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1.23.2015

Today

I am not really a back-to-back kind of event participant.
My nature is to want to recharge in-between gigs.
But in the words of The Rolling Stones, 'we can't always get what we want..."

Today:
Steve wants to do a "Winterfest" up at the camp 90 miles away.
I want to stay home to clean and organize (and curl up into fetal position)
K wants to hang out with friends and then participate in a track meet 100 miles away (not in the same direction) first thing tomorrow.
While G wants a belated birthday celebration with eight friends at the camp during aforementioned Winterfest.
.
So, how does this living consciously work when my family seems like an exploded bag of nuts?
I guess after speaking up, the next step is to allow life to happen.

This is an experiment for me.
My old self would have stood my ground or decided to stay home.
But my newish self attempting a conscious life,  is experimenting with going with the flow and trusting that with good intentions, all will be well.

I've entrusted the 16 year old to someone I lend my good air-matresses to. (and I don't just lend those out freely)
I will shed the idea that I am not really ready to host a 14th birthday party at the property
and instead, I am going to embrace this Winterfest idea.
Ice skating and ice hockey on a pond, hiking and ATV rides through the cold, bonfire building in different areas, sledding...(which reminds me, we don't have sleds...)
And food,  I must go and get food...

Life is too short to keep resisting.
I shall take care of these eight other "air-matresses" entrusted to my care to help G belatedly celebrate her birthday.
I am hoping to prove that another key to a happy peaceful life is to just always do one's best, while surrendering the outcome.

And I take strength in this Bible verse:
"But his answer was: "My grace is all you need, for my power is greatest when you are weak."
I am most happy, then, to be proud of my weaknesses, in order to feel the protection of Christ's power over me."
-2 Corinthians 12:9

1.22.2015

Went To See American Sniper Last Night.

20 minutes into it, Steve got paged.
He left to do an emergency, and since I was already hooked,
I decided to stay.
The movie ended at 9:30 pm.
It was slightly snowy and sleety and 34 degrees cold--
Since I had no car, I jogged home.

(1.6 miles)

But I was not wearing running clothes.
It was a spontaneous decision to go (and to stay)
I was literally wearing my sleeping clothes that I never changed out of.
A ratty T shirt (no bra)
A sweatshirt, boy sweatpants from XC lost-and-found, my old corduroy coat and Uggs.
Oh and a ski hat.

The first and last time I went to the movie theater on foot was to see Silver Linings Playbook.
Coincidentally, both movies had Bradley Cooper starring in it.
It was a very good movie, and that I got a bit of cardio in,  even better.
But this new ability of mine to not shy away from walking/running in the cold is the best.

We are never too old to change what we think we can do.

1.21.2015

Where Do Poinsettias Go To Die?

Last Christmas was my first year to purchase holiday plants.
While a fresh garland, wreath or tree is already dying due to being cut from its source, a poinsettia plant can keep going way past its due date.
I've never had this conundrum before.
Tonight is trash night and I want to throw them away.
But I won't.

It feels too much like tossing out leftovers before they go bad.
I don't do that either.

1.19.2015

Head Over Heels

I was confused by the sensation of having my legs left behind while my head launched forward.
When the rest of me followed--upside down in a complete forward somersault, I landed flat on my back.
I neglected to see a thin rope closing off a ski trail.
It tripped me.
Steve was about to start laughing at me except after the rope hit me at my shins, it released from my legs and then hit Steve squarely on the chest to "clothesline" him.
He ended up perfectly horizontal to the ground before he too fell flat on his back.
It was a spectacular performance.
It highlighted the end of our ski trip last weekend.

We are an unorganized family.
I am not the best planner.
I said 'yes' to a high school reunion in NYC and said 'maybe' to dinner to celebrate my eldest brother's 60th in Rochester, until I realized that both events coincided with a weekend that was scheduled a year in advance (not by me but CK).
For a trip that involves being cold and hurling down a snow filled mountain on wooden slats while carrying sharp metal skewers, I won't lie--I was not excited about it.
But I did not tell the girls this as I did not want to dampen their enthusiasm for our trip.
Skiing is one of those things we file under the heading of: For our kids' sake.

However, once I was there and layered thick, I enjoyed it once I started embracing the activity.

Embracing the moment is the key to life.  

Why do I keep forgetting that that is the key?
Also making things fun (and challenging) is part of the key.
The ski resort was celebrating it's 50th anniversary, and so every 50th chair lift was painted gold.
Ever the King of Woohoo, our friend CB said that the person who gets the most rides on a gold chair each day, gets a pack of Oreos as a prize. (after you...no after you...please...I insist....)
Personally, I found that challenging myself (and the others) with a certain number of runs up and down various trails helped me enjoy myself.
I think the 'head over heels' display was about my 50th run in two days.
I rewarded myself with Oreos after that.

One evening all of us but Steve went out for dinner.
(a friend who lives in the area was visiting him)
The adults sat on one end of the table talking about various topics I could not contribute to. (politics, school boards, districts, etc.)
At one point my friend-in-law, turned to me and said: "jump in."
I said, "I can't. I know nothing about what you are talking about."
Yet, I still enjoyed myself.
Sometimes, it is really nice to just listen.
After dinner we huddled around a camp fire, roasting marshmallows and making S'mores.
There was a communal S'more being passed around that I declined taking a bite out of.
I was not ashamed to admit my germaphobia.

There is something really freeing about living life as honestly and authentically as can be.
That's another key.
SB, CB, CK, CB, SM, BM
K and G on the golden chair
CB and CK on a golden chair
This is E. She and her mom Doreen got a golden chair after they witnessed our spectacular fall.

1.16.2015

Product Endorsement Post

Sometimes I tell my family that it is a fend-for-yourself-dinner-night.
Leftovers.
Cereal. Waffles. PB and J. Eggs.
Last night was one of those nights.
Gabi decided to make her Cheesy Egg Omelet.
This is nice except every time she cooks this, she uses a pan that I find difficult to clean.
I am embarrassed to stop her from using the pan, because then I would have to answer a complex question of why I bought the pan in the first place.
Who buys pans just for display purposes?
Who was I trying to impress?
Worse, who did I think I was fooling?
In fairness (to me) these pans were purchased during my past life.

Back to today.
She seems to have noticed that this pan is not the easiest to clean.
She asks if it is possible that since she had to make herself dinner, could I clean the pan for her?
I agree.
This morning, I have a million things to do, yet I am laboring over getting this pan back to a semblance of shiny.
I want to complain in my head.
I want to be angry.
I want to go back to my feelings of regret about purchasing these unnecessary pans.
Then, I remember to stop before I "go there."

Instead, I recall that my friend DZ gave me a product to use for stubborn messes.
I retrieve it and start using it on the pan.
It worked.
Suddenly my mind made the switch to gratefulness.
I became grateful for hot running water, and for the time I had to clean the pan.
I remember to be grateful for friends who help me sort through life's messes.

(We all need to surround ourselves with a core group of supportive people, people who cheer you on, who encourage you, who want nothing but the best for you, and you for them.)

This Bar Keepers Friend not only works on getting the shine back on my pans and stove but also serves to remind me about being grateful about having friends that are "keepers."

1.14.2015

FB

After deactivating my Facebook account since May of 2013, I decided it was time to reconnect with old friends.

My criteria for Facebook friendship used to fall under several categories:
1. former students
2. former school friends, elementary, high school, college
3. people I worked with
4. relatives
5. people from my present life

In the very beginning of my Facebook life (2008), as I sought and accepted friendships, I was ecstatic about reuniting with people.
I was liking, viewing, commenting, reading!
And then one day, I realized that I was spending too much time on it and less time being present in-real-life.
It dawned on me that I had collected too many FB friends.
It was a time suck.
I was way over Dunbar's number to make meaningful connections.
So, I started methodically eliminating friends.
People who "friended me" who I could see were active (you can see this you know) but were unresponsive to actually connecting with me, were eliminated at first round.
My feeling being, perhaps we were just not Facebook compatible. No worries.
Next round,
I examined each individual and asked myself: 'friend or acquaintance?'
Acquaintances got de-friended.
The third round of eliminations was, 'anyone that I did not want seeing me without eye make-up on.'
Which was soon followed by 'anyone that I did not want seeing me in a bathing suit.'

The only people spared from any eliminations were former students.

Then because I did not know how to proceed--I deactivated.

Three things I realized while writing this just now:
First, it is pretty obvious to me that keeping any and all former students from the chopping block must mean that I hold on to that part of my life that made me feel worthwhile.
Second, just because you know or like or love someone, does not mean you need to be connected, linked, instagrammed, or followed.
and third, I really need to get a grip and stop taking everything so seriously.
If friends don't feel like interacting on facebook, perhaps it just isn't their thang.
It does not have to mean anything.


So today in 2015, my criteria for being FB friends is this:
If you are someone I would stop and chat with in-real-life--and I am someone you would stop and chat with in-real-life--AND we occasionally do so on FB--then we are FB compatible.


My opening status update for 2015 was:
"What did I miss?"

I am happy to be back in touch with people.
The downside is, since I have been back on FB, I've discovered that three FB friends have since passed away.
Such is life.

1.12.2015

First Post Of 2015

I did not know that I enjoy biscotti.
But apparently I do. 
I am not worried since I have been exercising everyday since the new year began.
Everyday.
My friend SL informed me that everything we do on the first of the year must be something we want to be able to do through out the rest of the year.

So on January 1st, I made the effort to stay away from my biscotti stash.
Also I set goals for myself and exercising everyday was one of them.
I don't mean a full blown daily work out. 
Some days it's a 30 to 45 minute run or a 20 minute walk or just 10 crunches. 
Everything counts when it comes to making exercising a habit. 
I have discovered that I need exercise in order to stay upright.

I have been meditating and praying every single day.

I've also been clearing my home of unnecessary belongings.
My goal is to donate items every single week.
The moment I pick out a donation item, I move it to my porch to await pick up by the Veterans.
I am trying to shed my practical nature of saving something I might potentially want in the future.
I am trying to live in the present moment.
The act of sorting through and letting go of material possessions is very therapeutic by the way.
For each bag or box I am able to give away, there seems to be a release of emotional baggage as well.
~~~~~
In less than a month Steve is turning 50.
The process of trying to clear out my home has, alas, turned it upside down and inside out.
The expression, sometimes you have to break something in order to fix it is quite true.
Unfortunately, Steve's milestone is not going to wait for me to finish my house overhaul, and so amidst all this, I am planning a party for him.
The problem is, I have not thrown a party in years. I am rusty.
I am focusing on not giving in to feelings of overwhelm.
I know that if I were to act remotely taxed or stressed, then that would not feel good for Steve.
So I just keep daily small goals:
-Dechristmasing the house completely (yesterday, I put away the decorations at the property and this morning, I took down the last of the outside lights and garlands of our home here).
-Researching food and drink options.
-Texting invites, etc.
-Clearing out stuff, including polishing off the last of the biscotti.

~~~~~
We made an unplanned visit to our property yesterday.
Just a day trip.
The girls were interested in searching for a frozen pond to skate on, while Steve wanted all of us to hike through the snow in search of a dead bear we had heard about.
I had been feeling slightly off recently and in an effort to do something
"as a family," we decided to jump into the car and go.
We found both, a patch of frozen in the woods that the girls skated on, and the dead bear.
Natural ice rink, lovely.
Dead bear, not too lovely.

~~~~~
A few days ago, I found out that the little girl I had been praying for since last month, died in her mother's arms.
I was heartbroken.
So in an effort to stay mentally healthy, I decided to just keep on cleaning out my house.
When prayer or exercise is not enough, occupational therapy is good.

While sorting through the bowels of this house I bumped into old photos, which gave me the idea to start a 50th birthday picture collage.
It was while I was looking through Steve's old photos that I found this:
A picture of him as a four year old boy standing to the right of that red feather Christmas tree.

There was something about the death of the little girl and finding this particular photo of Steve that switched something in me.
First, I realize how precious life is and that is a gift to be able to celebrate 50 years (especially for Steve, who as a young boy was not given a good prognosis due to kidney disease)
And then second, yesterday, when I was putting away the Christmas decorations at the hunting place, I found myself not just tolerating the red feather Christmas tree, but loving it.
Loving it.
Somehow, seeing this red tree survive life reassures me that some things are just meant to be.