Monthly Archives: December 2013

Year of Rediscovery

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“The Discovery” Josephine Wall, Artist

“Wine”

I am one of the forty-five percent of Americans that make New Year’s Resolutions.  Most of the time that is.  But this year my resolution is not to make one.  I never keep them.  And did you know that only 8% do keep them?  And who’s to say that they do keep them anyway?  Unless their resolution involves telling the truth, always, even on surveys.

Here are the top ten per StatisticsBrain.com:

NUMBER ONE – “Losing weight” (surprise!).  Being of the ordinary resolution-maker sort this one was always at the top of my list too.  And each and every year I have kept this resolution maybe two hours.  That in and of itself tells me not to waste my time (even if it isn’t a lot of wasted time).

NUMBER TWO – “Get organized.”  Having a Type A/OCD personality I did not have to make that resolution.  Probably better that I didn’t anyway.

NUMBER THREE – “Spend less, save more.” Not my strong suit, ask my husband.  I’m not even going to try.

NUMBER FOUR – “Enjoy life to the fullest.” That should just be a given.  It is instilled in my very being. That and “life’s too short.” It just is. So, enjoy while you can, period.

NUMBER FIVE –  “Stay fit and healthy.” Really? That kind of goes along with Number One doesn’t it?  I do realize that exercise goes hand in hand with losing weight usually.  And exercise can be one of the many demons that bother mankind.  But after I discovered how much I really enjoyed it, well, it needn’t be a resolution.

NUMBER SIX –  “Learn something new.” That seems to be all the rage right now.  There are several websites involving bucket lists.  Jack Nicholson and Morgan Freeman started it all with the movie.  Since then it seems everyone has a bucket list.  I haven’t yet ventured into the realm of securing one.  Seems like I have always had one without knowing it.  I refer to it as “Geez, I really want to do that!”  and then either I do it or I file it away somewhere in my mind to do later.  If I don’t well, it just wasn’t that important to me anyway.

NUMBER SEVEN – “Quit smoking.” Don’t, so not applicable.

NUMBER EIGHT – “Help others in their dreams.” I suppose that means help others with their dreams.  I hope.  Because if it means to help them in their dreams, I’m afraid I would be more of a hindrance than a help.  But if it is to help others, that is very noble. I’m afraid too noble for me to make a resolution to do it   I really do try to help others.  I’m not very good at it.  I try.  But I would never make it a point to add it to a NY’s resolution for myself.  That way I can protect those that I may try to help.

NUMBER NINE –  “Fall in love.”  Check.

NUMBER TEN –  “Spend more time with family.” Now that is one that I achieved this year without making it a resolution.  For years I had a job that I loved but it was pretty demanding.  I worked probably about an average of 60 to 70 hours a week.  There were times I missed out on a lot.  My daughters were older but that doesn’t matter   They are still great individuals and loads of fun to be around.  My husband who worked a lot when he was younger knew what I was going through, but still I missed being at home with him.  This year I rediscovered my family.  I know that there are people that for whatever reason are alone during the holidays and for that matter quite a bit of the time.  Their families are all gone as they grow old.  Or their friends and loved ones may live far away.  For whatever reason they do not have the privilege of being with those that they care about.  This resolution by default became a reality.  I am so glad, from the deepest fiber of my being, that it did.

So, did you make any resolutions?  If so, and you care to, share them here.  I don’t mind.  I also don’t mind if you fail to keep them. Be one of the other ninety-two percent.  Like me. It matters more that you face each new year, day, minute, with conviction.  Resolution or not.

 

 

 

Christmas Takes a Holiday

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“DONUTS”

I’m not sure which side of the coin I am on regarding “Merry Christmas” or “Happy Holidays”.  I only know that I enjoy…whatever reference you would prefer, please place here _________________.

So, I enjoy the “C” or HH” holiday (henceforth in this post to be ascertained as CHH.)  I am a total sucker for houses and businesses lit up with lights so bright that a pair of sunglasses sill will not displace the glare.  I love Christmas trees (sorry, that is how they are referred to, my politically correct friends.  “Holiday trees” just doesn’t quite have the right ring to it.) CHH presents, both the giving and the receiving.  Holiday or CHH music, especially renditions for Frank Sinatra, oh, and Dean Martin.  I always envision Dean holding a tumbler of bourbon & ice when I hear his version of “Let It Snow.”

But I think I love the idea of Santa Claus most of all.  I have gone through the process of believing in him, then not believing in him to believing again.  When I was about six years old and visiting my Grandma Cherry’s house (we would take turns visiting Grandma Cherry and then Grandma Berry, no kidding) Santa Claus came one Christmas Eve.  And to top it all off he came about 6:0 pm while me, my brother Greg, and cousins Pam and Debbie were still awake!  He also came later to leave presents under the tree after bedtime. That man was very busy that year.  But on stop #1 to Grandma’s house he left me a “Walking Doll”.  Now, back in the day that was the trendy gift for the season.  Every little girl dreamed of getting a Walking Doll for Christmas.  I named mine Sharon.  Don’t know why.  I didn’t know anyone named Sharon.  But Sharon was beautiful.  And whenever I showed her off to my friends I would say that Santa handed me Sharon personally when I met the real Santa on Christmas Eve.  Oh yeah, and do not substitute Holiday Eve, PC friends, that doesn’t cut it either.

But as I got older and so much wiser I quit believing in Santa.  He didn’t come around personally on Christmas Eve any longer.  And then when I had kids and had to assemble Barbie wedding chapels and dream houses I believe I even said some nasty things about Santa.  Like, where are you when we need you – you old chimney scaling crusty coot!

Then I got older again.  I haven’t had to play Santa for a long time.  And then I semi-retired. I only work occasionally.  But in my work and in my volunteer-work as well I have found Santa again.  There are so many people; so many , that need so much.  They need clothes, beds, warm meals, meals period.  And they need those intangibles; love, support, acknowledgement.

So, you know where I found Santa? Everywhere.  Santa is at the homeless shelters, the clothes pantries, the food kitchens, the shelters for abused women. SC is the man that puts the 25 cents or the $25 in the Salvation Army kettle.  He’s the woman that takes her mother out of the assisted living home she lives in for the day and for a nice dinner out.  Santa is the child that visits his or her friend in the hospital while being treated for a childhood cancer or grave illness. And the best part is that Santa doesn’t just appear around the holidays but every day of the year. If you just believe. And it doesn’t matter if it’s a holiday or Christmas or Hanukkah or Kwanza or Ramadan.  Santa’s there.  Happy holidays!

 

Girlfriends

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“Wine”

Last week I held a Christmas Cookie Exchange.  It was a little more work than I had anticipated.  But worth it.  Everybody had questions as with anything hosted. Although you believe you cover everything with the invitation, most of the time you don’t. The questions ranged from “how many should I bring to is there any cookie that is prohibited?”  Really?  They do that?  Anyway, my answer would always end with “I’m not overthinking this exchange thing and neither should you.  Just come, cookie or no cookie, snack or no snack.  We may have four women or forty, no cookies or hundreds.  I just want all of us to have fun together.”

We ended up having fifteen women.  I invited most of the friends that I could. Some women couldn’t make it given this time of year and their busy lives.  But we had more than enough for a party.  Some of the women knew each other.  Some didn’t.  Some brought the same type of cookies.  Some don’t even like cookies.  Which makes me wonder how they ever got to be my friend; but I am glad they did.

We ate, chatted, complemented cookies right and left, and most of all laughed.  We drank quite a bit of wine, ate way too much chex mix, dips & chips, cheese & crackers, and of course cookies.  We discussed our busy lives, or lack thereof.  We talked about Christmas shopping, movies, baking or not, things happening in our town, and how much we like the new BBQ place in town.  We connected. We weren’t alone that night; those of us with extremely busy lives and families, and those of us that had extra time to fill.  We weren’t alone nor were we lonely.  That night we were connected, together, friends.

Friendships have always meant a great deal to me.  I believe for the most part that is how we humans all feel.  My first girlfriend was Debbie.  She lived across the street from my house and we were both four years old.  I named my Betsy Wetsy doll after Debbie.  Didn’t much care for the name Betsy Wetsy.  Who names these dolls anyway?

I risked life and limb one day to walk across the street to play dolls with her.  I didn’t tell my mom I was going over; after all she needed a break.  She had been outside watching me with my little brother, but he was in the midst of potty training and having told my mom he had to go, well, she did what any sane mother would do, grab him in a full headlock and dash madly to the bathroom.  I guess upon her return to our yard and finding me over in Debbie’s front yard did not set very well with her.  That day became the day of my first spanking that I can remember. 

From that first friendship to present day girlfriends have been a very important part of my life.  I’ve confided in them, went on trips with them, lunched with them, and most of all laughed with them.  During stressful or dismal times girlfriends can make the pain go away.  I love my husband and he is my best friend, my go-to, as well as my lovely daughters which I can go to with any problems.  But after that, I need my girlfriends.  If something happens, whether it’s trivial, funny, or earth-shattering, I share it with my girlfriends. 

So that evening of the cookie exchange after everyone left I held my wine glass high and with the rest of my Pinot Griogio I silently made a toast, “To all women everywhere, be sure to take a risk and cross the street if that’ s what it takes to find a friend.  Believe me, it’s worth it.”

SNOW

DONUTS

It snowed here today.  I know that there is a huge controversy regarding snow.  Opinions right and left.  I happen to be one of those crazy people that truly love the snow and the clouds full of snow hovering over our house, our world.  At least in winter; to snow in the spring and fall, well, that’s a little over the top.

The sad thing for me is that in a blink of an eye the snow can be gone.  At least here in Missouri.  And the next day can be balmy and downright warm.  I hate that.  I am a weather traditionalist.  Cold and snow in winter, hot and sunny in summer.  And fall and spring?  Never happens here anymore.  Or it appears anywhere.  I guess the meteorologists refer to this phenomenon as ‘extreme weather.’

As a teenager I belonged to a singing group in school.  The triple-trio – all girls.  Our big hit at the school Christmas concert was “Marshmallow World.” A song destined to be a Christmas classic (although Christmas is not mentioned in the song at all).  The song describes a scene in which the snow looks like billowy marshmallow, all white, soft smoothness.  We sang Marshmallow World at community halls, rest homes, grade schools, and anyplace that had that certain exclusive club feel.  Or, to put it another way, any place that would listen to us.

As I stated earlier in posts, etc. I can relate any subject to food.  That is probably why Marshmallow World is such a vivid memory for me.  Snow does look like marshmallows.  The kind that come in a jar for making fudge and whatnot. Snow can also look like white wedding cake icing.  Or if it doesn’t coat the ground, like icing topping off a delicious cinnamon roll.

It can glisten too. Especially if the sun is shining.  There is nothing more beautiful than snow on a sunny day.  Kind of an oxymoron, completely extreme.  Snow should be associated with cloudy days, sun with hot ones.  Guess that’s why I like both, snow and sun.  And dark and light, ice cream and hot chocolate.  Something to be said about extremes. 

Marshmallows are made by adding cold water to the other ingredients and then heating to a very extreme degree.  Snow is made from water as vapor at a temperature of freezing or below.  Extremes, something we can all depend on.  And deal with, in our own way.  The snow here is starting to melt already.  The sun can’t be too far away.

Doors (not to be confused with the band)

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WINE

We open doors all day.  And we close doors pretty much all day too.  Front doors to our homes, closets, cabinets, retail stores, restaurants, office doors, coworkers’ office doors, bosses doors, bedroom doors. 

We open and close in oh so many ways.  Some doors lead to opportunities, chance meetings, friendships, relationships.  I like to think I open all of the aforementioned doors, but I don’t.  Not always.  Sad to say, a lot of times I close them.  Most of the time I regret it, but can’t say that’s always the case. And a lot of times I don’t open a door just because it’s so very cold on the other side.

I guess you could say I am in a reflective state right now.  Today is my birthday and I really don’t know where the time went.  I know everybody says the very same thing and I am definitely no different but it gets harder and harder each year to shake that feeling that I closed way too many doors and didn’t open enough.  And then there are the times I couldn’t keep my mouth shut and someone closed the door for me.

But what if, just for argument’s sake, I missed that opportunity, or that friendship just because I didn’t open myself up to the new experience.  It’s always safer to stay on the same old safe side of the door then to walk through it and right into new territory.  It’s always easier to eat the same bologna sandwich every day for lunch because you know you like it then it is to add spicy mustard or potato chips or go hog wild and have an entirely different kind of meal for lunch.  What if you don’t like it?  What if you get a stomach ache from it? 

LIfe is full of examples of those that didn’t open the door.  There’s the first book editor that rejected J.K. Rowling’s request to represent her.  Al Pacino turned down the role of Harrison Ford’s career as Hans Solo.  Decca Records sent the Beatles packing before EMI gave them their first recording contract.  There was originally a third founder of Apple besides Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak.  He sold his stock for $800.  Today his share of Apple stock would be worth over $55 billion.

Consequently, what if you succeed?  Here’s a crazy idea; swallow the butterflies, tell ‘failure’ to take a flying leap.  I’m not saying that doing so would have made me a super rich tycoon or I would ever have had the opportunity to compete with Julia Roberts for the Pretty Woman role.  Nor had a chance to team up with the likes of Oprah and become a world class philanthropist.  But, then again, will I ever know?

What I do know is that I can celebrate the doors that I have opened.  And be glad of some of those doors that I closed or left completely alone as well.  I also know that as long as I keep celebrating birthdays I will keep witnessing doors and keep having to figure out if I open them, close them, or just walk away.  In the meantime, I’m going to have to go now.  My husband is asking if I want to go to dinner for my birthday.  I’m opening the door I closed to our office to give him a shout, saying “What’s the matter with you? Of course I do!  Just let me get my coat!  It’s a little chilly out.”

(I need comments.  Please let me know what doors you have opened or closed and what you have learned in hindsight.)