work on that personal flaw. Each year when the New Year rolls around I challenge myself to not only send every single person I know and love a birthday card but to also send it to them on time. And, each year I break that vow. Not on purpose, but because I tend to be a bit unorganized. (A sign of creativity I’ve been told – *probably by my mother*)
When I woke up this morning, I put on my robe, grabbed a cup of coffee and headed towards our basement. I walked down the stairs into the messy, cluttered, musty space under the first floor of our home. I needed a picture of Clark. I needed a picture ~ or two ~ of him to post on Facebook. It’s been a longtime tradition of mine – along with everyone in the universe – to start our loved ones birthdays off on the right foot by publicly posting old, forgotten pictures of them and attaching some sort of sentimental blurb under it. We plaster these Jpgs (pronounced Jaaayyy-pegs) out onto the World Wide Web and into cyberspace for the whole world to see. Well, I exaggerate. But if you’ve Googled your name recently you’ll find I’m not too far off on my statement
At the bottom of my basement stairs, I walked back through a slim, cluttered hallway and towards what was once a working darkroom that Clark and I had built in a cut off, private section down there. I passed up stacks of stored once treasured objects laying everywhere that had once held coveted spots in the rooms upstairs. I got to the door of the old photo room, opened it and carefully stepped into what now looked like a cluttered room where most of our accumulated treasures from 30 years of marriage had landed. I looked around and thought to myself, good grief, we’ve become hoarders…
There were boxes and boxes of photos in that room which were saved in their original envelopes and stuffed into drawers. Jammed drawers that you could barely open up because there were heavy stacks of boxes upon boxes filled with junk and memorabilia crammed all over the place. The walls were also filled with cabinets that held a bonanza of old photo albums. Eventually, I got down to work and started searching for a few pictures that were Facebook worthy.
Not too far into my task I became unfocused as I sifted through what seemed like a million unorganized photos. It’s easy to get sidetracked when you’re looking at a photogenic history of your life. The sentimentality of the task pulled at my heartstrings. I started to examine the content of the piles of photos I was sifting through rather than finding photos of my hubs. Photography sure had changed…..
After a few hours of walking down memory lane, I had finally found a handful of pictures that would work as a tribute to my Hubs. They were awesome photos and during a time when we first met and started dating. His hair was long and he sported a thick, full mustache. He wore t-shirts with pictures of rock bands on them and cut off, frayed jean shorts. He drove a convertible and had a wild streak in him that caught my eye right away. These days he’s traded in that youthful attire and look for work slacks, ties and weekend golf shirts.
It was odd-looking back at those old photos. It’s odd how you don’t realize how much you age and mature from year to year until you look back. It hit’s you then and you think solemnly to yourself, wow, I’ve aged…. You wonder where the time went. How did thirty years fly by so fast. And, were the memories recorded in those old, treasured photo’s really as glorious as our minds would love to convince us they were? Or, is it true what they say; that it’s fun to remember the way things used to be, but the way things used to be probably could never live up to how we recall them. We tend to glorify the past with fabulous stories and timeless photo’s that make you think ‘all the world’s a sunny day…’
My routine has changed. My once typical morning of coffee, working out and writing has recently morphed into a whirlwind of chaos and fly by the seat of your pants activities, chores and running around chasing a tail. Literally, because I’ve got a new Puppy!!
Duncan, my lovable new sidekick, has permanently joined our family and there’s suddenly not a single shred of “routine or calm” in my day-to-day life. And, I could not be happier or more in love with this adorable, blonde, big brown-eyed Puggle weighing in at eleven lbs and standing one foot tall. Who doesn’t love a puppy?
I simply can’t.get.enough of him! My cup runneth over!! My heart is about to burst!! Hooray!!! I’m in puppy love!!!
Ohh, the big decision to adopt him was not something I arrived at lightly. It’s something I’d been thinking about for a long time. Something that my boys had been pleading for, well, for as long as I can remember. Clark? – well, his mantra for the past few years since I really started getting serious about getting a dog has been….. “Have you lost your ever-lovin’ mind? NO, Absolutely not…we are not getting a dog!”
So I did what any red-blooded American, empty nester female would do. I went out all by myself, searched high and low and not only found Duncan, but brought him home. “Ohh honey, I’m home!!…..Surpriseeee!!
I knew that the moment my Hubs saw the little guy skittishly romping and skidding across the kitchen floor towards him, that it would be love at first sight. He’d agree that I was right all along about adding this new little bundle of joy to our family. Annnnnd, it didn’t take Clark long to lose his heart forever to this perfect example of Man’s Best Friend. It didn’t take long for this tiny, mischievous, energetic pup and my hubs to become best buds.
Is it ironic that my decision to take the plunge and adopt this feisty, fireball of fur coincided with my boys arriving at young adulthood and living basically on their own and out of the house?? (*ehem*…I use the phrase ‘out of the house’ lightly) Nah, my friends and family all assure me that it is just my way of reacting to my mid-life crisis. But *I* say… there’s simply no time like the present!!
So, in the past month or so my routine has not only done a total 360, but my world has been opened up to life with a puppy. I’ve been diligently working to train and groom this sweet little canine into a well-disciplined member of the family. Some days are simple. Others, a great challenge.
Here are a few bridges we’ve crossed and things I’ve learned since his arrival into his new home and his permanent place into our family and our hearts…
What you learn when you live life with a puppy
Puppies care about your health!! They’ll go out of their way to get you up and outside with them. Often! The backdoor in now their personal scratching pad when they decide it’s time for you to get out and play with them. If that does not get your attention, their high-pitched squeak/bark will get your attention. Arrffff Arrrffff..
They don’t judge. They aren’t particular about what outfit you happen to hastily toss on when you notice they’ve squeezed through the backyard fence. They also don’t make judgements about what your hair looks like or that you’re in your bathrobe while chasing them down the block when they decide to take off after a midnight potty break.
They love to play games…like Hide and Seek. They pick the object and hide it somewhere you’d never think of looking for it. And you get to go seek it. FUN!
You’ll quickly get used to being mistaken for a human pin cushion. They use your arms and legs for teething. If you’re not stern enough, they’ll also use the legs of your funiture. Thank Goodness for the distressed wood fad that’s been in fashion in recent years. Let’s hope it’s here to stay for a while……
Pet insurance – their premiums may be higher than yours. This so-called “safeguard” is an evil necessity because let’s face it, who wants to get stuck with a $2000 vet bill for Physical therapy, thyroid conditions or God forbid, therapy sessions when they’re feeling blue. Right?
Puppies help you hone your time management skills. Want to run your usual day long errands? Not so fast, mister… You learn quickly to do 5 hours of activities and errands, in a zippy hour and twenty-two minutes. These these short hourly increments of free time are what you’re now allotted ~ at least while your sweet pooch learns the fine art of potty training.
They’re like babies. Suddenly you’re talking about poop and pee again, a lot. They make you feel absurdly proud. When you’re in public and see total strangers looking and smiling at your puppy, it’s hard not to smile and feel a sense of pride, which is somewhat ridiculous because you aren’t responsible for the existence of this creature, you paid too much money for it, in fact.
Puppy Proofing is essential. Puppies try to kill themselves everyday, all day, and in creative ways. Like… by chewing through electrical chords and eating scissors. Anything dropped on the floor is fair game if you can’t quickly lunge for it before they get to it.
Puppies increase the need for vacuuming, sweeping, mopping and tidying, in general. You’re house has never looked so clean! You’ve never been more organized as when you have a puppy around. Mainly out of necessity. Get it done now or don’t get it done!
The universe revolves around puppies. Suddenly you become dog-centric against your will. Your puppy is the topic of every conversation, and when it isn’t you find ways to steer the conversation back to your puppy.
Puppies disrupt sleep; Suddenly, we’re drawing straws on Saturday morning about who gets up with the puppy. Suddenly, you’re drawing straws each night about who takes puppy to the bathroom at midnight. I’ve caught myself feigning sleep in the wee hours, hoping my husband will jump at that task.
Ok, that being said – The trials and tribulations of training a young puppy will never measure up to the love you’ll have for your dog, or the love he brings you. You’ll never have a better or more loyal friend than this amazing, wonderful creature. They eagerly greet you, tail wagging and rump squirming, when you walk through the door at the end of a hard day. They’re ALWAYS happy to see you. Their affection towards you is the definition of unconditional love. They are the only thing on earth than loves you more than they love themself. He is your friend, your partner, your defender, your dog. You are his life, his love, his leader. He will be yours, faithful and true, to the last beat of his heart.
“The world would be a nicer place if everyone had the ability to love as unconditionally as a dog.”
In Honor of St Patrick’s Day, I thought I’d share some tips on how to celebrate the day if you were not lucky enough to be born Irish, as I was. I thought about it and researched and wrote my thoughts down. Then, having the luck of the Irish on my side, I ran into this article. I could not have said it better my self. So to you, I share with you these words of wisdom which i stumbled upon and decided were just too good to pass up.
Happy St Patrick’s Day……..
Gone are the days when you can just celebrate the day with your Irish friends while submerging yourself in the culture, knowing full well you have no Irish blood whatsoever. No. Literally everyone, on this day, has a long lost cousin somewhere in a far distant shire.
It can’t be stopped. Not in a million years. So in an attempt to at least try and make things easier when you’re undercover out there, here are a few tips that may actually get you through a full day as a fake Irishman…
You have absolutely no Irish blood in you, or if you do, it’s extremely faint and almost nonexistent. But that won’t stop you. Exaggerate the sh*t out of it. Your beloved Irish nanny (who is actually called Barbara and has never even been to an Irish bar) dropped your mam on the docks of the Mersey herself and is an icon in your family.
You’re going to need to hate the English for what they did to your people. Don’t go too deep with this – that’s an absolute no go. You don’t have enough time to learn the history. The best thing you can do in this situation is learn a few rebel songs and blurt them out if someone engages with you about a conflict you know absolutely piss all about.
If you decide to wear the Irish flag as a cape on St Patrick’s Day, you may as well run around screaming “I’m English” all day. Just don’t do it. This is one of the main ways I identify the English people every year. Granted, you will get the odd Irish person wearing one, but the majority of Irish men and women respect their flag enough not to sweat into it all day, sit on it then use it as a means to wipe up green vomit later on.
Feel free to kiss this person. On the lips. With your fist. If you thought the cape was bad, and a great identifier for the English, then this is a homing beacon. There is no doubt in my mind that whatever damage you inflict on a person wearing this t-shirt, they already deserve it. However, I will at this point say that it’s not a good idea to assault someone, and while that will probably be happening wherever you look tonight, don’t actually punch people in the lips with your fist. Just laugh at them, instead.
There’s no doubt you’re going to be knocking back the fluid as consistently as possible, in order to keep up with your cohorts, who are much better drinkers than you. But you don’t NEED to drink the green stuff. It doesn’t make you more Irish. What it does, however, is waits. And waits. Until it’s ready to exit your body and make your bathroom look like that 2009 Maga’ foam party.
Or do, if you want to blow your cover as a real Irish person. I would prefer you actually did this one, if I’m honest. As early on in the night as possible.
If you don’t know this Irish banger word for word, you’re going to feel like a black sheep. Sorry, you’re going to feel even more like the black sheep that you already are. There will never be a point in the day when everyone will just spontaneously burst into song with this – in most cases it will just be an older guy in the corner, on his own after one too many. But if you really want to impress, that guy could be you.
You’re going to want to turn up for work tomorrow, too. Your boss knows full well you’re not even the slightest bit Irish and he won’t be pleased when he finds out you just went for a midweek piss up. Your Irish colleagues will probably get the benefit of the doubt. It means something to them – even if ‘something’ just means getting shitfacewankered with their actual Irish family all day. They still have more of a reason to not make it into work the next day.
This afternoon while skimming through Facebook, I ran across a link that directed me to a blog post which was written by a talented young lady, Kristin. She just happens to be the younger sister of my beautiful Daughter-in-Law. Kristin is traveling and studying overseas in Spain. She’s enrolled in one of those student/class exchange programs from the college she attends. You know, those amazing programs where you get to travel the world while taking classes at an institution that is affiliated with the college that you are attending. And, she takes full advantage of traveling the world on her weekends while living temporarily abroad.
When I was her age and in college, these programs were not as popular nor taken advantage of nearly as much as they are today. Things have changed. The world seems to have become smaller. Or, perhaps it’s just that the young adults of today’s world have more opportunities laid at their feet and are far more likely to follow through will well thought out plans because of their fierce independence and higher education.
I like this. I have adapted to the way the world has changed since I was a twenty-something. I encourage my kids (all twenty-somethings) to travel. It not only opens your eyes to new experiences and different cultures, but it also opens your world to new possibilities.
After reading through some of Kristin’s posts, especially the one that I am introducing to you here, I am more convinced than ever that through the experience of travel & education, young adults grow and mature in ways that benefit not only themselves but also society. The beauty of all of this is that you don’t have to travel across the ocean to experience the blessings of travel. Your world could be opened up simply going ten miles from where you live, crossing a state line – or traveling to the village closest to you.
I am writing this after 20 minutes checking myself out on social media. See this past weekend I went to Morocco and got amazing pictures so I naturallyyyy posted one to Instagram right away (go give me a like if you get the chance;)). BUT WAIT- that was just an addition to the ones I was tagged in on Facebook. There was also the new profile pic I updated of my bestie and myself last week- that’s when this continuous clicking happened and the self-stalking binge started. These twenty minutes consisted of checking who liked what, guessing how people perceived the pics, and even assessing myself for many reasons but mostly to see how I came across and what people might think of me.
…………………LIKE WHAT??? I reread this sadly true paragraph and can’t help but feel shame for how narcissistic and self-centered the last 20 minutes of my life were. Twenty minutes of my life I will never get back. Twenty minutes of my life that could have been spent doing something way more productive or meaningful or touching. From conversations with friends and observations around me I can bet that MANY other people have been in this same situation.
We take selfies, have personal agendas, and feel an overwhelming need not only to talk about ourselves but also somehow bring us into any aspect of conversation. The selfie stick, deemed “the wand of narcissism,” has become so popular that museums across the country (for example the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York and the MFA in Houston) have banned its presence.
While listening to a sermon about spiritual maturity, a point that was made really stood out to me- “We are all born narcissists and learning to grow out of that is at the heart of our spirituality.” What exactly does this mean? Don’t get me wrong, I do believe that everyone needs their own personal time and space- it’s vital to one’s sanity and something I am a strong advocate for. But when 20 minutes of my day consists of looking at myself on social media, something’s wrong.
Confidence is cool and self-love is a must. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with loving yourself- everyone should! When we love ourselves we can notice the God given gifts we have. However when we use this realization for self-promotion, narcissism and self-centeredness take over.
When we learn to grow out of our narcissism, our spirituality can flourish. When we lose that blinding interest in ourselves, we start make room for an interest in others.This also happens when we liberate ourselves from our selfishness sometimes even just by becoming aware of it. There’s a quote I love that says, “Love is to reveal the beauty of someone to himself or herself.” When we stop obsessing over our own beauty and vanity, we have room to love and appreciate others. This promotes change and in comes Buddha:
Realizing these self-obsessing habits is the first step for a narcissist. It’s something I struggle with and am trying to work on day by day. So next time I find myself beginning a self stalking binge on social media I’ll click my home page and go give some likes or a genuine comment. It’s all about baby steps…
In the meantime, here are some pictures of Morocco, including a selfie with a camel:
reblogged from JOY by KristenBuehler11
We’ve all been there. You wake up in the morning and feel somewhat stiff and sore. The Flu? A cold coming on? Some kind of illness that you’re sure will keep you from leaving your bedroom all day, let alone your home. Your mind starts to clear from the hazy slumber you just woke up from and then you remember. YOGA!!
I was going to become a yoga guru in the new year. My resolution – become more in tuned with my body while nourishing it through the ancient art of yoga. Great idea? Yes, I thought so!
In my mind, Yoga was stretching and a light, relaxing form of exercise. I could wear something fashionable and cute and not even break a sweat while getting into amazingly sculpted shape. It would benefit both my mind and body. And, my friend and I could not wait to get started. One of my bestie’s and I signed up for a 10 week beginners yoga course. It was all set for Saturday mornings. Ten in a row. We’d be fit and fabulous in no time at all.
We agreed to start the first Saturday of the New Year. Oops. That was Superbowl weekend. OK, we’d start the 2nd weekend. After all, what was one more weekend of indulgence after a long holiday season with no regard to nutrition or health whatsoever?
So off I went on the designated start day. I drove to the trendy yoga studio, feeling quite smug, looking around at the other drivers on the road at this early morning hour on a weekend. I wondered where they were going. Well, they weren’t going to yoga like I was. Ha! One point for me!
I walked in with my fancy, new, Costco discount yoga mat slung around my back like all the young girls I saw. I was ready to get my Yoga on. I had beat my friend to the class so I signed in with the bright pen that was decorated with a big daisy on the end of it. Very groovy! I turned and headed towards the sheer fabric panels that I saw hanging from the ceiling. They acted as a divider between the front reception area and the actual studio. I walked through them and entered the studio area.
Looking around, I noticed that the room was not as big as I imagined it would be. It was actually a little tight on space. There were yoga mats laying all over the place in random order. The air smelled warm and damp from the previous class that had just got done. I turned towards the back of the room and found a space in the corner of the crowded room. I unrolled my mat and plopped down on it. I saved the space next to me for my friend who had still not arrived. Everyone around me was stretching and warming up. I decided to do the same. The girl next to me was sitting crossed legged and bending over her thighs. She was folded almost in half, so low that her forehead almost touched the ground. OK! I’ll do that, too. I mimicked my neighbors position and tried to bend down. I didn’t get very far. I don’t even think I got halfway down. I was stuck in an almost 90 Degree angle. I used to be so flexible. When did this happen?
I heard my friend’s voice as she entered the studio and waved her over to me. We were next to each other on our mats, looking around at all the others bending their lithe figures this way and that. We decided to just chat about how great we looked in our new workout gear until the instructor got started. Don’t we look great?! Yes, we do!
The instructor walked in, dimmed the lights low and got started. The people all around me had their socks off to prevent slippage. I kept mine on. I had not thought ahead. If I took my socks off everyone would see my 2 month old pedicure that had grown out almost midway to the tips of my toes. It was chipping and peeling. Who knew anyone besides my hubby would be seeing my toes during the snowy, winter months? Mental note: get pedicure before next class.
We warmed up with a few easy poses. OK! simple. I could handle this. No sweat! But after about 10 minutes, things started to get a bit sticky. We were bending ourselves in all kind of unnatural positions. We were doing planks. And, doing Ab work. My abs had not had a relationship with an exercise, well, since I had my kids 20 years earlier. I was starting to sweat. I could see the perspiration droplets starting to show through my new, trendy workout gear. The instructor had earlier told us to work with our eyes closed and at our own pace. I opened mine and peeked over at my friend. She was dabbing the sweat off of her brow, too… dab dab dab.. The instructor caught me looking around the room and reiterated that nobody should worry about anybody else’s performance level. But how could I not notice and be amazed at the little skinny thing in front of me. She had her ankle behind her neck. Good Lord, It was like something straight out of Ripley’s Believe it or Not. I looked at my friend again and she was silently mouthing something to me…. these poses are humanly unnatural… I nodded and agreed. I could hear pops from different parts of my body and prayed that I wouldn’t throw anything out of joint.
After 55 minutes of putting our poor, out of shape bodies through torture and hell, we finally got to the cool down.
Ahhhh. Now this I could handle. Granted, we were just lying there sweaty on the mats – silently. Eyes closed, hands at our sides, palms facing upwards. My heartbeat began to return to normal. My sweating slowed down from a steady flow to a little drip. The instructors soothing voice washed over us. There was quiet music playing in the background, swirling around my brain. I had actually become relaxed. I had gone from challenging my body like it had not been challenged in a long time to extreme relaxation. All in a matter of five minutes. As the entire class lay there silently she made us aware of all of our senses. Moving from one muscle group to the next. It felt like heaven. In a way, it was spiritual. She told us to let our breathing return to normal. To concentrate only on going to a place in our hearts and mind that made us happy. A beach. A recent or long ago vacation. A memory. It could be anywhere. Or with anyone.
I was sitting on a large tourist bus in a seat next to my mom. We were perched up high over the road. Traveling through the countryside of Italy on our way to Rome. We were traveling with a choir group from one of my girlfriend’s church. She had invited us to come along. There were extra seats available. It was my Mom’s and My first trip to Italy. A place where we had both always wanted to go. And, we did. My mind remembered that the choir on the bus was singing. They were practicing the hymns and church songs that they were going to sing in Churches along the way. It was beautiful. My memory shifted over to my My mom and I looking out the window at the rolling hills of Tuscany. We saw tall trees all around us. Those tall, pine-like ones that are so familiar to the Italian region. The ones I had seen in books and magazines all of my life. The houses were different. Stucco with tiled roofs. There was livestock, mostly sheep, roaming around. Our bus chugged along silently through the countryside over the hills. It looked simple. And lovely. My mom and I were talking all along the way. We were sitting arm in arm. And, we were laughing. Remembering experiences from the night before in Florence. A restaurant that stayed opened for us during the traditional Italian siesta time. The opened bottle of Limoncello sitting on our table Bottle’s of Italian red wine. Our new friends sitting across from us. We did not know them before we boarded the plane in Chicago. Now? We were close with them. And, traveling across central Europe with them. A bond had been formed. It was soothing and it was the happy place that my heart had gone to for that moment…..
And then, suddenly, the instructor invaded my happy place. I was back in the present. With my dear yoga buddy next to me. We were told to sit in an upright position and show the sign of thankfulness. Hands held in front of you. In a praying position. She told us to take with us something good for the rest of the day. Something that will make us shine, inside and out. To remember why we had come in the first place. Why we had walked through the door. That we were there for a reason and not out of randomness. And, she was right.
We had made a pact to better our minds and body in the new year. And now that I had been through the challenges of the first class and the spirituality of the cool down, I knew this was the place for me. I wanted to come back again. And, again.
Reading this article this morning, originally printed in Deadstate.org, made me think of how wonderful it would be for those of us who have a love for all things photographic, to have the freedom and courage to simply walk up to any subject head on and do what we love to do most – Interact, fully engaged, with the group of people or person that drew our creative attention in their direction in the first place. Face to face. Not from around a corner or hidden behind a tree. Not from a safe spot, hidden in the middle of some shrubbery. Not from the subject’s backside (good grief, how boring!!) And, most definitely not while pretending to take a picture of something over the subjects shoulder. I mean, c’mon people! – I think everyone is on to that tactic.
I’ve gone through several steps of uncomfortable growth to get to the point I am now in my (very) amateur photography hobby. I’m still not completely where I want to be in learning to just *go for the shot.* I tend to end up feeling squeamishly uncomfortable and as tho I’ve somehow invaded someone’s invisible bubble of privacy. But I’m getting there. One day I hope to feel comfortable enough to walk up to anyone, anywhere and take the shot. I just might end up with some amazing captures like these!
“What attracted me to Robin Williams and his fellow mime, Todd Oppenheimer, was an unusual amount of intensity, personality and physical fluidity. When I approached them with my Pentax Spotmatic they allowed me to invite them into my camera instead of me having to chase after them.”
It’s hard to know if these amazing shots of a young Robin Williams were captured because the photographer was confidant enough to simply walk up to his subject and shoot the picture or if it was simply a matter of Robin’s big personality, generosity and love of attention. But, I do know, that you have to step out from behind the bushes.
Over the weekend I discovered a fun little fact. There is a restaurant in London named Bob Bob Ricard. It sits in a great part of the city. It’s beautifully decorated in decadent golden and red booths and dim lighting. It’s private and elegant and quiet. But the best part of all? It has a “Push for Champagne” button at every single table. Brilliant! *Oh, pip pip cheerio and all that sort of rot.* Our English neighbors are so posh and proper. And, Brilliant!! What a great spot for a girl’s getaway. Or, a bubbly rendezvous with the Hubs. This fabulous restaurant has made its way to my bucket list.
I Love Champagne! It’s so, so…oh, I don’t know..so, Rita Hayworth. Or, Lauren Bacall. It’s so old, glam, Hollywood. If I’m sitting at a table in a posh restaurant and suddenly find myself parched and in need of some bubbly, what better way to get it than to quietly slide my manicured hand across the tabletop and discreetly push a button. Wallah! A properly dressed waiter quietly slips over to the table and my glass is discreetly refilled. Happiness in a flute!
Champagne. It represents universal celebration of life. The sports world pours it over each others heads to celebrate championships. Hollywood glam queens love to be seen sipping it. Girlfriends celebrate sisterhood and friendship with it. You can pour a splash of orange juice into it and it quickly becomes a favorite breakfast beverage. You can hold it up in a toast to newlywed couples and new-born babies alike. You can toss a strawberry into it and suddenly it becomes a swanky, la-di-da cocktail.
Champagne. It’s universally Joyful. Every time you pop the cork on a bottle of bubbly, it’s a celebration. Of Life and love and the sharing of each others joy and accomplishments.
When was the last time you indulged? It can be the perfect start to any week. Just sayin’…..
It was a Thursday Morning. The first Thursday of the New Year. That meant that I would be meeting up with one of my besties for coffee. We made a pact last year to meet up once a week at the coffee shop that sits midway between her suburb and mine. Thursday mornings, that was the day we agreed upon. They would be our day!! Regardless of weather. Regardless of schedules. And, we stuck to our deal. Last year we met every single Thursday except for one or two. The only thing that keeps us away from our sacred get-together is if one of us is out-of-town. That’s a reasonable excuse.
She always arrives before I do. And, there is usually an empty “to go” cup waiting for me. Her treat. We buy the “to go” cups because this particular spot lets you refill your java as many times as you’d like and then take one with you *to go* if you’d like. And we do.
I have tried endlessly, unsuccessfully, to beat her to our spot so that I can treat her for coffee just once. But every week, regardless of how early I get ready in the morning and rush out the door, she is sitting there already. Waiting. Enthusiastically.
Our first Thursday of the new year!! I was ready to get back on track with a normal routine. I was burned out on the holidays and all of the socializing that comes along with the hectic, jolly season. I was ready to get back into my regular routine. I was happy to be up and out the door early and on my way to meet up with my sweet friend. We were going to discuss our new Yoga class we were enrolled in on Saturday mornings!! Hurray!!
As I pulled into the parking lot I noticed her car right away. Of courseeee she would be there before me! I walked in and turned my attention to one of the two spots that we usually sit in. And, there she was. Big, bright reddish bouffant, smiling eyes and a huge grin. *over here!!* She always stands up when she spots me walking in and waves her arm enthusiastically back and forth – as If I would not be able to find her unless she stood up and signaled me. Ohhh, my dear, sweet friend must not be aware that I can see her big, beautiful bouffant over the top of the booth from across the room whether or not she stands up to greet me.
I made a beeline for the booth and sat down. She had papers and a schedule in front of her and was ready to dive into the details of our new Yoga class. I scooted into the booth across from her and looked at the coffee and water sitting in front of me. She had put a slice of lemon in my water. Everybody knows that lemons help to flush out all the millions of calories and impurities that we tend to shove into our bodies over the holidays. Every little bit counts!! And, if we can lose weight just by drinking lemon water, bring it on!!
We were all settled in and ready to get to the gabbing. She looked up at me and immediately knew that something was a little off. Women do that. We have a special, ingrained sense of female esp. We can tell when one of our girlfriends are upset about something. She asked me what was wrong and I burst into tears. I had been thinking about my Mom on the way to the coffee shop. About how desperately I missed her. My heart-felt such a heavy weight that morning. I knew that this time of year was a trigger. The anniversary – the first anniversary of her passing was just around the corner. It was all too much to bear.
My bestie popped up and went to get some makeshift Kleenex (scratchy paper napkins). She handed them to me and scooted back in the booth. I took them and held them up to my face. I was covering my face with them and blubbering. I was hiding behind them. She told me to put them down. That she knew I was back there behind the scratchy napkin crying. I thought to myself, that comment was something my Mom would have laughed about. And as I thought about my Mom laughing at a comment like that, I began to laugh, myself. I laughed for a minute and then cried some more. It was the ugly cry where your face is all skewed up. But then I thought about my friend telling me that she knew I was behind the napkin and my emotions turned into a half laugh half cry. I lowered my scratchy shield an inch and looked at her through watery, drowned eyes from over the top. She didn’t seem to be phased that I was making a scene. So I chanced lowering the napkin all the way down and looked her straight in the eye. And, went on to unload my soul to her. Like I had so many times in the past year. She sat there and listened as I unloaded my grieving sorrow to her. She had all the right things to say. All the while, reaching across the table and holding my hand. And after about 10- 15 minutes, I felt so much better. I pulled myself together, we smiled at each other. It had passed. Unloading on her was like a weight being lifted off my shoulders. So, we went on to discuss how we were going to become Yoga Guru’s in 2015. (Lord help us! )
I have always been aware of the fact that women need women in their lives. Or, maybe it’s just me. But I don’t think so. I really do believe that women need women. For socializing. For nurturing. For talking with. We are strong and intelligent and loyal to each other. We relate to one another and usually think along the same wavelengths. I’m constantly amazed by my friends who seem to know when I need them. And, we are complicated. Men, not so much. Men are simple. They can get along with a tv remote and a bag of snacks as their sidekicks. I’m not sure if I envy that or not. I just know that I have some amazing women in my life. I have been blessed with an abundance of besties. All good women to their core.
Our Thursdays have been a special blessing to me. This past year would have been overwhelming without my girlfriends in my life. I treasure each and every one of them. And, I know just how blessed I am to have the company of so many amazing women on a day-to-day basis in my life.
My Mom was an amazing woman herself. I miss her SO much. I think about her everyday. I will never stop missing her or feeling her void. But with a little help from my girlfriends from time to time, I learn to smile over the memories I have rather than dwell on the pain.
There are two things you can count on as a New Year rolls around. Resolutions will be made. Resolutions will be broken. As humans, we tend to set time lines and dead lines and unrealistic goals for ourselves. It’s human nature to set the bar super-humanly high, go in swinging and end up with deflated outcomes within weeks. Or in some cases, within days or even hours. Let’s face it, you can’t go from being a couch potato to being an instant gym rat. Start slow people!
Perhaps it’s more realistic to craft your goals so that they fit into your lifestyle rather than trying to change your lifestyle by going resolution-crazy. Oh resolutions can be accomplished, but baby steps people, baby steps!
This year, I’m starting sloowwwwww. Over the weekend, my besties and I decided to start an ongoing mass txt thread with the intent of lifting each other up with positive little messages filled with enthusiasm and motivational comments to each other!! Hurray for group support!! The encouragement started coming Sunday night already!!
Oh geeeze, I was feeling pressure already. Two of my besties had actually made an attempt to start off on a good foot. Me? Nothing yet. I could hardly post a txt about how I was looking forward to sitting in front of the boob tube for the much anticipated return of “The Good Wife” and “Revenge.” I had to think of something quick. Aha! I would send a positive txt about what I was going to do tomorrow!! Remembering that I was going to start slow, I decided to start off with hydration. I liked drinking fluids!!! This would be a no brainer! I could even drink the water in front of my tv shows. Win/WIn!
I felt good! I felt empowered and motivated! Not only was I going to treat my body as a temple while hydrating it, my skin would also look better. My hair might even get shiny! New year, new me! Hurray!
And so it went. The motivational txt’s were working already! Reading just the first round wasssss motivational. So motivational in fact, that I decided on Monday morning to dig out my athletic clothes, dust off my sneakers and hit the gym.
Monday morning rolled around and I felt like Wonder-woman…..
She was inspiring me, too!!! I could not wait to hit the gym! I could not wait to get back on that elliptical and burn off the Holiday pounds+ that I had allotted myself to gain.
I walked into the gym, head held high, smug confident grin on my face and made a beeline straight for the machine I had used endlessly before the holidays rolled around and I decided to take an extended hiatus. I climbed onto the elliptical. It felt like getting back up on a bicycle. I looked down at the dials in front of me automatically set them at the same level that I was used to setting them at 3 months ago. I put my earbuds in, tuned my device to the corresponding station of the tv in front of me which was airing Kelly and Michael, hit the start button and off I went!! Hurray! I felt like Lance Armstrong!! I had my rhythm going. I had good timing. I was laughing at the monologue jokes that I was hearing through my earbuds. That Kelly was a funny girl!!
My heartbeat started to rise slowly and I could feel the beginnings of sweat start to form on my forehead. No problem! I had a towel draped over the handle bars of my machine. *dab dab dab.* I looked back up at the tv, my breathing started to get a bit deeper. More sweat. *dab dab* I looked around and noticed nobody else was sweating. Well, obviously I was working harder and longer than they were. I looked down at the clock on the bike. Geeeze! I was only 4 minutes into it. How could that be? It felt like at least 15 minutes. I decided to toss the towel over the clock. Who needed to see those debbie downer numbers staring you in the face. Who needed the guilt and sense of defeat? Not me!! I was motivated!! I was thinking positive thoughts only!!
More sweat. *dab dab* Good Grief, I was starting to think that maybe I did not do myself any favors by treating myself to a holiday hiatus. I was huffing and puffing. Sweat was starting to seep through my workout gear. My towel was starting to feel soggy. In the course of 25 minutes I went from feeling like Wonder woman, to this…..
So, I psyched myself up as best I could, finished my workout and could not get out of there fast enough. I was exhausted. And sweaty. And thirsty. I needed to hydrate.
On the way home, I was driving in one of those halfway trances you get into when driving along great spanses of desolate highways. I was trying not to think about how thirsty I was. What had I just put my body through?? Even tho it was a sub-zero January day, I was driving with the car heat off and my jacket open. I was boiling. The sweat was still dripping down my neck. My hair was matted to my scalp. You could see the sweat mark around the neck of my fancy athletic shirt. I was hoping I would make it home without seeing anyone I knew.
Out of the corner of my eye, I could see a car riding parallel to me. How annoying! Well, I would ignore it and it would soon pass me up. A few minutes passed. Nope. Still there. I chanced a peek and saw some weirdo in a huge, creepy, suspicious looking van. He was looking at me. His eyebrows were raised freakishly high, as tho he was trying to tell me something through his eyeballs. He kept pointing to me and smiling. Geeeze! Could he not that I was dripping in sweat and on my way home from a vigorous, successful, healthy workout. I was thirsty and crabby. I was in no mood for socializing. What nerve.
I decided to speed up. Then he sped up. So I decided to slow down. And, he slowed down. I chanced another peek at him to try to figure out what his creepy story was. And, I was sneaky about it. I moved my eyes as far as I could to the right while keeping my head pointing straight ahead towards the road. *ouch, eye strain* Yep, he was still sidling me. And now, his window was part way down. What in the world?!?!?! I had a stalker! What a freak! I slowed wayyyy down so he could get several cars ahead of me. Finally, I saw his blinker go on and at the next traffic light, which thankfully was green, he turned right and off he went. He was gone! Thank God! He was out of sight and out of my comfort zone and world. Good Ridance!
As I pulled into my driveway, I started to think about the entire bizarre morning. The gym workout. The van freak. I think Van-Man was hitting on me. He was! He was hitting on me and I was not even in my best form! Or, maybe I was. Perhaps I was not giving myself enough credit. Maybe I looked athletic…and young….and healthy already! One 1/2 hour session on the elliptical and I was already turning heads! I wasssss wonder-woman!!
And, just like that I was motivated again and ready for the next day at the gym! The man in the van had actually motivated me!! It did not really matter where my motivation came from, It just mattered that I stayed motivated!! Hurray for living a healthy lifestyle!! Hurray for New Year Resolutions!! I walked in the house and pulled out my phone and sent a txt to my besties.
Me: One half hour/ 3 miles on the elliptical. Felt good to be back at the gym. I think I’m going to start a gratitude journal. Maybe use the journal that my sweet daughter-in-law gave me for Christmas to use at my desk for writing. I think that it would make a perfect gratitude journal. I’m so glad that we are doing this all together. I’m going to start off really slow and make realistic goals for myself. Good luck this week girls! Love you two! Have a great week……!
I love numbers and stats!!
I was thrilled this morning when I stumbled upon the Year in Review email from my friends at WordPress.com this morning. An end of the year gift to all aspiring writers and bloggers in the WordPress community. (Their generosity just never ends!) Then, as I grabbed a cup a coffee and took a closer look, I realized it was really a learning and marketing tool. So, what did I think about that? ok!, I like it! In the end, I still LOVE numbers and stats..
We were asked if we wanted to publicize it to our sites. Did I? Of course I did. I wanted to write a brief end of the year review this morning anyway. I was sitting down to do just that when I discovered that WordPress had done the task for me. Hurray! And, they did an amazing job.
It was interesting to see what I had accomplished throughout the year with my writing. It was interesting to see what I had written about and which direction my creative juices had flowed.
In the end, my numbers had grown, my views had increased and I had gotten to know my readers a bit more personally through their kind comments and feedback.
It would be easy to let all of this “fame” go to my head. But, in the end, Im still the same person as I was when I started this wonderful journey a few years ago. I still wake up and have chores to do each day. I cook (sometimes) and clean (less than I did before) and yes, take the garbage out (when I absolutely have to).
I started my blog because I wanted to write. I have loved every step of my WordPress journey so far. I plan to continue, well, forever! OK, that is probably a bit enthusiastic, but I will continue until my readers scream..”Enough!!…”
So, to each and every single one of you, I thank you and appreciate you and look forward to more of your comments and getting to know you even better in the coming year. I thank you all from the bottom of my heart for hanging around with me and reading my words. I wish you all a Happy and Healthy New Year! May 2015 be the beginning of your best year yet!
The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2014 annual report for this blog.
Here’s an excerpt:
The concert hall at the Sydney Opera House holds 2,700 people. This blog was viewed about 23,000 times in 2014. If it were a concert at Sydney Opera House, it would take about 9 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.
Nobody knows what a New Year will bring. Nobody knows what life holds for each of us from one year to the next.
As I walk away from 2014, I reflect back on a year full of ups and downs. A year full of joy and heartbreak. A year that I would hear the word remission. And, A year that I would end up expectantly saying goodbye to my Sweet Mom. Amazing joy and bitter sorrow. Hand in hand throughout the year.
I turned to my friends and family for support. I turned to my WordPress community as a means of purging my painful feelings through blog posts. And, with camera constantly in hand, I turned to my photography as a way of relaying through photos what I was not able to and could not verbalize into words.
Before we can look ahead, let’s take a reflective look back at what was 2014.
Retrospective – 2104
Before we move ahead, a chance to look back….
“For last year’s words belong to last year’s language and next year’s words await another voice, And to make an end is to make a beginning.”
I had my recurring dream last night.
I’ve been having the same one for years. I’m back in school again. Sometimes it’s high school. Sometimes it college. It’s always in some bizarre setting and never with the same group of people. Sometimes it’s with current friends and acquaintances. Other times I’m with people from my past. Sometimes it’s with old co-workers or neighbors or friends from church. The only common thread running through the dream is that I am back at school again. That thought in itself is a nightmare.
The actual building I am in is always very big and it never looks familiar to me. (Perhaps because I’m no spring chicken anymore and bordering on senile – which I totally blame on raising three *enthusiastic* boys.) I’m ALWAYS lost in the facility and looking for my locker. As I wander the long, winding halls – which never seem to make any architectural sense – I am concentrating on trying to remember the combination to my locker. I never can remember it. (Again, that senility issue.) I also can never remember the last time I was in class or where the classrooms are. And, usually it takes place towards the end of the school year and everyone is going to graduate except for me. I will be left behind in school for one more year – not knowing anyone who will be held back with me ~ worrying about who I will be living with.
Then I wake up – relieved that I am, in fact, out of school and have been for years. A big, big relief
I have wondered often why this is the dream that visits me so regularly. As if it is a beloved movie or television series that is replayed over and over again on the big 64′ Samsung Flat-Screen TV in my mind.
After finally becoming curious enough, I started to dig around for answers and what I found was not anything unsettling or mysterious. It was nothing that pointed to deep underlying issues in my life that were trying to surface through my subconsciousness at nighttime when I slept. What I found was the total opposite. Recurring dreams are common amongst us. So common in fact, that we all seem to be having the same ones. Over and over again.
Now, I have always tended to chalk these dreams up to hectic periods in my life. Like for instance, the Holidays. Let’s face it, not many of us have a Normal Rockwell experience. Is it a coincidence that I had my *school* dream last night in the midst of Black Friday & Cyber Monday Mayhem? (Oh the pressure!)! After weeks of preparing for Thanksgiving and trying to stage the perfect holiday gathering, I go to sleep at night with my wheels in full gear and when my body finally falls into slumber from the pure the exhaustion of the day, the wheels just keep on spinning. Yep, no surprise there that my dream would invade my thoughts on that night!
OK, so that is my spin on dreams, but here are the “experts” spin. (I use the term ‘experts’ loosely)
10. Trapped – You might have this dream when you are having conflict in deciding how to react in a situation in real life. Or when you are feeling the pressure of mountains of debt in your life. This dream usually means that you are trapped in real life – unable to make the right choice.
9. Public Exposure – The meaning of this dream could be that you are feeling exposed, awkward, or vulnerable, or you are afraid that you have revealed too much of yourself (such as a secret or a very personal feeling) in a real life situation. You are in a state of undress, partial undress, or inappropriate dress (for example wearing pajamas to work). This is often accompanied by feelings of embarrassment and shame, but occasionally with the feeling of pride or freedom.
I imagine this would be a dream that someone working from home in their jammies all day (possibly eating Edy’s Ice cream in the process) would experience. No shame in that!
8. Wet Dreams – This could mean an emotional burden, professional or relationship worries, amongst others. The dream tends to cause panic (as drowning would but it clearly demonstrates, especially when it becomes a reoccurrence, that there is an important issue in the dreamer’s waking life that is not being dealt with that threatens to overwhelm them.
Nope, not the good kind of wet dreams. Bummer.
7. I Can Fly!! – Being able to fly is a common theme in recurring dreams. It is generally positive imagery and the dream of being able to fly usually points to creativity, widening your horizons, and overcoming the odds.
OK, so flying in dreams is good just as flying in real life is good, which to me denotes heading on vacation. Chalk one up for the flying dreams!
6. Going Nowhere or moving in slow motion – Moving in slow motion, trapped in quicksand, or being otherwise unable to move can clearly signify a rut that has developed in the dreamer’s life, regardless of whether it’s personal, professional, or their long term goals. This can show that the dreamer is facing difficult obstacles and restrictions and basically getting nowhere.
If you have this dream and you’re not part of the OK-Go Treadmill Music Video then this dream interpretation probably applies to you.
5. How’s your dental plan? – This dream possibly signifies the underlying feeling of decay and fear of losing control of a situation in your life.
I always thought it was my minds way of telling me to cut back on sweets and goodies. Or possibly, it may be a subtle reminder to make that dentist appointment I’ve been putting off. *shrug*
4. Excuse me, could you point me in the direction of the washroom – To dream that you are in search of washroom or in a public restroom with no stalls, signifies your frustrations about getting enough privacy.” Apprently, paretns of toddlers tend to have this one a lot. Not only do they never get to ‘go’ by themselves in public washrooms any more – my kids often provides a play-by-play commentary on my private activities to the rest of the lucky people in the room!
OK, I’ve never had this one. I pride myself in the fact that I know where every single washroom in the city is. I also pride myself in the fact that I know where the nice ones are – you know, like in the posh lounges and bars of the swanky hotels. Stick with me! I know ’em all!
3. Where’s my Locker? Where’s my classroom? What?! ~ there’s a test today? – If you can’t get your locker open, can’t find your classroom or your house; or, you’re late for something (a test, a train, a meeting) then you find yourself in this category (and in good company – this is a very common type of dream). School, career, even a new home – these settings all represent change. If you feel unprepared for changes coming to your waking life, then prepare yourself for dreams furnished with impenetrable school lockers, locked doors, and labyrinthine buildings.
DING DING DING!!! This is my beloved recurring dream!!! Unorganized? Me? Absolutely! Im often scattered and a fly by the seat of my pants kid of gal. Ask my friends!! They’ll confirm this for you. However, on the flip side, these are all signs of creativity as well. Hence – my Blog :)
2. Geranimo!!!!! – Falling dreams are a sign that you are out of control. The represent a feeling of fear of abandonment, especially feeling abandoned by a ‘caretaker’ such as a partner, employer.
Thanks GOODNESS I don’t have this one. I do not like that feeling of falling, not to mention the challenge it would be for anyone to be my caregiver. I tend to be bossy. Although I call it “taking charge.”
1. The Big Chase – This one could possibly mean that you are trying to get away from something; “you are running away from or trying to hide from something you need to face.” It could be “a feeling you are avoiding, a conflict you don’t want to handle or a difficult memory you would rather forget.
I probably would have had this one when my kids were little but I just could not find a good hiding from them during the day. They ALWAYS knew where I was.
Snow – Everything about it reminds me of my youth. It reminds me of my parents. And, It reminds me of growing up in South Bend, Indiana. The snow always seemed to be piled high from November through March. Every year. Not just on years that were considered “the year of the polar vortex,” but always. You could count on a beautiful white blanket of snow throughout winter just as sure as you could count on presents under your tree on Christmas morning. The two-way neighborhood roads would turn into single lane paths that you’d wield your car down. Snow piled high on both shoulders along your way.
Maybe this is why I still love the snow so much. It’s beauty takes me back to my childhood. And, to a time when I was living under the same roof with my 4 siblings and my parents. Every year you knew that as the temperatures plummeted, the snow would come. Still, there was always something so pure and magical about looking out at the first snowflakes falling.
Our hearts seem to forever stay childlike in that we will never get over the thrill of going to bed at night when the earth outside our windows is a field of frozen, dormant grass and waking up the next morning to the loveliness of a thick mantle of white snow and frozen tree branches swagged heavily with silvery icicles hanging off each tip. The sun shining a bit brighter because of its reflection off of the bright ground.
South Bend is famously synonymous with two things – Snow & Notre Dame. My parents worked at Notre Dame pretty much all their married lives. Our home was fairly close to the campus. As a teen, my friends and I would ride our bikes across town and spend time tooling around the different quads that made up the campus. This was mainly in the summer when the students were on break. The campus felt quiet then. And Empty. And it felt like ours. It was beautiful, lush with flora and serene. And for the most part, we had it to ourselves from June through August.
On many of those long summer days, we’d pop into my Mom’s office to say hi. We’d visit for a while and talk to her co-workers sitting at their desks, piled high with paperwork, framed pictures of family members, typewriters and coffee cups. On our way back out again, we’d pass up the bank of payphones and we’d stop by the vending machine in the lobby to buy a soda for .50 cents. Then we’d get back on our Schwinn bikes and ride across campus to my Dad’s office and do the same. “Hi Dad! How’s it going?! Do you have a few dollars I could “borrow?”
Summers felt long back then. The days went on forever and the time went by at a snail’s pace. But eventually, the warm days of summer would slowly turn to fall; a favorite season for so many because of the relief that came from cooler temperatures and the beauty of the changing colors all around you. ND Students would return for classes. My siblings and friends and I would go back to school. Before you knew it, the first snow would be at your doorstep, peaceful and white. Filling you with an unexplained inner excitement and youthful joy.
The changing seasons always remind me of my parents. Because of where I grew up, winter and snow remind me of them most. This week here in Chicago, it snowed a little. Just flurries. But, in South Bend? They got loads of it. It made me think of my Mom and Dad. It brought back such sweet memories of youth. It also made me miss my parents – especially my mom, who we lost in February of this year. I miss her so much.
As I watched the weather reports on TV with news of the heavy snow coming down in South Bend, I smiled. Whenever the first snow would come, I’d always call my Mom, “Hey Mom!, it’s snowing!” And then she’d say, “Oh Honey, we are getting so much snow! You should see it!” She knew how much I loved winter. She thought I was nuts. She did not love it as I always have. She saw it as work, like most adults do. She’d call me often about the piles of snow and would tell me how she felt trapped inside. I would just laugh and tell her not to worry – “I’ll come visit you, mom! You don’t have to drive in it!” And, I did.
I’ll always love snow and the sense of renewal and peace that comes along with it. It will always bring back sweet memories of my beloved parents who are now gone. I’ll welcome it every year and be sorry when the last of it melts away. Snow. Such a wonderful part of the winter season! “Hey Mom!… South Bend got a ton of snow this week……”
I grew up in the 70’s. It was a day and age when elementary school aged kids got up early, ate breakfast and ran out the front door of their suburban homes, hopped on their Schwinn bikes and headed out for the day to meet up with friends who lived down the block or around the corner. Or, across the way into the next neighborhood.
There were softball, baseball and kickball games played on dirt lots in neighborhoods that were not quite completely developed yet, making for great meeting spaces. …..”I’ll meet you on the dirt lot” …
We played four-square on driveways where we drew the lines for the game in chalk. There was tether-ball and hopscotch and tag. There were always groups of boys in the neighborhood playing basketball at each other’s houses. The basketball nets were mounted off of the part of the roof that hung over the garage.
There were no computers or cell phones. There was no cable TV or MTV. Gameboys, Video Gaming and X-Box systems were still many years away from being created by Microsoft. In fact, there was no Microsoft. Bill Gates was an unknown name. And Apple, well, that was a fruit you ate. We played outdoor everyday, all day long, often not showing up back home again until supper time.
For the most part, our moms stayed home and our Dads went to work. Later, as we grew into our Jr High years, some of the Mom’s started going back to work to help pay the high cost of raising a big family. Families were big back then. Or, they seemed to be. Maybe it was because I grew up in a mainly Irish/Italian, catholic area. Most of my friends came from families of at least 4 – 5 kids. And, it was not unusual to have friends that had 6 or 7 siblings.
Those were good days. Simple. Carefree. Easy. They were days when you formed unbreakable, life-long bonds with friends.There were strong family bonds and daily routines that helped to cement the family together. Chores on the weekends. Getting home from school, having a snack, playing outside for a while with friends, riding your bike or watching one of the 4 channels on TV we had. Helping out by starting dinner before your Mom got home from work. Dinner in my home was always promptly at 6pm. Every night.
These simple times, these family bonds, were all tools that helped to form the adults we are today. They strengthened the ties between Dads and sons, as well as Moms and daughters. The family structure was well built and strong. I miss those easy days.
I ran across a blog this week that brought memories of the 70’s flooding back. They made me think about my siblings and friends from the old neighborhood, as well as my parents. Especially my Mom. Our bond was unshakable. We were close. Not so much through the teen years, which in my eyes, is a normal part of growing up, but more so after I left for college and especially when I got married and we lived states apart. I miss my siblings and my parents. These days, I miss my Mom. So much so that I find myself thinking about her day and night. So when I read this blog Im about to share, I smiled. I realized that those ties between a Mom and Daughter are never broken. The bond between a Mother and child is universal. And deep.
Sometimes I think back fondly and miss those days. Always, I miss my Mom…….
I miss my mother most at five o’clock.
When I was a kid and came home after school, the TV was my babysitter — Gilligan’s Island at 3:30 followed by The Brady Bunch followed by The Partridge Family — until five o’clock came and it was time to do the few chores my mother had left for me (as fast as possible) before she got home. I stayed with my grandparents in the summers. My mother, if she was working the right shift, the good 7 to 3 shift, would sit for an hour or so at the kitchen table with my grandmother, drinking coffee and smoking cigarettes and gossiping, until we went home, just the 2 of us, around five. As a teenager, I would dink around with friends after school, knowing I had to be home by five, that my mother would be waiting for me to help her with supper. It was our time, our hour or two in the kitchen, just the two of us, before her new farmer husband came in from working in the field and the night became all about him.
I miss my mother most at five o’clock.
I remember being in my 20s, away from my hometown and working in cubicles and traveling all over the country. Feeling successful, but untethered. I called my mother at the end of most workdays. Hey mom, what are you doing? Nothing, what are you doing? Going to grab some food, you? Making supper. When I got married, became a mom, and quit my job — all in about a 6 month span — I’d find myself in the kitchen alone around five, trying to figure out how to make a not-boring, edible dinner for my family of four. Husband not home from work; kids doing homework or watching “The Simpsons”; and me pulling random items from the refrigerator. I’d pour a glass of wine and call my mother. Hey, mom, what are you doing? Making supper. Me, too, what are you making? Chicken. How are you making it? Well … fried of course! And we would laugh.
I miss my mother most at five o’clock.
In my mid-30s, I remember thinking that one good thing about having a sick mother was that she was always home, always there, to answer on the first ring. I would start dinner, pour a glass of wine, and dial. Hey mom, what are you doing? Nothing, what are you doing? Making dinner. What are you making? She was no longer able to cook, so she cooked vicariously through me. Sometimes I lied and pretended I was making things I had no clue how to make — Chicken Cordon Bleu — to change up the conversation, to give us something else to talk about besides doctor appointments and inhalers and the shortening of time. I’d even make up the ingredients, the steps, the ease of making something new; anything to distract us, to entertain. All chicken, I would say, doesn’t need to be fried!
I miss my mother most at five o’clock.
These days, when my husband and I decide we’re getting fat and it’s time to cut back, he will suggest skipping dinner. Often I’ll agree: what a great idea that is, we can just have a little snack, nothing big, you’re right. But I never follow through. I blame it on the clock. On time. It doesn’t matter if it’s winter or summer, daylight savings or dark by five, I pour my glass of wine and open the refrigerator door, ready to finish off the day the only way I know how. It’s five o’clock. What are you doing? Making dinner.
It’s been raining for days. I used to dread cold, gloomy, rainy weather. That was before my blogging days. Now? I look forward to them because frankly, they seem to provide the best environment for writing. They have a way of helping to diminish the guilt that we tend to feel when we stay indoors on sunny days.
I bought a desk a few months ago. A desk that I could tuck away into a corner somewhere in my home – into a carved out a space of my own for the days I wanted to write. Days just like we’ve had this week. It landed up in the spare bedroom. A room that once housed my oldest son before he got married. A room that in my oldest son’s opinion, “got taken apart, dismantled and redecorated far too fast after he moved out” (He’s still a little heartbroken over that fact!).
My own space! It’s a place that I have carefully crafted into my very own oasis. It’s cozy and feminine and perfect for slipping into when I want to get away from the chaos and monotonous routine of everyday – the doorbell, the phone, my last remaining home bound son and his friends, my Hubs and his constant, endearing male questions. “Honey, where’s my glasses?” “Did you get the mail yet?” “Margaret, what on earth have you been using the credit card on!?”
Those are the moments when, yes, it’s time to hideaway in my oasis. I mean, honestly, for the past 30 years I have lived in a house of all men and myself. The ratio is 4 to 1. A ratio, in all honesty, that I have loved and adored because, well, let’s face it, boys are easier to raise than girls. No raging hormones. No cat fights with their female friends. No over the top emotional displays of drama. And, if my guys did get into a “disagreement” with their friends, it was heatedly discussed one moment and then forgotten the next. Easy as pie! Love my guys more than anything on earth!!!!
These days, I find myself hiding in my new, beautiful retreat more and more. And, during all times of the day and night. When Clark’s big, resounding snoring is keeping me awake, off I go to my oasis. This was an added bonus provided by my special holed-up sanctuary that was a wonderful surprise!! I had never thought about it as an escape from my sleepless nights when one of Clark’s colds (which he assures me that neither I nor anyone else on earth has ever experienced anything remotely as bad) or his allergies made it sound like I was sleeping next to the freight train. I used to just poke, kick or pinch him to get him to roll over to his side. This tended to give temporary relief from the quartet of loud trombones coming from my Hubs slumbering mouth. When he became so accustomed to those tactics that he started to sleep through them, I tried a new approach. I’d slap the mattress real hard right next to his head. At first, this would startle him out of a deep sleep. Heart racing and breathless, he jump straight up, hold his heart and ask me what in the world happened. Naturally, I’d pretend to be asleep, rouse sleepily and tell him he imagined it.
Now, I can just slip out of bed and away from his personal symphony and head to my own peaceful crash pad. It’s a win/win for both of us!! Hurray!
When I first decided to redecorate the room, I promised my hubs it would be a simple project. Slap a coat of new paint on the walls and buy a new bedspread. Like all worthwhile decorating projects, it turned into a monster. Once I got a new bedspread, well, the old night stands had to go. And, once those were replaced, New drapes, mirrors, wall art and lamps soon followed. Each day as Clark would get home from work and climb the stairs to change his clothes from work, he’d pause briefly by “the” room, glance inside and wonder what new addition he’d find. I would always assure him that whatever he spotted was a great deal with a huge, slashed discount!!! Now that I think of it, I was actually being very considerate in how I was saving him so much money!
This week, I’ve decided I need a small sofa, chair and ottoman or chaise in my home away from home. And, I’m on the hunt!
Stormy days. I once found them depressing, boring and lonely. Today I find myself comforted by surrounding myself in the space I call my own. Do you have a special place you that you can escape to when the creative juices are flowing? Or, when you simply want to be by yourself for, well, whatever reason? I hope so. It’s a life changer!