Wednesday, December 30, 2009


I am away on "vacation" and find myself in the lousy predicament of being quite sick. Last night was spent coughing uncontrollably so much so that today I am sore in my chest for all the hacking away I did. Every time I lie down the phlem seems to move around and cause more coughing attacks. Now I'm wondering if maybe I don't have some pneumonia. Should I stay here and rest more or go home tomorrow? Not sure what to do and tomorrow is New Year's Eve - so the best of the world's drivers will NOT be on the road tomorrow. And I think there has been a goodly snow fall closer to home today too. Augh.

I should know better. I say this because in the days leading up to Christmas I knew I was getting run down - I felt it. Drama with my brother caused me to loose sleep, and with preparing for the holidays I just ended up running my resistance into the ground. It happens nearly every holiday season. There just ends up being so much to get done and I seem to be the only person who A) cares about family holiday tradition and the time it takes to get things like kolacky done, and B) will actually work until I drop every night to get things done - the wrapping, baking, cooking, shopping, decorating, etc. And all the while doing the other things I have to do like taking my mother in law for her pain shots (which takes a whole day) and lately counseling half the family with their own problems. I seem to have become the family psychologist, much to my dismay, actually. At any rate, it's all just added up to being TOO MUCH for my system.

It's now a day or so later. I have managed to get home, thanks to my daughter driving (though she complained of my near constant coughing.) I hope she doesn't get sick herself, actually. I'm happy to be back, even though I love the northwoods. Didn't really get to enjoy them much this time, having spent the majority of the time in my bedroom. The next few days I plan to really just putter around and rest at home. There is a million things to do, yes. And I could pressure myself to get everything done immediately. But it's a new year, and I need to take care of my health. No time like the present.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Home Alone

For some time now I find myself in the position of living alone a lot of the time. Well, my daughter does live here in the house, but has her own life and schedule and that does not include me that often. So I find myself knocking around the house with my list of tasks and wondering how in the world it came to be like this?

I am not liking this time in my life much at all. My husband is away for his work most of the time, and when he calls, it's typically late in the day when we both are tired and more than a bit crabby. I miss the daily interaction of discussing our days and paying attention to what each other is thinking and feeling. Lately I think about my grandmother on Dad's side, whose husband traveled for work nearly the whole of their marriage, leaving her home alone with three boys to basically raise the family and provide for them. When I need strength or fortitude, I think of her, alone in her large old family home with three sons away in the war (WWII) at the same time, wondering if they will come home. It seems MUCH more difficult than what I go through, yet a bit the same, too.

The good part of being home alone is that my time is my own, essentially. If I feel like doing nothing at all, then that's just what I do. Honestly, that doesn't happen but once in a blue moon though. Inevitably the guilt sets in and I am up throwing in a load of laundry or cleaning something or setting myself to another list. I'm getting used to the quiet of being alone too. Like sitting in a forest by yourself, my house has it's own noises and rhythms that I have grown accustomed to and am at peace with. Rarely do I even turn a radio on, or my ipod, even.

If I had to tell the truth though, I have to admit that I am crushingly lonely. My son has his own life, now engaged and with the agenda that goes with now "cleaving" to another person. My husband has his work life, which seems SO seperate from me because he makes it so. I have lots of friends, of course, but they all have their lives, so I don't see them all that much, either. And my daughter is here, as I have said, but that's a project all of it's own and her company is not anything I count on. So I am home alone in my lovely home, craving interaction, affection and just a little bit of attention. And feeling very guilty and needy that I do.

So I blog. My dear friend Kate is gone now, and with her passing went the daily interchange that I relied upon for feedback in my day to day affairs. There are others that I share my thoughts with, but none so much as I did with her, God rest her. Now my thoughts just go out into space, like they do as I sit in my home folding a load of clothes, or writing out checks, scrambling an egg, etc. It's an existance that I live with, but not happily. I long for really sharing my life again with someone, preferably my good husband. Not sure when or if that will happen again. And I am sad. REALLY sad about that. I miss him not just in the physical sense of being here, but I miss him being present with me mentally. Even when he is here, he seems a million miles away and apart. I think it's because we spend TOO much time apart.

Now I throw my thoughts out into cyberspace. Not that anyone is reading this or cares, but it helps to get it out there, I suppose. To fling the words from my fingertips and own what I feel inside, good or bad. Because there has to be a purpose in my being alone so much. Perhaps it's because God wants me to learn to love myself a bit more, or at least be comfortable in my own skin. I am, I guess, at peace with who I am. Enough so that I'm not afraid to put pen to paper (or fingers to the computer keyboard) and share what is on my mind every now and again. But oh, wouldn't it be nice if I could be less alone, less in my own head, and sharing my life again on a daily basis with my spouse. So I wait. And blog. And make lists of tasks that give me something to do, but not so much purpose. And that is why I write, I guess - because it's better thinking that SOMEONE might read my words and understand or care, instead of just having the words rattle around in my head with no chance of human/social interaction. And as I write that I acknowledge how pathetic that sounds. I'm not such a drippy, needy soul as that - it's just that I need more. Now.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Sugar Buzz

Each year at Christmastime, my family has come to expect that I will make a family recipe for a cookie called kolacky that my Grandmother made when we were all young. It's a Slovak recipe that has taken me years to perfect. My Grandmother never worked from a cookbook and tended to measure with her hands and whatever spoons she had around, making duplication near to impossible. I watched and learned though, and have to say that my kolacky, while definitely not Grandma's are pretty darn close these days.

The ingredients have changed over time. I used to be able to find refrigerated cake (live, active) yeast in the grocery store. Today I can't even order it in the gourmet specialty shop. So I have by trial and error, learned to improvise with active dry yeast and a combo of sugar and warm water, added at just the right point in the recipe. The dry yeast does not rise as the old stuff did, but it comes close. And I think that where I use butter today, Grandma may have started years ago using shortening (lard) instead. In fact, when my son and I were in Slovakia a year ago, a relative of Grandma's served apple cakes to us that were made with lard and tasted like my past. I think the milk products of today are different too. Sour cream and milk bought in the supermarket are not like the milkman used to bring when I was little. Or the eggs that came from the "egg lady" either.

So of course I am stuck using current available ingredients and inprovising the recipe a bit. I got ambitious, in fact, this year. I decided to not only try to make Grandma's kolacky, but try for the buchty too. That's a small yeasty sweet bread "bun" with a filling inside like plum, apricot or cottage cheese/raisin. I made them a year ago and the result was like rocks - just not good. So I went online and found two Slovak ladies demonstrating their buchty technique on You Tube. It helped! Again I fudged with Grandma's recipe based on last year's results and I have to say, the end result this year is remarkably better, and close to Grandma's, albeit much smaller in size. (I have to get the forming of them in hand before they are Slovak perfection.)

And of course I couldn't stop there either. My mom provided me with Grandma's sugar cookie recipe a year or two back. I've made these too - and they were good, but not even close to the flaky cookies she made. So I have adapted that recipe too and will try tomorrow to duplicate this favorite of mine. She always had sugar cookies in her cookie jar. They had crumbled sugar cubes on top with slivered almond pieces. Yum!

I still have to find time to make regular cut-out cookies and decorate them. THe family has come to expect those too. Not sure why I go to all this bother and stress myself out with all the baking every December. I end up getting so tired and cranky that I didn't get anyone's help in the kitchen while slaving away. The truth is, though I WILL be tired, it is satisfying to me personally to have both attempted and made Grandma's treasured recipes. The traditions of family are still intact through me, in this way. My house this week has smelled just like Grandma's house always smelled to me - of fresh baked goods in the oven. So I will push on and endure the fatigue and frustration of the mess in my kitchen for those few comments Christmas day when cousins or brothers will bite into one of MY creations and declare it as good as the "originals".

If only. I strive to get closer to her each year though baking. I miss Grandma - a simple, wonderful, kind-hearted woman that I really admired. I hope my baking will continue to keep our family together in years to come and that some day my grandchildren may say they remember all those smells from MY kitchen. :)

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Counting Sheep

Let's just get this out there. I love to sleep. Lately though, I can't seem to get myself to GO to sleep at night - or should I say morning? When I finally turn out the light, I sleep fairly soundly, routinely dreaming vivid dreams and waking refreshed the next morning. I just have a hard time shutting off at night. There always seems to be just one more thing to do, one more blog to write, a few more bills to look at or a dish or two to wash, a load of laundry to fold or throw in.... Or one more program I recorded that I haven't gotten to yet to watch. (And darn it anyway, I missed the last Smallville - it went of the DVR before I had time to see it. )

Some people are very guarded about their sleep. They go to bed at a set time or listen to their bodies when they start yawning in the evening. This is not true of me. I know that I am tired, but it always seems I get a "second wind" later in the evening. I don't drink caffeine at night, so it can't be that. I don't really drink that much caffeine in beverages anyway. Maybe one or two diet sodas a day, the second of which I sometimes don't finish. I don't drink coffee (blech!) and I'm too lazy to brew iced tea for myself most days. ANd someone threw away the insert for my iced tea maker, so I can't use the thing and it's not manufactured any more. Soooo - the long story is that my inability to shut off at night is not biological. It's mental.

My husband maddeningly goes to sleep at about 9:30 every night. Drives me crazy. Even when I was a kid, I could never go to sleep early. I'd read in bed until midnight or later (probably why I have such bad eyesight). So while I an habitually a late to sleep person, it seems that recently it's gotten to be worse than just late to sleep (like 11 or 12.) Now it's 1 or 2 in the morning before I shut down. I am rarely asleep past 8:30 or 9:00, and many times up before then. So I have to figure out what is going on that I can't put all the chores and STUFF away and just lay my head down.

I don't want to take tylenol or advil PM. I always end up feeling so groggy the next day. It effects me too much. And forget prescription meds - I really hate taking any medication, though I have to take some each day. (It's hell gettin old.) Tomorrow I'm seeing my family doctor and I suppose I'll have to tell her I'm not sleeping so well - except that isn't exactly true. I sleep just fine (usually) when I do go to sleep. Just can't seem to PUT myself to sleep.

Maybe it's just that I'm alone most nights? Except when my husband is here our sleep patterns are so different and sleep temperatures are so different that I get too warm when he's in bed with me because he throws all the covers off and they end up on me. And my bedcover is extremely heavy. (I don't like it actually - I think it's so heavy it's contributing to my plantar faciitis.) It is a comfort, however, when he is there. I can reach out and know he's near. It doesn't happen often enough.

I guess I'm going to start setting sleep goals for myself. Meaning whatever I have left to do, I have to set a time that I most definitely have to shut out the lights and just go to sleep. It will all be there in the morning, anyway, right? And I think I shouldn't watch TV in the bedroom either. I end up getting wrapped up in too many programs I have saved. It becomes one more thing on my to do list. How important is that anyway? I gotta set some priorities.

So here we are, it's 1:23 a.m. and I'm clicking away at my laptop. Time to take some of my own medicine and shut the lights...till the next blog. G'nite!

Monday, December 7, 2009

Never Enough

I enjoy doing things for my kids, who are now in their 20s. I have always enjoyed it. I like giving them gifts, or finding the perfect Christmas present(s). It's fun having them hug me when they get that longed-for purse or hoped-for concert tickets. It does feel good to give to others. To a point. I don't expect anything back from my kids, really, except sincere gratitude. And maybe a phone call every once in a while just to say hello and not ask for a favor, cash, or to babysit the dog.

And to be honest, maybe I DO expect things back. I secretly (well, I'm blogging, so how secret this is might be a stretch to say...) wish that my daughter would volunteer to do laundry, or the dishes, or to take something UP the stairs that is sitting at the bottom waiting for the next person going in that direction. Or taking something downstairs that is piled on the butler's pantry awaiting the trip down. Or maybe asking me what show I'd like to watch on TV before clicking right to their show ahead of the one they knew I wanted to see. I'd like either one of them to follow up on help they promised me for one or another task. The lights are STILL on not my living room tree, my daughter having promised the help days ago after I did something for her. But I noticed a new pile of her clothes in the laundry room. Mind you, not in the actual baskets, just dumped on the floor unceremoniously.

So I think I may be done with the gifts. For awhile anyway. A new experiment. An no more favors unless what Iwant done comes FIRST. Payment made BEFORE service is rendered, just like retail. You don't get it unless you pay for it. Whether that be cash or in chores or even in attitude. And I am done with the expectation that Mom and Dad are a bottomless pit of cash. TIme to man up, kids. Time to get pushed from the nest and go it alone.

Grrr. I don't like being taken advantage of. Particularly by my own family. I am thinking a new era is upon us, though. No more Mrs. Nice Guy. No more free lunch. No more, no more. I ain't takin it NO more, as they say.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Oh My Aching...

For the last several days I have been on the go, shopping all over town for Christmas. (Single handedly contributing to those shopping numbers the media will carp about a few weeks from now when they speak of how good or bad the shopping season was/is, before sending the markets teeter-tottering again). At any rate, this probably would have been a good year to do this via internet, and not walking the length and breadth of two of the largest area malls on foot. I have a foot problem that is causing severe pain in my right heel with every strike of my foot to pavement. My podiatrist politely calls it plantar faciitis. But he can't be sure, you see. Could be heel spurs in there. As of this week, might even be a lead in to RA, according to him.

The guy is making me nuts. I have been doctoring for this damnable condition for the last several months. Its plagued me probably for 25 years (and the reason I have faithfully worn orthotic devices in my shoes when I walk any long distance) but lately, the pain has ramped up considerably. This doctor hasn't taken one xray. Not an MRI. Hasn't even really done much examining of my actual foot, other than to hear me try to adequately describe the searing pain I have been having. Ahhh, he nods, seemingly knowingly. " What," I think, "how could he know? He hasn't looked at a thing!"

When does one know that their doctor is not a good doctor? After five pairs of different orthotics, two cortizone shots to the afflicted area and four months time, I'd say. I was in my physical therapist's office two weeks ago and explaining all the foot pain I had (along with the back pain, which is why I was there to begin with). Turns out one is probably connected (well, not literally) to the other. I told the PT who I was seeing (podiatrist) for my foot. His reaction? "Oh....THAT guy?" Probably not the response you want to hear when you are in pain. So now I'm left with...well, NOW what do I do?

So I went to the Internet, of course - that all-knowing reference for anything you may be curious about. (Remember when it was all about looking it up in one of 30 volumes of an encyclopedia?) I googled "plantar faciitis" and got a whole host of information, most of which says the treatments are orthotic devices, if pain persists, cortizone shots, and as a last resort, surgery. So now I'm thinking that, well, that's what I have been doing, so why is all this pain persisting? I have come to the unequivocable conclusion that the podiatrist I have been seeing must NOT have been in the top of his class. So I'm on the hunt for a new one, or perhaps an orthopedic surgeon who can actually assess what's going on through crazy methods like actually taking an xray. Certainly the five pairs of orthotics he's made have clearly not fit right.

One of the other methods of treatment listed is to get off the foot and rest it, waiting for healing of the tissue. Riiiiiight. How in the heck do you NOT use your foot to get around? I'm not ordering a wheelchair. Seems extreme. And who will do the baking, shopping for groceries, cooking, decorating for xmas, wrapping, cleaning, laundry, taking in/out of mail, putting trash out, and so forth if I am incapacitated? Back to my Grandpa Shine story with the dishes ending up in the shower. (See many blogs ago...) So, I'm left with having to live with the pain and get all this crap done too. It's feeling a bit unfair, frankly. When others in my family are hurting they just STOP what they are doing and expect everyone else to cater to them, wait on them, etc., particularly me wait on them. Doesn't seem to ever apply to me (Mom) though.

So ho ho ho, I'll have to carry on and grin and bear the pain. Not feeling all that happy about it. Not happy at all.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Potato / Po-Tah-Toe

Why is it that our elected officials cannot get along, let alone cooperate on issues for the common good? Are they so intent on just being reelected that they can't make hard decisions? Where is the leadership in this country? Honestly, since Reagan, there hasn't been one president that really had a vision himself. Not one has inspired. Oh, the Obamamaniacs out there would argue that he is inspiring. What, because of his race? I believe a person should be judged on their words and more importantly, deeds, not on color or affliation. He hasn't done a thing yet in office that hasn't been about following his party line, or following polls. The guy has no real voice of his own. We are in trouble, people! We need leadership!

In the running health care debate in particular, both sides of the aisle are waving their banners and making their accusations, and no one is considering the common good or the future of this country and the ideals on which it was founded. These days, I don't trust ANY politician, or really anyone looking to hold public office. It just isn't about serving the people any more. I don't think any elected official of our government should be allowed to serve any more than one term in office. Then maybe politics would attract individuals who really wanted to serve our common interests and not be worrying about keeping their job. It would be more like a conservatorship. Like the Supreme Court aligns legal decisions with our constitution, so should any bill or piece of legislation be drawn in congruance with those ideals too. To serve the common good and the future of our country.

Election cycles should not begin any more than six months before the election. Period. I for one get sick to death of enless debates, commercials and lawn signage that outlasts whole seasons. Who can or wants to keep up? It's why people are cynical and disinterested. It's all TOO MUCH. Shortening the cycle of election would focus campaigns into real issues and getting a point of view across in a succinct manner. It would create real leaders, not just party figureheads. And no single campaign should have any more money than another. There should be a cap on how much can be spent on a campaign, at each level of government. That way the money would be spread out and huge donations by special interests wouldn't make as much sense. The amount of money thrown at campaigns is hideous and shameful. Imagine the good that cash could do if thrown at charities that really need the help and are doing the hard work of serving people?

Maybe the labels of liberal, Democrat, conservative, Republican, libertarian, etc don't serve us at all. There are compassionate Republicans, no matter what the ultra liberal leaners think! I'm one of them. Just as there are lots of Democrats who are high wage-earning, hard workers and not deadbeats who don't want to work and expect handouts. It's not whether or not you are rich or poor or in-between. It's what you believe and stand for that counts. Words that match deeds. Putting money where your mouth is, so to speak. The tenats of each party are so muddled now anyway. How about being humanist? Working to serve humanity and not self or party. This is what is utterly lacking in our government and elected officiate.

What our government should and can do is set rules (a framework) under which business should operate in order to serve the people. It should not try to RUN those businesses, whether they be banks, investment houses or health care. That is a recipe for waste and skewing interests to one group or another. Private industry is what sets us apart. It's what drives our economy. Taking from the private sector does not serve anyone. It will cripple us. Allowing private sector competition to drive business will create jobs, drive our economy and keep us moving forward.

Having government come in and run or dictate how a business spends its money will lead to a whole lot of future woes. You can't redistribute wealth. Castro tried that, remember? My boss in Miami remembers "government" coming in and forcefully taking the things his family worked for generations to acquire. Certainly that did not end up in the hands of the poor. The same will be true of us if we keep leaning on the business owners and people who have worked to earn their money.

Freedom and personal responsibility. Free trade and commerce. Serving the ideals our founding fathers set up in our consitutuion. These are the things I beleive in. NOT that government protect us from ourselves by taking basic freedoms away from us and running every aspect of our lives, including dictating what kind, how much and what to pay for our health care. Republican. Democrat. All the same. Party interests are self-serving and do not take our freedoms into consideration. We need a leader. We need a hero to jar the electorate into seeing just what is becoming of us. You have to be out there somewhere. Come out, come out, wherever you are. We need you, whoever you are.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Law of Attraction, et al

Some time ago I watched an Oprah program about "The Secret." This is a book about the power of the laws of attraction. In the months (years?) since I saw that show, and read the book by the same name, I have thought alot about why some people get it, and others do NOT. I have come to believe truly that one "has to believe to receive." That's why all those athletes envision crossing goal lines...they begin to believe and then KNOW that their goal is not only possible but probable.

Belief isn't always a positve thing, however. For instance, if you believe it isn't possible to lose weight, then you won't submit to the sacrifices necessary to make reduction a reality. If you believe you are smarter than everyone else you meet, then no one you come in contact with can hold a conversation interesting enough to learn from - that person will always look for a way to prove their own point. If you believe no one will ever be attracted to you physically, then you won't do the things with your appearance and carriage to have posture enough to have someone actually take a look. Confidence seems to be the underlying factor to any successful endeavor, whether it's losing weight or getting a date. How one acquires confidence seems to be a tricky matter though, and more so the crux of the matter.

A friend told me a day or so ago that he thought when he met me some 30 odd years back, that my confidence level was out of proportion to my talent and ability. What a deep statement! I thought about that all day. What was it when I was in my late teens that caused me to lose self-assuredness? It would be too easy to say upbringing, or blame siblings, or a mean teacher...the list is endless. The fact is we all suffer indignities, harsh statements and unfair treatment at one point or another. How we process them is another story. Is confidence innate? Or learned? How can one sibling have it in abundance and another be lacking, having been raised in the same environment? Why do some people care so much about what others think (of them) but others just don't give a damn? These are the questions I both need answers to and that tend to keep me up at night.

Being a parent of two dramatically different children, I can see that being raised in the same home has zero to do with it. My son KNOWS he will be successful, and puts the work in to whatever he does to ensure that success. My daughter doubts her ability to succeed, and ends up sabotaging herself waysthat seems almost tragic to me. I wish one could rub off on the other, but it's not that easy, of course. In my early 20s, as they are now, I had a bit of each of them in me. I knew I was smart and could do most anything, but was both afraid to show I was smart (wouldn't that be tooting my own horn?) and couldn't figure out how to get myself to put the work in regardless of setback or hardship to ensure my success. I craved affection and validation. I still do in a lot of ways.

I have seen evidence through the years that we tend to surround ourselves with individuals who validate our self-opinion and have similar feelings themselves. Stray cat syndrome, call it. Losers find losers to hang with, and winners find winners. Yes, some people do rise above the circumstances of upbringing, poverty, health issues, and life challenges to become that which they BELIEVE they can be. How do they stay positive?

It's the old "Act As If.." scenario. Acquiring a sense of confidence is a matter (I think) of beginning to just go through the motions of positivity and envisioning a goal to actually taking those things to heart and believing in them. It took me a long time and hell, I'm still a work in progress. I heard not long ago an expression that goes something like this: A goal without an action plan is just a wish. How true! It's about taking actionable steps - the proverbial "journey of a thousand miles that begins with a single step." For instance, I want to write a novel. It's not going to happen by hoping that I will. I have to set small steps up, small goals. A paragrah. A page. An outline. A blog. The accomplishment of each step breeds further belief in the possibility of success and begins to define me as a person.

I have no idea how to instill confidence in any person other than myself. And I stil need validation. Doesn't everyone want a pat on the back every now and again? To be told they are going in the right direction, doing the right thing, that they are attractive, or smart, or appreciated? Those little perks are the confidence builders I think. It's not a bad thing to seek the approval of others, and it isn't even socially needy, though for a long time I thought it was. It's human. The "secret" isn't any one universal law. The secret is being brave enough to take the journey, to suffer setbacks and learn from them, to seek validation and approval from those we love and/or respect (yes, we need to HEAR that we are loved, too) and envision that our endeavors will lead to results. THAT is what builds confidence. The accomplishment of the small steps is like the building of a wall. Brick by brick it becomes stronger, sturdier, until finally it is built.

I'll always be a person who seeks the approval of others, but more so now because I like the camaraderie, cooperation, and caring that goes into paying attention to another person's concerns. I'm not 17 any more - I'm 50. I know myself better now. But I'm still human, and still like to hear it when a sincere compliment is paid to me, or a helpful bit of criticism too, for that matter. All in the wheelhouse of self-understanding, don't you know. It gives one a little bounce in their step to know they are on the right path, or that someone loves them or is attracted to them. Keeps us moving forward. Step by step....

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Tis the Season

My house is in a huge disarray today. The Christmas decoration boxes have come up from storage in the basement and are clogging my kitchen, dining room and foyer, leading my husband to declare that I have to "cull the herd" and daughter to groan with the task of hauling them up and down stairs. I will admit, I have A LOT of Christmas STUFF. And each year it seems to grow by just a little bit. An ornament here, a wreath there....

For certain I have to weed out the things I no longer display, and possibly pack away some of the treasure to give to my son and his fiance. I was hard-pressed to find a branch available when placing ornaments on one of my two trees. Usually I have too many to fit on the real tree in the living room. Time indeed to go through my collection.

It's pretty tough deciding which items to part with. I'll admit that I'm attached to just about everything related to Christmas. Every ornament unwrapped each December 1st is a little thrill of discovery. I painstakingly wrap each up on January 6th, so when unwrapping, I can feast my eyes upon the cute little treasures I've collected. Many ornaments are from trips I have made both domestically and abroad. Some are exquisite, in fact, for their craftsmanship or colors or materials. The little painted glass bell from Salzburg or the porcelain teddy bear with my son's first baby photo inside, the waterford and lenox down to crafts show finds - I really love them all.

But I do not look forward to this day each year when the boxes come upstairs and I am faced with the task of taking everything out of wrappings and crates to find places to put everything. It's a daunting job that has fallen to me alone for a few years now, but particularly this year it seems. Kind of overwhelming thinking about getting up tomorrow to face those boxes and all the work they represent. But when all is finally put into place, I will sit in my yellow striped chair in the living room looking at my fragrant real tree all decked out and sigh a bit, happy for a moment of quiet after all the work of putting everything up. I'll admire my handiwork and try not to think about January 6th and having to take it all down again for storage.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Purple is not just for Barney

OK, I can admit that as a teenager, I was completely and utterly smitten with Donny Osmond. What a cutie pie he was! That hair. That smile. And SUCH a nice guy in every interview, every talk show, on American Bandstand, The Andy Williams Show and on "Donny and Marie." Now most people's teenage crushes fade away with time. I can fully admit, after this "season" of watching "Dancing with the Stars", I am still smitten with Donny. A true fan. He's adorable.

He's not the BEST ballroom dancer technically of this season, but man-oh-man, he is a good entertainer. His last dance tonight was just wonderful. A gazillion 50-year-old women are swooning tonight, I'm positive. He just made us all fall in love with him all over again. I've been faithfully tuning in all this season to watch his progression. Always a gentleman, always gracious, (compare to Mya, who spoke tonight about how hard her participation has been on her personal life. Boo Hoo. Whiner) always trying his best and really being hard on himself when he messed up, he has been a pleasure to watch all season. And only a true Osmond fan would realize that his signature color was worn nearly every dance - purple. I puts a grin on my face just thinking of it. When I mentioned it to my daughter she just rolled her eyes at me with that "oh Mom, how lame!" expression. Ah well. That argentine tango was so sexy it was eye popping. Wow.

When I was in about seventh grade (maybe eighth), I needed a new winter wool coat. Naturally the ONLY color I would consider was purple. To this day, I would count it among my favorite colors, particularly periwinkle, which is a purple-blue, a combo of BOTH my favorites. I actually remember that coat of mine though, along with some dark purple velvet bell bottoms and a sweater vest in that same shade. How funny we teens are with our crushes. When I pledged a sorority in college, imagine how delighted I was to find the house colors to be royal purple and white!

When I was in college and was dating my husband, I remember he told me he was taking me out for a surprise to a concert. I had NO idea what it was going to be. We went to a place (no longer there I don't think) called Mill Run Theater, which was in the round. Lo and Behold, it was the Osmond Brothers, featuring Donny and Marie. WHen the Osmonds were in their huge heyday in the early-mid 70s, my parents had never let me go to a concert, though I wanted to desperately, of course. THey called it Osmondmania at the time. So imagine how fun it was for me as a 21 year old to FINALLY see Donny in concert. And he was 22 at the time - really still a young guy and at the height of "Donny and Marie" fame. The concert was so great - that whole family is incredibly talented. At one point in the show the lights went out and a spotlight across the hall shone on Marie Osmond, up at the top of the audience tiers, directly across from us, singing..."I'm a little bit country..." Of course, everyone knows the next line. Boom - a spotlight goes on right next to me. John sat on the aisle, I was one in. Donny was RIGHT THERE next to us! "I'm a little bit rock and roll...." I didn't hear it over the PA system, I HEARD it right next to me. WOW. So exciting. And my, my, my was he handsome. 51 he STILL is handsome. I'll never forget that concert (or John, for taking me. :)

Over the years I have always liked "boy bands". It started in second grade with the Monkees. And the Beatles too I suppose - it was my era. But the Osmonds really were special. Last year I went on a cruise with my Daughter, Niece and a friend of my daughter's. One evening I was thrilled to see that the main entertainment on the ship was none other than Merrill Osmond (who was my second favorite, after Donny of course). My daughter (Jen) and her friend Trevor ended up going up on stage with Merrill that night - he did a little impromtu dance contest that Jen and Trev WON. So surreal to have my daugher onstage with an Osmond. It was almost too much - so thrilling for me in so many ways. And Merrill was terrific - still with that great voice.

Once a fan, always a fan. So, Donny, I faithfully voted - and hope you win tomorrow night. For the legions of Osmondmanics out here. Purple power forever!

In the Clouds

Yesterday I attended a holiday (well, pre-holiday party) at a friend's home. Fun time. I saw lots of people I really hadn't seen in a few years and met some new folks that were interesting to talk with. In short, I enjoyed myself. Except for one thing. At this party, I'd say over 50% of the attendees were smokers. This wasn't a problem for the first half of the night, but as the booze flowed, the smokes came out. By the time I was leaving, I could barely stand it any longer. I found myself wheezing and had a terribly scratchy throat - even through a good part of today.

I used to smoke. Not alot, and mostly during times of extreme stress or when pretty drunk. I haven't smoked now with any regularity (I'd say maybe I've had 10 cigarettes now in about 10 years) in a decade or more. I had forgotten, in fact, how bad it actually smells, to tell the truth. Now people can do what they want with their own bodies, but I really have become of a mind that says that indoors, where there may be non-smokers, lighting up is rather awful to some of us in the room. I care for these people...why are they doing this to themselves? Haven't they seen ANY literature in the last ten years? Watched Oprah or Dr. Oz, perhaps? Even as they all puffed away, I could literally envision the blackened lung on the table on an Oprah show, exhibited by the enthusiastic Dr. Mehmet Oz. It's enough to make one literaly gag.

The hosts of the party are smokers, and hence some of the issue. THese are great people that I really care about. Seeing them smoke just hurts me thinking of the self-destruction they are committing. I came up the stairs (looking for one of those goat-cheese stuffed, bacon-wrapped dates) to find my DAUGHTER with a lighted cigarette in the kitchen. Augh. I've seen her smoke before. It's awful. Not pretty. Smells bad. Looks disgusting. ANd she's just getting over a bad case of bronchitis. I was not only a little shocked, but maybe a little mad too. Doesn't she care enough about her health? How in the world have I failed? It was she and her brother who convinced me to stop years ago.

I am all for the "take it outside" campaign. No reason to pass secondhand smoke to anyone, anywhere. I can't believe I ever did it, frankly, and am patently sorry for anyone I ever blew smoke in the direction of or near. The clouds of smoke last night turned me off in such a huge way I am certain I will never ever pick up even one more single cigarette. Blech. ANd I hope I can find the right words to convince my daughter it's just not worth it either.

In this day and age, you'd think people knew better already. Yikes.

Thursday, November 19, 2009


I looked at the calendar this morning and realized that today is (was) my Grandmother's birthday. This was after receiving a sad phone call first thing this morning from a cousin's wife (Marianne) whose Mom (Anne) had passed hours before. I knew her Mom - a very sweet, brave woman, as were my own grandmothers. This morning's phone call had me thinking all day about the importance of not only grandmothers in my life, but in my children's lives, And of the roles grandmother's play in general. I really started thinking about both of mine, their homes, and the time I spent with them.

In a way, the reason I am blogging at all is because I have been inspired all my life by the life stories of both of my grandmothers. I wrote a play about the early life of my mother's mom for my capstone project for my bachelor's degree in English. I am beginning to write the story of my father's mom from her younger years during the Great Depression. How both women coped with adversity and kept on moving is not only admirable, it's remarkable. I was in awe of them both, for different reasons. Grandma Shine was educated and from a well-to-do Irish-Catholic Chicago family, but settled for much less and made it work for her family. Grandma Horecny was from a small rural village in Slovakia - Podhradie, which I visited a year ago, a lifelong dream to see the village she spoke so fondly about. I turned out to me JUST as I had imagined from her stories.

Now I admire my Mom in every way, but my Grandmothers lived difficult lives by contrast and were made of stern stuff. They lived through extreme economic hardship as adults, saw sons off to war (Grandma Shine had THREE sons at war at once - all of her children) or in the case of Grandma Horecny, buried three of four children and her husband before she left this world. I learned so much from them both. They were faithful to their church and families to the end.

Grandma Horecny taugh me about traditions, taught me to bake and sew. I spent a lot of time with her growing up. She babysat for the three of us more than anyone else. I loved going to her house. On Halsted Street I remember sleeping in her front bedroom and listening to the nearby trains at night. I can remember the smell of Grandpa's aftershave in her bathroom, and the three choices for toys in her closet - Tinker Toys, Lincoln Logs or colored wooden blocks. She had a small child's desk with pegboard in it in their first house that sat out on their screened-in back porch. Oh, and inside the lid of that desk was one of those plastic critters like a Mr. Potato Head that came apart into like 10 legs, three body parts and antennae, like an ant. Cooties? Something like that. At both houses she had a large garden that I remember helping her with (well, a little). I love tomatoes today becase of her gardens. And Grandpa H. took me up to the lumberyard with a bucket in hand to bring back a little sand for me to play in next to the garage. Later, in their newer home close to my house, I went each week to set Grandma's beautiful white hair, for which she unfailingly gave me $5, no matter that I didn't want a penny for doing it. I remember many nights sleeping on the couch in her living room at that house as a young teen, listening to the furnace kicking on and off. She had a cookie jar on the counter in that house which was always full of her own sugar cookies with the slivered almonds on top and chunks of sugar cubes. Delicious. I have finally figured out how to make them.

Grandma Shine's house was a different kind of adventure. I went there every friday for 12 years of my life to take piano lessons. She was a music teacher and gifted pianist herself. I don't remember ever seeing her cook anything, really - although of course she must have. She loved tea, not coffee. She sat in a fluffy gray linen chair in her living room that nearly swallowed up her shrinking frame in her late years. From this position she talked about life in Glenwood when her boys were young and they shared the house with her sister's family for several years. My father has many great stories of life during this time. She was the parish organist too. I will never forget her piano recitals and how she would patiently bring over the music during our performance if we faltered. I was always determined that she should not have to do it for me, but alas, she did at least once have to bail me out when memory failed me. An extremely proud woman, I don't think she ever asked for help from anyone.

Her house was an adventure to me - large and very very old as it had been her summer residence when SHE was a girl. The stairs leading down to the basement were warped and worn down on the treads. There was a real cellar down there that was cool and I think even had an earthen floor. In her front hallway on a coat ack was a mink wrap whose clasp was the mouth of the animal, so it was made as if there were three minks hanging onto the tails of the one in front. Creepy, but kind of fascinating too. In the three bedrooms upstairs that weren't either Grandma's or Grandpa's rooms were loads of STUFF. She called them her "glory holes". They were filled with artifacts from her family's life. Pictures sent home from her sons during WWII. The crutches my Dad used in high school when he broke his leg and was laid up for six months with the compound fracture. Law books. All kinds of things. As a child I really wasn't allowed to go into them, although I did sneek in with older cousins a few times during family picnics in their yard, which was acres large. The outhouse served as first base during clan baseball games, and the rhubarb patch was third base. There was a hand pump for water in the yard that I remember being there and using when I was small, but it had to have come down by the time I was in high school or earlier. Yes, there was indoor plumbing - it was put in some time in my father's high school years. I've seen pictures of Grandma there by that pump in the yard with buckets to bring into the house. Dad said there used to be a large barn on the lot, and a cookhouse too. The small building I knew as Grandpa's garage had been a children's playhouse when my grandmother was small.

It wasn't just their houses that were fascinating. It was the stories they told. I have always loved hearing a good story, and theirs always seemed so different than the life I lead - like something from a book. Grandma Shine served as postmaster for her town during the war. Grandm and Grandpa Horecny were insturmental in getting a catholic church built in their hometown to serve a large Slovak community. There is a mural on the wall in the church dedicated to my mother's brother, who died in WWII. My son visited his grave in Belgium last year. Both of my Grandmothers told stories of raising their kids, my parents, which is always fascinating to a grandchild. "What was my mother or father like, Grandma?" was a popular theme in the barrage of questions I always had for them. In other words, am I like them? This was particular of interest to me as I have known since birth, practically, that I am adopted.

After I had children of my own, I was lucky enough to be able to work outside the home and know my kids were being cared for by their grandmother, my mother-in-law. My Mom babysat from time to time when they were infants, but when my youngest was just one and a half, we moved out of state, taking my mother-in-law with us. Both of my kids are particularly close to her, protective of her. Sometimes I admit to even being a little jealous of this connection they have for her. Maybe it's just the guilt for being away and working, I don't know. I am grateful to know they weren't left in a stranger's hands though. They were always watched over with loving eyes. Such was my own upbringing too.

I am blessed to have spent so much time with both of my Grandmothers. I learned from them. I modeled myself after them. I loved them both so much. Each have now been in heaven a long time. Grandma S passed in 1982, less than a year after I was married. I love knowing she was at my wedding. Grandma H passed in 1994 or 5. (Can't remember which). My children actually remember her as..."Grandma Tilly." Ryan in particular remembers her. I am glad that my kids have grown up knowing both of their grandmothers so well. Next year Ryan will marry and will have both of them at HIS wedding - a blessing, for sure, along with his Grandpa too. I hope he gets how lucky he is. I know how lucky I have been to have them all in my life.

So tonight, I will say a liitle prayer for Marianne's mom, "Grandma Anne Genge" = a truly sweet woman that I also really liked and admired. She lived with cancer for over 20 years. Talk about perseverance. God Bless all of the Grandmother's in heaven. You have special places in all our hearts, especially mine today.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009


I have always known that staying at home and working instead of drawing a paycheck elsewhere is an utterly thankless task. It never occurred to me all those years of being in school what my mother did all day at home. Until I had to do it all day at home myself, I suppose. In fact, the list of things to get done is always so endless, its a wonder anything does get completed. That is why, whenever my husband refers to me as "retired" I really am not very happy. I am actually rather insulted.

When I think of the word retired, I think of my parents, now in their 80s and enjoying their days in Florida together, pursuing activities just for fun, alongside all the daily chores that have to be accomplished (which they do together, by the way.) I don't think of myself as retired in any way, shape, or form, because my husband still works outside our home (and very hard, too) - and we are not at liberty to pursue activities "just for fun" at this point of our lives. TO the contrary, life seems to be about "getting stuff done." It certainly isn't about spending time together, that's for sure.

It is difficult to think that what I do all day has no value to those earning a paycheck. I think of all the tasks I accomplish as important in our day to day family life. My days are comprised of a million small things. Wiping counters, taking in mail and sorting it, taking garbage out, throwing a load of laundry in, folding another load, cleaning out the fridge, making a meal or planning and shopping for other meals, paying bills, putting things in their place, taking mail to the post office or things to a dry cleaners...and so on and so on. What would happen if I suddenly wasn't here? Who would get all this shit done?

When my grandmother was in her 70s (I think), she was hospitalized for several days with some cardiac problems, as I remember. My grandfather was still alive and healthy. He'd make his meals every day, or eat what my mother would bring over to him. Mom thought it was so nice that he kept everthing so clean and neat, particularly in the kitchen while Grandma was recovering. Until Grandma came home from the hospital and went to take a shower the morning after returning to the home and discovered where all those dirty dishes had really gone. The shower! I mean, how funny is this? I have often wondered - would my daughter just keep piling her dirty dishes in the sink or resort to the shower if I suddenly took ill? Who does my family think does everything that needs to be done? It's not the tooth fairy, I can tell you. Retired my patootie.

No, I don't earn a paycheck or benefits. I live off the good graces of my husband and his hard work. Am I to be ashamed of that? Is it so terrible that I am not drawing a paycheck elsewhere? Is that the only way to be seen as valued? If that's how he feels (and I'm not sure he does, exactly), then why would he make comments to business people referring to my "retirement" in a condescending way? It's humiliating and demeaning. It places no value on the hard work and family contribution that I make. And it probably happens to other "housewives" every day.

Raising kids, and keeping up a home (or two homes) is hard work that is never reviewed or evaluated. THere are no pep talks for homemakers. No pats on the back for a job well done. No bonuses other than pride in our homes and children and husbands. Maybe occasionally a family member will compliment a meal, but more often I tend to hear how something was not right, rather than how it was. Surem working in the home is a tenured position - after all who's going to kick the house elf to the curb, anyway? My family has it good, and I think they know it.

Wouldn't hurt them to say thanks every now and again. Or offer to lessen my load. I'd love to get up on a Saturday morning and have others bring me my coffee (or in my case, iced tea or a Diet Coke) and cook for me without having to ask for it. I'd love to come in from work, or working out and know there will be a meal available to me, already planned out and done. I'd love just once coming into the house to find not one dish left in the sink. I'd love one 0f my children to ask, every once in a while, what they can do for me, instead of expecting things to be constantly done for them. How can that be considered retired? I'm perpetually doing for other family members.

I have a new appreciation for what Mom must have been doing all those years I was in school. I've told her I understand now what a thankless task it was, but that I appreciate all those things she did for us. It doesn't take much to make us "housewives" happy. A little recognition, people. A little respect and appreciation. And certainly, not being referred to condescendingly as "retired." I will never again take my mother for granted. It hurts too much to be discounted.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Facebook for Fifty Year Olds

I confess that I love Facebook. My daughter calls me a Facebook "stalker". Who I am stalking I have no idea. Apparently reading the random posts of people I have become "friends" with makes me a stalker? All I know about Facebook it that it has allowed me to reconnect with many old friends and colleagures that I would have otherwise lost contact with. It is a little bit of joy to see a "request" to be a friend on my page, or a little number show up on my inbox, alerting me to a friend's message.

Ok, sometimes it's a bit shocking to "meet up" with friends you've known so long ago via this medium. I saw a recent "Castle" episode where the main character's mother - say late fifties, early sixties was learning how to navigate a social networking site. Her dilemma was whether to post a recent photo of herself or a more flattering image from, shall we say, a "few" years back. Hilarious. I know just how that character feels. It's standing on that teeter-totter between being totally honest and being just a bit nervous about what others will think of the current "you," and what that may mean to me. For the record, I have not posted old photos on my site. I am who I am - whatever. I have both good and completely unflattering phhotos posted on my site. But I can see the temptation to do it - just post the good ones, or the OLD ones. Some photos of old friends are shocking to see. No hair, gray hair, wrinkles, heavier, thinner...etc. We tend to think of people how we knew them, not what they have become. That's why reunions are so strange. (There were many I barely recognized at my 30th class reunion.) Still - the voyeuristic aspects of remeeting old friends is positively intriguing and fascinating.

It's funny - our kids think we are on Facebook to see what they are doing. Honestly I could care less. Yeah, it does hurt my feelings that my own daughter won't be "friends" with me online. How ridiculous. I can't even tag photos of my daughter on my own page because we're not "facebook friends." I have this discussion with lots of my friends though. We really could care less about the drunken goings-on of our 20 something kids. We are there to meet up with OUR friends and former colleagues. To reconnect with some aspects of our OWN youth. Honestly, we aren't interested in living yours, kids.

I don't play the games or rarely do the weird little quizzes that the young people play on Facebook. I guess lots of people do play the Gangster Wars or Farmville or whatever. To me, I'd rather be having real conversations. Or IMing with nieces and nephews, etc. It's just such a wonderful thing to be connected. It makes me feel like there is someone out there who cares enough to look me up. Or to IM me. Or to post a funny video they've seen so friends can share it. It's the new email. (Does anyone use regular email anymore?)

So I'm going to keep facebooking little comments to friends, and throwing my two cents in on political debates and have long conversations with friends and cousins online that I otherwise would never have had if I was emailing (do I have the right internet address?) or using (God forbid) snail mail. And if that makes me a "stalker", well, then I guess there is a new definition of that word. Facebook friend.

Raising Cain...Abel and the rest of them

What I want to know is this: at what point are we done raising our kids? 21? 23? Is every conversation a teaching point with our kids? How is it possible to "teach" anyone to accept responsibility for their own lives, decisions, bodies, jobs or lack thereof, relationships, grades, timliness, and so on? Not just kids...anyone? Can I be the only reasonable, sane person in my little world?

The drama of raising kids never gets easier, according to my mother, who is now 81. I guess she's still teaching me, so I get that - sort of. Still, it ought to be easier at some point, wouldn't you think? My daughter doesn't like living at home and I don't blame her. I didn't want to live "at home" when I was 21 either. But I was realistic enough to know I had to make a whole lot of cash to support myself if I were to move out. That I had to finish school OR get a job making enough money to support everything. Car insurance, health insurance, groceries, rent...the works. It seems no matter how old our kids get, they still expect us to keep helping them. Had that conversation with cousins today who are feeling the same way as parents too. Why can't some phone calls to us just be to say hello and not ask for a favor of some sort?

Accepting that I have done a disservice to my kids by providing SO MUCH to them as they have grown up is a hard one to bear. But maybe that's the case. Perhaps both of them need a good swift dose of cool reality - of paying ALL their bills themselves. Maybe I shouldn't have helped them so much., given them so much, provided so many opportunities. But isn't that what a parent does? Tries their best for their kids? Baby birds get pushed from their nests in a burst of reality. Why not our kids too? Maybe it's just easier to keep them closer by helping. Have to think on that one.

My daughter wants to take a vacation by herself with a cousin next year. I'm all for it, providing she now pays for that vacation herself. Hell, she's 21. And she was up for that until she heard that her Dad and I may go on the same trip. All of a sudden it's not the trip she wanted for herself. She won't be 'free". I say what were you planning to do without us that you coudn't do with us/near us/around us..? It's not as if we haven't been permissive. I started thinking about when it was that I was "allowed" to take my first vacation without parental permission, other than a school trip my senior year of high school (which I paid for totally myself) fully chaparoned by nuns. (OK, they HARDLY chaparoned, but that's for another blog.) I think my first vacation without my family (read: parents, brothers, etc) was probably my honeymoon with my husband. I know, I know - different day and age. And I was 22, the age she will be when she goes on this trip (cruise). Still...I do worry about her taking a trip independently of us. It's a much more dangerous/scary world than when I was 22. So yes, it's hard to let go as a parent.

So how can we understand one another at this juncture - both of my kids wanting autonomy, independence from us, but expecting some measure of financial help as they clamour onto their feet and find their wings out of the nest? I find it so hard to explain (and why should I HAVE to) why I worry for them. That when they lose a job it keeps me up at night. That when they stress over relationship woes it keeps me up at night. That when they are chomping at the bit to gain freedom it keeps me up at night because I see they haven't accepted full responsibility for that freedom just yet, and the sacrifices that have to made for it. Maybe I have failed as a parent in some measure because they aren't so ready.

This parenting thing sometimes just plain sucks. No other way to say it. Just when you think you've done good and that things are going swimmingly with your kids, they have a fit disgorging thier emotional distress and point out how terribly wrong we are as parents that we can't figure them the hell out and what they need at any given moment. That we just can't possibly understand. Huh? I was once 21, 23 years old. I get it. Give me a damned break! But give me the benefit of experience too. We don't dispense advice because we're some know-it-all-sage that can't help themselves for the passing on of their wisdom. (OK, maybe my husband becomes the sage on equal measure with the amount of red wine he's imbibed.) We give advice to you (our kids) because we are afraid you will hurt yourself, or find yourself in a situation you can't get out of, or because we've been there before and know what you may be headed into. Generation gap indeed.

Was I as stubborn with my parents? I'll have to ask them. I hope to hell not. In the meantime, I'm not stopping my parenting ever. They are just going to have to suck it up.

Friday, November 13, 2009

The Yoda Mantra

One of my favorite quotes from the Star Wars franchise is the famous line uttered by Yoda; "do, or do not, there is no try." And so it goes for me. I tend to be an all in type of person in most everything I do. Either I'm super organized or just let stuff run to shambles - it seems there is no in-between. My kids laugh when I'm reading something (anything). I literally dive in the other world of that written piece and do not hear or see anything going on around me. I'm all in. I guess there must be a medium for me in some things, it's just that when it comes to doing a project, or STARTING a project, I am either all in or just not doing it at all.

And so I have a dilemma. I've been asked to volunteer time and talent for a worthwhile organization. It's pro bono work, and could be a nice challenge for myself. My problem is the exact type of work I have been asked to do is not what I'd like to be doing for this group. There are some things I could do that I'd like to be doing for them. I did sort of tell them this - but not perhaps strong enough. And I like the people involved so much it's really difficult for me to not go all in on the project and do what they need me for. Lately I have begun to be more protective of my time though. Not sure how to tell them that I cannot do for them what they want. Yikes. I have always been a "do or do not" person. Why is it so hard for me to say no when a person asks for help? And I think my husband is right when he points out that why would I want to put that amount of time in and not be paid? Shouldn't I just find a job if that's what I want?

Problem is, I don't want just any old job. I want to be all in on a project all right, but I want the project to be MY project. Don't I owe it to myself to try that which I have now set out to do - write? If I get deeper into this pro bono work I know myself - my own needs and project will once again be relegated to last on the list. I'm sick of being last on the list. At 50, I am beginning to think maybe it's my turn. So no, I don't want to go work at Williams-Sonoma (as my daughter suggests) or substitute teach (as my son suggests). I want to live the Yoda mantra, but I want to guard my time more fastiduously than I have in the past. It will mean saying no sometime. It's gonna be really hard for me, but I'm ready. I'm just not all that good at letting people down. I hate that part.

I have to find a way to balance the all in or all out mentality. Couldn't I carve my time up to accomodate both? Or will it just end up being another one of those things that just ends up being an excuse to not get on with what I really want, to not face up to the work of the thing? I really want this time to be different - to have some tangible proof to myself that I can focus and write. This business of proving oncself is exhausting. And it's only me that I'm trying to prove anything to.

Today I saw an interview with the author of the Twilight books. She had a vivid dream that she awoke with. Turned out to be chapter 13 of her first book. Never had written so much as a short story before. And JK Rowling of Harry Potter fame was riding along on a train when supposedly the whole of that series hit her. If it can happen to others, why not to me too? The difference between them and me is that they had the balls to write down their ideas. It seems to me my choices are really no choice at all. Do or do not - there is no try. Time to do.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

As the Ad Says, "Just Do It!"

I don't know why in the world I am starting a blog, honestly. I just know that deep down in my soul, I need to write. I've thought about this a very long, bloody time. It's not that I'm lazy or can't do it - I just haven't ever felt the NEED to do it. Recently that has changed. Everything is changing, really. Maybe it's the time, or my age, or that I have the time (well, sort of.) So basically I have to go back to the question, "why now?"

It really began a few months ago with a near emotional breakdown that lead me to seek the help of a counselor (read: psychologist.) to clue me in that life was changing, and that I had better begin adapting. No, she didn't tell me that, I figured that out all on my own. With kids grown (or mostly) and a husband working A LOT, I found myself alone way too much of the time, and frankly depressed. In roll the feelings of self-doubt, musings about what the future holds, etc. In other words, full-blown mid-life crisis stuff. In all this self-discovery that I have been going through, the idea hit me that I need to be writing.

Several years ago I lost a dear friend to an overdose of bi-polar meds. She had been a rock for me since high school, and someone I communicated with via email nearly daily. We told each other everything, but more importantly some days just let ourselves ramble about this and that and anything that popped into our heads that day. It was a great outlet for both of us, who didn't feel the need to comment or advise each other by any means, but were content to just listen (or read, as in this case) without judgement. I miss her dearly. It has been since her passing that I starting feeling adrift. Lately I figured out it is because I no longer had that outlet of writing. Enter a niece with a blog, and presto - an idea is born for a blog of my own. So right up front I have to say that these little musings will now and forever be dedicated to Kate. I wish you were still here reading, but perhaps you know anyway...

In September of this year, and not long after that mental fizzle, I received a phone call out of the blue from an old friend who knew me 15 years ago and with whom I have spottily communicated through the years. Our conversation seemed as if no time had passed. Great to hear his voice...wonderful, in fact. Through our long talk we got around to writing. He had been a poet, and a good one. I wondered if he still wrote (sadly, not.) He asked if I was working on "Sin of Pride." Good grief. Hadn't thought about that in probably 12 or 13 years. A story idea based on the life of my grandmother (loosely) and that I had not worked on. I began to wonder why, but more importantly, began thinking about her and that story again. Pretty soon ideas were coming to me, and I felt not only that I COULD write, but that I NEEDED to write that story. He lit a fire again whose ember had nearly vanquished. I am grateful.

Today in the counselor's office, we spoke of leading a life that is not just filled (with to-do lists and events, tv shows to watch, places to go, groceries to buy...) but is FULfilled. It's a point I have been missing for QUITE some time. So I have decided to blog about these efforts to write again, and to simply muse on the world around me and my role in it. We shall see where this takes me, but for the first time in a while, I am hopeful, and excited to have something to DO that has real meaning to me.

Thanks Kate, and Paul. I'm about to "Just Do It." :)