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Life Lessons

Lists in the face

I remember being surprised at being invited to that executive’s retirement party given we’d hardly interacted.  I was around 27 and, looking back, a bit naive.

The night of the party, one of the (ancient) executive’s pals, in his toast to the retiree, joked about inviting “pretty girls like __(me)__ so we all have something nice to look at.” Their wives looked horrified and sad, most men chuckled, and I can still feel the rage at being reduced to “something.”

I know and have loved many wonderful men – decent, kind and gentle men.  I’m fortunate I can easily rattle off a long list including Grandfathers,  Great Uncles, Dad and his brothers, my husband and our sons. But I also have known – and had to work with – creeps.  And, in my experience, the creeps spoil the well for the good men.

Now, as a Grandmother, my Spidey senses are on FIRE whenever I’m out with our grandkids – both grandSON and grandDAUGHTER — I watch them like a hawk even though they aren’t “babies” any more.    I’m hyper-aware of everyone around us; if one asks to go off to another aisle to “see just one thing” we all go; it’s not up for discussion.

I’ve talked with the grands about good people and bad people, about trusting their instincts, and if someone makes them feel uncomfortable or unsafe to tell any of us, and that they will never be in trouble for doing so.  I worry about Social Media and creepy perverts who lurk in shadows everywhere.  But, as many of us know, creepy perverts were in our churches, schools, and communities long before Facebook or SnapChat ever existed.

I made a quick list of how experiences with creepy men has impacted how I live; the list wrote itself in minutes.

  • I stay alert and pay attention to surroundings; if someone feels “off” I get away from them.
  • I never walk, shop for groceries or stop for gas in the dark.
  • I prefer to exercise in the house vs. in the neighborhood.
  • I wear a cross body purse, always and my cell phone remains charged and accessible, even at home.
  • I check the back seat of any vehicle before getting in, anywhere and in every light.
  • I rarely venture away from the hotel when traveling for business ~ Company (male) colleagues like to walk to restaurants for group events (because they never have to think about lists like this!). I prefer to take a taxi but will walk in a larger (mixed) group.
  • I never sleep on flights.
  • All windows and doors are locked  ~ if I find myself alone at the office (very off-putting) I take the cell phone with me to the copier or the restroom.
  • On business trips /outings I stick to water or (sometimes) order a cocktail I don’t like and sip it; whatever I have goes with me to the ladies’ room.
  • It’s Hubby’s deep voice on the answering machine.
  • I’m not thin anymore;  extra weight has lessened the burden of unwanted attention.
  • I never use parking garages,  valet where possible and expense it, and offer no explanations or apologies.
  • I don’t get on elevators with men, not even one.
  • I limit fluids during road trips which limits stops, and never use highway rest areas; Fast food restaurants only.
  • At company functions I employ the Irish Good-bye – excuse myself and don’t come back.

Your turn:

  • Can you relate to this post?
  • How have your experiences impacted the way you navigate your day-to-day life?
    • Any tips or thoughts to add?

 

“Men often ask me, Why are your female characters so paranoid? It’s not paranoia. It’s recognition of their situation.” — Margaret Atwood, author of “The Handmaid’s Tale”

 

 

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Categories: Attitude, Determination, Faith, fear, Grief, Growth, Life, Life Lessons, News, Opinion, Personal, Self Discovery, Thoughts, Travel, Useful Information, Work | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 10 Comments

Pearls, pigs and passages

From my earliest memories, our Grandmother Pearl wore pearls -pearl necklaces, drop and button earrings, bracelets and brooches. Some were real and others were fake, bought from the Avon Lady or the Sears catalogue.  Mom and Aunt Irene also had a “set” that they each broke out for fancy occasions, like weddings, showers or baptisms.  I’m sure they were influenced by First Lady Jackie Kennedy’s famous pearl style and later when First Lady Barbara Bush brought them back again.

Pic taken in 1923 ~ ❤️ Grandmother Pearl was 19. An Emjayandthem (C) Photo

 

I’ve had these pearls since the 90s ~ classic, they never go out of favor. an Emjayandthem(c) photo

I have always loved pearls.  I love their softness, strength and imperfections;  I love their luster, warmth, and radiance, too.

A few days ago I read this passage and was reminded how important it is to “learn to discern” – to learn we don’t have to intervene in other’s life lessons, even when you can see the train coming from afar.   As hard as it is, it’s true that stepping in can only delay the learning for another.  And doing so may make future lessons more difficult.

Some lessons are meant to be learned the hard way.

  • Matthew 7:6 “Do not give dogs what is sacred; do not throw your pearls to pigs. If you do, they may trample them under their feet, and turn and tear you to pieces.”

  • Do you relate to this passage?
    • What lessons have you learned the hard way?
    • And how hard is it for you to “learn to discern?”
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Random 5 for Labor Day ~Dishes, Empaths & Amazon

How is today is September 3rd and Labor Day already?

It seems like 5 minutes ago we turned the calendar from April to May ~ and while we didn’t have a typical summer, we still enjoyed many high points — beach days, good books and BBQs.    To that end here are my 5 Random 5s for Labor Day:

1 )  Good friends enjoyed shared birthdays this weekend so a celebration was organized, pot luck style.  I don’t know about you but, around here, “bring a dish to pass” gatherings offer the b.e.s.t.  food.  Why’s that?  Because everyone makes (or buys) their one “best” thing and, when you put everything together, it’s amazing.  Examples of what was offered include the following:

  • Deviled eggs, home-made pickles, olives and various cheeses & crackers
  • 7 Layer Salad (mine), Oriental Coleslaw, Pasta & Potato salads – all home-made – yummo!
  • Pastry-wrapped sausages, Sloppy Joe’s & baked beans (with bacon and enough brown sugar to carmelize an apple, yum!)
  • Veggies & Dip, chips & dip and Fruit salad
  • And birthday cake — not just any cake – but a local bakery’s marble cake with a creamy custardy middle  and fluffy whipped icing — OMG.
    • There was more, but the above is some of what I sampled and YES I enjoyed a small piece of cake — it was sweet and creamy and a little bit went a long ways 🙂

2 )  I’ve been reading a book that I can’t stop thinking about.  Normally when I land upon a good book I’ll tear through it like a starving wolf.  Not this one.  I’m savoring my way through.  See,  I’ve always known stuff I shouldn’t know, and I’ve had a feeling (good or bad) about a person, more than once. I trust it.  I just didn’t know how to use it or how to protect myself from absorbing other’s “stuff.”   

A sample includes:

  • Being an empath is different from being empathetic.
  • Being empathetic is when your heart goes out to someone else.  Most of us do this – especially after a tragedy.
  • Being an empath means you can actually feel another person’s happiness or sadness in your own body.  You can feel it so deeply that it can make you physically sick, sad or drained.
    • You may have been told to “not be so sensitive,” maybe you are, like me, sensitive to caffeine, startle easily, get overwhelmed in crowds, have a strong sense of smell and touch (sour odors and prickly clothes, no way).
    • These can all be indicators — so tell me — Are you an Empath?

3 ) I just realized that my Amazon cart always has something in it.  I  love the “save for later” feature.  Because my internet wanderings can take me into some deep valleys, it’s nice to know I can save an item for a more rational purchase point later.    Between books, vitamins, and skincare/beauty products, I enjoy new-to-me finds and repeat favorites.    For someone who doesn’t enjoy shopping, I sure enjoy Amazon 🙂

4 )  Speaking of books — I did a lot of not laboring this weekend ~ I putzed, cleaned, cooked a little, read a lot, fiddled with the hot tub & read some more.  Yep, definitely did. Not. Labor.

5 )  And with that, here’s September!  Bring on bright sunshiney days, College Football, autumn leaves, cooler nights and less humidity.  Because even though it’s Labor Day, the reality is it’s still warm, humid and summery … and that’s OK.  Put down the pumpkin spice and turn on the fan!

Autumn colors are arriving (scenes from the old house)

 

  • What signs of Autumn are near you?
  • Could you be an Empath, too?
  • Are you laboring to NOT Labor this Holiday weekend?
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Exercise, Having fun and the “To Be” List

They say everything adds up and indeed it does.

In late June I started tracking my steps/normal activity + bouncing regularly on my Rebounder (indoor trampoline).  And no, it was nothing more than a realization that I was sitting too much and moving too little.

  • You won’t get the butt you want sitting on the one you’ve got!  😉

As background, I’ve been bouncing on and off since last Fall, but I finally committed to a regular schedule after joining a “Bounce Daily for 30 Days” challenge in a Rebounding Facebook Group {{ see, there can be good things in FB-land, not just political rants, recipes involving cheese or personality quizzes!}}

My beautiful bouncy Bellicon rebounder!

Since June 21 I’ve amassed 452K steps= 186 miles, and 18 hours of it is just from bouncing!

  • I like keeping track because keeping track keeps me accountable. I also like visuals, stats and bright colors.

But – as has been the norm for most of my adult career life, I get sucked into conference calls, long drives, last minute projects and fire drills … so when I finally arrive at home I’d come in all sloth-like.  I’d give hubby a passing “hi,” stumble my way through supper, slink into a book and head off soon for bed.

Kind of like our friend the Sloth below, moving at the speed of mud:

Not anymore.

With few exceptions, now, after work, I change into “home” workout gear (the not cute kind but no one sees so who cares kind!) – old jersey shorts, a soft tank top, sports bra and light runners (You can bounce barefoot but I have one wayward foot that pronates when I do. I call her Nancy. ).  I put my hair up, set a timer, crank up the tunes …. and work my way backwards – Example:

  • A Kitchen timer is typically set for 45 minutes
    • (When I started I could barely do 7 minutes. 45 mins is 6x that – SHAZAM!)
  • Before I know it the 35 minute mark comes around.
    • While I’m bouncing to Barry White, Al Green or Elvis Presley, in a blink there’s just 20 minutes to go.
  • 20 Minutes! Meh – here comes Tom Petty, The Temptations, Three Dog Night,  Mandisa or The Beatles
    • Soon only 7 minutes remain. …. what’s that you say?
  • 7 minutes? Heck that’s 2 songs . .. Rock N Roll!
    • Beep beep, timer chirps and I’m bouncing, sweaty, smiling and happy;
      • You’re welcome for the tour of the Olympic Stadium housing my mind games! 

But, here’s the thing – those little mind games work.

Every. Single.  Time.

Because rather than announcing that I’ll “get 20 minutes in” … like it’s a hill to climb on the boring old dreadmill (that I’d likely skip) instead I imagine myself at the top of the curving hill … bouncing my way on down.  Yay!

Rebounding is THIS MUCH fun!

While bouncing I experience the following:

  • Thinking, remembering and plotting
  • Losing myself in a song,
  • Laughing to a memory,
  • Gnashing through a mistake
  • Marveling at my endurance, coordination and strength
  • Smiling loudly, sorting stuff out, thinking ahead
  • Daydreams
  • Epiphanies ping-ponging past me

See, it was while bouncing that I glanced at my 2018 Vision Board — the same one my Inner Lizard had harped at me to take down.   I heard her biting remarks – it’s soooo stupid, nothing’s gonna change, take it down, it looks like a grade-school girl made it … etc etc etc.

Then I read it again.

And with my hair flying,  my face sweaty and everything I had in full bounce, I might have cried just a little when I recognized six key words I’d cut out of a magazine last December:

  • FIND A WORKOUT YOU DON’T HATE

2018 Vision Board coming to life

So I ask you: is the exercise you’re doing fun?   Because if you’re not having fun I’m guessing you’re not doing it. Or you won’t be doing it (whatever “it” is) much longer.

It’s time to mix it up, I double-dog dare ya! And write a “To Be” list while you’re at it 🙂


*** What's on your "to be" list?*** 
Categories: Attitude, Confidence at any age, Determination, Fun, Growth, Home, Joy, Life, Life Lessons, Opinion, Personal, Products I love, Sports, Thoughts, Wisdom, Women | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Random 5 Friday ~ Coffee, Peace, Votes and Rats

Random 5 Friday.  Ready? Set — Go!

1 )  This picture, taken at night in my home province of Saskatchewan, Canada, brings me peace.  I cannot look at those stars and not believe.

Photo Credit to Gerry Pocha

2 ) There was risk of a rat sighting today.  While I am thankful for the heads-up, my skin prickled at the mention and, thankfully, I dodged the interaction.  🙂    See once you’ve lived/worked/endured rat behavior – years can pass and your tail will still twitch at the memories a bad experience left on your soul.

3 ) Yesterday was National Book Day (should be a holiday, I’m just saying…. ).  Saw this and just had to share:

The greatest gift is the passion for reading. It is cheap, it consoles, it distracts, it excites, it gives you knowledge of the world and experience of a wide kind. It is a moral illumination.” — Elizabeth Hardwick

4 ) Autumn is sneaking in.  Know how I know?  Mornings are just slightly darker.  On weekdays I am always up by 6:00 or sooner — now, it’s like August arrived and the sun decided to sleep in.  Seriously, there’s been a turn and I feel it most in the mornings.  Coffee up!

5 )  The August Primary took place earlier this week.  Whenever I get to vote, I think of Mom & Dad … they were both so passionate about voting and never missed an opportunity to take part. One time, because of bad weather & greasy roads, their only way out was to drive the tractor a mile & a half to the highway where they were met by Dad’s brother & sister-in-law – all four rode together into town to vote.  Open-air tractor or not, Mom grabbed her red patent leather purse and hopped on. I can just see it, the two of them heading off up the hill.     Man, I miss them. ❤

Mom and Dad with one of their winning horses – and a date night. An Emjayandthem(C) photo

 

Did you celebrate National Book Day, too? 

Ran into any rats lately? 

Seeing signs of Autumn where you are?

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Random 5 Monday ~ Bourdain, Beaches and Ducks

It’s Monday and it’s time for some random thoughts from the ever-swirling mind of yours truly.  Ready?  No.  Well get set, let’s go!

1 ) Still reeling over the loss of Anthony Bourdain.   I’m not even a foodie.  And I wanted to be one … watching him.  I wanted to walk into his kitchen, sit at his table,  have him flirt outrageously with me, tell a clever joke and have him lean in for the punch line.   Young, middle-aged, older – there was something about him that drew us in.   And kept us there.  This blogger sums up our loss beautifully – https://atypical60.com/2018/06/09/the-anthony-bourdain-i-knew/    #LOSS.

I hope he has peace now. 😦

2 ) Last week I took a couple of days off ~ I was, once again, up against the deadline.  Time to use vacation days.  Darn.   Thursday I packed tea, sunblock, my books and a beach chair and drove myself to Lake Michigan.  A place where stress does not thrive.  I read for hours, enjoyed other people’s children, watched a wedding, dug my toes in the sand and came home with beach hair & freckles.  And yes, I aim to repeat this many times over the summer.  #SUMMERGOALS.

~~~ ahhh ~~~
An Emjayandthem(C) Photo

3 )  The days are longer now that summer is officially here.  Celebrating my birthday I reflected on changes.  Much much stays the same ~ the work load, schedule, and expectations.  But I’ve changed – I’m a bit easier on myself than I used to be.   I’ve said “no” to others so I can say “yes” to me. I’ve slowed down. I’ve leaned in.   I’ve savored.  There’s a shift and I like it.  #SELF-CARE

4 )  Something I’ve realized – getting older – is that I’m a lot like Mom:  I don’t mind time alone, I crave it.  I get a little bit cranky with too many people and too much noise.   Yes I enjoy good conversation, music and such but I can – and will – easily spend days by myself.    A few nights back I imagined taking a week off and never leaving the house.   I found myself day-dreaming of how that would go:

  • Sleep
  • Read
  • Putter outside
  • Read
  • Write
  • Chat on the phone / visit with Hubbs
  • Sing/dance to music
  • Read
  • Putter outside
  • Read
  • Exercise/stretch
  • Sleep

I even had a fantasy food list ready.  It came to me immediately and goes something like this:

  • Strong coffee with cream
  • Grilled anything & Fresh veggies
  • Strawberries and watermelon
  • Iced Tea
  • Bacon & eggs
  • Fajitas
  • Avocados
  • Chinese Coleslaw
  • Margaritas and Fresh Limes

I realized that this exercise was really me manifesting my summer “wish list.”  Yep, time to book more days off.  #SUMMERGOALS

5 ) Saw two ducks on my walk earlier tonight … made me think of this:

#CORNYJOKESMAKEMELAUGH

 

~~~~~~~

Your turn:

  • Did a celebrity death ever leave you reeling?  (recent or not)
  • Are you making a summer wish list, too?
  • Got any bread?

 

 

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Life sets us a challenge

I stood in the doorway, surveying the mess: about to sort and pack years of records in 24 hours.  My first reaction was shock.  Overwhelmed at the task before me, the next reaction was anger.   And finally, standing at the crux of the chaos, I felt sadness for what could have been.

Backstory:  an employee left so it was my job to sort through the ashes.  Literally.  Through the piles. The stacks. The dust. The dead flies and the mouse droppings. ** Cough Cough **.   Out-dated phone books, notes, scraps of paper, stacks in corners, corners unseen.  ** Cough Cough ** A rhythm developed ~ assemble box & lid, open drawer,  breathe, lean in and go.   ** Cough Cough ** The back of my hair, damp with sweat, black dress slacks brown with dust and debris.  Shaking my head at the “no jeans” policy ~ laughing because this was Hazmat worthy.

Sorting, stacking, cleaning, organizing:  Nearly 40 boxes to be shred, garbage cans overflowing and 7 – count ’em 7 – boxes to be moved /re-filed.   A sore back and stiff neck that linger still.

Asked how this could be done so rapidly my answer: “determination fueled by disbelief.”

I’ve recently made some self- care choices that, on the surface, appear inconsequential: I got a personal cell phone.   Next I exported all (18 -ha!) personal contacts from the work phone and moved them to mine.  Then I  deleted those same numbers and any personal apps, too.   Why?  This week reinforced something sobering ~ we are all replaceable.

It’s an adjustment to turn off the work phone Friday evening and not look at it again until Monday. I’m working through it.  Now, it’s the personal phone that accompanies me to the grocery store or out on a date night with hubbs.  And I like that, when checked, there are 2 messages instead of 60. The breathless 60 can wait.

Yes, it’s a small step that’s netting me peace of mind and the separation/boundaries I’ve been craving.

Life does not look back.  Life looks ahead ~ and leaps.

 

“When we least expect it, life sets us a challenge to test our courage and willingness to change; at such a moment, there is no point in pretending that nothing has happened or in saying that we are not yet ready. The challenge will not wait. Life does not look back. A week is more than enough time for us to decide whether or not to accept our destiny.”  Paulo Coelho, The Devil and Miss Prym

 

What self-care steps have you taken lately?

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Travel, change and solace

Readying for another road trip later today, I thought about how much things have changed over the years:

  • Remember paper maps?  Maps that unfolded with landmarks and highway intersections?  You’d need a companion to help navigate. Now – I rely on an iPhone or car navigation system.  I prefer the phone because one can listen for upcoming turns and still enjoy the radio.  My car system talks over the radio and I end up missing sing-along opportunities, political updates, and advice from Dr. Laura. 🙂

  • Packing for an overnight requires just as much effort as packing for four.  Vitamins, hair stuff, makeup, jewelry, pajamas/robe, in-room clothes, work clothes, travel clothes, computer, portfolio, shoes, phone charger and more.    And coffee, don’t forget the coffee.

  • I don’t sleep well in hotels.  Part of my packing routine involves a good book and essential oils; most times, I average 4 hours of flipping & flopping vs. the 7 solid Zs at home.

  • As much work as it is, I still enjoy going.  Meeting new people and getting out of my comfort zone.   Example, tomorrow I’m one of several giving a presentation to company peers and executives.  Now I make presentations on a regular basis but usually before total strangers.  Peers are far more daunting.  So I do what I always have:  prepare, know my stuff, and nail it!  (And a little self pep-talk never hurts.)

  • And as much as I love the going, the coming home is even better.  🙂

“Home is where you go to find solace from the ever changing chaos, to find love within the confines of a heartless world, and to be reminded that no matter how far you wander, there will always be something waiting when you return.”  – Kendal Rob

 

What do you enjoy about the going?   What do you never travel without?

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Sunday thoughts – Resolutions, Squirrels & boxes of joy

It’s Sunday; snow’s falling, brunch is calling and I just remembered I have tomorrow off.  Yippee Skippy!

Chatting with a colleague recently, I used the squirrel analogy ~ never heard of it?   It goes like this:

Make a decision and take what comes with it.   And not deciding is taking action, too.

It’s January and we’re bombarded by “diet” ads on TV, including NukeyourSystem, Weight Counters, you name it.  Radio ads tout  gym memberships and today’s newspaper featured “deals” on “heart healthy” prepacked frozen foods with green (think healthy) packaging.  This picture below made me laugh because it is so much closer to reality:

Lately I’ve tuned out the noise, enjoyed the “off” button on the TV/Radio/iPhone and found myself devouring a box of joy, see below:

“The greatest gift is the passion for reading.
It is cheap, it consoles, it distracts, it excites,
it gives you knowledge of the world and experience of a wide kind. It is a moral illumination.”

Elizabeth Hardwick

 * * *

What are you reading?  And did you make any New Years resolutions?

 

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R5S~ Peace, Joy and Progress

Random 5 Friday Sunday ~ here comes 2018, time to bid adieu to 2017.

1 ) Yesterday was that day of winter vacation – the day far enough past Christmas but closer to New Year’s  – the day when you can’t remember exactly what day it is or what you’re supposed to be doing … it’s a day I look forward to all year.  My day of “nothing” — nothing to do and all day to do it.  I slept in, drank a pot of coffee, read blogs, stayed in my fuzzy pants all day and cooked a wonderful stew in the pressure cooker.  A lovely shower, a bowl of stew, new fuzzy pants and blankets found me asleep in the chair by 9:30.    Today, I woke at 6:00 a.m., feeling like a million bucks.  Rest, a break from stress, schedule and chaos,  you can’t beat it.

2 )  Christmas with our boys and grands was just that – grand — we laughed, ate, played games, laughed some more, sang Christmas songs and told stories.   Gifts were exchanged and memories were made.    Love was in the air and it was the happiest of days!

3 )  Time off — I’ve not responded to most work emails, but have taken great delight in deleting any that aren’t applicable to  me; doing so has culled the volume. My job is demanding with many people pulling on me on a regular basis; making this small effort now lets me ease back in without resentment.   Value up!

4 ) Progress ~ in that picture on the left I was recovering from bronchitis (for the 5th time that year) and battling a lingering fever, body aches and chills throughout my Christmas holiday (ugh!) I read the 10 day Grain detox book  (accompanied by a cough, highlighter pen and sticky notes) and started a grain detox Jan 4 2016 — I have not been sick once – nothing – not even a cold – since — despite copious work stress, moving, the passing of my Mom, a heavy travel schedule and more.  Amazing!

*** 747 days without 1 sick day!*** I used to battle recurrent sinusitis and bronchitis, cold sores, frequent colds & the flu👍 Kick grains to the curb and feel your best within  days 👍😀. Amazing health can be yours!    An Emjayandthem (C) photo

5)  New Year’s Eve tonight ~  Friends are stopping by for a drink/appetizers before heading to an evening party. We’re staying in where it’s cozy; roads here are awful, temps hovering in the single digits.   I’m delighted to stay in, smooch my handsome hubby and ring in the New Year in the peace and comfort that is home!

Happy New Year!  Let’s surprise ourselves next year, shall we? 

Categories: Attitude, Beauty, Blogging, Confidence at any age, Determination, Faith, Family, Food, Fun, Growth, Holidays, Home, Life Lessons, Love, News, Opinion, Personal, Romance, Seasons, Thoughts | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 10 Comments

The gift of an unconventional Holiday

I knew the day was coming, and tried to keep my voice cheery as I zipped his parka, handed off his Ninja Turtle backpack, and sent my 4-year-old off with his father.  Freshly divorced, and newly navigating the every-other-holiday thing, I kissed my boy good-bye and squeezed his mittened hand one more time.  He took his cues from me, and although bio-Dad was consistently inconsistent with visitation, and I had not yet met  (or even imagined) the man-who-would-be-Hubbs, I needed to keep my act together so my little guy would be OK.

Shutting the door, I stood in the darkened entry and watched them drive away, a wave of sadness fell over me. It felt like the wettest blanket on the coldest night.  It was a rainy, dreary Wednesday afternoon in western Connecticut.  My family was a million miles away in Canada and I’d been too busy surviving working to have made plans.  At least he would only be gone for the weekend, and knowing the other one, probably coming home early.   I looked around our sparse apartment, at my pull-out sofa in the living room, his bunk beds and toys in the bedroom.  My eyes landed on our small table with two chairs, at books and Play-Doh from earlier play.

Calling Mom, we chatted for a while and caught up on the goings on there.  I heard her attempts at a cheerful voice, knowing we were so far away, and that I was by myself tonight.  When she asked what I’d be doing for the Holiday, I sputtered out something about being invited to a friend’s apartment.  “Oh, that’s good, dear.  You should go, there’s no need to be by yourself, and, well, we’d feel better if you did.”  She was right, of course, but there was about a .001% of me that wanted to go out and meet new people.   I promised her I’d think about it.

Later that night my friend Dee called.  Practically begging,  she admitted her parents were coming, too, and “you know how my Dad can be.”  Yes, I’d met them both, they were European, on-again-off-again as a couple, the Mom, quiet and nervous, the Dad, critical and imposing.  I knew she needed a buffer and, quite frankly, I suddenly had a need to get out of that apartment.   We agreed I’d be there mid morning the next day.

Upon arrival, I learned she’d also invited the “strays” ~ anyone in her building who didn’t have a place to be or family to spend the Holiday with.  Wow!

We quickly set to work peeling potatoes, setting a card table & chairs at the end of the kitchen table, scrounging around for Fast Food napkins, extra plates, plastic cutlery, tablecloths and a couple of old candles.  She turned on the radio – with a countdown of sorts, a mixture of Motown and Classic Rock, fun.  The turkey simmered in the oven, and the aroma, unmistakable.

Next she announced we had turnips to prepare ~ her crusty Dad had a thing for buttered  turnips, except she had no clue how to peel the waxy layer off of  it and neither did I.  We managed to get a steak knife stuck embedded in that thing more than once.  Laughing, we developed a rhythm, but we were more like Lucy and Ethel than Fred and Ginger. I peeled carrots and steamed them with peas, poured off the turkey drippings to make gravy, and mashed the potatoes.  She stirred corn and cream and butter together, microwaved Stove-Top Stuffing.  We ran into each other more than once.  Yep, Lucy and Ethel.

Soon guests began arriving ~ old and young, a shy woman with a bright-eyed toddler and no mention of the father, a married couple from Venezuela, she with lovely accent, his hand on the small of her back.  My friend’s son and his girlfriend, her parents and me, and Ivan, the lanky maintenance man with a heavy Russian accent, a shy smile and two bottles of vodka.  Everyone streamed in, offering what they had, ~ buttery Seafood Paela, a cheesecake, Wine, chocolates, sausage, pickles and cheese. We sent her son to 7-11 for more plates and paper products while her Dad took a seat to carve the turkey.  Her Mom, a bit tipsy from the vodka, chatted animatedly with Ivan.  We all found a seat on uneven and mismatched chairs, making small talk, clanking glasses,and savoring the moment.  I was in and out, serving, and bringing more to share.

It was there, grabbing another bowl of something in my friend’s kitchen, when I remembered that I’d forgotten about being sad. About being far from home.  I felt a tug ~ a love of cooking I’d not experienced in years.  See, since the divorce, I’d been getting by on “functional cooking” —  cooking to live, cooking to check the box.  Day-to-day. No joy, no creativity.  This was different.  This effort, stirring the gravy and mashing turnips in a new-to-me kitchen – transported me to my mother’s kitchen.  To Holiday meals and Mom’s and my Grandmother’s tables so lovingly prepared one couldn’t feel anything but gratitude at being included.  To feelings of warmth and happiness and appreciation for everything – the love and the labor, the sweat and the tears, that went into it creating so much magic for all of us.  It was in that moment, on that unorthodox Holiday, when I felt my love of cooking re-ignite. It was there, tasting the turnips, that I gave thanks.

one end of my Grandmother’s Holiday Table, an Emjayandthem (C) picture

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Flash forward to now:  After a visit with our grand-daughter at school yesterday morning, my son and I enjoyed a brief lunch together.   He’s no longer that little tow-headed boy, he towers over me by a foot, and has a family of his own.  He helps them with their mittens and coats.  Full circle.

I told him the story of my unorthodox Thanksgiving holiday so long ago, and how I thought we would all be well served to experience a holiday like that.  I told him that getting through that helped me appreciate where I’m from, and the traditions we enjoy today.

He gently teased me about my “holiday marathons” ~ I pointed out that when I start cooking 2-3 days ahead of the holiday, it’s because I want to.

When I prep multiple appetizers and side dishes, meats and desserts, it’s because I have people to cook for.

And when I decorate the table well before anybody steps foot through the door, I channel all of them: my Mom, My Grandmother, and the other wonderful women of my childhood who did such things for me.

  • Did you ever spend a holiday in an unconventional way? What do you remember from the experience?
  • What traditions are you carrying forward?
Categories: Attitude, Beauty, Determination, Faith, Family, Food, Growth, Holidays, Home, Joy, Life, Life Lessons, Mom, music, News, Opinion, Personal, Recipes, Seasons, Thoughts, Traditions, Wisdom, Women, Writing | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Random 5 for October – 665, pies and Free Fallin’

It’s Tuesday! It’s Random! It’s time for 5 Randoms in my world.  Ready?  Set?  Go ->

1 )  665 – that’s 665 days without 1 sick day.  I was last sick (bronchial infection/the flu) in December of 2015; I started the 10 day Grain Detox on Jan 4 2016 and lost weight, the fluff & puff, and regained my health.   Cutting out grains cut the inflammation that feeds illness ~ no more seasonal allergies, colds, flu, sinusitis or bronchitis.   It’s not that hard to do and while I was super strict the first 8 months my life shifted with even more travel and I relaxed and leaned into it.  I still (largely) follow the guidelines and – to my amazement – am never sick.  Amazing!   10 days became a lifestyle.

2 )  Death ~ we had a death in the family last week, Hubbs’ Dad.  He had been estranged from the family for many years, and lived far away from all of us, by choice.   Still, it’s never easy to lose a parent, regardless the circumstances.   Someone asked me what he was like and my answer was, “He was a hard man to know.”   And there it is.   But – to clarify – when I write here about time spent with my FIL, I’m writing about Hubbs’ Step-Dad, who lives nearby.   Fathers come in many forms.

3 ) Seasons ~ it’s October and feels like June, with higher than normal temps, skies like September and heat like summer.   Birds and squirrels are as confused as we are!

2 doors down & Taken on my cell phone. An Emjayandthem(C) Photo.

4 ) Travel ~ I have gobs of travel this month – day trips, overnights, and out-of-towns.  Current events make for nervous travelers, watching the crowd, staying alert.    You know what keeps me going?   Too much vacation has to be used again so I’ve booked a week off at Thanksgiving ~  I’ll be reading, pie-making, relaxing and shutting out the world.      It’s good to have goals 🙂

My sister-in-law’s homemade Saskatoon berry pie.

5 )  Tom Petty.  RIP.   So many great songs, all sing-along-able.  This was and is a favorite.   “She’s a good girl, loves her Mama, loves Jesus, and America, too.”   ~ Sigh

And how was your week?

Categories: Attitude, Blogging, Confidence at any age, Determination, Faith, Family, Food, Grief, Growth, Life Lessons, Men, music, News, Opinion, Personal, Seasons, Thoughts, Travel, Work, Writing | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 8 Comments

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Connie Rosser Riddle

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Connie Rosser Riddle

Connecting with people in my path

Atypical 60

A Typical Blog. A Typical Woman. A Typical Take On Life. With An Atypical Twist!

A New Day Dawns

Arise, shine, for your light has come...Isaiah 60

Virginia Views

Country Living for Beginners

Waiting for the Karma Truck

thoughts on the spaces in between

Views and Mews by Coffee Kat

Kate's views on life edited by four opinionated cats

Renee Johnson Writes

Novelist, Traveler, and More

Life Is A Journey... Not A Guided Tour

My Journey From Merchant Mariner to Mother, And Spiritual Being.

notquiteold

Nancy Roman

Flamidwyfe's Blog

Midwifing women all over the world!

Operation Gratitude Blog

Care Packages for Deployed U.S. Troops, Veterans, New Recruits, Wounded Heroes, First Responders & Military Children

Hot Rod Cowgirl

Riding Through Life One Horse At A Time...Courage Is Being Scared To Death But Saddling Up Anyway!

She's A Maineiac

just another plaid-wearin' java-sippin' girl

The View Out Here

A view in pictures, from me to you

I also live on a farm

Just another WordPress.com weblog

Undercover Surfer

...random thoughts and images overflowing from my brain

Wordsmith's Desk

some thoughts along the way

Meanwhile, back at the ranch...

music, poetry, musings, photography and philosophy from a woman who found her way back home and wants you to come over for a hike and a cocktail.

Georgette Sullins's Blog

My view of the cow parade

these days of mine

Stop in and see what's happening during these days of mine

Writingfeemail's Blog

Random observations on writing and life

Grace and Life

Looking for grace notes in life's journey...

When I Ride...

How life coaches me as I ride...

RICH RIPLEY

EMPLOYEES MUST WASH HANDS...

Connie Rosser Riddle

Connecting with people in my path

Atypical 60

A Typical Blog. A Typical Woman. A Typical Take On Life. With An Atypical Twist!

A New Day Dawns

Arise, shine, for your light has come...Isaiah 60

Virginia Views

Country Living for Beginners

Waiting for the Karma Truck

thoughts on the spaces in between

Views and Mews by Coffee Kat

Kate's views on life edited by four opinionated cats

Renee Johnson Writes

Novelist, Traveler, and More

Life Is A Journey... Not A Guided Tour

My Journey From Merchant Mariner to Mother, And Spiritual Being.

notquiteold

Nancy Roman

Flamidwyfe's Blog

Midwifing women all over the world!

Operation Gratitude Blog

Care Packages for Deployed U.S. Troops, Veterans, New Recruits, Wounded Heroes, First Responders & Military Children

Hot Rod Cowgirl

Riding Through Life One Horse At A Time...Courage Is Being Scared To Death But Saddling Up Anyway!

She's A Maineiac

just another plaid-wearin' java-sippin' girl

The View Out Here

A view in pictures, from me to you

I also live on a farm

Just another WordPress.com weblog

Undercover Surfer

...random thoughts and images overflowing from my brain

Wordsmith's Desk

some thoughts along the way

Meanwhile, back at the ranch...

music, poetry, musings, photography and philosophy from a woman who found her way back home and wants you to come over for a hike and a cocktail.

Georgette Sullins's Blog

My view of the cow parade

these days of mine

Stop in and see what's happening during these days of mine

Writingfeemail's Blog

Random observations on writing and life

Grace and Life

Looking for grace notes in life's journey...

When I Ride...

How life coaches me as I ride...

RICH RIPLEY

EMPLOYEES MUST WASH HANDS...