Lions and tigers and bears, oh my!

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Recently, I had the pleasure of visiting our local zoo.  The Brookfield Zoo.

I was first introduced to this fantastic place when I started dating my hubs.  It’s large and spread out and set in the middle of a wooded suburb southwest of Chicago.   Ahhh, I have such fond memories of this great place.  My hubs LOVES the zoo.  And, for that reason, I’ve learned to love it as well.

We became members years ago because it was always a fun spot to take the kids.  We took our boys there often when they were young.  Over the years, we just kept our membership active.  Even so, I only manage to get there once or twice every few years.  It had been a long, long time since my last visit.  Yesterday was the day I’d finally get back!  It was perfect timing.  School was back in session and the weather was beautiful.   I was with one of my sons and we’d practically have the place to ourselves!

But, we didn’t.  The place was packed.  The line to get in was long.  It was moving slow.  There was a little hut that everyone was waiting in line to get through.  It reminded me of a toll booth.  The cashier, who was cleverly dressed in park ranger attire, sat inside collecting entrance fees and handing out zoo maps.

As we sat in the long line waiting for our turn to gain entrance,  I glanced over at the parking lot.  I was shocked!  It looked filled to capacity.  Where did all of those cars and people come from?  Good grief, were there that many families with toddlers and preschoolers out for a play date today?   Didn’t anybody nap anymore?  Now wasn’t that just my luck.   It looked like everyone and their neighbor decided to visit the zoo the same day as we did.

I looked away from the crowded parking lot and back at the line we were sitting in.  Our car was moving again.  We were inching forward!  Hurray!  It was finally our turn in line to pull up to the tiny, brown cashier’s booth.  We paid and passed through the gate.  Then, we were stopped again.  Standing right in front of us a few feet through the gate stood a parking lot attendant.  We were being directed away from the normal parking lot.  Huh??  But the zoo was that way.  We were being sent to the overflow lot.  This was about a block away on a dirt field in the back of a high school.  There were all kinds of volunteers wearing bright orange sashes and waving flashlights with red plastic covers directing the cars.  We followed the line of cars through the ‘good’ parking lot and into no-man’s land.  It was as if we were at a major sporting event.  Their was a young man holding two flashlights at the end of the line.  He directed us with precision into our parking spot.  He waved his flashlights in stiff, official movements.  Like a ramp agent on the tarmac directing a 500 seat passenger plane at the airport.

Eventually we parked and headed back in the direction of the zoo.  It seemed miles away.  After making our way past the arched stone entrance, I noticed that not much had changed since years ago when I first visited the zoo.  The map showed that they still  housed bears and lions, elephants and giraffes.  And, all of the wild, exotic animals that you look forward to seeing.   Many of the exhibits were in different locations but for the most part, it was just as I had remembered it from long ago.

On our way to our first exhibitzootram, I spotted the tram.  It had been in service there for as long as I can remember.   It’s a slow-moving, multi row vehicle that travels all over the paved paths leading from one exhibit to the next.  The outside of it is painted like a an exotic animal.  On board, there’s a zoo guide dressed from head to toe in khaki.  He wears a hat similar to one you’d see on Harrison Ford portraying Indiana Jones.  It sits jauntily on his head.  As the safari vehicle crawls along, the guide speaks through a microphone which muffles his voice.  He tells you interesting facts about the animals as you pass by them.  You move at a snail’s pace.  Something I remembered all too well.  We rode on that tram a few times with the kids when they were young.  It was always nerve-wracking to my hubs and me.  My boys liked speed.  And, action.  Riding on that turtle paced vehicle with the muffled sounding guide was always like sitting on a time bomb.  I always imagined it was only been a matter of time before my boys would try to jump off.  Or, rush the zoo guide. Or, something.

The zoo was as packed as the parking lot.  We weaved our way through the crowds.  We headed towards the bears first.  They always thrilled the masses.  This day was no different.  It really doesn’t matter if they’re just lying around idle or if they’re jumping in their pools of water; they’re majestic to see.  Such amazing creatures.   We moved along from exhibit to exhibit.  We saw the lions and giraffes and zebras.  We walked through the Tropic World – a huge, open concept building which made you feel as tho you were hiking through the jungles of Africa and rain forests of Asia.  We saw dolphins and seals swimming and jumping and diving.  And, baby wolves.  And, tigers.  And, aardvarks and otters.

As we made our way from one exhibit to the other,  I looked around and realized that it was not only the zoo that had remained the same, but the people visiting the zoo, also.   I saw a lot of moms with strollers.  There were a few preschool groups.  And, young families with toddlers.  You could tell if the adults accompanying the children were their parents or grandparents by the looks on their faces.  Grandparents were delighted to be there.  Parents were a bit overwhelmed and frazzled.

Overall, the zoo was filled with the same kind of visitors as it always had been.  There were young mom’s trying to soothe crying babies.  There were young siblings who were fighting one moment and suddenly amazed at what they were looking at the next.  There were overly tired kids that looked sweaty and tired.  They were whining and pleading for candy and soda and souvenirs.   Young children scurried from animal to animal while frantic parents tried to keep count of everyone.   Nothing had changed.  Except, me.  I was no longer that young mom with three, energetic boys in tow.  It no longer took the team of both parents to make the zoo outing a success.  I was middle-aged now.  My boys were grown.   I no longer had to worry about temper tantrums or squabbling siblings.  It was a bittersweet moment looking around and seeing how time had stolen those early days from me.

I looked over at my son walking next to me and saw the little boy from 25 years ago that used to hold my hand and skip along.  He had grown up and was now taller than I was.  I thought back on my sweet memories fondly but knew without a doubt that I was glad to be exactly where I was in life.  I was glad not to be riding that tram.  Not for the same reasons as years ago,  but because walking the zoo felt good.  It was wonderful to be enjoying the same grounds I wandered years ago.  This time with my son who was now grown.  We enjoyed it on a different level and for different reasons.  We celebrated the wonder of the animals and the places from which they originated.  For several hours we walked the grounds of the zoo enjoying the great weather.  Each others company.  And, the animals.

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Rushing the Season

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When growing up, the summers felt long and drawn out.  Those warm, sticky months of school vacation felt like they would never end.  You spent long, lazy days being outdoors from morning until night, often only coming home for meals and then rushing back outside again to meet back up with your pals.  You spent your days peddling your bikes up to the near-by strip malls to wander through the five and dimes with your friends.  Or, swimming at the neighborhood public pools.  Usually riding your Schwinn bike with the banana seat there or walking barefoot on the heated sidewalks.  Your pool towel draped over your shoulders and your swimming cap, pool pass and flip-flops in hand.  Time felt as though it stood still.

As an adult, you see the summer months differently.  They’re hectic and busy.  The laundry loads seem to quadruple.  The fridge is always bare.  There’s more activity and traffic throughout your home.  But, you love everyone being around and the true gift of having no routine or busy schedules.  One day you head to the grocery store at what you consider to be the beginning of summer.  You’re doing your weekly shopping and you suddenly notice the signs on the seasonal aisle have changed from “welcome summer” to “back to school.”   And, It’s only the second week of July!  The 4th of July has barely become a memory and all of a sudden you are bombarded with back to school specials.  Good grief!  Talk about rushing the season.

You walk through a department store in June and the fall clothes are out.  You walk through that same store in September and the Christmas trees are up.  If you want to purchase a new outfit that is seasonal, good luck!  You have to think ahead 3-6 months to be prepared for the season that’s around the corner. I was walking through one of my favorite stores in July looking for something summery to wear and the winter coats and sweaters were on display.  It was the heat of the day. It felt like an oven outside. Between those unbearable temperatures and being in menopause, I immediately started to sweat just looking at all that wool.  It was summer for goodness sake.  Where were the shorts and t-shirts!

When did rushing the season become so trendy?  Has it always been that way?  As a kid in the 70’s, did we just not notice it because we were outside from morning until night?  Material goods didn’t seem to matter as much back then.  Retailers didn’t seem to push their goods on us so hard.  The pressure on the consumer to buy, buy, buy seemed to be non-existent.

Or, was it?  Interpretation of the seasons through the eyes of children are much different than adults.  As kids, we savored each moment and lived in the present.  We didn’t think ahead to what we would be doing or what we needed to have three or four months ahead of time.  It was simple.  Live each day as it comes.  Enjoy each moment.  Even tho time seemed to stand still as we were growing up, it wasn’t.  Time flies.  Why rush it?  It goes fast enough on its own.

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Postscript:

Throughout the long lazy days and weeks of my summer hiatus from BeingMargaret, I created several blog outlines to be finished and published at later dates.  This post was one of those drafts.  At the time of publication – this morning – while drinking coffee, writing and enjoying the quiet peacefulness of my house, the loud sounds coming from outside the front window of my abode did not fall on deaf ears.  At first I reacted to it as normal background noise, not really paying much attention to it.  Then I heard the same oddly familiar sound several times again.  I got up and walked over to the window.  Pulling back the drapes and looking out, my jaw dropped open.  I saw the tell-tale sign of the end of summer.  The big, yellow school buses were rolling down the street and past my home.

Good Grief!  Where did summer go?  How could it be that students all over the country were back in school already?  It wasn’t even officially the middle of August yet.  I tried to think back to the time when I was in school.  Didn’t we always go back after Labor Day?  Wasn’t that holiday the official end of summer?  How could it be that schools now started 1 or 2 weeks into August?  It felt so, so…wrong.  So rushed.

And just like that – in the blink of an eye – that familiar, bittersweet ‘change of seasons’ feeling came over me.  A topic that deserves a blog post of its own because I just know we can all relate to that.  (stay tuned!!)

We have turned into a society that rushes through the events of our lives.  Even the beginning of the school year for students everywhere seems to arrive prematurely.  Maybe we should all just take a step back, meditate on the important things in life and slowwww dowwwwn.  Time Flies.  Let’s not help it along.


 Ferris

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Puppy Love!! ~ Eleven New Things I’ve Learned About Puppies

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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…

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What you learn when you live life with a puppy

thPuppies 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..

th 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.

thThey 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!

thYou’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……

thPet 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?

thPuppies 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.

thThey’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.

thPuppy 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.

thPuppies 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!

thThe 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.

thPuppies 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.

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“The world would be a nicer place if everyone had the ability to love as unconditionally as a dog.”

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Why women need women in their lives

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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.

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The man in the van

 

New-Year-Resolutions

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!!

Sunday

JB:  I’ll start the ball rolling, just walked 3 miles at the gym.

JH: you are awesome, JB!

ME: Yes!!  You are amazing!!

JH: My positive for the day….I’m hitting the gym this week and packed a healthy lunch for tomorrow!

 

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!

 

ME:  Girls, my positive moment for the day – my attitude!! I’m ready to get started living healthy again.  I’m going to concentrate on drinking  a lot of water all week!

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…..

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 Monday

JB: Starting the day with a healthy egg white omelet!

JH: Good start. You are inspiring me!

 

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.

ME: I’m hitting the gym, Girls!  Feeling good!

 

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…..

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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.

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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……!

 


 

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Do you have a space to call your own?

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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!

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What’s in a Tag?

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Lately, I have spent a bit of time revamping my blog.  A new title.  A new domain.  A little tweaking here and there.  In the end, it pretty much looks like it did to begin with.  I guess I liked it just the way it was.

As I went through the process of making a few small changes, I discovered that the tags that we attach at the end of our stories, magically get organized into an invisible filing system.  When you hover your mouse over any of the tags, and then right click with your mouse, all stories within the same category appear.  Wallah!  Just like magic!  I love this newly found feature.  For someone as innately unorganized as myself, it is like having your very own secretary.

After discovering this feature, I found myself clicking & opening different tags from all the blogs I have written over the past year or so.  I was curious to see what I had unconsciously written about most.

I discovered that there was a small common sub-theme sprinkled throughout most of my posts.  Sometimes in a small way, sometimes big. I kept seeing it mentioned over and over again.  My Mom.

I paused when I noticed this.  A warm, sweet feeling flooded my heart.  Followed by a mixture of emotions.  Happiness, love and then sadness.  That feeling of void because she was not with us anymore.  One day, just like that, without any notice or forewarning, she was taken from us.

We used to talk on the phone several times a week.  If it was in the morning, we’d sit and chat, always laughing together. Though miles apart from each other, on those mornings we’d go through a pot of coffee together.  Or if it was in the afternoon or evening, wine.

She always mentioned my blog.  Commenting on what she liked about a certain post.  About what made her laugh.  Or cry.  If too much time went by between posts, she’d ask when I was going to write next.  She said the first thing she did each morning was look to see if there was an email notifying her of a ‘New Blog post from Margber’ – She said it would make her day if there was a new post.  That she got excited and looked forward each day to reading my blog – but was let down if there was nothing new.    I never really knew if that was true or if it was just a tall tale to her daughter – a way of conveying a mother’s love.

I tossed around the idea of making a tribute post to her for her birthday.  It was two days ago.  She would have turned 79. I wanted to honor her in some small way.  But the words never came.  So I let the moment pass, silently honoring her special day.  Missing her so incredibly much.  Offering up a vow to give anything for one more cup of coffee together and long, drawn out phone conversation.  It had been so long since I had heard her voice.

After the bittersweet feelings of this discovery started to subside, I thought about her with a smile in my heart.  It made sense to me that her name was peppered throughout my writing and continues to be.  She was a major influence of mine in regards to following my muse.  Thank You, Mom!

She was such a positive role model in my life.  Recently, more-so than ever, I’ve noticed that I am becoming more like her each day.  Oh, I know my kids and hubby have kidded me about this for years, but it was not until the past few months that I truly became aware of just how much I AM my Mother.  Not so much in little ways anymore, but in big, wonderful ways.  I  embrace this fact each time I catch myself doing something or saying something that she would have said.   My actions so often mirror actions of hers that are branded on my heart.  Years ago this would have made me cringe.  Today?  It secretly pleases me.  I think of it as God’s way of keeping our loved ones spirit alive and present in our everyday Lives.  Thank You, God! 

My mom’s passing still seems so surreal to me.  In a way, I think it always will.  Mainly because she still feels so present in my life – through my actions & in my words and through my writing.  Stumbling upon those tags and their path that led me back to my mom, was a cherished gift.  Re-reading some of my posts about her was like stumbling upon a treasure of gold.

Happy Birthday, Mom.  I Love You.

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what were you doing one year ago today?

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Happy Anniversary!!…. to me?  Yes, that’s right!  This upcoming week marks my one year anniversary of blogging at WordPress.  It’s my Blogaversary!

One year ago today I sat down in front of my beloved MacBook (I really need to give my Mac a name – any suggestions?) and I created my blog Twenty Thirteen.  It was my friend, Bonnie, who had suggested that I write.  She was always -and still is- encouraging me to do new things.  Things that I would never think to do.  Until prompted.  Or pushed.  Thank you, dear Bonnie!

I sat down in February of 2013 and stared blankly at the welcome page on the WordPress site.  It was foreign to me.  I took a quick tour around and was amazed at how other Blogger’s sites looked so organized and professional.  They were interesting and pulled you in.  I stumbled upon intimidating words like “Menu, Page & Links.”  And came upon odd terminology and functions like Tools & Webhooks  And Dear Lord, what was a widget??  I was definitely in over my head.  I knew that I had to get in touch with my inner geek!

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And then, a month or so later, something extraordinary happened.  I found my rhythm.  I got into the groove of writing.  And with a little prodding and a few shameless plugs, I found my audience.  Ok, mostly my Hubs.  And my Mom & Aunts.  And my siblings.   But hey, I had an audience and that’s all the encouragement I needed.  I had not only gotten in touch with my inner geek, I had embraced it.  And I liked it!  And my family audience liked this new blogging side of me!

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I found myself blogging day and night.  Learning all the tricks that other Bloggers before me had found.  I was really getting the hang of this tech-aged  phenomenon and I was sharpening up my skills!!

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I started adding pictures to my posts.  And Videos & Links.  I was constantly thinking up new topics to write about.   I’d see Clark eating something in his lovable & abnormally noisy way that he tends to do and think AHA!  I’ll Blog about that!!  I’d be going about my normal activities in a day and a notion would pop into my head that I felt the need to blog about immediately.  It was all very thrilling!!  Exciting!!  And Exhausting.  But I found ways to recharge and go at it some more!!

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Last week I celebrated my 10,000th visitor.  I could feel my chest puffing up as I looked down at the counter on my front page.  When it ticked past 10,000, I wondered to myself – how in the world am I ever going to get my big head through a doorway.  I could feel my ego being catapulted into orbit.  This must be how it felt to be The Bloggess.  (Every Blogger’s wanna-be)

What a great anniversary.  I Love blogging.  I love the audience I have been introduced to over the past year.  I also love all of the amazing blogs I follow on a weekly basis.  They are numerous.  I will never get tired of reading what other people have to say.  Or blog about.  Everyone has a little different spin on their idea of what blogging is.  There are so many platforms out there.  Each one special in its own right.  My wish for each and every one of them? To find the joy in their blogaversary, the way that I have.

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10,000!!

  Yesterday when I fired up my pc and opened up my blog I was blown away!!  Blown away!!!!   The 10,000th visitor had made their way to the pages of Being Margaret!!  That’s right, folks!  10,000!!!!  Amazing!

Shouldn’t there be some kind of an award for this momentous occasion?  It’s January after-all.  That means it’s awards season.  So I thought it only fair that I should also receive an award.  Like, perhaps, something telling the world just how absolutely fab my little corner of the world is!!

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Or perhaps some kind of bling!!  Or, a statuette.  Or better yet, a crown!  I could wear the crown for inspiration while drafting my – utterly interesting, can’t peel your eyes away from – posts!!  I’d be famous!

  But fame certainly has a price.  Would giving up my privacy (and Clark’s)  be worth it?

 There would be the paparazzi to deal with 24/7

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I could kiss my privacy goodbye…

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and say so long to peace and quiet…

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I’d have to run around incognito…..

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No.  I don’t need an award!  I don’t need the recognition and all that goes hand-n-hand with it. Truth be told?  Starting my blog has been such an amazing experience.  I Love writing!  I love reading other WP blogs and hearing about what goes on in the lives of people from around the world.

So to all 10,000 of you fabulous visitors…Thank You!!  (I’d like to thank the academy!!!!!!!!…)  Thank you for visiting Being Margaret!  What started out as an idea to write one post, has turned into a wonderful hobby.

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